My wife and I picked up our new 2301 on Monday and finally headed to Maine with it yesterday. After a couple hundred miles I figured I’d share my thoughts and impressions.
Our last motorhome was a 1986 Tioga Arrow 23 footer, essentially the same size as our new 2301 except the Tioga had bunk beds in the back. Now that we’re “older” empty nesters, we got the rear queen so we wouldn’t have to climb the front bunk ladder any more. The Tioga was on a Chevy chassis, same as the 2301 (I’ll get to the reasons why we went Chevy vs Ford a bit later.) but came with an aftermarket dash A/C unit and aftermarket cruise control. We had nothing but trouble with them the entire time we owned the motorhome. The 2301 comes with Chevy OEM dash A/C and cruise control so hopefully our past experiences….like losing our dash A/C in Las Vegas in July ….. doesn’t happen again.
The Forester was on the lot at the dealer, we didn’t order it so it was pretty much a take it or leave it proposition as far as equipment and accessories. I’ll break down the positives and negatives in three areas; Forest River, Chevrolet and the dealer I purchased the motorhome from.
Forest River –
Having had a Fleetwood product previously I am much more impressed with the overall fit and finish of the Forest River product. Granted, we’re talking 1986 vs 2015, but I’m very happy that I decided to stick with Forest River.
One of the big selling points is something I learned about here on the forum, the fiberglass roof. My old Tioga had an aluminum roof that was almost as thick as aluminum foil so I was always patching holes in it.
I like the soft touch ceiling and I really like the ducted A/C in the ceiling. Our Tioga had a Coleman unit in the center of the coach that would wake the dead when it ran. The unit in my 2301 is very quiet and I like how I can control either full blast out of the central unit or adjust each duct’s direction and amount of flow.
The LED ceiling lights are so much brighter than the old plastic 12v ceiling lights that we had. I also like the floor level night lights.
The little things like the real tile backsplash around the stove and the cedar lining in the closet are nice touches that kick up the overall quality of the unit.
The Serta memory foam mattress is like being on a cloud. We replaced the overhead bunk mattress in our old camper with a thick piece of extra firm foam that we bought locally. That was an improvement but nothing like the Serta mattress.
The china toilet versus a plastic one is a great feature. It’s solid and much easier to clean.
The amount of outside storage in the basement of the 2301 (the Sunseeker 2300 is identical as far as layout.) is amazing. We had a roof pod on the Tioga and even with all the stuff we carried in the pod and the camper, we didn’t even start to fill up all the storage in the 2301.
I’m used to the old “push the gas button and keep clicking the sparker” to get the fridge going. The new ones that automatically switch from gas to electric and back are very nice. Same thing with the water heater. The sparker died on the Tioga after about a year and the rest of the time we owned it I used a BBQ lighter to get it going. It’s nice to be lazy…I mean to use the new conveniences.
Backup and sideview cameras. I didn’t have them, I don’t even know if they were available in 1986. If I was ordering the unit from the factory I would have ordered the rear view camera and not bothered with the side cameras under the mirrors, but this unit already had them. After the ride home from the dealer and the trip yesterday, I will never buy another motorhome without the side cameras. They are really amazing. Between the cameras and the mirrors I have no blind spots on either side. I quickly learned that when making tight turns into parking lots and in or out of driveways to flick on the signal light so that I could see where the side of the coach was in relation to the curb/rock/wall/telephone pole.
They really are an outstanding safety feature.
The Jensen stereo/GPS unit that Forest River installed is a really nice feature…except when the GPS woman kept yelling at me that I was speeding! The Bluetooth/cell phone interface worked great. The touch screen is a really good feature so you don’t need to go searching for little tiny buttons. It has Sirius, but I’m a cheap Yankee so I’ll listen to the AM/FM radio for free.
Only a couple things that I’ve found (so far).
The control module for the rear/sideview cameras was attached under the driver’s side dash with a single zip tie and kind of dangling over the brake pedal. It caught my attention when I saw two unused RCA plugs hanging down under the dash. I fixed that, a couple more zip ties and it’s secure.
Same thing in the sewer compartment, the wires for the tank level sensors and several other wires were dangling in mid air. They got zip tied secure too.
We’ve got a digital King Jack TV antenna rather than the old crank up/crank down type like we had before. It took me a while to figure out how to use it but I got it now. The only thing I didn’t like was that the coax going from the antenna across the roof and down into the coach has a section about 12 inches long that’s just kind of dangling in the breeze. There’s a ton of self leveling sealant around the base of the antenna and where it goes into the roof to enter the coach, but nothing on the rest of it. It would be very easy to snag on a low hanging branch that might not be strong enough to damage the antenna but could damage the wire. For the time being I put a layer of heavy duty aluminum tape over the coax to hold it flush to the roof. I think I’m going to get a tube of the self leveling caulk and secure it down completely.
We have a TV in the rear bedroom of the coach. I don’t know what the guys were thinking at Forest River, but whoever decided to put the 12v/TV coax plug where they did weren’t thinking. As the photo shows, it’s right about a foot or so above the end of the mattress. It’s very easy to accidently hit, in fact when we got the unit home we discovered the plate for the 12v/coax was already broken. It was cracked on the right side and not visible from the aisle side of the bed. Why it wasn’t installed another foot higher, like right alongside the TV is a mystery.
I’m going to look around and see if someone makes one where the coax and the 12v plug face upwards.
The AM/FM antenna that is installed on the right front fender is pretty much a joke. It cuts down on reception range to about 20 miles. Stations that I can get on every other vehicle I own don’t work until I get almost to the city limits of where the radio station is located. I’ll be looking to replace the antenna.
Stainless steel wheel liners – the only real negative is the edges around the tire valves are SHARP! I tried to check the air on one of the rear inner tires and pulled my hand back a bit too quickly. I lost about ½ a pint of blood out of the gash on my thumb where I hit the inside edge of the wheel liner. Today I wrapped the opening with tape then checked the air pressure.
I’ve got the same issue that some other 2301 and Sunseeker 2300 owners are complaining about with the non-pressurized potable water tank fill. I was going to fill it and sanitize it yesterday so I filled it up, no problem. I opened the drain valve for the tank and drained the tank out to flush it out. Then I was going to add some bleach and fill it up with water again. The bleach wouldn’t go in and I couldn’t get any more water in. I thought I might have introduced a blockage into the fill tube, but I ran the hose for a minute before to make sure it was clear. I even took a shop vac to see if there was something in the hose that I could suck out. Eventually I looked through the port under the rear bed where the water heater bypass valves are and I could see the freshwater tank and fill tube. The fill tube ran slightly uphill at one point which seems to have created some type of vapor block. I repositioned the fill tube down as much as I could, which wasn’t much and tried again. The water went in at that point. The guys are Forest River should be paying attention to this as apparently this is an issue on their 2301/2300 series.
Edit - one thing I forgot. This is my OCD kicking in....the pull down blind mounted over the large window at the dinette is crooked. The right side is about a 1/2 inch lower than the left side. If someone knows how to adjust those please let me know.
As previously mentioned, OEM cruise and A/C.
I picked the Chevy chassis over the Ford due to the extra legroom in the cab as well as concerns regarding the complaints people have with the Ford doghouse getting hot. The Chevy doghouse stayed nice and cool all day yesterday while driving. before retiring, I was in law enforcement for 40 years and my “company cars” were always Fords; LTD’s, Crown Vic’s, Expeditions and my last one the Explorer police interceptor; so I always trusted my life to Fords and Goodyear for work, but personally I’m a Chevy guy at heart.
At first I figured I wouldn’t like the OEM “cheap” seats in the cab but they are actually very comfortable. I had thought about switching them out for some custom van seats but after parking my butt behind the wheel all day yesterday I’m happy with them. It would be nice if they were power seats as my wife is vertically challenged and the extra adjustments would help, but we’ll make out OK.
The 6 liter V8 has plenty of power. (refer to GPS lady yelling at me for speeding above.)
At first I wasn’t sure about the General Grabber tires until I took a really close look. They’re M&S rated tires and have really good siping that should provide better control on wet roads.
I’m still learning about how to use the Firestone Ride Rite air suspension but it’s a nice feature for adjusting ride comfort. (I don’t know if Chevy or Forest River installed them.)
The cab/chassis is a 2014 (built in May of 2014) while the entire unit is classified as a 2015. Chevy needs to get their act together on better rust prevention on the frame. When I got the camper home I crawled over and under it as I service all my own vehicles and want to know everything about it. I was shocked at the amount of rust on the frame and crossmembers of the Chevy. A couple cans of Rustoleum Rust Reformer and a can of anti-rust spray paint later and all is good. But, there’s no reason why Chevy couldn’t have done a better job on protecting the frame.
Very good sales staff and an outstanding price on the unit.
They took delivery from Forest River in February. This past winter was a bear so I knew there was a very good chance that the unit was driven from Indiana to the northeastern part of the US on salt covered roads. I asked them to pressure wash the underneath of the camper to make sure there was no salt on it. I was told that they routinely do that with every unit when they come in. Not so much…..when I did my own crawl around at home I found that it was never washed off. I pressure washed the entire undercarriage and sprayed Fluid Film on any areas where I was concerned about rust that I didn’t paint (see Chevy above).
I swapped out all the 751 locks for some better aftermarket locks today on all the cargo compartment doors. Here’s a photo of one of the cargo door locks next to the lock from the generator door which is exposed to the road. It was already corroded and packed with salt. Not blaming Forest River for this, the dealer should have taken care of it when the unit came in off the highway upon delivery.
Anyway, those are my first impressions. Would I buy a Forest River/2301/Chevy again? Absolutely! I’m very happy with the layout of the coach and the overall size. We’re headed to warmer climates for the winter with it and next spring I want to drive it to Alaska. I know that there have been a number of bad reviews on other Forest River camp trailers and Class A motorhomes, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I got a good one. It’s like with every other vehicle make, Toyota, Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, etc., they all have some problems. Hopefully mine are minor and things that I’d rather fix myself than have to deal with the dealer for.