Our RV is a DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel. Since we were passing by Indiana on our way up to Michigan in May of 2016, we dropped into their headquarters in Howe, IN for a factory tour.
Elkhart, IN – RV Capital of the World
Elkhart, IN is the RV Capital of the World. More than 80 percent of global RV production is based throughout the region. The DRV headquarters is in Howe, Indiana, which is about 35 miles from Elkhart. As we headed back up into Michigan, we were curious to stop in and see where our RV had begun. Extra bonus – we ended up getting 2 free nights stay in their parking lot with 50 amp electric hookup.
A Brief History of DRV
Our RV is a DoubleTree RV Mobile Suites. DoubleTree RV was founded in 2002 by David Fought with a goal to make RVs geared toward extended and full-time living. They wanted to make RVs that simulated people’s homes: more insulation, more durable furniture, and customized lighting and cabinetry to their customers needs.
Interestingly, in 2008 DoubleTree RV changed its name to DRV to avoid any conflicts with the Doubletree hotel chain. In 2015 Thor Industries, Inc. announced the purchase of DRV, Inc. through its Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC. It would keep its manufacturing facility in Howe, Indiana located 35 miles from Elkhart, IN.
DRV Fifth Wheel Products
In the beginning, DRV made 3 models of luxury fifthwheels. The product lineup included the top of the line Elite Suites, and lower priced Mobile Suites and Select Suites, each aimed to attract a different segment of the fiver market.
The Select Suites was discontinued in 2012, and two new models of DRV fifth wheels were introduced: the Full House toy hauler, and the Tradition. In 2014 they offered a Mobile Suites Estates version, which I believe is just a more contemporary styling of the Mobile Suites.
DRV Factory Tour
DRV has tours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10AM Eastern.
They request you all ahead to schedule your visit:
DRV Luxury Suites
0160 W 750 N
Howe, IN 46746
We were in a tour group of 6 and we were led on an hour-long tour through the factory, observing each stage of the manufacturing process of the DRV fifth wheels.
Things We Like About Our Mobile Suites
We chose our RV because we wanted a truly “full-time” RV made from quality materials. Our favorite features of our Mobile Suites include:
- Thicker insulation in the walls and floor than most RVs – R11 in walls, R19 in roof and floor.
- Real hung wood walls and cabinets
- Dual pane windows – this makes the RV much more insulated and quiet. When we are in our RV with the windows all closed, we hardly hear the outside campground at all.
- HUGE water tanks – we have 100 gallon tank for freshwater, 75 gallons capacity for grey water and 50 gallons black water. This makes it very easy to boondock for a long time.
- Carrying capacity – our rig is 12977lbs dry and has a 16500 Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), meaning we had room for 2634lbs of storage after subtracting for 100 gallons of water and 60 pounds of propane, which is on the larger end of carrying capacities.
Unfortunately, DRV Mobile Suites are pretty heavy and pretty expensive. Because of this, we got the smallest one we could, the “32” model, and we got it used, a 2005. While that is pretty old for an RV, due to the reputation and the quality materials that went into it, these rigs hold up pretty well.
Ours was very well cared for and was in good condition when we got it.
Compared to our previous 2009 Heartland Cyclone, our Mobile Suites is so much more comfortable!
While ours is a 2005, it was very neat to see how DRV makes them today.
They claim they haven’t changed anything in their manufacturing quality since being purchased by Thor. That’s probably tough to say 100% certain. New RVs these days seem to roll off the line with lots of defects that need to be fixed in the warranty period. We’ve heard this across the board. We like to think that ours had most of the bugs worked out by the time we got it, although we’ve had our fair share of RV Repairs.
Do your due diligence before making a purchase to find the rig that works best for you.
Full-Time Fifth Wheels
We have heard of full-timers making it work in just about anything. Our goal was to find the RV that was most “like a house” on wheels, and we think we got that in our 2005 DRV Fifth wheel. Insulation, water capacity, and carrying capacity were big factors, as well as quality of build and furniture. Now a lot more companies are jumping on the full-time bandwagon, and there are a lot of options out there!
RV Business. “Doubletree RV” January 2008. <http://www.rvbusiness.com/wp-content/backissues/DigitalRVBusiness0801.pdf>
DRV Brochure Archive. http://www.drvsuites.com/brochures-archive.html
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