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Forest River RV Review

It’s one of the largest RV manufacturers in the industry, so should you consider Forest River for an RV?
06/08/2023 02:05 PM

Forest River is one of the most popular names in the RV world. But does that mean its motorhomes are a good buy? For this Forest River RV review, we looked at the company’s RV lineup, manufacturing quality, and customer reviews.

We always advise getting multiple estimates and comparing the best RV brands before making a decision. Despite a few drawbacks, Forest River is certainly a recreational vehicle brand worth considering.

Forest River RV Review: 3.8 Out Of 5.0 Stars

While some Forest River RV reviews do point to quality issues, overall the company offers relatively inexpensive RVs that have plenty of features and comfort. Forest River should be on the shortlist for any RVers looking for a more affordable option.

Pros Affordable compared to many competitors Large network of dealerships across the U.S. Expansive selection of models and floor plans
Cons Average build quality Customer reviews mention manufacturing issues

Forest River Overview

Since opening its doors in 1996, Forest River RV has become one of the world’s largest motorhome manufacturers. The company’s growth has been so significant, in fact, that billionaire investor Warren Buffet bought the company just a week after learning about it in 2005. As a result, Forest River RV is now part of the Berkshire Hathaway company as a subsidiary.

Forest River RV Cost

One of the biggest advantages Forest River has as a brand is the sheer number of options it offers–both under its own trademark and through its subsidiaries. While this offers a lot of choices for RVers, it also means there is a huge range of costs.

The brand’s premium-level Berkshire XLT Class A diesel model starts at over $500,000, but costs start under $10,000 for some simple pop-up campers. However, most buyers who go with Forest River RVs end up in the $20,000 to $50,000 range, at the more affordable end of the market.

Forest River RV Lineup

Between its own brand name and its subsidiaries, Forest River makes RVs for every category except Class B motorhomes. You can get Forest River travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes but no camper vans. Whether you want something with plenty of living area or something small and easy to tow, you can find it. Here are the classes of camper vans you can get from Forest River:

Forest River RV Subsidiaries

Over the course of its growth, Forest River has taken ownership of more than 45 RV brands, such as the Forest River Wildwood. These are several of the most well-known:

  • Cedar Creek
  • Cherokee
  • Coachmen
  • Dynamax
  • East To West
  • Grey Wolf
  • No Boundaries (NOBO)
  • Palomino
  • Prime Time
  • Rockwood
  • Shasta
  • Wildcat

Forest River RV Build Quality

Issues with build quality were the topic of more than a few Forest River RV reviews. However, if this is your first time buying a motorhome, it’s important to remember that build quality issues are fairly common across most RV brands. Most brands have complaints about workmanship in their customer reviews.

Compared to other manufacturers in the motorhome industry, build quality is not one of Forest River RVs’ strongest selling points. However, the company’s manufacturing quality isn’t necessarily bad compared to other providers either. Based on the Forest River RV reviews in the study, the company’s build quality is decidedly average.

This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to establish a good relationship with an RV dealer and stay on top of maintenance. Issues with campers are practically inevitable, so it’s best to be prepared for them.

Forest River RV Reviews And Ratings

On RVInsider, Forest River RV reviews give the company 3.6 out of 5.0 stars overall. For comparison, Thor Motor Coach, which owns the manufacturer Keystone, has a 3.5-star rating and Tiffin has 4.4 stars.

It is important to recognize that this is an average rating across all of the companies’ many models and floor plans. Additionally, you can use RV enthusiast sites like RVInsider to find the ratings for individual models.

Forest River RV Reviews Of Popular Models

Forest River RV reviews are a mixed bag, owing mainly to the fact that the company offers so many campers under different names. Here are a few of the company’s most popular models and what customers have to say about the RVs.

Forest River Salem

Forest River’s Salem line is among its most popular, with models like the Salem Cruise Lite. Customers praise the line’s more-than-adequate appliances and selection of floor models, but many reviewers mention towing issues and problems with swaying on the highway. The RV’s slides are also a common issue in reviews.

Forest River R-Pod

R-Pod is a Forest River brand that specializes in small pod-style campers. Customers on rate the brand 3.9 stars, commending its ability to fit into even the smallest of campsites. But some raise concerns over rather serious issues, such as a leaking roof due to poor sealant. Another says a problem with the electric system caused a fire.

Forest River Sunseeker

With over 90 customer reviews, Forest River’s Sunseeker is the manufacturer’s most-reviewed brand on RVInsider. While the popular Class C RV has a solid 4.0-star rating on the site, many reviews point to a few common issues, including:

  • Mechanical issues with slideouts
  • Poor craftsmanship in some areas
  • Mechanical and cosmetic issues very early on or at the point of sale

Forest River Industry Ratings

After 26 years in business, Forest River, Inc. holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This indicates that the BBB is confident that the company handles complaints well and operates a trustworthy business. The company does not, however, have accreditation from the BBB.

Forest River After-Sales Service

Unfortunately, a number of Forest River RV reviews mention issues with after-sales service. In fact, that makes up most of the reviews and complaints on the BBB website, where customers rated the company an average of 1.2 out of 5.0 stars.

It’s important to remember that many people only leave reviews when they are frustrated or upset about an issue. Despite selling hundreds of thousands of RVs each year, Forest River has only around 250 complaints in the past three years on the BBB. It’s good to keep those reviews and complaints in perspective.

Nonetheless, these are a few of the issues that came up in Forest River RV reviews on the BBB website:

  • Disagreements with Forest River on what counts as a manufacturing defect
  • Long process for handling warranty work between Forest River and the dealership
  • Delays in fixing issues, even on brand-new models
  • The manufacturer takes weeks or even months to ship a part to the dealership

Like most RV manufacturers, Forest River claims that customers can go to any dealership for repairs and service appointments. But that may not always be true in practice. Unlike cars, dealerships are not required to service a vehicle they didn’t sell.

That means if you experience issues away from the dealership where you bought your Forest River RV, you may have significant problems getting it serviced. The dealership may put you in line behind local RV owners or, in some cases, simply not accept the service request.

Forest River RV Warranty

Fortunately for RVers, Forest River RVs all come with a one-year warranty. Unfortunately, however, for people who may want to sell their RVs or purchase one secondhand, these warranties are non-transferable. That means only the original owner can file warranty claims for repairs.

Warranty Exceptions

In addition to not being transferable, the Forest River warranty comes with some notable exclusions, such as:

  • Condensation damage
  • Damage from normal use
  • Weather damage
  • Damage to third-party, non-original components
  • Damage resulting from commercial use
  • Transportation costs to and from a repair center

This is far from the definitive list of Forest River RV warranty exclusions. Be sure to read the fine print on your warranty contract carefully before factoring that into your purchasing decision.

Forest River Roadside Assistance

One major benefit you get with Forest River RVs is the complimentary roadside assistance package. When you buy a new RV from Forest River, you’ll get one year of the company’s roadside services. These include:

  • Fuel delivery
  • Jump starts
  • Tire services
  • Towing
  • Winch-out services
  • Mobile mechanic dispatch
  • Locksmith services
  • Dealer locator

Forest River RV Review: Is It Worth It?

Forest River products offer an affordable entry point into the RV market. With a wide range of models and floor plans to choose from, travelers have plenty of options at almost every price point.

Despite Forest River RV reviews that point to some build quality issues and trouble with after-sales service, the company’s warranty and benefits like the roadside assistance package offer a little more confidence and peace of mind on the road.

If you’re shopping for your next camper, Forest River and its many subsidiaries are absolutely worth a look, no matter what your needs and preferences are.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Forest River a quality RV?

Despite some reported issues in Forest River RV reviews, the company consistently makes a reasonably reliable motorhome, especially considering the price.

Where is the Forest River RV manufacturer located?

Like many of the top RV brands, Forest River’s RV manufacturing plant is located in Elkhart, Indiana.

Does Forest River make Puma?

Yes. The RV brand Puma is produced by Palomino. Palomino is a subsidiary of Forest River.

Who builds the most reliable RV?

Coachmen, owned by Forest River Inc., has a reputation for building some of the most reliable RVs on the market. The company has been manufacturing RVs for more than 50 years.

*Data accurate at time of publication.