Forest River RV Reviews 2021: Is The Manufacturer Reliable?

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Forest River is one of the most popular RV manufacturers on the market, but does that mean it’s one of the best RV brands? In this in-depth Forest River RV review, we’ll look at the manufacturer’s product line and build quality. We’ll also dissect Forest River RV reviews from customers who weigh in on the manufacturer and Forest River RV products.

If you’ve considered how to buy an RV but aren’t sure what you should do next, checking Forest River RVs out wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

 

In this article:


Our Take On Forest River RVs

After we thoroughly researched and compared several top-rated RV companies, we rated Forest River RV 4.0 out of 5.0 stars. The company provides affordable RVs for people looking to take up the RV lifestyle, but owners of Forest River RVs encounter issues with build quality in some cases.

Forest River RV Pros Forest River RV Cons
Wide selection of models and floor plans Build-quality issues for some customers
Affordable prices for new and used RVs Average craftsmanship for price point
Generally positive ratings from customers  
Large network of dealers across the country  
 

About Forest River

Founded in 1996, Forest River RV has grown to become one of the largest RV manufacturers in the world. Billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett noticed Forest River RV’s growth and bought the company in 2005, only a week after hearing about it. Forest River is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

According to RVBusiness, Forest River, Inc. held 40.2 percent of the market share for towables and 24.3 percent of the market share for Class A and Class C motorhomes in 2020. Forest River ranked second only to Thor Motor Coach in both categories.

Forest River has purchased other RV brands over the years, including:

  • Coachmen
  • Dynamax
  • Prime Time
  • Palomino
  • Shasta
  • East To West

Over 2,400 Forest River RV reviews at RVInsider.com give the brand an average of 3.6 out of 5.0 stars. Forest River has received around 150 complaints on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website in the last three years, but this represents a very small fraction of the company’s customers. Forest River has addressed all complaints on the BBB website, where it holds an A rating.


Forest River Product Line

Forest River makes a huge selection of RVs. Though it doesn’t manufacture Class B camper vans, Forest River makes all other major types of recreational vehicles, including:

  • Class A motorhomes
  • Class C motorhomes
  • Travel trailers
  • Fifth wheels
  • Toy haulers
  • Camping trailers
  • Destination trailers

Forest River offers 45 RV brands, including well-known brands such as Cherokee, Wildwood, and Rockwood. Each brand provides multiple RV types, and within each are often a handful of models plus numerous floor plans for each model. In other words, you have hundreds of options with Forest River RVs.

Here are some models that have won recent awards:

Forest River RV Model Industry Award
Berkshire Class A XLT RVBusiness 2020 Top RV Debut
Cardinal Luxury Fifth Wheels RV News 2021 Luxury Fifth Wheel of the Year
Cedar Creek Fifth Wheels RVBusiness 2021 Top RV Debut
Cherokee Grey Wolf Travel Trailers RV News 2019 Best of Show
Flagstaff Super Lite Fifth Wheels RV News 2019 Best of Show
Ibex Travel Trailers RV Business Top 10 2021 RV
Impression Mid-Profile Fifth Wheels RV Business 2021 Top RV Debut
No Boundaries Travel Trailers RV Business 2020 Top RV Debut
Riverstone Reserve Series Fifth Wheels RV News 2021 Luxury Fifth Wheel of the Year
Sabre Fifth Wheels RVBusiness 2021 Must-See RV
Salem Travel Trailers RV News 2021 Entry-Level Travel Trailer of the Year
Sierra Fifth Wheels RVBusiness 2021 Must-See RV
Vengeance Rogue Armored RV News 2021 Fifth Wheel Toy Hauler of the Year
Wildcat Fifth Wheels RVBusiness 2021 Must-See RV
Wildwood Travel Trailers RV Pro Best New Model 2021
Cherokee Wolf Pack Toy Haulers RV News 2019 Best of Show
XLR Hyper Lite Travel Trailer Toy Haulers RV News 2021 Travel Trailer Toy Hauler of the Year
 

These awards don’t necessarily predict the performance of an RV a few years down the road, and they apply to new models when they are introduced into the market.


Forest River Cost

Prices for Forest River RVs range from under $10,000 for entry-level popup campers to over $500,000 for the 2022 Berkshire XLT Class A diesel. While Forest River does make some high-end products, most customers come to the brand for its selection of entry-level and relatively affordable RVs between $20,000 and $50,000 MSRP.


Forest River RV Build Quality

One of the most common questions from prospective Forest River customers is about build quality. You may have read negative Forest River RV reviews that mention build quality as a downside.

According to our research, Forest River RVs aren’t known for exceptional quality (unless you pay for a top-tier line), but they aren’t bad, either. For the price you pay for entry-level or mid-tier RVs, the quality is adequate.

Forest River sells thousands of RVs each year, so some issues will inevitably arise. You can expect to do some maintenance and repair work as an RV owner in your first few years.

We recommend establishing a relationship with a dealer and investigating how the staff inspects and sells new RVs. Being connected to a good dealership provides peace of mind that you can get timely repairs when you can’t fix something on your own.

Forest River manufactures RVs in and around Elkhart, Indiana, and has dozens of plants in the area, many of them dedicated to single RV brands. Forest River also has a few plants scattered throughout other states, including California, Georgia, Michigan, and Oregon.


Forest River RV Reviews

Forest River RV Reviews on RVInsider give the manufacturer 3.6 out of 5.0 stars. Grand Design has 3.8 stars, Thor has 3.5 stars, and Keystone has 3.6 stars. No manufacturer has 5.0 stars, and some models and model years fare better than others.

We’ll delve into some Forest River RV complaints and issues below.

If you’re shopping for your first RV, be aware that dealerships are not contractually obligated to service RVs they didn’t sell. This is in contrast to car dealerships, which will provide the same service, regardless.

Forest River (and many other manufacturers) will tell customers they can go to any dealership that sells the brand for service. Still, the service department may not accept the repair and may prioritize local customers over non-locals.

Most reviews and complaints on Forest River’s BBB page focus on the after-sales experience. Here are some sources of customer frustration:

  • Dealership taking months to service an RV
  • Issues on brand-new models not fixed right away
  • Warranty claims between dealership and Forest River take a long time to process
  • Forest River disagreeing with customers on what is or isn’t a manufacturing defect
  • Service department waiting months for the manufacturer to send a part

Keep in mind there are fewer than 40 Forest River RV reviews and fewer than 150 complaints on the BBB website. While these aren’t representative of all customers, problems are bound to arise occasionally.

Up next are a few popular Forest River RV product lines and some of the issues mentioned by reviewers on RVInsider.

Forest River Sunseeker

Sunseeker is the most-reviewed Forest River brand on RVInsider, with over 90 reviews. Overall, the Class C motorhome brand has a 4.0-star rating from Forest River RV reviewers. Issues mentioned in negative reviews include:

  • Cosmetic and mechanical issues at the time of sale
  • Broken slideout mechanics
  • Subpar workmanship

Forest River Salem

The Salem line is another popular brand, and Forest River RV reviews on RVInsider give it 3.6 stars. Many customers appreciate the floor-plan options and decent appliances, but some reviewers say some models don’t tow well and sway hard when trucks pass. Other Forest River Salem owners have experienced issues with the slides.

Cherokee Grey Wolf Travel Trailer

The Cherokee Grey Wolf Travel Trailer has 3.3 stars on RVInsider. A number of Forest River RV reviews mention leaks in the plumbing system on this line of RVs. Other owners have an issue with the warranty only being one year (more on this later).

Forest River Wildwood

Forest River RV reviews rate the popular Wildwood line with 3.1 stars overall. One reviewer sums up their experience:

“Beautiful little RV poorly built with the cheapest materials and poorest quality check.”

Problems customers have had include:

  • Interior trim pieces falling off
  • Slide motor issues
  • Awning motor problems
  • Wall panels coming loose
  • Cabinet and drawer screws coming loose

Of course, not everyone runs into these issues, but it’s good to be prepared.

Forest River R-Pod

The Forest River R-Pod brand has a 3.9-star rating overall. Customers appreciate how the small pod-style camper can fit into more campsites than a motorhome. However, one reviewer experienced a trailer fire that the electrical system installation caused, and another mentions the roof sealant wears out and leaks.

Palomino Puma

Palomino is a separate company that Forest River wholly owns. The Puma line has a 3.9-star rating on RVInsider, indicating most customers are happy with the product. Puma has lots of fans, but some have experienced issues such as:

  • Plumbing line repairs
  • Average or poor workmanship
  • Manufacturer and RV dealer blaming each other for responsibility

Is Heritage Glen A Good Camper?

The Forest River Heritage Glen has a 3.4-star rating on RVInsider. Many RV owners praise the storage space and appliances. However, some reviewers have experienced poor workmanship and factory installation.

One reviewer mentions poor after-sales service and says the dealer

“took no responsibility and told us to contact the manufacturer, which we did. We might have as well screamed into the wind.”


Forest River Warranty

New Forest River RVs come with a one-year warranty from the sale date. This warranty only applies to the original owner, even if the first owner sells it within a year. In the warranty’s own words, Forest River guarantees

“that the body structure of this recreational vehicle shall be free of substantial defects in materials and workmanship attributable to Warrantor.”

This applies to all towables and motorhomes. Forest River goes one step further and warrants the roof, tent, and frame against “substantial defects” for five years if you have a tent camper “under normal use conditions.” However, it only covers labor for three years.

In summary, the warranty covers substantial defects that are Forest River’s fault, not the dealer’s. The term “substantial defects” is where dealers, customers, and Forest River can disagree. Ultimately, Forest River decides what meets the criteria for warranty work.

Like all warranties, Forest River’s lists a variety of exclusions. Here’s a partial list:

  • Damage from condensation
  • Damage from normal wear and tear
  • Damage from exposure to the elements
  • Components from other manufacturers (chassis, axles, tires, batteries, optional generators, appliances, audio equipment, etc.)
  • Routine maintenance
  • Damage from misuse or during commercial use
  • Cost to transport RV to and from the service center

Forest River Roadside Assistance

You also get one year of roadside assistance with Forest River if you purchase a new RV. This service covers an unlimited number of breakdowns and does not have a value limit per breakdown. Roadside assistance includes:

  • Towing
  • Jump-starts
  • Tire-change assistance
  • Fuel delivery
  • Locksmith services
  • Winch out services
  • Mobile tire service for blowouts
  • Technical support for troubleshooting
  • Dealer locator services
  • Mobile mechanic dispatching

Should You Buy A Forest River RV?

Forest River is a decent choice if you’re in the market for a trailer or motorhome, but just keep in mind that you’ll be more satisfied if you don’t expect a perfect product right off the lot. Establishing a relationship with your home dealer will go a long way toward helping you enjoy life as an RV owner.


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