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2007 Dodge D291 Trailer Test

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on August 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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It's the graphics that grab your attention first. Large black Dodge lettering crowned with the familiar Ram logo in bright red, punctuated by snappy red, black, and gray swoops and slashes. There's no ignoring this trailer, that's for sure. In many ways, it resembles a high-dollar racing-team trailer.

The reality, though, is that this is the new Dodge D291, and it's one of three officially licensed Dodge "toy haulers" built by R-Vision and sold through its nationwide dealer network. The R-Vision folks are the innovators of lightweight towables, and they've been in business for more than a decade. The D291 is the smallest of the three toy haulers, yet it's no small fry at 30 feet 4 inches in length. Its base price of $19,211 means that it's easy on the wallet, unlike those aforementioned racing-team trailers. The other two Dodge toy haulers consist of the 32-foot 6-inch D300 with dinette slideout, and the 37-foot 1-inch D3360 fifth-wheel with dinette and sofa slideout. Oh, and for those who don't need a toy hauler, Dodge also offers six Dodge-branded travel trailers-and there are more in development.

We recently spent a couple of weeks with the D291. Ours came loaded with every available option, which resulted in an MSRP of $24,729-not too bad for a versatile, self-contained toy hauler. During our early spring test, we loaded it with mountain bikes and towed it to the beautiful, yet virtually deserted Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois, where we had our choice of the most secluded, scenic campsites. So what did the D291 have to offer and what did we think? Read on.

PhotosView Slideshow

It seemed only natural to tow the Dodge D291 with a Dodge Ram, though the folks at R-Vision tell us that a fair number of Dodge trailer buyers actually own other brands of vehicles. The team at Dodge sent us a nicely equipped Hemi-powered '07 Ram 1500 Laramie Quad Cab 4x4. This vehicle has a base price of $37,655 and an as-tested price of $41,175. Our rig was set up for towing with 3.92:1 gears ($50), power trailer tow mirrors ($100), and the trailer tow group ($355). Dodge also installed an electric brake controller and we installed the R-Vision-recommended equalizer hitch.

Our test Ram had a maximum trailer weight rating of 8,350 pounds, so the 6,000-pound (loaded) D291 was well within its specs. The Hemi pulled strong from a standing start and the tow/haul mode helped wring every last bit of power from the V-8. On the highway, there was adequate power for hills and passing and overall the truck was stable. Braking was very good and the trailer tow mirrors offered a good field of view-good enough for us to blind-side back the 30-foot trailer into a small campsite usually frequented by smaller pop-up campers. It was no surprise that strong, gusty 30mph crosswinds during our return caused the rig to wander on the highway. Naturally, this is where a hitch stabilizer (which we didn't have) would've helped. We averaged 9.4 mpg, which we thought was pretty darn respectable.

Ultimately, our test proved that if you occasionally tow and don't want to fork out the bucks for a 3/4- or 1-ton truck and the expensive diesel engine, a properly equipped 1/2-ton like the Ram 1500 is up to the task.

We were amazed at how quickly and easily we could transform the garage area into living space and vice versa. Here are a few of the things we came up with.

PhotosView Slideshow

Model: Dodge D291
Base price: $19,211
Price as tested: $24,729
Options as tested: 13.5-Btu air conditioning; awning; AM/FM/CD player; microwave; oven; RVQ grill; stove cover; safety glass; TV antenna; outside shower; DSI water heater; two-door refrigerator; tub surround; ladder (side mount); Fantastic Fan; double entry step

We invited Jake Kelsey (an up-and-coming SF Performance-sponsored motocross rider) and his dad to work on one of their race bikes in the garage at night. They lauded the grippy bedlined swing-open ramp that's rated for up to 2,500 pounds, and they loved the super-strong interior lighting and the overhead cabinets. With a length of 11 feet and a width of 6 feet 2 inches between the wheelwells, there was plenty of room to work on their Suzuki 105 Supermini. When a little race gas and lube got spilled on the floor, it wasn't a big deal because the flooring is gas- and oil-resistant.

Length (in): 364
Width without awning (in): 96
Height (ft): 10

Total dry weight (lb): 5,227
Hitch dry weight (lb): 597
Axle dry weight (lb): 4,630
GVWR (lb): 9,197

Fresh water tank capacity (gal): 30
Water heater (gal): 6
LP gas bottles (no/lb): 2/20
Refrigerator (cu. ft.): 6

Seating & Sleeping
Front bed (in): 60x74
Fold up sofa in garage (in): 76
Dinette (seats): 4 adults

Electric system (amps): 55
Stabilizer jacks: 4
Interior lights: 12
Axles: Dexter independent
Brakes: 12-inch electric
Tire size: ST225/75R15



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