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New high-tech RVs offer all the comforts — and then some!

By the staff

A new generation of recreational vehicles with innovative features from expandable rooms to Web TV is attracting a new generation of buyers.

Combining traditional amenities like fully equipped kitchens and baths, central heat and air conditioning, and queen-sized beds with state-of-the-art entertainment and communications technology, today's RVs make travel more comfortable and convenient than ever. Consumers agree, propelling RV
Build in TVs are common in today's RVs, which feature innovations unheard of only a few years ago.
sales to their highest levels since 1978, especially among baby boomers who want to take their toys on the road.

Among the most popular electronic amenities now commonly found aboard RVs: surround-sound stereos, CD players with individual headphones, TVs, VCRs and video game systems. Other high-tech options include hydraulic levelers, back-up cameras and bedrooms that convert into mobile offices complete with a dedicated spot for computer and internet jacks.

RVs pack more technology every day, including:

Moving walls that automatically expand the interior living space for added comfort once the RV reaches its destination. With the touch of a button, this "slideout" feature can expand the living, dining, sleeping or kitchen area by as much as three and a half feet each for almost twice the floor space. Slideouts have become common features on many types of RVs. Eighty-four percent of fifth-wheel travel trailers and 78 percent of type A motorhomes shipped in the first quarter of 1999 contained slideouts.

Small direct broadcast satellite antennas that have replaced the mammoth dishes of the '80s. There are even models that work while on the road, so RV passengers won't miss the big game while making time. Electronic mapping, or Global Positioning Systems (GPS), to help RVers chart their course and identify their location at the moment. Web TV, so RV travelers can easily access the worldwide web during their travels. Space-saving dishwashers that slide in like a drawer, designed to economically clean kitchen utensils with minimal visibility, noise and water use.

For those who want to bring their all-terrain vehicles, jet skis or motorcycles along on trips, today's RV fleet includes sport utility trailers and motorhomes with built-in "garages," some with hydraulic lifts for easy loading.

The appeal of traveling with all the comforts of home has triggered a 20-year high in RV sales nationally,with strong across-the-board gains in shipments of both towable and motorhome units to RV dealers. In 1998, shipments of RVs — motorhomes, conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, truck campers and folding camping trailers — totaled 292,700, an increase of 15 percent over 1997.

Read a related story: What's best, a trailer or a motorhome

Copyright 2000 by Out West Newspaper