Introducing our new motorhome

We purchased a new 2013 Forest River Solera 24S. You can read about our search here The Search for our RV (Part 1) and The Search for our RV (Part 2).  We purchased the Special Edition model which supposedly has a number of upgrades, but I believe that every Solera available is an SE, making it more of a mandatory or ‘feel good’ upgrade package than a true option.

Passenger side of white motorhome on flast desert ground taken from low angle

Our Solera is 7.5 meters (24.5 feet) long, but almost a meter longer (i.e. 27 feet) with the rear bike rack we added (more about that to come).  It is 2.3 meters (7 feet 7 inches) wide and 3.5 meters (11 feet 6 inches) high, which Martin will be pleased to hear allows an interior height of 2.13 meters (7 feet).

It sits on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis made in Germany.  It has a Mercedes Benz V6 3.0 Litre BlueTec Turbo diesel engine capable of 188 horsepower and a 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and tip-shift (which allows optional manual shifting).  The rear axle has 4 wheels for a total of 6.

It has a 26.4 gallon (100 Litre) fuel tank and should get 12-17 miles per gallon (15.6 L/100km), for an estimated range of 400 miles (630 kilometers).

Motorhome taken from front at 3/4 angle in a parking lot at night
Solera Exterior at night

Our Solera has the standard exterior (white gel-coat fiberglass with stickers) which was cheaper than the full-body paint and should be cooler in the summer.  It has a fiberglass roof (more durable and easier to maintain) and a 1-piece fiberglass nose cap (fewer leaks).

It has 1.9 cubic meters (67 cubic feet) of external storage across 5 compartments including a large ‘garage’ at the rear.  It also has a 4.6 meter (15 feet) long electric awning that extends and retracts at the touch of a button.

The cab from the rear with 2 seats, dash, steering wheel, and multi-media system
The Cab

The cab has an open feel and plenty of leg room because it doesn’t have a large center console (unlike the Ford chassis), but there is still plenty of storage in the dash, doors, and above the visors.

The cab multi-media system is feature rich (7” touchscreen with AM/FM, CD, DVD, USB, Aux, weather band, Bluetooth, an iPod dock, and GPS) but it’s quality-challenged.  There is also a back up camera where the rear view mirror would normally be.

Kitchen on the left, bed and bathroom in the rear, storage and dinette on the right
The interior looking back from the cab

The interior has a kitchen, bed, bathroom, vanity, dinette, and storage plus an additional bed (or more storage) over the cab.  The woodwork is cherry and the fabrics are what Forest River calls ‘fieldstone’.

Our Solera has a 2.75 meter (9 foot) long slide on the driver’s side that can extend the dinette, closet, and drawers outward to create more living space.  Everything in the RV is operational and there is sufficient room for 2 people to function when the slide is in, but having it extended makes a big difference.  Diane has said several times how happy she is that we got a motorhome with a slide.

The kitchen with cupboards, cook top, oven, microwave, and fridge.
The Kitchen

The kitchen has a single sink, a 3 burner gas cooktop, a gas oven, a range hood with an exhaust fan and a dim light, a microwave, and a refrigerator with separate freezer.  The fridge will run on propane or 110 V electricity.

The bed with a comforter with windows on 2 sides
The Bed

We have a rear corner bed which at 50 x 75 inches (1.25 x 1.9 meters) is 10” narrower and 5” shorter than a standard queen-sized bed.  Yes Martin, there is room to sleep diagonally or dangle one’s feet off the end of the bed.  Because the bed is in a corner, it’s a bit awkward to make and to get out of at night, but it’s very comfortable after we added a memory foam mattress topper.  Diane is very happy in the bed department.

Bathroom with open door showing shower and toilet.  Vanity outside.

The bathroom and Vanity

The bathroom has a shower with a glass sliding door and a skylight above.  There is a porcelain commode that flushes with a foot pedal, but very little leg room when one is sitting on it.  We haven’t figured out where to attach the toilet paper holder yet!  There is also a vanity with a small sink, medicine cabinet, and mirror just outside the bathroom.

Closet, panty, and drawers in cheery wood besider a 4 person dinette
Storage and Dinette

Beside the closet, pull out panty, and storage drawers is the dinette which seats 4 people.  There are seatbelts in the dinette for 2 people (not for eating and drinking but for driving!).  From the dinette we can also watch the flat screen, 12 Volt TV that swings out from over the cab.  We can plug in to cable TV when available, receive ‘over the air’ high-definition television broadcasts with the adjustable roof antenna, watch video from our laptop, or play DVDs from the cab multi-media system.

We’re very happy with the layout and features of our new motorhome.  As we expected in a new RV, we’re finding a few glitches, but we hope to have them worked out soon.  Perhaps all that research was worth it!

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13 thoughts on “Introducing our new motorhome

    1. Yes, they’re intended to accomodate up to 2 additional passengers (for a total of 4). In most states and provinces, people riding in the back of a motorhome are required to wear seat belts if the vehicle is so quipped and in some you’re not supposed to carry any more people than the total number of seat belts. Even though there are seat belts in the dinette, it’s not a great place to be in an accident if the RV crash test video I saw on Youtube is to be believed.

  1. Nice one, it looks lovely, certainly worth the research, if only to keep Dianne happy in the slid out/ bedrooms departments – I take it they are seperate departments….

    1. Yes, it has an immobilizer so the chassis is pretty safe. There are no locking wheel nuts, but it has cheap wheels and weighs over 12,000 pounds, so they’re probably OK. The ‘house’ isn’t very secure, but most motorhomes aren’t. It doesn’t have an alarm system. However, we have everything insured including the bikes on the rear rack (which are attached with 4 locks and 4 cables!). We’ll try not to park in too many rough neighbourhoods and keep our fingers crossed.

  2. Patrick, thanks for the info. Enjoyed reading your blog, but I should get back to work………

    We are also trying to decide between the Solera (24R in our case)and a Winnebago. Do you mind telling me why you decided on the Solera over the Winnebago?


    1. Our first decision was what motorhome chassis we wanted, the wider and generally longer Ford 350/450 vs. the Mercedes Benz Sprinter. We choose the Sprinter because it is narrower (easier to drive and park), has a much longer engine life, gets better fuel economy, drives more like a car, didn’t have an awkward center console, had a better view out the windshield, and seemed to be of generally higher quality. The trade-off was the higher purchase price and higher maintenance costs of the MB chassis, lower weight capacity for contents and towing, fewer dealers for service, and slightly higher cost of diesel fuel. The Ford chassis is also more stable (our Solera had a bit too much sway for our liking until we upgraded the sway bars),

      There are lots of 24-25 foot motorhomes based on the Sprinter 3500 chassis. Almost every major manufacturer makes one. We chose the Solera because we thought it had the best feature set for us relative to the price. The Winnebago models (e.g. Navion and View) were also very good, had a few extra bells and whistlers, had a modern interior design, are probably of higher quality, and are more widely available (may make getting parts easier/quicker) but would have cost us significantly more. The Solera could be purchased new for significantly less money at some online dealers.

      The Solera 24S also had the following features that we liked:
      – it has a large slideout which greatly increases the interior space
      – it is not necessary to open the slideout to use the rear bed (handy when dry camping or parking on the street), the kitchen, or the dinette
      – it was the only Sprinter-based model we found with a gas oven and a 3 burner cooktop
      – it has a fiberglass roof
      – it has a large, power awning
      – the Solera is still being manufacturer (makes getting parts easier)
      – there are Forest River dealers across North America, covering both the U.S. and Canada

      We’ve been generally happy with our decision so far. There have been the inevitable list of warranty items that you’ll face with any dealer, but Forest River has stood behind their warranty, fixing what was required.

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