In this video, we tour “The Sports Car of Motorhomes,” and review some of the pros and cons of this vintage 1999 Chinook Concourse Class B+ RV.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
We’re on a quest to find the right RV for us, and thanks to a family member’s generosity, we had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Kentucky this Fall in a 1999 Chinook RV. When new, the exceptional Concourse XL sold for north of $100,000. A quick search today will find used ones selling for anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
Should you invest that much into a 22-year-old RV? I can’t answer that question for you, but I’ll review the pros and cons of the Chinook that we were fortunate enough to travel in.
The owner of this Chinook RV may be open to selling it. If you’re interested, use our contact form to send me an email, and we’ll connect you.
And be sure to check out our post & video on Hiking Cumberland Falls Park.
Built to Last
The 1999 Chinook Concourse XL was built on a Ford E350 cutaway chassis with a Triton V10 under the hood. Back in the day, this 21-foot Class B+ was marketed as “The Sports Car of Motorhomes.” One Chinook was even modified to set a land speed record on the Bonneville salt flats. Incidentally, Chinook closed its doors in 2005, but has since restarted under new ownership.
A big reason Chinooks remain desirable is their one-piece fiberglass shell. Water is a major enemy of RVs (more on that below). However, there are no seams between the Chinook’s roof and outer walls — imagine an upside-down fiberglass boat. This means there are fewer opportunities for leaks to develop, relative to conventionally-built RVs. Of course, the roof has openings for two fans, the A/C, the Winegard antenna, etc., while the sides have window and door openings. But overall, the fiberglass structure is stable, sleek, and solid. A modern comparison would be to a Leisure Travel Van or a Coach House RV.
Layout pros and cons
The interior of the Chinook Concourse XL features oak cabinets, a Corian countertop, fridge, microwave, stove, oven, sink, and wet bath. There’s even a small flat-screen TV and DVD player — top of the line for 1999.
Together, the dinette and sofa convert into a King-size bed that easily slept us and our 50-pound dog. However, the center aisle disappears in this arrangement, and the bed consumes the entire living area. Incidentally, it took about 10 minutes to put the bed together each night and to convert it back into the sofa and dinette each morning.
The galley is laid out pretty well, though there’s only about a square foot of working counter space. We found ourselves doing a lot of food prep on the dinette table. For cooking, there’s a carousel microwave and a 3-burner gas stove & oven. The vent hood also displays tank and battery levels.
The large refrigerator is 2-way (propane and shore power). We only ran it on shore power and it cooled so well we had to keep raising the temperature setting. Keep in mind that we made our trip in late October, with highs in the mid-60s.
The wet bath sits in the back corner of the Chinook Concourse, and its size was a deal-breaker for me. I’m 6’1″ and about 170 pounds. I could just fit through the door. Due to the design, simply turning around in there was a real challenge. The toilet sits on a raised platform that steals floor space from your feet. It takes planning and coordination to sit down and stand up because there’s so little space between the door and toilet. This bathroom is smaller than most airplane restrooms. I love the look of the molded-in sink, but the area below it is allotted to an exterior storage locker, so again, there’s very little floor space. We didn’t have hot water (no propane) so we didn’t try the shower, but it was difficult to imagine how that would work. If you’re less gangly than me, you might be fine.
We only packed for 3 nights, but storage was an issue for us in the Chinook, especially for bedding. We brought a flat sheet, two pillows, and two twin-size comforters (we love this — we never fight over the comforter). Finding places to store the pillows and comforters during the day was the challenge. The openings in the overhead cabinets were too narrow to cram them through, and we just didn’t want our bedding in the storage beneath the sofa and dinette. Ultimately, we kept them in two large plastic IKEA bags on the passenger seat, but I think we’d be able to find a better solution if we owned this rig.
Despite the narrow openings, the overhead cabinets do actually hold a lot, especially the deep one over the cab. However, it seemed like everything we stowed needed to be squeezed into place.
There are a couple exterior storage lockers, but not even folding chairs would fit in them, and I don’t think our small Weber grill would fit. Bikes could be mounted off the rear hitch, but you’d need a mount that could easily swing out of the way since it would block the back door.
For us, this trip in the Chinook Concourse XL confirmed that we really want an RV with a permanent bed. It’s a great place to toss backpacks and coats for “loose” storage, the dog can curl up and stay out of the way, and you can easily join her for a nap.
What we’d fix
The years have been very kind to this well-built RV, but there are some maintenance items that need to be addressed. First, the overhead storage cabinet along the driver’s side is slowly pulling away from the ceiling. With some cabinet screws and drills, that could probably be fixed in an hour.
The second thing I’d tackle is the leaking back door. It rained heavily during our first night, and water was trickling in at the top of the door. There’s a lip molded into the metal frame which should prevent this, but someone drilled several holes into it at some point — perhaps to mount a back-up camera. At minimum, I’d caulk those holes. The rubber gaskets on the door and frame looked to be in good shape, but they may also need to be replaced, and it could be an expensive challenge to find new ones.
Finally, the original Flexsteel driver and passenger seats are showing (and feeling) their age. We’d explore swapping in new seats, such as those from Scheel-Mann.
What we’d upgrade
If this Chinook RV belonged to us, there are several things we’d want to change or improve.
First: the carpeting has got to go. Wall-to-wall carpeting in an RV makes absolutely no sense. It’s constantly dirty, it’s constantly wet, and it holds odors. We’d want to tear it all out and put in a good vinyl flooring that’s easy to clean. However, the Chinook has an electric heating element underneath the carpeting, which may or may not still be working, and we’d have to determine whether it would work with hard flooring.
While the carpet’s out, I’d want to play with changing the layout of the living area. Having the sofa across from the dinette just feels weird, and the aisle between the two is very narrow. I’m not sure what the solution might be, though, and sleeping arrangements have to be kept in consideration.
I’d also consider rebuilding the fronts of the overhead cabinets with larger openings and new doors with locking knobs. And since the struts that hold the cabinet doors open have failed, I’d replace those.
In the cab, the engine cover features heated and cooled Beverage Mate cupholders. Even if they work (we didn’t test), they’re too small to hold anything other than a 12-ounce can. I think the best solution would be to replace the entire engine cover, which shouldn’t be too difficult to find for these Fords.
Other Quick Upgrades
- New windowshades.
- A taller, residential gooseneck-style pullout faucet.
- A toilet that sits further back toward the wall. This might make it easier to maneuver in that small space.
- Replace all lights with LEDs.
- Replace the two fans with Maxxairs.
This 1999 Chinook is in excellent condition and it was a joy to drive, with good acceleration, handling, and braking. Still, it’s 22 years old with 176,000 miles. I’d have a mechanic give it a thorough inspection and provide a detailed list of items that need to be addressed.
I’m handy, but I’m not skilled on engines, transmissions, brakes, and air suspensions, so I’d need to budget for those expenses. But if you have vehicle maintenance skills, I think the Chinook would be a fantastic RV to work on. Parts for the Ford chassis should be readily available for many more years.
We hope you enjoyed our tour and review of this Chinook Concourse XL Class B+ RV. Leave us a comment if you have questions. We’d especially love to hear from Chinook owners past and present!
The owner of this 1999 Chinook Concourse XL may be open to selling it. If you’re interested, use our contact form to send me an email, and we’ll connect you.
And be sure to check out our post & video on Hiking Cumberland Falls Park.