Pros: One-piece roof, Sunbrella tenting, stainless lift system, one-piece door, excellent quality for the most part
Cons: Poor quality frame paint, bad engineering in some critical areas.
My family purchased a 2001 Sea Pine Grand Tour Coleman folding trailer new. Our first camper was a 1986 Coleman Colorado camper that we bought new. I was once extremely loyal to the brand, and I told everyone looking for a popup that I would never own anything but a Coleman. My first one was virtually trouble free for 14 years. Now (after owning my second Coleman camper for 3 years), I have to say that I could not give it my unqualified recommendation. It is excellent in many regards, but it has a few problems that, at least to me, negate a lot of the positives. After all, any product is only as good as its weakest link, right?
The first major problem occurred in the first year of ownership. The whole frame was rusted extensively within the first 6 months. In fact, it had far more rust than the 14-year-old camper that I had just traded in. In addition, the camper had been stored over the winter in a heated garage with a dehumidifier to dry out the air. My expectations were not unrealistic. I know metal rusts, and, to a certain extent, rust on a metal frame is just wear-and-tear and touch-up is part of regular maintenance. In this case, however, large parts of the frame and jacks were just completely covered in rust. Of course, when I contacted the dealer, they explained that the finish was not part of lifetime frame warranty, so I took it to my body shop. They explained to me that the manufaturer had used cheap, poor quality paint and that the only way to abate the rust was to sandblast and repaint the whole frame. I then called the Coleman factory in Somerset, PA where it was expained to me that even my extensive rust was "maintenance rust" and was to be expected. I then asked him to explain how a new camper could rust so badly when it had been garaged all winter. He answered by saying that the problem could have been caused by leaving the camper out in the rain. I guess I should not have used it expect on sunny days. The cost to sandblast and repaint the frame during the first year of ownership was $300. Interestingly, after two additional years of ownership (stored and used the same way), there is almost no rust on the camper. I suspect Fleetwood though this was a place they could get away with cutting corners without anybody noticing.
The second year was good, but I only used it once. When I took it out for the first time the third year, I discovered two problems (please understand that I have only used this camper 4 times). First, all 4 of the brackets anchoring the drawer glides to the backs of the cabinets either had pieces broken off or were totally broke off. One of the drawers was only partially full of some light linens. This is just poor engineering. While the load for the plastic brackets would have been completey acceptable for home use, they failed to take into account the effects of vibration when driving down the road. They should have provided additional support for the drawer glides. Instead, they tried to use an off-the-shelf part intended for a different application. This would have been fine if only they had spent a little extra time reinforcing it. The cost for the part is $5.25 each plus wood for the reinforcement that should have been there in the first place.
The biggest problem I have had has been with the glides for the bed system. One of the plastic spacers broke through causing the rails to shift and not to slide out properly. When I checked the spacers on the other rails, the one on the opposite side was broke through. One of the spacers on the smaller bed is also cracking but not yet broke through. Unfortunately, the rails are put together in such a way that it is very difficult to replace the part. This is not an appropriate application for plastic, but I do not know how to re-engineer it so that it will not happen again. I would expect to replace these parts every 1-2 years. Fleetwood would probably claim that I put weight on the beds without having the bed supports engaged properly or forced the beds in some way when pulling them out; however, I never did any such thing. I double-checked the directions, and, at least according to that, I did nothing inappropriate that could have caused the problem. In addition, I have owned popups for 17 years, and I definitely know that you have to be careful. I never had any problems with the bed system in my previous camper.
These may seem like reasonably minor problems, and, in many respects, they are. However, these problems must be viewed in light of the fact that a Coleman, on average, costs about $2000-$3000 more than a comparable model from one of its competitors (e.g., Rockwood, Starcraft, and Dutchmen). Had I have paid that much less, I would have expected repairs and problems and would have had the extra money to pay for them. Maybe I just had high expectations because I had such a wonderful experience with my earlier Coleman. With some minor corrections, this could again be a fabulous product.