5,000 mile review of new Reflection MB31
We traded a well-used Reflection 303RLS in for a new MB31 in March, 2022. We selected this design because it provides a separate bunkhouse and sleeping area. The purpose of this review is to advise those buying a new Reflection what to expect – the Good, and the Bad.
First, the good. Since this is our second Reflection, we clearly think the brand is our best, or at least a perfectly acceptable choice. The layout of the MB31 is great, providing us a completely separate sleeping area with two bunks, one of which provides a lot of extra storage of gear and the other used by my bride, who thinks I snore. Harrumph. I sleep in the forward cabin. There are a few nice improvements in this Reflection vs. our older, 2016 unit. They did away with the carpet in the cargo storage areas in favor of a much easier to maintain vinyl. A ceiling fan is included which is dead silent, and can run all the time keeping humidity under control, which was a problem in the older unit on cold nights with two adults and two dogs. The supplied equipment – refer, microwave, water heater, etc. all work pretty well, except as noted below. The auto leveler
If everything on the unit was great, this could be a shorter review, but it all isn’t great, so here’s the Bad. All of this is stuff that Grand Design could control if they wanted to.
While Reflection generally scores very well, as compared to other brands, with RVs that is a bit like saying they are the cleanest shirt in the dirty clothes hamper. There are so many little things that if they cared about quality, they could fix. But they don’t, so here’s a list of the stuff that has to be fixed after just three weeks on the road:
1. Trim pieces covering the seams of interior walls fall off because they use very tiny staples to attach these cover strips, and they don’t hold. Be prepared to glue them in place with a bit of epoxy.
2. I suppose in order to save weight, GD uses faux wood in many places that appears to be highly compressed fiber of some sort, covered with a thin vinyl that looks sort of like wood. It’s very hard to tell where this material is used vs. actual wood because they all look the same, but where ever this fiber lumber is used, any end cuts act like a wick for any moisture present. So, if they used this rubbish only in places that never get wet, it might not be an issue, but they use it in the bathroom, right next to the shower in trim pieces for the bathroom cabinet. This material absorbs water about as well as a paper towel, so after three dozen uses of the shower, enough water was wicked up that the stuff delaminated. GD could fix this by not using the material in wet areas, or by caulking the seam where the stuff touches the flooring and where the water wicks in. They do neither, so the fix is to peel back the vinyl, scrap off some of the saturated fiber, dry it thoroughly, then seal with thin epoxy and caulking to keep water out.
3. Wood trim pieces on the foot of the slideouts fall off. Again, epoxy is your friend.
4. Interior doors are all sliders, and GD installs a track guide at the bottom of each door to prevent the door from swinging. These immediately fall apart as they are just cheesy plastic, and with the exception of one sliding door into the bunk house aren’t needed, since the pocket keeps the door from swinging. One such guide was screwed into the wood door frame trim in such a way that when you closed the door, it caught on the guide and ripped the trim piece off. Reapply the trim with epoxy, since GD uses the same cheap staples to attach it in the first place, or simply junk the guides before using the units.
5. On one of the pocket doors, a staple used to attach a thin piece of plywood to the interior frame was never completely sunk, so scraped the vinyl faux wood skin off in places. Short of removing walls, the only fix was to purchase a piece of flat steel from Ace Hardware, and use it to reach the staple and bend it over. This is just lousy Q.C. indicative of GD’s overall attitude towards quality.
6. In the forward bedroom there is a separate thermostat that controls the heat. However, GD thought that a great place to mount this thermostat was directly above the heat vent, so the minute it calls for heat, the stat registers 90 degrees and shuts off the heat. I have no clue why they include a separate stat in the bedroom, since the once that controls heat and a/c mounted in the living area also heats the bedroom. This is not so much a quality issue as a “what are these people thinking” kind of thing that again, speaks to GD’s Q.C. The fix is to ignore this thermostat and it is without useful function.
7. In our old unit, we had a hot water heater – 6 gallons I recall – and I don’t recall running out of hot water. In this unit, they installed a continuous flow heater that gives you unlimited hot water. The problem is, you have to run a couple gallons of water before it gets