Made for full-time RV living, this luxury fifth-wheel travel trailer with an impressive pedigree also will appeal to other RV owners looking for a feature-packed retreat on wheels.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
Vanleigh, a division of Tiffin Motorhomes, creates high-end fifth-wheels designed for full-time living. But you don’t have to be a full-time RVer to enjoy the benefits of a well-built RV loaded with premium features. The company’s Beacon model combines all of that into a fifth-wheel travel trailer that is attractive, filled with creature comforts, and built to high quality standards.
I recently had the opportunity to review the Beacon 42RDB at King’s Campers in Wausau, Wisconsin. This spacious 42-foot-6-inch-long floor plan boasts a rear den and five slideouts. It is one of nine Beacon floor plans available for 2023.
Vanleigh uses tubular aluminum framing in the Beacon’s construction. The roof and floor joists are spaced 16 inches on center, and these areas are stuffed with fiberglass-batt insulation rather than foam board, yielding an impressive R-45 insulation value. The sidewalls are vacuum-bonded and rated at R-11. They are finished with heavy 20-mil gel-coat fiberglass.
Seven full-body paint schemes are available for 2023, plus two special 50th anniversary options in recognition of the milestone celebrated by parent company Tiffin. The painting process involves eight steps and uses BASF urethane paint for a high-gloss, durable finish. Three layers of clear coat finish it off for extra depth and UV protection. A painted fiberglass cap adorns the front of the RV, and a thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roof covers the top. Protective film wraps the front of the unit and select other areas.
The slideouts in the living and kitchen areas have ceiling heights of 8 feet to provide plenty of headroom. Each slideout box is laminated and framed in aluminum on all five sides, including the floor. Fiberglass-batt insulation also is used in the slideout floors and ceiling. The laminated slideout eliminates wood products, preventing potential water damage. The underbelly is fully enclosed and heated via a return duct to allow usage in even the coldest temperatures. All the electrical wiring is arranged in protective looms, and each conductor is labeled as to its use.
The Beacon has an 18,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The average dry weight is listed as 16,400 pounds in the generic spec sheets, but the unit I reviewed weighed 16,607 pounds at the factory. The hitch pin weight was 3,680 pounds.
A six-point power leveling system makes setup work easy at the campsite, and a Rota-Flex hitch coupler with a pivoting head allows for a comfortable tow on the way there. The Equa-Flex suspension soaks up bumps in the road when under way to offer a very smooth ride with straight-line tracking. The Beacon is equipped with 17.5-inch Cooper H-series 16-ply tires and 8,000-pound-rated axles with drum brakes as standard equip-ment. The unit I reviewed had the optional disc brakes.
As is true of most fifth-wheels, the Beacon is tall, with an exterior height of 13 feet 1 inch, but it features a continuous motorhome-style roof rather than a stepped version. The 8-foot-5-inch interior height it creates provides plenty of headroom, plus space for taller storage cabinets.
Frameless dual-pane windows are mounted flush in the high-gloss fiberglass sidewalls. The two power patio awnings feature LED lighting. Dual exterior speakers allow you to enjoy some tunes outdoors. A rear ladder affords access to the roof if needed. The Lippert Solid Step aluminum entry steps have adjustable legs and make for a rock-solid foundation when entering or exiting the RV.
The Beacon is prewired for a backup camera and includes a 2-inch receiver hitch on the rear of the unit.
Three hardwood choices are avail-able in the Beacon. The unit I inspected incorporated the glazed Shadow woodwork. The other wood stain options are English Chestnut and White Linen. All cabinet faces and doors are made of hardwood, as are the slideout fascias, valances, and other trim. The furniture in the review unit featured Dove Grey upholstery; Snowhill is a second possibility for 2023. Bayou was the interior décor chosen, with Silverpointe also available.
A solid sheet of Boulder Cocoa Beach wood-plank-look vinyl flooring, new for 2023, was used on the lower level where the galley is and also on the upper decks. Soft-touch vinyl ceiling material runs throughout the RV, and slow-rise day-night roller shades cover the windows.
The Spyder Controls multiplex wiring system allows for digital operation of all lighting, which can be dimmed in the main living area and the bedroom. Access is available at the wall-mounted digital display near the RV entry door, at touchpads throughout the RV, or via a smartphone app. Recessed LED lighting is used throughout to minimize current draw and heat output as well as to extend longevity. The large pass-through basement area is carpeted and features motion-sensitive LED lighting.
The main living area features a large den with plenty of seating, plus additional sleeping accommodations. Two steps lead up from the galley level into the den, which provides some seclusion and makes it feel like a separate space. This also allows for increased height in the basement storage area below, which features a deep slide-out cargo tray at the rear of the RV.
The den boasts a 60-inch, rear-facing theater seating module with power recline, massage, and heat. It backs up against the large hutch in the galley. This seating area faces the sizable entertainment center on the rear wall of the RV. The entertainment center holds a 55-inch LED TV on a power lift as well as a 40-inch electric fireplace. The abundant cabinet space houses a Blu-ray player and all the other audiovisual system components. A pair of 74-inch trifold sleeper sofas, each in its own slideout, flank this large area, creating a living space with plenty of room for a large family to hang out, or to invite the neighbors over to watch the big game.
The main floor contains the galley. The rearmost portion holds the aforementioned hutch, which helps to separate the galley from the den, provides ample storage space, and also contains a wine cooler. A slideout on the street side of the kitchen houses a propane range with a large oven, an overhead microwave-convection oven, and a large French-door residential refrigerator. A 1,000-watt inverter provides power to the fridge when traveling.
The patio-side slideout holds the booth dinette, which is located next to the entry door. A free-standing table with four chairs is available as well. The forwardmost galley wall holds another hutch and a large hand-built pantry. The center island is equipped with a fold-down extension and a large stainless-steel farm sink outfitted with a residential faucet that incorporates a pull-down sprayer. A FanTastic Vent ceiling fan provides ventilation in this area. Every countertop in the Beacon, including the dinette, features solid-surface material.
Walking up a couple of steps to the front upper deck will take you to the bathroom and bedroom. You’ll encounter the bathroom first. It features a 48-inch-by-30-inch shower with a glass enclosure and a fold-down teak seat; a vanity and a porcelain sink; and a medicine cabinet. A porcelain toilet, a linen closet, and an overhead vent fan complete the bath area.
The bedroom contains a 70-inch-by-80-inch king bed topped with a cool-gel memory-foam mattress; an optional 60-inch-by-80-inch queen bed is available. The foot of the bed lifts to afford access to the large storage area underneath. The nightstands incorporate USB outlets for charging cellphones or other electronics, and the cabinetry is prepped for a CPAP machine.
A high-boy dresser stands opposite the foot of the bed, with a 43-inch LED smart TV above it and an attached window seat. The full-width front wardrobe, with motion-sensor LED lighting, provides tons of space for clothing, and an adjacent cabinet can be used for storage but also is prepped for a washer/dryer.
The Beacon is equipped with mechanicals designed for full-time living. A 42,000-Btu propane furnace provides plenty of heat, but it can be augmented by the 5,000-Btu electric fireplace. Keeping the RV cool isn’t a problem, either, because the two low-profile 15,000-Btu air conditioners (one with a heat pump) feature a Whisper Quiet duct system. The 16-inch-wide ducts allow ample air to pass through for quiet operation. The Beacon also comes prewired for a third air conditioner, which can be added by a dealer if desired.
Thermostat management is handled by the Spyder Controls multiplex system, and the Mira Module by Firefly Integrations allows for smartphone connectivity. Solar prep is standard, and the Beacon can be equipped with two dealer-installed batteries to provide plenty of power for the lighting, fans, and inverter. A 50-amp electric power cord reel facilitates connecting to or disconnecting from shore power. Generator prep is another standard feature.
A 12-gallon direct-spark-ignition (DSI) water heater that can run on propane or electricity is standard, but the review RV was equipped with the optional Truma on-demand water heater.
The 45-gallon black-water tank comes with a flush system, and both the black tank and the 90-gallon gray-water tank have electric dump valves. The tanks are enclosed in the heated basement and also equipped with 12-volt heat pads.
The wet bay is constructed of powder-coated aluminum instead of rotocast material for superior strength and durability, and any identification for the controls is laser etched rather than labeled with stickers. The fresh-water system runs through a pair of copper manifolds to ensure consistent water pressure throughout the unit.
The construction used in the Beacon, as well as the level of the components it incorporates, are based upon the 50 years of experience of Vanleigh’s parent company, Tiffin Motorhomes. Vanleigh designers do a great job of providing a wide selection of floor plans with features based on owner feedback. The insulation levels found in the Beacon are top quality and provide a comfortable and quiet climate inside the RV, regardless of the outside environment.
The 42RDB is a roomy floor plan with some implied separation between the den and the galley for a nice at-home feeling. This RV, designed with the full-time RVer in mind, will satisfy those needs well and also will meet the expectations of any other owner who demands more from their fifth-wheel travel trailer.
SPECIFICATIONS | VANLEIGH BEACON
Vanleigh RV Inc.26 Industrial Drive Access Road, Burnsville, MS 38833; (662) 612-4040; www.vanleighrv.com
42 feet 6 inches
13 feet 1 inch (with A/C)
main floor — 8 feet7 inches
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (CCC)
17.5-inch Cooper, H rated, load range D
drum, standard; disc, optional
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 90 gallons; black water — 45 gallons
12-gallon Suburban, standard; Truma on-demand, optional
42,000-Btu furnace; 5,000-Btu electric fireplace
(2) 15,000-Btu (1 with heat pump); prewired for optional third 15,000-Btu unit
base — 1-year, limited; construction —3 years, limited
MANUFACTURER’S BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED