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Old 12-12-2015, 10:09 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 7
Looking for thoughts on the Fr3

Hello Everyone,

My family and I are close to pulling the trigger on a new RV. We're considering a 2016 Fr3 30ds.

I'd love to hear your first hand experience with the Fr3. I understand it's considered an entry level unit but just curious about the unit and Forest River as a company.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 12-13-2015, 07:37 AM   #2
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Location: Florida & Minnesota
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Hi Dtoste77. I think you're going to get a number of replies ranging from great to horrible. Probably should take all with a grain of salt.

That said, I'll give you my two cents. I have one of the first generation 30ds. It has a queen bed and many of the extras I had installed are now standard equipment or an option, such as rigid shower door and tv in the bedroom. Those of us early to the FR3s were essentially a beta test - but that's the price you pay for buying a first-year RV.

I've had relatively few problems with my coach. After nearly 10,000 miles, a leak around the windshield was the biggest problem. I've had good luck with my local RV retailer/shop. No complaints whatsoever. I may be in the minority on that.

My wife and I were looking at the FR3 and the Thor ACE. A couple things stood apart on the FR3, although the ACE may have made changes to close the gap. Basement storage is a big deal and was a major factor in us choosing the FR3. That ACE had much less. The layouts were nearly the same, but we liked the look of the FR3 better.

A final issue that affects all RVs of this size is the handling characteristics. Many owners have made modifications. I am one of them. I found driving the FR3 to be a challenge - especially in conditions with wind above 15 to 20 mph and on highways with trucks passing. All motorhomes this size use the Ford F53 chassis. Most will say it doesn't drive well, so I'd recommend doing the Cheap Handling Fix and probably a few more modifications, just to make it drive ok.

Good luck with your decision.

Jay & Jane
2014 FR3 30DS

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Old 12-13-2015, 03:00 PM   #3
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Location: Chicago
Posts: 198
I've had mine since March and put on 6,700 miles, 45 nights.

My warranty history is: door closer pulled out in wind (replaced), poor radio (loose antenna lead) and blurry back up camera (replaced). They were all fixed by my dealer, Pontiac RV, at no charge. The new back up camera has now gone blank so I will bring it back in this spring when I add a tow car.

We've driven it from Chicago to Florida, Boston and Niagara in temps from 25 to 95 with no other problems on the RV or any of the devices. As to handling, I was nervous and fought it at first, in part because reading these forums scared me, but I found that it handles a lot like a big old Oldsmobile. It is not a sports car, the wind and trucks will push it around some but if you don't panic it comes right back. It took me about 2500 miles to get comfortable with it, once you know what it does it's like driving anything else. I did not do any of the chassis modifications.

I get 8-1/4 MPG, running the generator on the road about 10% of the time for the AC. I've done one oil change for $32. For mods, I added a vortex fan to the bathroom, shelves to several of the cabinets and little stuff like cup holders and a spice rack.

We really like the layout and how much room it has with the slides out, on a holiday weekend we had 9 adults eating chili and sandwiches on a rainy night and it was comfortable. The mattress is good, not as nice as home but even after a 3 week trip I didn't feel 'beat up' like I used to after only a couple days on the foam in my old one. We put the sister-in-law up in the over cab bed and she said it's not bad. If you have real little ones use the sofa bed or set up the dinette.

We are happy with our FR3.
2015 FR3 30DS
Towing 2016 Chevy Sonic LT
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:12 PM   #4
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Join Date: Nov 2015
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Hi Dtoste77. My family and I just picked our 2016 Fr3 up December 3rd. After driving it back 1200 miles with a 2 year old and my wife we love it. Everything worked fine and everything spicy rv said about handling is true about the wind and trucks. We also looked at thors itasca and winnebago and found the FR3 the best choice for our family.
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Old 12-13-2015, 10:54 PM   #5
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Thank you all for the insight! Yes we really like the look and the layout of the Fr3 and it seems to be a more practical decision for us being that its our first RV.

Good to know about the wind. Here in California the wind probably isn't anything compared to Chicago and the Midwest but still somethings to be prepared for with trucks, etc.

We're looking at a 2016 model this weekend. It's actually used with almost no miles so if the price is right I may just pull the trigger. Would probably buy an extended warranty for some peace of mind since some of the wrinkles may have not been ironed out with it yet.
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Old 12-14-2015, 10:14 AM   #6
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We did what your thinking of doing and bought a 2015 model, 9 months old, with 4800 miles. We opt'ed not to buy extended warranty since the chassis is warranty up to 36,000 miles was my only concern. So just a personal preference I guess, but then again, I typically never buy extended warranties.

I think the biggest thing to do is to make the CHF (Cheap handling fix) on the sway bars. Just requires to move the mounting bolt to other hole that is on the sway bar. And get an alignment done and tell them to put your caster to the high side of the specs. Ours drives a lot better than when we first got it, but still gets pushed around a little in wind/semis.

Buy your RV based on your layout. We found the 30DS spacious enough for us on rainy days. Sure nice to have the couch and the dinette as sitting options. You'll wish you had 2 AC units like the rest of us. But depending on how handy you are, might not be that big of a deal. We plan on installing a second AC in the rear possibly this spring and running it off of a 20 amp extension cord.

Make sure you spend 2-3 hours looking the RV up and down for everything. Bring a flashlight, scratch pad, etc. and note any questions/issues you see. Good luck with your decision, but we're glad we bought a slightly used unit. Saved quite a bit over new that we didn't think the factory warranty was really worth it. And we'll be later this week for our trip to San Diego. So here comes another 3,000 mile trip! :-)
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Old 12-14-2015, 12:43 PM   #7
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Location: Southern California
Posts: 646
Keep in mind that an extended warranty covers more than the chassis. Need to consider components on and within the coach itself.
If you do go with an EW, don't buy from the dealer. Even if they work it into your payment it is definitely NOT a good deal. Check out other EW companies like Coach-Net, Good Sam and others. Just MHO
Smooth Roads, and, Drive 'em Safe

Curt & Isabel, & 9er (our Goldendoodle)
2014 Forest River FR3 30DS (Beasty)
2014 Honda CRV EX-L (toad)

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Old 12-14-2015, 01:02 PM   #8
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We picked the 30ds for the layout and the size of the dinette (bigger than competitors). Really like the space there for eating and playing games. Traded up Trina class C and live this unit. Tons of space. No quality concerns.
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Old 12-14-2015, 01:45 PM   #9
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 39
Big Mo Larry

Purchased 30DS in March 2015. Already have about 11,000 miles on it with one cross country trip. Pulling a 12 ft by 7 ft trailer with 2 Harley's in it makes it work hard. . Only got about 7 MPG and going up those western state mountains could only get it moving about 5 miles per hour! Wind? Yes it beats the hell out of the unit and you better be paying attention to your driving at all times as it will get the best of you very quickly. Air conditioner in Ford unit not very good and no one seems to be able to fix it any better. Head lights are not very bright either as I don't think the LED lights are strong enough for the unit. Overall design seems to be good and I do like the room the unit has to offer. You can expect problems as this seems to be the norm with RV's If you are handy most of the things can be fixed. For sure I am very happy I had a great Dealer as he has fixed all problems while the unit is under warranty, so now I have to decide if I want to purchase an extended one. I think I will as there are lots of things that can go wrong. Lastly as you travel don't expect dealers to jump on your warranty issues as unless you purchased the unit there they wont go out of there way to accommodate your problems! Have FUN!!!!
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Old 12-14-2015, 04:04 PM   #10
Join Date: Nov 2013
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I went to look at one...spent about 45 min. in and outside...was not impressed with the quality. Just my 2 cents. Pay attention to those who actually own it.

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