Forest River vs Grand Design

Forest River vs Grand Design: A Complete Comparison

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links; we will earn a commision, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through one of our links.

Your choice of RVs can make or break your outdoor experiences for years to come. This is why you should take the time to carefully compare different brands, so you end up with a road partner that suits your needs and won’t let you down.

Today, we did the homework so you don’t have to, sharing with you a comprehensive guide on Forest River vs Grand Design. Let’s get started!

Forest River vs Grand Design – Overview

If you’re after a decently affordable RV with a simple design and lots of value for money, then you’re better off picking a unit from Forest River. But, if you’re looking to invest in long-lasting, superior quality and have no issues paying the price, we believe an RV from Grand Design will suit you well.

The Full Comparison

History and Owners

When comparing two of the biggest brands in the RV industry such as Forest River and Grand Design, taking a look at the company history and current owners is just as important as discussing quality and price.

Starting with Forest River, this is one of the biggest manufacturers of RVs nationwide. The company was founded in 1996 by Peter Liegl.

Since then, it’s been operating with his original vision in mind as he wanted to run an RV company that strives to help average people experience the joy of the great outdoors by making better RVs.

Today, Forest River RV is under the umbrella of Forest River Inc. This company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and it builds not only RVs, but also buses, pontoons, park models, commercial trucks, and cargo trailers.

The diversity that the company is subjected to by being a division of Forest River, Inc., allows it to proceed with a unique approach to the RV industry, using methods and strategies acquired from each division. 

As for Grand Design, this company is about 15 years younger than Forest River. Established in 2011, the relatively new manufacturer has taken the RV industry by storm, proving that age isn’t an obstacle as long as you have the expertise.

Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise once we learn that each of the founders of this privately owned company has over 25 years of experience in the recreational vehicle business.

So, who exactly are these owners? They’re Don Clark, Bill French, and Ron French (yes, the last pair are brothers).

These individuals have gained their credentials working in renowned establishments such as Keystone RVs.

Manufacturing Sites

A popular question that people often ask when considering purchasing an RV is “where is it made?”. Let’s have a look!

The manufacturing sites of Forest River are spread throughout the West and Midwest. Here’s a list of locations of their production facilities:

  • Silverton, Oregon
  • Hemet, California
  • White Pigeon, Michigan
  • Middlebury, Indiana — this is one of the company’s main manufacturing facilities and it occupies an area of more than 220 acres.
  • Centerville, Michigan — this production site occupies an area of 90 acres.
  • Colon, Michigan

As for the Grand Design company, its manufacturing facilities stretch over an area larger than 40,000 square feet. These sites are located in rural parts in Middlebury, Indiana, occupying approximately 67 acres of land.

Related Comparisons:
Forest River vs Jayco
Keystone vs Forest River Full Comparison
Grand Design & Jayco Comprehensive Comparison
In-Depth Forest River vs Thor Comparison

Quality and Construction

The quality and construction of the RVs are the first aspects that people want to learn about when comparing two brands for purchasing purposes. So let’s get down to it, starting with Forest River.

It’s no secret that the owners of Forest River RV aim to dominate the industry. They actually managed to buy out some of their competitors over the years, such as Dynamax, Coachman RV, Prime Time, Palomino, and Shasta RV.

Not to mention, they’re one of the most diverse establishments you can come across in the RV business, with more companies under their ownership in various recreational departments beyond vehicles. However, such expansion may have taken a toll on the level of quality they offer.

Some say they’re stretched out almost too thin, which compromises their build quality. This is one of the most recurrent complaints we’ve read regarding Forest River. It hasn’t just resulted in the use of inferior materials for building some components, but it’s also affected assembly and made the process less than ideal.

Despite the issues, the construction quality of Forest River RVs is still above average. We can’t help but give the company the benefit of the doubt because it’s virtually impossible to produce a perfect RV.

After all, to get such a great value for money like the kind Forest River gives, you’ll have to deal with a couple of flaws. We’d definitely love to see some improvement in quality control and craftsmanship, but the situation isn’t nearly as bad as some people make it out to be.

Moving on to Grand Design, the one thing they’re known to excel in is the level of attention they invest in detail. The company looks beyond the bigger picture and aims to offer a truly “complete” design.

As such, you’ll see unique elements on their RVs like laminated aluminum bodies and wood truss roofs. The result is an incredibly sturdy foundation that’s meant to last for many years.

From what we could find, Grand Design strives to provide customers with superior quality, at a price of course. The company holds several Quality Circle awards to its name, proving their products are worth the higher cost.

Besides the build quality and the finishing touches at their manufacturing sites, Grand Design operates with hundreds of quality control and inspection points before shipping off their vehicles. This ensures consistent quality and much fewer complaints compared to Forest River.

Vehicle Types and Sizes

Finally, let’s take a look at the types and sizes of vehicles that these companies produce.

  • Forest River:
    • Motorhomes: class A and C
    • Fifth wheels
    • Travel trailers
    • Camping trailers
    • Toy haulers
    • Destination trailers.
  • Grand Design:
    • Toy haulers
    • Fifth wheels
    • Travel trailers

Of course, each of these categories comes in multiple versions and various, so they have different lengths, gross weights, and hitch weights.

Wrap Up

In the Forest River vs Grand Design comparison, the winner depends on your needs.

If you’re leaning toward value for money and decent quality, you’re on Forest River’s side. If you’re after superior quality at any cost, then you’re on the Grand Design side.