Been off the forum for awhile, so when I started to consider trading my 2013 Berkshire 390RB-40L in on a 2015 Charleston Rear Bath (when it comes out), I jumped in here to learn what people were saying about it.
Phil57 (Phil and Diana) couldn't have said it better in their 08/10/20014 entry above. Donna and I were at the Elkhart plant a year ago for warranty work that we felt could better be handled by the factory than a dealer, and were highly impressed.
Tag axles are nothing new, and they not only can handle more rear weight, but reduce sway inherent in a solid front axle, the latter of which both the Berkshire and Charleston have. I'm pretty good at dampening out the sway in my Berkshire, so I prefer the solid front axle to independent suspension since there is only one adjustment to make during alignment (toe-in, I think; caster and camber are machined into the axle), and there is (said to be) a significant amount of maintenance and parts replacement on independent suspensions as they start to get older. The Charleston also has a higher grade of tires.
We're still chewing on the additional $$ layout for an upgrade to a Charleston, but you do get a lot more for the extra dough. It's as much of a value as the Berkshire was, if you are in that market. Can't wait to see the Charleston RB which debuts at the Harrisburg show.
I guess I won't get the 11.4 mpg I enjoy when cruising all day with the 6.6L engine and Allison 2500H. I consistently get 10.2 mpg overall in my Berkshire (mixed driving, from one overfow fill up to the next), but I try hard at energy management and let my rig coast down before applying the engine and service brakes stage-wise, so I'm hoping the Charleston would not be all that bad on mileage.
If you haven't bought yet, I'd recommend the 2015 (new version) Charleston over the 2014 - there are some really innovative features, and after 2015 there are going to be some changes in technology gradually added in the following-year models that I don't want, and don't believe are value added. About the only thing the 2015 has that I could do without is the outdoor sidewall TV, but I guess it makes it easier to sell down the road, since a lot of folks just have to have it. I could do without the front TV that's in the 2015 BH model, also.