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Old 09-11-2019, 07:28 PM   #1
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Isata 3 Pre-Buy Jitters

As I approach retirement, still a bit off, I am considering my first RV purchase. Went to a show and saw the Isata 3 and I really like the model. The FW floorplan seems perfect for my wife and I to bum around in. I've done a lot of research on-line (so many conflicting opinions!) and have some concerns. I'm hoping to find out from actual owners if my concerns are justified or just jitters.

1. Cargo Carrying Capacity. Is it enough. Roughly 1000 lbs, before options which can eat into that significantly. Depending what you get, you may only have a few hundred pounds for people and stuff. Is it sufficient? This CCC issue is not limited to Dynamax, but all RV's built on the MB Sprinter, which brings me to my next point.

2. MB Sprinter vs Ford Chassis. Most people online seem to say that the MB Sprinter is more reliable, has better mileage, and gives a smoother ride. It is more expensive, however, and the gas savings never pay that back. And when it does fail it is more expensive to fix and fewer places can do the work and get the parts. And of course, Ford models have a much high CCC.

3. Build quality. This forum, and others, have a few detractors with horrific stories to tell. But this seems to be true of most brands I've checked out. Many people think it is endemic to the class, not specific to Dynamax. Less frequently, however, do you hear from the satisfied customers who have had few problems. I wish I could get actual numbers, like complaints per units sold or miles driven, but that's hard to come by. So, would most of you make the same purchase? Have you had many problems?

4. Prolonged use. I saw somewhere a disclaimer it was not for extended use. I believe this was due to condensation and mold and the warranty might be voided. Well what does that mean? I don't plan on making it my primary residence, but I do envision trips of several months. How long can you occupy it continuously? How do you keep condensation from building up? Can you add a dehumidifier and push the CCC further?

I'm sure I'll think of more questions.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:07 PM   #2
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Excellent posting and detailed questions of concern.

Within Forest River, if you accept the good/better/best definition....

There is Sunseeker/Forester/Isata 3, and they all offer the FW floorplans. Theyíre all based on the same Mercedes platform, so performance issues during use should be the same. The real justification for pricing differences between the three is up to the individual.

Iíll be watching this thread.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:15 PM   #3
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I canít say I have the answers, but you are asking the right questions. Tagged for interest.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:18 PM   #4
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We have a 2017 Isata 3 24FW purchased new in May 2017. We have been on about six long trips staying over 100 nights in the past 2 yrs, 4 mos driving 15,000 miles.

Never had a warranty claim on the Sprinter or the Isata. I just had a couple of USB plugs go bad after the warranty expires and I replaced them myself.

Definitely issues that some have encountered, just like most complex machines, but we think going through an extensive inspection when you pick up your RV is the secret to success. We spent two days going through our Isata 3 at the dealer and they fixed several small issues before we left the dealer.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:59 PM   #5
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I am not an ISATA3 owner, so I’m probably not qualified to answer your questions. However, I was in your place earlier this year. While we are seasoned class C campers, it was time to replace an old unit. We looked at all the higher end small class Cs, like Dynamax, Nexus, Phoenix Cruiser, Winnebago, Tiffin. We were convinced the ISATA3 was the way to go. We wanted to love the Mercedes chassis. We visited the Dynamax factory, which gave us helpful information.

We had enough RV experience to know what we really want/need/use, and what we don’t want/need/use. Give me five seconds looking at a floor plan, and I could tell what’s wrong and what’s right about it, for us. Anyway, back to the higher end brands and the Dynamax, the harder we looked, the more we saw that what defined “luxury” in those brands was unimportant or contradictory to our needs. Example: a Tiffin Wayfarer is a supposedly high end product. It has no spare tire, nor a place to mount one. We don’t care how nice the flooring or the cabinets are, if there’s no spare tire, then it’s unacceptable. Another example: the 27 foot ISATA4 has, I believe, 7 drawers total in the interior cabinetry. Most storage is just big open space, hard to organize. There are no cabinets above the dinette or the bed. In the Sunseeker 27 footer, there are 15 drawers total, as well as cabinet space above the bed and dinette.

Long story made shorter, we bought a Ford based Sunseeker, and we feel we got features the ISATA3 could not offer, again FOR US. Plus, we paid less money.

My point here is not to bash the ISATA3, but to suggest that you keep an open mind and look at units like Foresters and Sunseekers as well. You might find that features, weight capacities, or floor plans more important to YOU might actually be found in other models, even slightly less expensive ones.

If I were to go with a Mercedes Benz, the new Q model from Forester or Sunseeker on the 2019 Sprinter chassis would have been my choice.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:37 PM   #6
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1. If it's just you and your wife you'll be fine. That's how we use it, plus a golden retriever. Also, a toad can be used to carry some extra weight. We don't use ours for that, but it's there if we needed it.
2. I haven't had a Ford, so can't make a comparison. I'm really impressed with the Mercedes so far. We get 13+ mpg towing a Jeep in and around Oregon.
3. Yes I would buy again. Yes we had a couple of minor problems. All fixed by myself. This forum is a great resource with great people more than willing to help. With a bonus of the Dynamax GM on here to get some direct factory help.
4. I think the extended living thing has to do with full timers. I'm not sure where they draw the line as far as warrantee is concerned. We store ours with a dehumidifier in it, but we don't travel with one.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:41 AM   #7
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Hello all,

Very new owners of a 2019 Istata 3FW but thought I would share our experiences.

1. CCC is a concern but we plan and load with that in mind and for the most part it will only be my wife and I.

2. Ford verses MB. I know little wrt drive train, dependability, fuel etc but the largest deciding factor for us the space in and around the dash for the passenger while seated. The ford with large ďdog houseĒ was a deal breaker, an adult can hardly have their feet together in the foot well of the ford units and it is difficult to swing out of seat into side/rear to enter the house. The MB is clean, open, clear.

Note, one concern I have had is access to the sink while doing dishes etc. the upper cabinet above the sink is is standard depth, not reduced depth, so it can feel cramped and cabinets can feel a little close. Just my option/problem.

As mentioned in other posts, and as I understand it as been addressed, watch for TPMS valve stem extensions. We had scary experience on our first shake down tour much like described by others, had shop replace with proper extensions and feel better now.

We had only had our unit for a few months and a few weeks and few weekend or use but have enjoyed it a great deal, drives great, sleeps well and lay out really works. We choose the duel recliner verses the table and my wife enjoys traveling back there in ď first classĒ with feet up, dog beside her.

Good luck with you selection and retirement
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:10 AM   #8
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We bought a lightly used 2019 Isata 3FW after much research. We previously owned a used Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22ft. Ford to see if we liked travelling in a MH. The Sprinter is a much better rig IMHO, despite the CCC constraints. And make no mistake, just because it's a MB, it's just a delivery van with zero luxury appointments. We found the FW to be perfect for us and two dogs while still staying on the shorter side for ease of maneuvering. There will be creaks and groans and rattles and things that need fixing, so the better you are at fixing things, the less time you'll spend at the dealership. The PDI is crucial, and don't take any shortcuts or accept any partial explanations. I asked our walk thru tech why the solar controller was blinking an error code and he told me it was just the snow on the roof. This dealership made the original sale and bought it back from the elderly owners. They also delivered it from Michigan to California, and picked it up in Florida and drove it back to Michigan. The solar panels were wired backwards at the controller so it never worked from day one. But yet it was "snow on the roof". It was February, and there was snow on the roof, but they weren't able to catch that somehow. I fixed it myself in less than 10 minutes but it serves as an example of what's possible and all too probable.
I guess the best thing I could tell you right now is that we're happy to own it and really appreciate the amazingly helpful forum members and the participation of the Dynamax GM.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:11 AM   #9
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We have had our Isata 24 FWS for a couple of years coming from bus conversions.

The ride is as good as the coach , and the bride finds it 100 times less stressful to drive. As folks get older splitting the driving becomes more important.

WE use it as snowbirds and find towing a small (12ft) closed trailer solves the hassle of high volume but little weight for my brides weaving hobby.
And carting the usual pile of treasures that need to be ,,at the other house. The downside to a trailer is backing up is almost impossible.

"Next year" we will switch to pulling out Honda CRV which can be disconnected easily so can visit more places enroute.

We lived aboard for 120 days last year as we waited for our cottage in CT to be demolished and a new modular installed.

Big thing learned is the dinette is great for most camping ,but when used as a fixed home the seats get many more hours of use , and a cushion on a sheet of ply gets old rapidly .

The bus conversion had real seats in addition to a dinette so the hassle of rock hard dinette seats was never a problem .

We will eventually switch to 2 recliners .

Since we seldom go RV touring for more than a month or so , the limited CCC never is a hassle , the more junk aboard the more maint and hassle with inventory.

Vacation , not second career is goal.

Yes, the hassles if the slide craps out is a worry and no question M-B maint is not cheap but the pleasure of driving a smooth, quiet ,great functioning machine makes up for any hassles.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:39 AM   #10
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We have the 24rw and love it. We have spent as many as 2 months at a time and have had no real issues. It now has 36,000 miles and 2 years since we purchased it and are still happy campers. We picked the RW because of the huge amount of cabinet space and outside storage compared to the FW. I donít know what we would do if we didnít have the cabinets above the the theater seats. Thatís where we store all our dry food when traveling.I also like the rear slide when stopping at rest areas or parking lots for a nap when traveling. We didnít see the need for the extra floor space of the FW. We also went with the theater seats as they are much more comfortable during extended stays over the dinette. As far as the Mercedes it has had no issues and the fuel mileage has been in the 12 to 13 mpg range towing my 10 foot enclosed trailer or my GMC Terrain. This last trip to Wyoming was 3600 miles and it used a half of a tank of def. I also posted a log of my 31 days of boon-docking on this forum if you are interested. As far as my experience this is my 7th Motor Home over 40 rears of RVing.
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