2017 Grand Design Solitude 384GK

2017 Grand Design Solitude 384GK

2017 Grand Design Solitude 384GKBy Howard J. Elmer,

The RV industry is in a continual state of change. The market demands it; and the builders themselves – when they identify new trends – move quickly to capitalize on them. In short, this explains a company like Grand Design RV.

Formed by three veteran RV industry executives in 2012, they identified a trend – quality –  and moved quickly to tap into it. Now, I know, every company talks about quality being a core component of its business, but admittedly some do it better than others.

In the case of Grand Design, the proof is in its ever-increasing sales, and also the quality control process they follow. According to its brochures, a trailer coming off the assembly line undergoes a comprehensive final inspection – as you’d expect. However, this is where its system differs from most. Inspected units move on to a separate facility where they are again subject to a 150-point inspection. This second pre-delivery inspection catches and fixes any problems before the unit is released to the dealers.

The reason I’m highlighting this marketing pitch from Grand Design is that I know one of the most irritating things owners can find in their brand-new trailer are small cosmetic flaws. It’s these little surface issues that drive owners nuts. Why? Because they feel foolish for complaining about minor rips, scrapes and blemishes, while at the same time seething about how much they paid. It’s simple human nature to want quality for your money.

So, having read this lofty promo before taking the Grand Design Solitude out for my test, I resolved to find any imperfections that might have been overlooked at the factory. I tried and I didn’t find a thing. Kudos.

Grand Design builds a variety of trailers; however, the Solitude fifth-wheel I took out was definitely of the luxury full-timer variety. At 40 ft. 7 in. in length, it’s got “take me south for the winter” written all over it. The price and the build quality also reflect that status.

2017 Grand Design Solitude 384GKThis Solitude starts with a drop-frame chassis that supports a wide-body (101-inches) and a very tall trailer. Its three slideouts expand the main living and kitchen area, with two of those slides being opposing. The third pulls the head of the bed in the master out further and interestingly, also moves the sink in the bathroom with it.

For running gear, the Solitude uses a Trailair Rota-Flex pin box, Equa-Flex suspension above HD axles with self-adjusting brakes, and 16-inch aluminum wheels. This combination creates the most room for people inside and for cargo in the basement alike. Wall construction is aluminum and the exterior sidewalls carry a high-gloss gel coat. You can walk on the roof and the tinted windows are frameless. The result of these features is a look for this trailer, over-all, which is stylish, sleek and modern. A nice feature, once you arrive at your site, is the deployment of the six-point hydraulic levelling system that will find level ground automatically.

Inside, the layout of the 384GK is traditional, with a rear salon, midship kitchen and master bedroom in the nose. Where it differs from other trailers is in the quality and quantity of the fixtures. The focal point of the space is the long kitchen island that is also the site for the dual sinks and gooseneck faucet. Nothing extraordinary about this setup – but then look above and you’ll see the intricate woodwork on the ceiling and the hanging light fixtures that illuminate the work space below. (In fact, there are multiple light fixtures throughout the trailer that add interest and accent various areas.)

If you turn towards the window from the island, you have the three-burner stainless steel stove (with 22-inch oven) set in the centre of another long counter space with real tile as a backsplash. Above it is the vent hood and built-in convention microwave. There is no lack of prep space in this kitchen. And of course, below all those counters are drawers and cupboards, as well as above. One of these cupboard spaces is prepped to accept a dishwasher if that’s your wish.  Another feature of this kitchen is a full-size hard-door pantry just beside the stainless steel 18 cu-ft. refrigerator (it has a pull-out freezer on the bottom).

The dining space consists of a freestanding hardwood table with two elegant upholstered chairs and two foldable ones – a nice space-saving innovation. The table is anchored just below a huge picture window that also opens. This lights up the eating and kitchen area and will be a joy to sit and eat at.

The salon is focused on a floor-to-ceiling wall unit that houses the big-screen LED TV just above the fireplace that incorporates an electric heater. Above all are glassed cupboards for A/V storage and accessories. These include HDMI Stereo/CD/DVD/with App controls. This trailer also has exterior speakers and is prepped with cable/antenna and satellite plug-ins.

Seating, as you’d expect, is top-notch with twin theatre recliners across from the TV. These seats are powered, lit by LED and have heat and massage functions. Your guests will have to make do on the non-heated three-seat leather upholstered couch at the rear of the trailer. This couch also doubles as a Tri-Fold hide-a-bed, for those sometimes overnight guests.

2017 Grand Design Solitude 384GKThe master bedroom up front is large enough to almost be called a sitting room, and it has a couple of neat features like a large walk-in closet set in the nose of the trailer. Because of the weird shape of this space, this is a great use; however, Grand Design had to go beyond the normal by fitting it with cured shelves and a sloped ceiling. Double mirrored doors finish this feature nicely. The bed is a 70×80-inch King with a full headboard and ample access on both sides. It has under-bed storage and a pull-out Ottoman feature that makes for a nice spot to sit and pull your socks up.

The second TV in the bedroom is mounted over a built-in residential-style dresser. Hard pocket doors maximize space from the bathroom to the bedroom and the corridor. The bath itself is large, made more so by the slideout that carries the sink and vanity with it. The woodwork and features like the ceramic bowl sink make this an attractive space. The shower is a large one-piece fibreglass shell with built-in seat and sliding glass door. It’s supplied by a 12-gallon water heater. The overhead skylight brightens the shower and adds height. The toilet is real porcelain.

A trailer like this has to be four season-capable. It’s insulated in the roof, walls and floor where it carries three layers adding up to an R-value of 45. For heat, the trailer comes with a 35K BTU high-output furnace for the living space, and heated tanks and storage protected by a fully-enclosed underbelly. Even the low-point water drains are enclosed and heated.

The air conditioning consists of two “Stealth” 15K BTU air conditioners that use an advance racetrack ducting that provides 23-percent more air flow than competitors, and is two times quieter. It was a little early in the year for me to check the A/C – but the heat worked fine.

As for towing, it’s a big trailer, no getting away from that. It rolls well and that standard Trailair pinbox sucks up a lot of the push/pull and hobbyhorsing you’d get without it. I even backed into some tight laneways and found with the position of the pin, you can easily go past 90-degrees while backing. You just have to go slow and remember that with a trailer this long, you also have to consider some tail-swing on the blind side. To that end, it can be had with a prepped rear camera setup.

With a topped-out weight of 16,000 lb, you’ll also want to match your tow vehicle carefully.  My Ram 3500 dually was, in fact, a bit of overkill, but on the other hand, it felt really good.  Most 2500 trucks will handle this trailer and a diesel engine will supply the torque you’ll want on the long hills. Of course, I always say if you’re headed south, you’re just heading downhill anyway, right?

If you’re in the market for that luxury gone-all-winter fifth-wheel, you’ll want to have a look at this Grand Design product.

Specifications: Grand Design Solitude 384GK

  • GVWR: 16,000 lb
  • Dry Weight: 13,450 lb
  • Length: 40’7”
  • Height: 13’5”
  • Fresh water: 54 gal
  • Grey water: 100 gal
  • Black water: 50 gal
  • Base Price: $78,530.

My test unit also included the Solitude Residential Living Package, the Peace of Mind Package and several other options that brought the price, as tested, to $103,899.

Test unit supplied courtesy of CanAm RV centre, London, ON.

Categories: Features, RVing, Trucks Plus
Tags: RV