The Toyota Sunrader is a classic RV that is no longer in production. It was a unique vehicle with a 1-ton truck base instead of a van. That made all the difference in travel, comfort, and durability. It's a great vehicle if you can find one in good shape today.
A used Sunrader in good shape can go for as little as $12,000 and can be powered by a 3.0 L V6 engine. That engine was enough power to drive the 18 foot RV over the tallest of highway passes. There was a 4 x4 version built between 1985 and 1988.
To learn more about the Toyota Sunrader just continue to read our article. There may not be too many of them left on the road these days. If they are in good shape you may be surprised at how practical and comfortable they really are.
If you want to call it a truck then it is a 1-ton chassis style that is able to carry a lot of weight. But it is only a truck in the front of the RV. The rest of the vehicle is like any Class C RV and provides you with a lot of living space.
It has been described as the top of the chain when it came to Toyota RV models. the 22R or the 22 Re engines were better than the usual 3.0 VZ-E V6 that some models had under the hood. The manual transmission lets you shift down without any hassle.
The RV portion was made from molded fiberglass so rust was rarely a problem unless you lived in some really moist areas of the country. There were different models of Sunrader with about 50 Adventurer options sold between 1986 and 1989.
What that tells you is that Toyota did something right in the early days of RVing and they produced a very good vehicle that was well built. The key was to make sure you took care of the motor and maintained it regularly. If you did that, you could get 200-,000 miles out of the engine with ease.
One would be under the impression that Toyota built the Toyota Sunrader but that is not the case. The company merely supplied the specs and contracted the work out to different RV manufacturers.
While this may have been a smart business move by Toyota, what it did do was create a lot of the same RVs under different model names.it got so bad that the Toyota RV was made in over 60 different models and styles.
The Sunrader was actually built by Gardener Pacific while the Mirage was built by Mirage Industries, the Escaper by Damen Corporation, and Coachman produced the Coachman and Savanna models. That is just the tip of the iceberg of the many manufacturers Toyota worked with.
Originally, the length of the RV was about 18 feet but it was expanded to 22 feet which caused a lot of axle problems. That was in the 80s when the chassis was a 1/2 style and not the 1 ton. The 1-ton version was the fix for the axle issue.
Adding the V6 provided more horsepower which made this RV very popular. This model of RV was only made for about 20 years and its production ended about 1994. To be more detailed one would have to investigate each model made by each manufacturer to see if they are a version of the Sunrader or not.
Yes and no. For most of its production run, this RV model was made as a two-wheel drive option. Usually, that two-wheel drive was rear-wheel drive. During the years 1985 and 88 there was a 4 wheel drive version made. How popular it was is determined by the few years it was in production.
One 1987 model came with dual rear wheels with the spare hidden halfway up underneath the chassis. Plus, it came with a turbo-charged 22RTE motor that was an improvement over the 22RE. This motor was coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission.
Also, there was AC, cruise control, a 26-gallon fuel tank, a 6 lug axle, and the turbocharged engine. If you are keeping an eye out for one of these models, you may have to wait a long time before you find one. Only about 25 to 30 were made and out of that number, only 4 had the RTE engine.
It also was built with a molded fiberglass RV body that made sure you had few issues with water, the elements, or leaks. The 4x4 was not that popular as at that time there may not have been many off-road enthusiasts to enjoy the ride.
In today’s world where RVs can command a very high price, this little, used model is a breath of fresh air. When in good condition and well maintained, it does a very good job in delivering performance, comfort, and a little style.
While you can get these RVs for a low cost, there are some rare models that command a very high price. The 1987 4x4 we just talked about is rare and the asking price is almost $50,000.
The engine can go for up to 200,000 without major repairs and most have done so. The interior is compact but well organized. the longer 22-foot versions may have given you more living space but it looked a little too long for the chassis.
One of its better features is all the windows this little rig has. This made the smaller space larger than normal and helped make the place look airy and light. You could sleep a family of 4 comfortably with the cab over the sleeping area. Or just turn that space into extra storage.
The rare 4 by 4 looks like a regular truck with a traditional truck camper on the back. the even rare 5th wheel option provided a lot more space and left the truck available for exploring different cities.
All in all, it is a good rig if you can find one in top shape. it handles steep slopes just fine and all the amenities you would want are packed inside.
Gardener Pacific built their Sunrader between the years 1979 and 1991 and during that time these RVs came in 14 to 21-foot lengths. The number of amenities you got would be influenced by the amount of space inside of your RV.
Inside was a wet bath that included a toilet. Then there was a built-in heater, air conditioner, fridge, stove, and a large 3-way fridge. Two different sleeping areas allowed the children or grandchildren to come along for the trip. or you could entertain overnight guests.
The dinette and kitchenette were placed in the middle of the interior and the sleeping areas were usually on either end of the RV. Everything is compact as the interior was not that wide.
If you did not like the standard decor, you were free to refurbish it more to your liking. Many owners have done just that. At best the interior was better if there were only two of you as there was not a lot of space for independent movement.
The rear entry may not have been the best location for the door but there were few alternative spaces left available. It was a standard RV interior making due to the limited amount of space.
It is amazing that no one talks about how wide this RV is. We have checked countless ads, dealers and other sources for specs and the only measurement that is listed is the length. What we do know is that the Sunrader RV section was not much wider than the truck carrying it.
It has to be at least 6 feet wide but since it is often described as a mini RV, it shouldn’t get much wider than that. What we did find out though, is that most people want to talk about the design flaw that did influence many people’s lives when it broke down.
This design flaw was found in the 1/2 ton chassis version which was upgraded to a full 1-ton version when people brought their Sunraders in during the recall notice. Despite the flaw, many people still enjoyed using their Sunrader RV and continued to do so for many years.
If you were at 18 feet or shorter, there was no problem with the shell sitting on a 1/2 ton chassis. Unfortunately, there are not that many of these RVs left on the road right now. They were good RVs to own.
This topic is like the previous one. It is a state secret as no one talks about the height either. This could be due to the fact that Toyota used so many different manufacturers who created a multitude of models.
This is the same problem that many owners have when trying to find the weight of their Sunrader. It is not listed anywhere and one owner had to go to the local scales to get their RV weighed.
In looking at the different exterior images, the Sunrader should be between 7 and 8 feet high. It is taller than 6 feet but maybe not by much. The 4 by 4s may be a bit taller than the regular RV models but not by much.
That extra height would be due to the lifted wheel areas. No matter how tall they are, there was no problem in getting under any overpasses, bridges, or low overhangs. The headroom inside may have been barely high enough for the average person to stand straight up.
Above-average people would still have to stoop a little but it is a minor inconvenience when you own a very good RV. It is a trade-off at times.
As you know by now almost everyone selling or owning a Sunrader only talks about the length of their RV. Why this is so is not known but it can be a bit frustrating. When they were in production the length of the RV stopped at 18 feet in the early years.
But as time went on, the different companies started to expand the length to 22 feet. However, they did nothing about the width and the height. This created a situation where the interiors of the different models were duplicated even if they had different model names.
What that means is that you could own a Chinook from Toyota and its interior would be the same as the Sunrader model. This adds to the confusion that surrounds this top-notch RV. While it is a good RV Toyota did not have its act together and made a mess of what could have been a profitable line of vehicles.
Suffice it to say that the dimensions are minor simply because Toyota had the foresight to add a lot of windows to their models. The interiors looked larger in the daylight giving people the feeling of more space.
If anyone talks about the width and height of the Sunrader they just say it is shorter and narrower than other RV models. Then they add if you are over 6 feet tall, you will have to crouch.
It seems strange that Toyota would pick only one of its many models of RVs to be made out of fiberglass and to have it done through all of the years of production. It did happen and luckily that model was the Sunrader.
The molded fiberglass body for the RV was as close to leakproof as you could get. Sometimes there were problems with the windows and you may have had to reseal them but the rest of the house did not leak.
From at least 1979 to 1991 when Gardener Pacific made the Sunrader, each RV was made from molded fiberglass. This construction material cut down on the weight of the RV which allowed them to use more fuel-efficient yet smaller motors under the hood.
There is some discussion on if other Toyota branded RVs were made from all fiberglass but those construction materials may have been fiberglass sheets and not molded fiberglass.
We keep saying Toyota here but in reality, they provided the motor and the chassis and about 20 or 30 other companies provided the RV section of the vehicle. Any number of companies could be credited with giving the Sunrader the molded fiberglass design
It is hard to say as people who list their model for sale make specific mention of a propane fridge, stove, and so on but when it comes to the water heater, they just say water heater.
We will go out on a limb here and conclude that since the Sunrader had both electricity and propane sources, the water heater would be a dual function model. You could use either power source to heat the water.
There is a chance we could be wrong but many of these RVs have been upgraded so the water heater may not be original either. Even a website that talks about the new owner’s trip back home in his new Sunrader does the same thing.
He just mentions he can get a hot shower while saying he has a 3-way fridge. We will go with a 2-way water heater as that was fairly standard at that time. Every owner that we saw talking about their RV was well pleased with the way their water heater worked.
They just were not specific as to the brand or the power source for the heat. One owner just said in his ad that the RV needed a new water heater and left it at that.
This will depend on the condition, the model year, and the rarity of the RV. As we mentioned earlier one 4x4 was selling for $49,000 approx. and that may be just the low end of the scale. Some others have stated that the 4x4 was rare and that the asking prices were very high when they did go on sale.
We did see mention of an even rarer 5th wheel Sunrader but there was no price attached to that RV. It may go for more than the 4x4. The good news is that if you are looking for a regular Sunrader RV then the asking price is going to be all over the map.
Many that we saw on sale were below $10,000 while some were priced between $10,000 and $20,000. There was one for over $20,000 so you will have to sharpen your negotiating skills.
Then the length of the RV will play a little role in how much you will have to pay for one. The longer it is the higher the price will go. Check the classifieds to see if you can get a better deal than the ones offered by the online dealers.
Or check with your local RV dealers to see if any came in on a trade-in and the dealer just wants to get rid of it.
These seem to be in large supply. One owner who is renovating his Sunrader is giving away parts for free but there is no guarantee those parts will work. But to get on the right track, the best place to look locally in your area would be the numerous junkyards that deal in automotive parts.
They will have a good line on what is available. Then you can always check the classifieds, including Craigslist, to see who is offering what for sale. One owner is offering seats for $300 as of this writing.
If need be, you can always find a non-working model that still has good parts, buy it and strip it down to get what you need. Or contact any used auto body or parts store to see what they can find.
Your best bet may be eBay as you never know when someone will list their Sunrader parts on that marketplace. In many cases, parts may not be found easily as, like the 4x4, very few were made.
Of course, you can always try one of the other Toyota RV models and see if the parts for that RV will fit yours. There was some duplication going on.
There is such a beast and we have seen photos of only 2 so far which actually turned out to be 1. The mileage was low and it is a combo unit where the pick-up truck is free once you unhook the 5th wheel.
So far 1981 seems to be the only year they were built. That was the model year of the only one spotted so far. The pick-up was designed with large windows beside the rear seats and the bed was placed on dual wheels.
Plus, the rear seat had an overhead window in case anyone wanted to stand up and see where they were going. Click this link and this one to get a view of what this very rare rig looks like. it is a Sunrader.
If you want quality while remaining unique, you may want to check out the Toyota Sunrader RV. This is a comfortable ride that has unique styling. The only problem is that Toyota used the same styling in over 60 different models.
But if in top shape you can’t beat the value or the performance.