2010 Airstream Interstate 3500 Review

An innovative and versatile coach

By Jim Brightly, Oct. 18, 2010
Our very first recreational vehicle was an Airstream. About 40 years ago we bought a 20-year-old 22-foot travel trailer to tow behind our Bronco. It looked like an overturned aluminum canoe, didn’t even have a toilet or electric water pump, but it did have a two-way icebox. That’s right, I said icebox! If we didn’t have a 50-pound block of ice or a 120-volt outlet, we didn’t have cold food.

But it was airtight, and it had enough beds for our family of five—including two chaise lounges in the back for beds or relaxed touring (when it was built it was still legal for folks to ride in a towed trailer) – and we loved it!

Our first trip out in it was only about 140 miles south of LA to a long weekend on the seacoast just north of Ensenada, Baja California Norte, and it took us about three days to get there. Oh, we didn’t have any trouble. We just took the scenic route along the California coast and avoided the freeways, and every time one of us felt like a cup of coffee we stopped and made a pot (and finished it!). We had an RV; we were free! As I recall, it only took us about three hours to get back because we had to get back to work.

We used that old trailer for two years, including dragging its single axle into the dunes for camping at Pismo Beach many times, living in it for 10 weeks in Reno (while I worked a construction job there with three kids aged 5, 3, and 1—we were much younger then and my wife’s a saint!), and we ended up completely remodeling the interior before trading it in.

But why am I tripping the light-fantastic down memory lane like this? Even after four decades I still remember that Airstream fondly. For its day it was well designed and well built, and even after 20+ years of recreational travel and heaven knows how many miles on it, it still provided excellent service to us.

I have a feeling that Airstream still manufactures its trailers and its Class B motorhome with the same care and consideration as it did that iconic “silver bullet” trailer more than 60 years ago.

Airstream, manufacturer of one of the most recognized RV brands in the world, is proud of its Interstate 3500 Class B motorhome. The partnership between Airstream and Mercedes-Benz has yielded a touring coach that fuses the legendary quality and design of the Airstream brand with the comfort, control, and luxury of a Mercedes-Benz chassis.

The Airstream 3500 Interstate continues the tradition of extraordinary design and handcrafted quality that has made the Airstream a style classic for nearly 80 years. The unique blend of these two premium brands has produced a fuel-efficient, luxurious, safe, and comfortable way for travelers to explore the open road. You might even say that it has all the comforts of home.

Airstream has outfitted the Class B Interstate 3500 with seating for eight, a kitchen, bathroom, and a convertible lounge area that at night becomes a bed for two. Bucket seats in the cockpit swivel to face a removable table that seats four at mealtime, and a 19-inch flat panel HD LCD/DVD provides on-board entertainment. The galley features a convenient 1.2-cubic-foot convection-microwave oven and a stainless-steel two-burner cook top that is flush-mounted under a glass cover. A 3.1-cubic-foot refrigerator is cooled by an AC/DC compressor that uses 90 percent less power than conventional RV models. Additional energy efficiency is obtained by using interior LED lighting.

The Interstate comes with a high-efficiency 13,500-BTU Dometic roof-mounted air conditioner, an optional 2.5-kilowatt Onan propane generator, and a 26-gallon freshwater tank (with its own 6-gallon water heater for taking hot showers and washing dishes). The unparalleled cargo capacity of the Interstate 3500 allows for greater continuous travel while the rear axle dual tires provide the stability to carry such weight.

Although the Interstate is less than 23 feet long and 80 inches wide, people up to 6 feet 2 inches can stand comfortably inside the cabin. For worry-free backing up, the Interstate also features a standard 5.8-inch LCD screen mounted in the driver’s compartment to display the area behind the van whenever it is in reverse.

The Airstream Interstate is powered by a 3.0-liter Blue Efficiency V6 a fuel-sipping high-tech diesel engine that produces 188 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,200 to 2,400 rpm. Most importantly, the engine gets 30 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine.

The Interstate 3500 is available in both twin and lounge floorplans, with two interior decors—Onyx and Sand Pearl—and two exterior colors—silver and white. The Interstate 3500 has a suggested retail price of approximately $121,274.

Airstream is the oldest recreational vehicle manufacturer in the world. Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements,” Airstream has remained a timeless classic. A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based Jackson Center, Ohio, where a team of experts remain dedicated to preserving the brand’s legendary reputation for quality and innovation.