Jim, that's really, really helpful.
I guess what it comes down to for us is this ... and I would be extremely grateful if you all would weigh in.
The 15A would be a stretch for us if we travel with our dogs, and we do anticipate a few situations where we are travelling for work, staying somewhere without bath/shower access but where we'd actually NEED one to be presentable. So that makes me nervous. On the positive side, we can afford a 15A, and we have a car that can tow it. We could order and be on the road in the spring, making the rounds to drop off your thank you presents in person
We have come to understand though through all of your helpful and generous comments that the 17B would probably be a much better choice, with a bath/shower if we needed it, a little more room for the dogs, and possibly a little more room for work. BUT we start to go over our budget with the cost of the camper, and then we'd have to trade in our car ... which would REALLY tax our savings. Based on what I was looking at last night, upgrading cars would cost us at least an additional $6k US, and possibly quite a bit more. And that makes me REALLY nervous.
I know the resale value on the Escapes is good. Is it a dumb idea to get in a 15A with the notion that we will upgrade in a few years? We do tend to rough things up (one of the reasons I'm not keen on trading the Subaru in is that it's clearly been a "dog car"), so I expect the Escape would be well-used, and I don't know if that'd knock down resale quite a lot.
The other option is to wait. That wait could be several years as we drive out the Subaru and save for a replacement car.
For what it's worth, husband Dan is likely to see a 17B in California later this week ... I'm still trying to figure out who I'll visit! But seeing one in person may obviously play into this too.