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.
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).
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!