I was reminded to post as wordpress sent me a notice that my stats were booming. I don’t think they were but nice to know I have some readers!  I will backtrack a little and post some photos and stories from a trip I took a few months ago to Santa Fe, New Mexico meanwhile here are my personal thoughts on the Hymer Aktiv (and up soon some other Promaster type class B motorhomes.)

Aktiv

I had an opportunity to see the Hymer Aktiv, a clean looking 19 .7 foot Class B on the short Dodge Promaster Body up close, actually it was kindly brought to my door for my inspection. I’d been in love with this little Class B from the first I learned of it. Hymer has been making motorhomes for around 50 years and has recently taken over Road Trek which they will continue to produce while introducing their own Hymer brand. (Hymer has an interesting history paying the way for the modern camper van for those curious.)  

The Aktiv 1.0 is their first U.S. offering. Several features like, the horizontal sleeping in the rear with panoramic views from the rear doors and side windows which I currently have has been one of my favorite pleasures when camping. . . tucked safe and comfy with blackout curtains that can be shut or opened to the whispering outdoors in sweet memorable sleeps with the LT’s rear parked up towards a river or a forest stealth watching wildlife, the shadows of evening and brightening of the dawn without needing to stir or announce my presence. . . I liked too the skylight in the front of the Aktiv, the seeming simplicity of the cassette sliding toilet, the table in front, the walk-though option with the bed folded up and out of the way, the ease of heating water and all those other modern technologies ….  if you haven’t seen it click on one of the Hymer links or this one.   I was surprised that this offering was on the shorter Promaster but eager to start my new van life!

With a few weeks delay due to sickness, storms and holidays the Hymer Aktiv rolled up and parked in front of my house. The rig attracted the neighbors who got real excited, a giant present everyone wanted to see.  The dealer rep popped out and opened up the van, first thing, well maybe second thing he did was to comment how he remembered me from years ago at the big  Pomona SoCal RV show. Having facial and conversational recall is undoubtedly an asset but his a posteriori knowledge of me made me feel pressured, after all I did not buy any of the Road Treks’s he showed me esp. the 19 foot Sprinter Agile he’d declared would be just what I needed and he’d had the perfect deal. Was he going to write me off as not a serious customer? A salesman wouldn’t do that, right?

I was so in love with the Aktiv I’d been digging in my finances, getting creative and prepped yet fully aware that drooling over videos was not enough, one has to see the object in the flesh. I’d invited Tom to help with the inspection. With the Road Trek rep, Tom and neighbors it was exciting more social interaction than I’d had in awhile; was a good feeling. In spite of all this attention and praise the Aktiv is not roomy. In particular, the area from kitchen to bedroom is an awkward squeeze making it difficult to access the storage and refrigerator, one has open drawers from the side after crumpling down low, the bathroom wall sticks out, too far. I could not resist the urge to want to push it in but it does not retract. There is somewhat of a Murphy style bed providing a nice pass-through when it’s lifted. The foam pads seemed very comfortable but rather thick and required some stacking and ‘unstacking’. Could one leave the bed made and still fold it up? I wasn’t sure. The bed size was perfect for me at 5’5″ but could be a challenge for a couple or a tall person. I didn’t see it closely but it appeared to have decent storage under the bed, but there was (as you will see) no time to check it thoroughly as I wanted. I opened the overhead cabinets surprised to find them shallow and non-connecting although they looked nice. In my ’96 LTV, the cabinets are big and not only connect allowing storage of long objects but I can stuff winter clothes or things I don’t use often all the way to the back of the rig (yes I’ve lost a few things back there!)

I was just getting going in my analysis of where I’d put stuff, things I needed like the dog crates and exercise pens, food, grooming equipment, camping and emergency gear, clothes for me and bedding; how would it work with the narrow midsection given my scrambling rambunctious dogs? I’d only spotted one rather diminutive closet / pantry? Needed to check that out, look for hidden space and try the bathroom for fit but rather suddenly the salesman announced that it was time for a test drive.  Did I want to?  Duh, yeah of course.

The driver’s seat was set too high, the rep being a rather tall fellow and confusing to lower, the sales rep struggled with it after I gave up and it dropped a bit but it was not optimal.  It’s done manually, and does easily swing around to face the interior in case one has company for dinner; now much later that another shop has shown me, it’s not hard to adjust at all. The rep and Tom were hitting it off and chatting so I set off a bit unconnected. Inherently I’m shy and I don’t like to bother people. I can act bold at times but I am what I am. At first I keep missing the brake pedal with my foot, the Promaster is more like a delivery van and I wasn’t used to it.  I was feeling hurry up, get things going vibes. The rep had been over an hour and half late in arriving due to gridlocked traffic on the 405, that’s kinda of normal these days, L.A. traffic is generally around 17 mph on average (fwy speed) even with careful timing it takes me at least an hour longer to get to my Mom’s house and an hour longer returning. BTW, the theory of building more freeway lanes cannot possibly work. It’s very basic and does not take a degree in engineering to understand why but I won’t go into it here… just keep in mind that cars (traffic) behave much like water in expanding to fill the space.

Remembering what mom said about driving the Aktiv long enough to determine if it was comfortable (which is important as I have a joint dysfunction along with hypermobility) and how it would do with a hill climb I headed to the freeway and took the turn up the mountain. The Promaster was super peppy. Yeah! I could happily image unfettered wanderlust with a few adjustments. The steering wheel does not tilt but it does telescope which again, I found out later. Also later I discovered that if one moves the captain’s seat to fit the steering wheel the Promaster is actually comfy and easy to drive and it is easy on speed bumps. At the moment however I was wishing the steering wheel would drop and for an arm rest on the door side but I wasn’t aligned right, not my fault. Never got to hear the radio, or see the backup camera nor the GPS, did it have one? U-turns were a breeze and the suspension a pleasure although the Aktiv rattled as if nothing had yet been adjusted or settled.  Tom didn’t want a turn to drive, I’d wanted him to so I could be the passenger and fiddle with stuff but it was fine. I returned and had to park on the opposite side of the street due to the senseless parking restrictions in my neighborhood; it was time to see the outside, check those things I’d not had a feeling for yet, like the build quality, I hadn’t seen the hookups and cassette toilet nor poked into the engine or the underhood alternator (which actually was not installed but I didn’t know that)  Those details I wanted to know to see if I could make the Aktiv work for me. Did the front table area make into a bed? This was on my wish list, I’d seen conflicting comments about it but the table does detach completely (I think) which I liked.

By this time there was more than just a little disillusionment but I was still in love with it so was utterly shocked, well, dumbfounded by the rep announcing that he had to leave! Had to get home to his wife!  This kind of sales tactic fails badly as I watched the motorhome depart. I was not happy. I’ve not heard great things about Mike Thomson’s and my few dealings with them had not been unlike this experience, they seem to provide a tantalizing taste, low on details (yet they were super kind to bring the unit out to me!) and then pressure with offers of special deals; we didn’t get that far but I require a relaxed approach where all my questions are answered, where the salesmen is informed about the product or can find someone who is. I don’t gamble with my money, I’m cautious and these Class B’s are very expensive. Time to go though the pre-buying steps are important to me.

A comment sticks in my mind, the rep told me lots of folks were buying the Aktiv for their dogs as they stay at a hotel and don’t camp in the rig. The dogs benefit from Road Trek’s new non-generator setup with alternator / inverter / solar / battery quick start, eco system… sorry I can’t remember what they call it, which allows the user to set a temperature that will automatically kick on the air-conditioner and if needed, will turn on the engine to re boost the battery. He said they listened to their customers and most of them travel with their pets! This scored a big hooray, all motorhomes should provide for the dogs and cats on board! The system will run everything, so no generator needed or plug in to AC .  HOW COOL but I’ve read that the system needs perfecting and it should be possible to do something similar on other rigs. And I did not get to hear the generator (this Aktiv did not have the eco boost system) or the air-conditioner.  I asked!  I’m being a bit nasty but the rep seemed lazy, I mean what’s the problem with turning on the generator and the air-conditioner for a prospective client? How long would that take?

fan-dog

Tom and I walked over to my LTV and stepped inside. All that space was a relief. My LT appears  larger but it’s actually a tad smaller. There is room to breathe, it’s comfortable and it does not beep or rattle; there is a place for everything.  Alas it’s not peppy or smooth, the engine roars and strains when in motion uphill, the bathroom while functional, sucks and there is no alternative to the underpowered generator although perhaps some adaptation could be added.  If only my LTV could smoothly jaunt along like the Promaster! Sigh.  My brain, was dong the, ha-ha, told ya so, nada is as good in person as what you think you see in pretty pictures … well, maybe that’s right. I don’t dislike the Aktiv, I still want to love it but I can’t see my load of dogs in there and maybe a passenger as well. Perhaps the Hymer Aktiv 2.0 will be better.

Next Up:  Mark and then Sue accompany me to Barber RV. The Winnebago Travado.

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