Road Trip

2020's Best pop-up travel trailers

The pop-up travel trailers on this list are priced for budget-conscious travelers and those with larger amounts to spend.

Photo courtesy of OPUS

As U.S. states begin relaxing shelter-in-place restrictions due to COVID-19, many Americans are going to find it hard to resist the urge to get outdoors and away from home. One popular pursuit will undoubtedly be camping under the stars.

Pop-up travel trailers are a great option for those wanting to maintain a healthy amount of social distancing — sleeping off the ground in an actual bed — insulated from the elements and other campers. An economical addition for active outdoorsy families, pop-ups can be decked out with comforts similar to larger fifth-wheel trailers or even full-size RVs, yet offer compactness, maneuverability, convenience and lower cost when compared to larger recreational vehicles.

Read on for a sampling of unique pop-up travel trailers for 2020. Note that prices are sourced from manufacturer websites or NADA Guides.

Aliner Expedition

Photo courtesy of Aliner

Approx. Starting Price: $20,660
At 18 feet long, 84 inches wide with a road height of 68 inches, the Expedition has the biggest footprint of any Aliner trailer, yet it is still has one of the fastest setup times among tent trailers. The company says Expeditions are a full 30 percent bigger than their other models, yet still only require about 30 seconds to pop up.

The Expedition comes in four floor plans, and three of those include an optional toilet. The Expedition has a standard slideout kitchen, yet the entire camper weighs less than 2,000 pounds so it can be towed by a variety of vehicles. There are other lower-priced Aliners, but the roomy Expedition is a true beauty.

AWOL Outdoors Camp365

Photo courtesy of AWOL Outdoors

Approx. Starting Price: $19,995
Billed as the "world's first fold-out cabin" as well as "the cabin that goes everywhere," the Camp365 is designed and built in Minnesota. The trailer's aluminum alloy steel reinforced frame offers light weight as well as strength and durability; the trailer's shell is aluminum too, so the unit weighs under 1,500 pounds. The cabin uses no wood or canvas that can mold, rip, rot or fade, and its aerodynamic shape makes the Camp365 easy to store as well as transport. It can be towed by any vehicle equipped with a Class I hitch — including most ATVs.

The Camp365 cabin is 700 cubic feet and has almost 40 cubic feet of dry storage, as well as five tinted windows; options include air-conditioning and heating, shower and bath, an off-road wheel kit, customized beds and more. The cabin can be configured for almost any occasion — even happy hour.

Coachmen Clipper Sport 108ST

Photo courtesy of Coachmen

Approx. Starting Price: $15,043
Weighing in at 2,687 pounds, the Coachmen Clipper Sport 108ST spans almost 17 feet closed; open it is more than 20 feet long thanks to the pull-out queen-size beds. The Clipper Sport features an E-coated tubular steel frame, a dual-drive winch, a Goshen lift system, a 4-layer laminated seamless roof, laminated fiberglass walls, LED exterior lights, and a power roof vent, to name a few.

Optional features for the Coachmen Clipper Sport include an Essentials Package with a 3-way power refrigerator, a 20,000 BTU furnace, an awning, electric brakes and a spare tire carrier. The Clipper Sport can also be outfitted with an exterior wall-mounted grill, a 40- or 80-watt Zamp portable solar panel, a screen room, a Thetford porta potty and a bike rack.

Coachmen Viking V-Trec

Photo courtesy of Coachmen

Approx. Starting Price: $16,595
Coachmen's Viking V-Trec comes in three different floor plans: the lowest-price V1 with a queen-size bed at each end; the V2 with a queen bed at one end and a king bed at the other end; and the V3 with a slide-out dinette as well as a queen bed at one end and a king-size bed over a full cargo deck on the other end.

Similar to the Clipper Sport, the Viking comes with many standard features as well as the Glide-N-Lock bed support system that eliminates the need for support poles under the beds. The V-Trec V3 weighs in at 4,42 pounds and has an exterior length of almost 22 feet. The V3 floor plan shown above includes a wet bath with a toilet and standup shower.

​Forest River Flagstaff 176SE

Photo courtesy of Forest River


Approx. Starting Price: $12,993
Forest River's entry-level Flagstaff 176SE is 12 feet long and weighs 1,772 pounds; it has a standard (42-inch wide) and a full (54-inch wide) bed at either end, as well as a sink, fridge, café table, range and cabinet storage in the living space. The Flagstaff model line has a Sports Enthusiast package designed for active families, couples and campers with a sense of adventure.

The Flagstaff trailers with the SE package have ProRac Systems crossbars to carry up to 150 pounds of gear and toys. The SEs also include an AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth, an MP3 player and USB ports for streaming and charging, LED lighting and a Wi-Fi booster. The Flagstaff SE series is also solar-ready, has 12 inches of ground clearance and 15-inch off-road wheels and tires.

​Forest River Rockwood 1640LTD

Photo courtesy of Forest River

Approx. Starting Price: $8,754
Another entry trailer that weighs less than 1,500 pounds (1,465 to be exact) yet sleeps six campers is the Forest River Rockwood Freedom Series 1640LTD (larger 2514F shown above, click to the video below to see full model walkaroud). The Rockwood Freedom series is all about giving tent trailer campers the ability to find the perfect camper for their needs. All Rockwoods are constructed with powder-coated tubular steel frames, rafter poles and bed bows; and one-piece doors.

Rockwoods also feature full perimeter aluminum bedframes and air-conditioning reinforcing laminated into the roof. Similar to the Flagstaff line, the Rockwood line can also be equipped with many optional features including awning lights, a refrigerator, heated mattresses, and ProRac bike and kayak racks.

​Jayco Jay Sport

Photo courtesy of Jayco

Approx. Starting Price: $13,770
The Jayco Jay Sport is still on dealer lots, but it is limited to stock on hand since this model is no longer being produced. The Jay Sport comes in four floor plans with base prices that range from $13,000 to 17,000. Lengths range from 8.5 to 18.5 feet with beds ranging from 42 to 70 inches in width. Jay Sport campers can also be equipped with a Baja Package that includes 15-inch Goodyear off-road tires, 5 additional inches of ground clearance as well as a double entry step to accommodate the extra height.

All Jay Sport versions have a sink, a hinged galley, a cabinet for a porta-potty, an indoor/outdoor stove, vinyl flooring and residential cabinets. Each floor plan also has a Customer Value Package consisting of an awning, a 28-gallon water tank, stabilizer jacks, a 2 cubic foot 3-way power reefer, front and rear black diamond plating and a spare tire. The option packages are additional cost.

​OPUS Off-Road 4-Sleeper

Approx. Starting Price: $29,000
The OPUS tent trailer has a unique setup system. The company says setup takes two minutes; all campers need to do is open the trailer, secure the bed ends and start the inflation system. The lower walls of the camper are constructed of aluminum dibond and polystyrene insulation, and the trailer sits on a powder-coated tubular frame. The trailer sections unfold with the aid of pressurized gas springs, allowing one-person setup.

The exterior of the OPUS also has a slideout kitchen including a slideout Dometic reefer and storage drawers. Inside, beds at each end sleep two each, and the interior can be configured in myriad ways to accommodate a sink, microwave, 2-burner stove, a table, a seating area and storage space.

​Somerset Grand Tour Utah

Photo courtesy of Somerset

Approx. Starting Price: $22,440
The Somerset line is part of the Aliner family, and both are owned by Columbia Northwest. The Utah is a great option because of its one-piece aluminum-skinned roof and Sunbrella tent fabric, as well as its steel wall construction. Exterior features include outside speakers, stabilizer jacks, allow wheels and chrome lug nuts.

All models in the Somerset line include indoor stoves, stereos, a water heater, a furnace, a water pump, a 3-way power refrigerator (propane, shore, battery), and a 35-amp converter with a charger. It's interesting to note that the Somerset series comes in only one floor plan, which the company says — after 40-plus years of building tent trailers — their one layout is best.

Sylvansport GO

Photo courtesy of Sylvansport

Approx. Starting Price: $8,995
One of the most versatile trailers on this list, the Sylvansport GO is a camper, gear hauler and utility trailer all in one. The innovative, lightweight design lets active families use the GO for many applications — from camping under the stars to hauling a washer and dryer home from a big box store. The TIG-welded, powder-coated aluminum frame and diamond-plate aluminum deck stand up to abuse.

As a camper, the GO features a versatile tent floor plan. The tent material is made from 220-denier ripstop nylon, and Sylvansport offers attachable awnings and accessories to make the GO an even bigger camp tool. One might be tempted to call the Sylvansport GO the Swiss Army knife of tent trailers.

​TAXA Outdoors Cricket

Photo courtesy of TAXA

Approx. Starting Price: $34,983
What we would call a literal pop-top trailer, the TAXA Outdoors Cricket is a fully hard-sides trailer that raises its roof in a cantilever style when set up. The 15-foot Cricket has a powder-coated steel chassis, a laser-cut aluminum skeleton, it weighs 1,800 pounds and sleeps two adults and two children. TAXA calls the Cricket a "NASA-inspired design."

The Cricket has many features as standard equipment including a large picture window, a generous kitchen area with a counter and sink, interior LED lighting, a Truma combo furnace and water heater, an exterior hot and cold shower, a roof exhaust fan and 12 USB ports. Options include a porta-potty, Thule load bars, a kids' berth and a Dometic refrigerator.

Turtleback Adventure Trail

Photo courtesy of Turtleback Trailers

Approx. Starting Price: $18,495
Although there is an entry-level trailer called the Adventure at $12,995, the one to get it is the next level up: the Turtleback Adventure Trail. All the standard features of the Adventure are there, including the CNC-cut, galvanized steel trailer with bedliner coating, Timbren suspension, forward and aft receiver hitches, a full aluminum floor and main box, and an OZtent Outer Ridge Venturer trailer tent with a fully enclosed room and awning.

The Adventure Trail also has a full single-battery electrical system, an interior / exterior lighting kit, 12-volt socket and USB ports, a kitchen with maple-topped birch cabinetry as well as a stove and a Dometic stainless steel sink, a 21-gallon BPA-free water tank with on-demand pump, and an 11-pound tank for accessory grills, heaters, etc. And this is not even a complete list of features or equipment. Finally, proud Turtleback owners (and wannabees) attend "Herd of Turtle Gatherings" throughout the country during temperate months.

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New SUV Review

2021 Ford Bronco review: Return of a legend

Several of the Bronco's body panels are removable.

Ford

Ford says its 2021 Bronco is 'Built Wild' like its wild-horse namesake and, as this iconic model returns to the U.S. market after a 25-year hiatus, it's ready to gallop to glory once again. Released from the Ford stables in 1965, the Bronco was America's first-ever "sport ute" and heralded as the first "4WD sports car" with both off-road capability and on-road competency; it was also dubbed the "G.O.A.T." (goes over any terrain). The all-new model is reincarnated as a modern-day midsize SUV with heritage-inspired styling; rugged engineering; and a collection of smart technologies for the backcountry and four-wheeling, as well as for a smoothish ride around town and on the highway. It marries the tough attributes of Ford's F-Series trucks with a fully-boxed steel-ladder frame and advanced 4WD systems to the performance spirit of the Mustang—and, once again, is nicknamed G.O.A.T! Larger than its stablemate, the Bronco Sport competes with vehicles like the Jeep Cherokee, while the Bronco is a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. It goes on sale this summer starting at $29,995

Bronco Trims and Configurations


2021 Ford Bronco Two- and four-door versions of the Bronco are available.Ford


The new Bronco comes in 4WD only, and is available in a two-door version that seats four people or a four-door model with room for five, plus hard-top and soft-top options. There are two engine choices: A turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4 that offers up to 300 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque (best-in-class) is standard. It pairs with either a 10-speed auto or a 7-speed manual. The optional engine is a 2.7-liter V6 with a twin turbo that produces 330 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque, which is also best-in-class. The V6 is available only with the ten-speed automatic transmission.

The manual transmission has six traditional gears, plus a "crawler gear" that has a best-in-class gear ratio of 94.75:1. There are seven Bronco models that include Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands, Wildtrak and a limited First Edition that quickly sold out when order banks opened.

Bronco Features and Styling

The Bronco comes in a staggering number of exclusive color combinations that vary between models. The highly configurable off-roader is designed for both novice and hard-core 4WD experts, with easily removable roof panels, bumper sections and doors that can be stored in the trunk.

Though all-new, the latest Bronco takes its design cues from the proportions, square, boxy looks and flat sides of the original model. Large, open wheel wells are amplified by removeable bolt-on front and rear fenders, while the Bronco's fender flares sport quick-release fasteners to help with customization. Interior appointments vary by model but are designed to appeal to the heart and lifestyle of weekend warriors and 4WD adventurers with durable, with waterproof surfaces, an off-road performance app, and an available 12-inch LCD touchscreen paired with Ford's SYNC4 system touchscreen (an 8-inch is standard), among other communication and audio features. A 12-volt hook-up and USB power connections are at-the-ready to mount cameras, navigation units, phones or other devices.

Bronco First Drive Impressions


2021 Ford Bronco Several color combinations are available with various Bronco trims.Ford


We tried out 5 different models during our test drive that began in the urban environment of Austin, TX and took us to Ford's first Off Roadeo 4WD playground in Marble Falls. Our road-going drive was in a 2-door Outer Banks model with the manual transmission. On the plus side, the manual shifts smoothly, and we had the opportunity to use the crawler gear at a local boat launch. On a steep uphill over loose-surface terrain-we found it suitably impressive.

In general, there was good power, plenty of torque, and competent steering that carved the twisty roads with ease. The Bronco offers surprisingly smooth braking, although we'd like the brakes to be a bit "taller" for more aggressive stopping. Notable is the quietness of the cabin and comfort of the seats. Our only complaints were seatbelts that are not height-adjustable and a couple of ergonomics complaints for our 5'2" driver (although Ford is looking into making changes for both!).

We navigated our way through three off-road courses designed by 4WD experts that included rocky terrain, muddy motoring and dirt two-track with up and downhill climbs. We were impressed with Ford's Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. (goes over any terrain) modes, which allow up to seven driver-selectable settings (Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Sand, plus Baja, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl for off-roading). Two 4WD systems include a two-speed electronic shift-on-the-fly transfer case and an optional two-speed electromechanical transfer case with an auto mode for on-demand selection between 2H and 4H. A Dana 44 solid rear axle and Dana independent front differential unit are both available, as electronic locking differentials-provide more grunt. Bead-lock 17-inch wheels compliment aggressive off-road tires.

We also tested the Bronco's Trail Toolbox, which is a suite of off-road technologies that includes Trail Control (cruise control for low-speed trail driving), class-exclusive Trail Turn Assist (tightens off-road turning radiuses through torque vectoring), and Trail One-Pedal Drive (aids in acceleration/braking control for precise and confident low-speed rock crawling).

The Bronco's four-wheel-drive attributes include:

  • Up to 11.5-inches of ground clearance
  • 43.2-degree approach, 26.3-degree breakover and 37.0-degree departure angles
  • Best-in-class water fording of up to 33.5 inches (w/ optional 35-inch tires that are available on every series)
  • Steel underbody armor to protect vulnerable parts and an available front bash plate
  • Heavy-duty modular steel front bumper w/ an integrated accessory winch mount
  • Side rock rails
  • Standard front and rear tow hooks
  • Sway bar disconnect
  • A 360-degree camera system with class-exclusive off-road spotter views for additional visibility in technical off-road terrain
  • Trail sites (a styling cue from the first Broncos) on the front fenders that also serve as tie-downs with a 150-lb. capacity for securing longer items, such as canoes.

The Bronco moves with ease at both slow- and high-speeds as a result of its class-leading front and rear suspension travel with a high-performance off-road stability suspension system (HOSS). Up front is an independent front suspension set-up with a solid rear axle with long-travel coil springs; suspension systems vary by model-for instance, the Sasquatch off-road package (available on all models) and standard on Badlands is long-travel position-sensitive Bilstein dampers, with end-stop control valves that allow more articulation, reduce harshness and bring durability.


2021 Ford Bronco The Bronco can be ordered with either a hard or soft top.Ford


After years of buildup and speculation, the Ford Bronco had to be good, and for the most part it accomplishes that goal. The combination of technology and off-road prowess, combined with a mostly reasonable price tag, should be enough for the Ford to put up serious competition against the Jeep Wrangler and other off-road SUVs.

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New SUV

New Jeep Compass Coming Soon

The Compass gets a major update for 2022.

Stellantis/Jeep

The Chicago Auto Show is happening now, which means we've already seen a few new models and concepts. Just yesterday, Jeep introduced the new 2022 Compass compact SUV. It gets a new design inside and out, updated tech, and a load of new available driver aids. The Compass' refresh comes as new models from Ford, Subaru and others could cut into Jeep's off-road dominance.

As it was in previous model years, the new Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter "Tigershark" four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It's good for up to 31 mpg on the highway in 2WD models and can deliver a max towing capacity of up to 2,000 pounds in 4WD models. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard for Compass Sport and Latitude 4X2 models, while all others get a nine-speed automatic transmission that can handle the 20:1 crawl ratio setting in the Trailhawk model.

An all-new Latitude LUX trim joins the Compass lineup for 2022 as well. It features leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, a seven-inch full-color gauge cluster, and the larger 10.1-inch screen.


2022 Jeep Compass The new Compass is more upscale than its predecessor.Stellantis/Jeep


The Compass comes with a class-leading 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, but higher trims get an even larger 10.1-inch unit. It offers standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and runs Uconnect 5, a colorful, responsive infotainment system with advanced features and tech.

Several new safety features make an appearance, but most are added-cost options. The highway assist system offers a semi-autonomous driving feature, which Jeep says will become available later. Other tech includes traffic sign recognition, standard pedestrian/cyclist automatic emergency braking, a surround-view camera system, parallel and perpendicular parking assist, and a long list of more traditional advanced driver aids like blind spot monitoring and parking sensors.

The Compass lineup for 2022 includes five trims: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing for the new Compass starts at $26,490, including a $1,495 destination charge. At the top of the lineup, the Trailhawk and Limited models both start at $32,890. It's expected to start arriving on dealers' lots in fall 2021.


2022 Jeep Compass New color schemes highlight the Compass' interior.Stellantis/Jeep

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