Already famous for its truck campers, Lance ventured into the travel trailer market a few years ago and has been making a name for itself again with a full line of lightweight, easy-to-tow and versatile trailers that run the gamut from about 16 feet in length to right around 28 feet long. We’ve reviewed a number of Lance travel trailers over the years, but when the new 2185 model appeared on the scene, we just had to grab it for another look at what the Lancaster, Calif., RV manufacturer has to offer.
From the bottom up the trailers built by Lance are solid and sturdy. Take for instance the chassis. It’s made from lightweight tempered steel that is then powder coated for corrosion resistance and protection from chips and road debris. Its Huck-bolted construction makes it sturdy and also keeps corrosion at bay.
The heavy-duty, rubber torsion-bar suspension axles feature EZ-lube bearings that are practically maintenance free. The completely self-contained axle and suspension design offers an extremely smooth and stable ride over just about any road surface, allowing the trailer to follow the Jeep Cherokee used as a tow vehicle for this review with no bouncing and hopping no matter where we took it, and the contents within the Lance to stay put during travel. The axles also feature self-adjusting brakes, another fact that makes owning this trailer a real pleasure.
The inner superstructure of the Lance trailer’s walls, floor and roof are made from welded aluminum framing that delivers two advantages: a sturdy coach that is also easy on your tow vehicle. For longevity, Lance uses Azdel, a composite material instead of luan wood in the wall construction to help eliminate mold and mildew concerns. The composite sheets are also lighter and provide superior (a higher “R” rating) insulation than the luan wood product as well. Laminated fiberglass exteriors cover the sidewalls, front and rear caps. Rigid foam blocks are used inside those walls for insulation, providing a high overall “R” rating for this trailer. Its interior cabinetry is built of a material called Lite-Ply that is imported from Europe. The high-quality laminated wood product is particularly strong, yet lightweight and offers good insulation and durability. It’s also good looking because of an even grain, which is almost white when produced and provides a nearly perfect and uniform finish, painted, or stained any tone from pine to cherry. Up top is a roof made from Energy Star-rated TPO material, featuring integrated rain gutters and drip spouts to prevent the sides of the trailers from getting black streaks.
Lance’s 2185 is truly laid out for up to seven to sleep – for family getaways – but theoretically could be used by buddies on a fishing trip, or a couple away from it all for the weekend. In a nutshell, the trailer offers a walk-around queen bed standard (but our unit had the very handy and optional convertible sofa bed), Lance’s “Super Slide” convertible dinette, and triple bunks across the back wall that will fit adults if needed.
An ingenious design, the optional sofa helps turn the trailer’s already good interior space provided by the dinette-carrying Super Slide into a voluminous living area. The sofa’s armrests lift out and are stored, the seat cushion and backrest are folded out and down to form the lower half of the queen bed box spring/mattress, and then from behind, a queen mattress topper is unfolded to reveal the entire constructed queen bed. The operation takes about 30 seconds; and the bed is quite comfortable.
Directly behind the bed is a nearly full bed-width headboard niche area for books and other small objects, above is a large storage cabinet, and on both sides are good-sized wardrobes with nightstands below. Plenty of area lighting is provided in the front bedroom, and twin LED reading lamps are located in a position so they are easily managed from a prone position on the queen bed.
The Super Slide provides very comfortable seating for four adults; you can squeeze five in if you wish. As for its sleeping capacity, Lance advertises it as two adults, but they would either have to be short adults, teens or children. We suggest you reserve it for one adult lying diagonally, or teens and younger children for sleeping purposes. It does, however, provide plenty of storage with large, roll-out drawers on both sides of its U-shaped and well-padded seating configuration. Lance uses Schwintek mechanisms for its slideouts, and it offered a smooth and quiet movement. The mechanisms are said to be lighter than others, and smaller, so they allow for more interior space.
The three-bunk configuration across the rear wall is versatile. It allows three adults to sleep once the Lance 2185 is parked and set up, but during travel, the bottom bunk platform can be stored on top of the third and topmost platform and the second platform can be lifted up and secured out of the way. This creates a storage area underneath the topmost third bunk that is large enough to store a couple of adult-size bicycles (and who knows what else a creative packer might be able to stow in there). Our only issue with this bunk arrangement is that most of the bunk is blocked by the adjacent bathroom wall, which means that you must crawl into bed through a relatively small opening and then “scooch” your body down the length of the berth.
Its bathroom features a wet bath/shower arrangement that is large enough to not feel confined in when sudsing up and rinsing off, and high enough that even I (at 6 feet, 2 inches tall) could stand straight without hitting the ceiling. The porcelain toilet offers a foot-pedal flush. Also provided was a generously sized cabinet, medicine cabinet with mirrored door and vanity light. The optional Fan-Tastic Vent power roof fan kept the bathroom mirror from fogging up during showers, and vented fumes well too. We also appreciated the ducted heat outlet. Directly opposite the bathroom door, on the curbside wall, was a small sink, cabinet and mirror that acts as vanity for the three bunkmates. At the head of the bunks (also curbside) is a large wardrobe, also to serve the three bunkmates. The second and rear door splits this wardrobe and vanity, which makes the rear vanity and the bathroom of the trailer easy to use for cleaning up the kids during daytime activities, while keeping them out of the main living area and the kitchen.
The kitchen is the star in this trailer, as it is both complete and compact. Featuring a two-way, 6-cubic-foot refrigerator, three-burner range, range hood with a light and a fan, and a large and accommodating single sink with a pullout faucet, the kitchen offers all of the right equipment to get the job done. There is a decent amount of counter space, and if you take advantage of the extra slip-up countertop at the front end (only useful if the main front door is shut) of the kitchen counter and dinette table across the aisle, you could whip up a masterpiece. Storage space is bountiful here, too, with cabinets above and below the kitchen counter, as well as across the aisle underneath and above the dinette.
Décor and Systems
Lance trailers have always been well styled and the 2185 is no exception. Highlights include hardwood framed flat panel cabinet doors with glazing, hardwood raised panel overhead cabinet doors with glazing, day/night shades in the dinette with valance boxes, mini-blinds in the kitchen and living space with valance boxes, and a wall clock adds a touch of class.
Standard electrical equipment highlights in the 2185 include a 55-amp converter/load center, AM/FM/DVD/iPod stereo with interior and exterior speakers, exterior 120-volt AC patio outlet, HDTV antenna, storage compartment lighting on the forward passthrough, and pre-wire for park, satellite dish, A/C, and Fan-Tastic fan.
Towablility and Livibility
Ahead of the Lance 2185 for the trip was a Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4×4 powered by the optional 5.7L V-8 VVT (variable-valve-timing) engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Some of the more notable functional standard features of this Grand Cherokee that directly relate to this review are the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, Hill Descent Control, Advanced Multistage Front Airbags, Antilock 4-Wheel Disc Brakes, ParkView Rear Back Up Camera, Hill Start Assist, and Trailer Sway Damping.
The Lance 2185 weighed in at 4,290 pounds wet so the Jeep had no trouble pulling it from a standing stop to highway speeds on flat land, and it took little to no effort to get it up hills due to the power of the V-8. Handling was surefooted and calm; we never once felt any sway or untoward whipping behavior. And the trailer’s tongue weight was easily supported and leveled by the Jeep’s air-suspension system, and the rear-view camera made itself very useful when hooking up the trailer.
Seating and drivability rated high on our scale. The Jeep’s front seats were heated and vented so summer and winter were made comfy. Powered eight-way driver and passenger seats, and power four-way lumbar adjustment, combined with a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, made it easy to find a comfortable driving position. Overall visibility was good with large windows and small pillars. Bigger, better towing mirrors are a must, but overall, the Grand Cherokee was an excellent tow vehicle for our time with the Lance 2185.
The Lance 2185 is a good value for those interested in a lightweight towable that can be pulled by a half-ton pickup truck or highly maneuverable SUV like many already have available in family driveways today. It delivered easy towing, easy setup, generous storage space, voluminous interior living room, good looks, and it comes with plenty of standards to make great RVing adventures, but can be ordered with a full range of options to really trick it out, including Lance’s 4 Seasons All Weather Package that can make it “extreme weather ready.”
Lance Camper 2185
Exterior Length 25′ – 8″
Exterior Width 8′ – 0 3/8″
Exterior Height 9′ – 11″
Interior Width 7′ – 10 1/8″
Construction 6 Sided (Floor/Walls/Ceiling) Aluminum Frame Bonded with Fiberglass Exterior)
Freshwater Cap 45 gal.
Gray-Water Cap 40 gal.
Black-Water Cap 40 gal.
LP-Gas Cap 2 ea. 5 gal. (10 gal. total)
Water Heater Cap 6 gal.
Refrigerator 6 cu ft
Furnace 25M Btu
Air Conditioner 9,000 low profile or 13,500 Btu
Converter 55 amp
Battery 12V (Dealer Install)
Tires ST205/75 R14 (C)
Suspension Tandem 2,900 lb. (5,800 lb. total) Torsion
Weight (Freshwater, Water Heater, LP-gas full; no cargo): 4,290 lb. (3,825 lb. dry)
Hitch Weight 522 lb. w/Freshwater/Water Heater/LP (450 lb. dry)
Axle Weight 3,768 lb. w/Freshwater/Water Heater/LP (3,375 lb. dry)
GAWR 5,800 lb.
GVWR 6,000 lb.
Cargo Carrying Capacity 2,100 lb.
Base MSRP $26,672
As-Tested MSRP $32,500
Basic Warranty 1-year limited (or as applicable)
Lance Camper Mfg. Co.: 661-949-3322, www.lancecamper.com
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4
MPG: Solo; Towing: 17; 11
Engine 5.7L VVT V-8
HP 360 @ 5,150 RPM
Torque 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 RPM
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle Ratio 3:47:1
Fuel Cap 24.6 gal.
Suspension Quadra-Lift Air-Suspension; (f) A-arms, coil springs, coil-over shocks; (r) multi-link, live axle, coil springs, shocks, lower control arm, upper link and toe link.
Brakes 4-wheel disc
Tow Rating 7,200 lb.
GVWR 6,800 lb.
GCWR 12,764 lb.
Base MSRP $42,995
MSRP as Tested $49,890
Jeep: 877-426-5337, www.jeep.com