Although we were relieved to have sold our E-trek in February when there was still snow on the ground, we have definitely missed our E-trek over the past few months, especially now, since many of our most successful trips were in the fall: visiting our son at college in Boston, Hershey RV show, and Halloween (Antietam).
After our son left for Boston at the end of August, we found ourselves watching various walkthrough videos on YouTube and we focused on the new Hymer Aktiv, which had several items on our RV feature wish-list, most notably, the cassette toilet. Although the toilet got mixed reviews from various users, we were intrigued enough to drive out to a Pennsylvania RV dealer and take a look.
The Hymer Aktiv had some of the features we liked about the E-trek (e.g., largely electric (propane was only needed for the stove-top and furnace), sleek design. What we liked better about the Hymer was the sleeping accommodations: murphy-style bed (flip down) that allowed for a center aisle which offered an alternate storage area and was accessible from the rear doors. Furthermore, the center aisle would allow us to exit through the rear doors, so we could park our vehicle “legally” between the side of the house and retaining wall (about 8 feet, so no room to exit from the side of the vehicle).
We also liked the dining configuration–no requirement to store a heavy pedestal table and leg. The drop-leaf table had three positions: stored down, open halfway, and fully open to allow more surface space. It could be used by both the driver and those seated in the second-row bench seat. Daisy and I rode in the second row for the test drive and I liked the visibility since the bench seat was on a platform so I could see out the front and side windows. We also liked the number of USB ports found throughout the chassis and coach.
The Hymer Aktiv comes with a spare tire mounted on the rear; however, the heavy tire mount must be lowered to open the left-hand door. We noticed on other models the spare tire could easily be swung out of the way. Also, the spare tire would interfere with our bicycle rack so we would need to use a hitch extender to provide clearance. We prefer the shorter (20-foot) chassis, but with the extension and bicycle rack, we would be right back at the 24-foot length of the E-trek.
The Dodge Promaster chassis does not have many driver safety features, such as blind spot detection and parking assist. Considering that these vehicles are meant to be driven many miles on highways; we are amazed that they are equipped with few of the safety features available on most automobiles on the market today. We have already researched the price for aftermarket blind spot detection from a local retailer who added Bluetooth to our 10-year old Honda Ridgeline earlier this year.
We were also disappointed to learn the Aktiv does not come with Apple CarPlay–it comes with a Sony XAV-602BT system that apparently some Hymer owners have actually replaced it with the OEM system that usually comes on the Dodge Promaster chassis. It is possible to upgrade to Apple CarPlay according to CamperVanGuy on YouTube; however, it’s very disappointing that Hymer went through the trouble of replacing the audio system and chose one that was perhaps worse than the OEM and definitely not Apple CarPlay. RV manufacturers often seem to focus on cosmetic features (such as upgraded Alcoa wheels) rather than functionality and convenience.
The bathroom was very small, although we liked the sliding door better than the heavy wooden doors on the E-trek bathroom which were always in the way and difficult to close (i.e., lean on the door in order to lower pin). The gasoline engine did not seem to have as much pickup as the diesel on the E-trek, but it did provide a comfortable ride. Karl also missed the overhead storage in the chassis where he used to stow his phone, etc.
We have also learned that some newer Winnebago models allow for winter camping, with heated drainage systems and indoor fresh water tanks. However, these models rely on propane generators and we still lean towards the electric, despite all of the problems we had with the E-trek, we still believe in the technology. There is always a trade-off.
On the Fence
We agreed on a price and were close to a deal; however, after sleeping on it (or rather, not sleeping on it), we decided against the purchase at this time. We don’t want to repeat our mistake with the E-trek (i.e., something about the definition of insanity); however, we still can make a case that we would enjoy having an RV again, especially one that has some additional features we wanted. We may drive out to the Hershey RV show this weekend just to see all of the new offerings in person.