Airstream gets techy with the Smart RV Control app
I camped the cool way to see how new tech is bringing this retro-chic trailer into the 21st century.
Emme HallFormer editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
If you like to go camping and you're a fan of retro aesthetics, then you can't go wrong with a 2019 Airstream Classic 30-foot trailer. Long seen as the pinnacle of tow-behind luxury on wheels, the latest Airstreams are getting a tech overhaul thanks to the Ohio company's new Smart RV Control app.
The first thing the app can do is give a checklist of everything that needs to happen to hook up an RV properly, as well as how to break it down. You can also check levels on the 54-gallon fresh water tank, as well as keep tabs on the battery and propane supply. Sure, I'd get the hang of it after a few go-arounds, but for newbies like me (I'm usually a tent camper), it's great to have a checklist so you don't forget anything.
The app gives control of the lighting and HVAC systems and can deploy the power awning at the touch of a button. What's really cool is that you can do this even when away from the trailer, as long as there's cell service. The app can even give directions back to the trailer in case you're out on the trail and get a little lost. By the time you get back the Airstream, it's waiting for you, all nice and cool.
If all this sounds familiar, it's because we've seen technology like this in the car world for years. FordPass and Hyundai BlueLink allow drivers to start their car and control the HVAC system remotely. Heck, Tesla's app even has a Summon feature that will bring the car to you. Walking is so passé.
Of course, it's also possible to control everything manually from the main control panel, but sometimes that's just not convenient. For example, during my overnight stay, I used my phone to crank up the heat in the middle of the night, right from my bed. Lazy? Absolutely, but anything that keeps my butt in bed is tops in my book.
And speaking of my overnight stay, it was one of the comfiest camping experiences I've ever had. Maybe that's because this Airstream Classic trailer is more like a house than a camper. The rear is set up with two twin reclining beds, each with their own USB port, although there is a second configuration that features a double bed. There's a separate shower with enough headroom for my 5-foot-9 frame to stand up fully, but those over 6 feet will likely have to duck their noggins just a bit.
The kitchen is maxed out with a large (for a trailer) refrigerator and freezer as well as a convection oven/microwave combination, a traditional oven, a three-burner propane stove and a good-sized sink. A table that can seat four can also be broken down into a bed while a comfy couch with reclining seats on either end with USB ports built right in takes up real estate in front.
And yes, you can still Netflix and chill with the flat screen
in both the dining room and bedroom thanks to a new Wi-Fi set up. Not only does the Airstream Classic have a Wi-Fi booster for any public signals one might encounter, there's an
data. This tech is standard on the Classic trailer, but customers can purchase the set up for any Airstream for $999. Either way, you'll pay a subscription fee of $25 per month or $360 per year. Just for comparison's sake, the least expensive internet being offered by AT&T for the home is currently $50 per month.
The Airstream is made out of aluminum, but still has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds, so a full-size truck like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado or Ram 1500 -- if not above -- is necessary to tow it.
The Airstream Classic I stayed in starts at $153,400, but you can add 3 more feet of length for $167,900. While that's very expensive in this segment (and roughly equivalent to the price of an actual house in some parts of the country), it doesn't even buy a burnt-out shell of a home here in the Bay Area.
You know, this #AirstreamLiving thing is looking better every day.
Stay connected in the retro-cool Airstream Classic trailer