Jamboree 26′

When it comes to Class C motorhomes, exterior storage capacity often seems like an
afterthought. Granted, designers are usually focused on making the living areas as large
and comfortable as possible, but at the same time, Class C motorhomes are often used by
young families who can really use added storage capacity. Recognizing this fact, Fleetwood
recently introduced the Jamboree 26Q. Based on a Ford E-450 chassis, the non-slideout
equipped 26Q seems unremarkable- at first. It has the typical Ford-van-cutaway driver’s
compartment and forward overhead-bunk arrangement, but it’s aft of the cab that things
start to get interesting, particularly for a coach this compact. The 40 ×74-inch dinette is
roomy enough for four to sit comfortably, and the bathroom houses the toilet, lavatory and
shower in one room that is sized just right. Move farther rearward, and you step up into a
rear bedroom featuring a horizontally opposed 60 ×74-inch queen-size bed. And the reason
you step up? There’s a 105-cubic-foot pass-through exterior storage space underneath that’s
large enough to house anything a family could want to take along on a holiday excursion.
Building the 26Q on a robust E-450 chassis makes perfect sense. In addition to the
cavernous rear exterior storage compartment, it also has been endowed with a
5,000-pound-rated hitch, making it possible for families to take along a car, a boat or an
ATV trailer. The E-450 chassis has a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 14,050 pounds,
and at 11,400 pounds wet, but empty, the coach has enough capacity to accommodate a full
complement of gear as well. As could be expected for a small coach on a heavy-duty chassis
such as this one, the ride is a bit on the rough side, but, as we’ve noted numerous times
in the past, the trade-off is great handing and stability. Our travels took us on a route
that has been known to subject many a weary traveler to substantial wind gusts, not to
mention the ongoing buffeting from passing semis. The Jamboree held its line admirably, and
was very easy to keep in its lane with minimal steering corrections. And on the winding
roads, the coach was able to handle the curves at the same speed as automobile traffic with
nary a white-knuckle moment. The heavy-duty suspension means it’s also a breeze to drive on
not-so-perfect roads. We spent the good part of our first day at a primitive campground
that was preceded by no less than three miles of sandy, rutted dirt road – and the Jamboree
took it all in stride. Even over washboard, the coach remained mostly rattle-free, and its
suspension felt like it could take much worse if need be. With a Ford 6.8-liter V-10 and
four-speed automatic transmission on board, the Jamboree had plenty of power on tap. A 7
percent grade was easy to conquer at 60 mph in third gear, and 0-60 times were in the
17.75-second range. Starting with the front of the coach, the Jamboree’s Ford-designed
cockpit is typical of Class C motorhomes- functional and adequately comfortable, but not
especially roomy. There is enough legroom for a 6-foot-plus driver and front passenger, and
the seats were comfortable and supportive for the most part. A fellow tester commented that
the lower seat backs seemed overly padded and pushed uncomfortably against his back. He
also noted that there was quite a bit of heat emanating from the doghouse area on the
passenger’s side, and Ford’s dash air conditioning cannot be directed at the feet to offset
the effect. That’s not a major complaint, but something to consider. Our coach was also
fitted with an optional AM/FM stereo system with CD player ($105) and a Ford dash upgrade
that includes “carbon fiber-look” trim panels ($168). Moreover, the controls were easy to
reach and use, and the instrument panel was easily discernable day or night. Getting out of
the cab and into the living area of the coach is easy, thanks to Fleetwood’s sliding-bunk
arrangement, which leaves a cut-out above the driver and the front passenger when it is not
in use. That makes it easy to stand up from the cab seats. When the cabover bunk is needed
in its full-size configuration, the aft part of the bunk simply slides out over the cutout,
like a large, flat drawer. The cabover bunk sleeps two and houses a storage area and a TV
shelf with the necessary AC power and cable outlets. Kids will love this area, which is
easily accessible via a ladder that stows on the wall immediately aft of the driver’s seat.
Following an afternoon hike, we made our way back to the coach to turn on the air
conditioning, cool off and have a bite to eat. Since this was just a weekend jaunt, we
didn’t plan any elaborate meals, but the three-burner stove and microwave worked fine for
our needs. The counter-top area, while compact, is bolstered by sink covers to provide
additional surface area if needed. While the refrigerator stayed perfectly cool throughout
our trip, the same could not be said for the air-conditioning system. We think that a
properly sized air-conditioning system should be able to make a relatively small coach
comfortable. Granted, it was in the high 90s, but after a half-hour with all of the
ducted-air-system ceiling vents opened for maximum airflow, the environment inside the
coach would not be considered cool by anyone’s standards. In the chill of the evening,
however, the furnace functioned as expected and kept the interior comfortable at both ends.
In less severe climes, the Jamboree’s interior would be a comfortable place for family
enjoyment. Aft of the front passenger seat is a barrel chair that swivels to face the
street-side dinette, which has plenty of room for mealtime or board games and breaks down
to form a sleeping space for one. The bath area is ideally located amidships, making it
easily accessible to occupants at the front of the coach or those in the queen-size bed at
the rear. As is to be expected, this area is compact, but there is more than adequate room
to use the facilities. Likewise, there isn’t a lot of walk-around space in the bedroom, but
there is enough room to make the bed, and there is adequate storage in overhead cabinets
and in a small curbside wardrobe. Another mirrored wardrobe at the foot of the bed makes
the room feel much bigger, but because it is so shallow, its storage capability is
some-what limited. In the street-side corner next to the mirrored wardrobe is a television
shelf, and below it is a space to keep small items. The test coach was up-fitted with a
variety of options, including an awning ($532), a 4.0-kW Onan AC generator ($2,744) and
dual 6-volt auxiliary batteries ($161); one 12-volt battery is standard. Other less-crucial
items included a power step ($280), in-ceiling air-conditioning ducting ($756) and steel
running boards ($77). But the selling point of this modestly sized coach, as mentioned
earlier, is its enormous and well-conceived rear pass-through storage compartment.
Traditionally, the problem with one large compartment (as opposed to several smaller ones)
is that, unless you plan to fill it, small items will rattle around in there like a breath
mint in an airplane hanger. To make this compartment more useful, it is made of rugged
polyethylene, and the floor is comprised of deck lids that cover separate storage
containers, each with its own drain. This makes storing soda, fish on ice, etc., easy, and
the whole compartment can be hosed out when you’re finished. There’s also a folding picnic
table that doubles as a large deck lid when it is stowed. This storage configuration is
ideal for anything from arranging tools and supplies to dividing up food and beverages for
a tailgate party. Yet, the over-all size of the compartment is large enough to stow
bicycles, animal-trans-port cages, you name it. And, it’s light-ed, so finding what you
need at night won’t present too much of a challenge. Fleetwood’s idea behind the Jamboree
26Q was to provide young families with a reasonably priced, comfortable coach that can
sleep a family of five and have enough storage space and chassis capacity to bring along
all of their stuff. In that regard, the 26Q is an unmitigated success. Fleetwood
Enterprises Inc., (800)444-4905 or www.fleetwoodrv-info.com

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