WHEN HEADING OUT FOR AN ADVENTURE INTO SOME OF AMERICA’S OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH LOCATIONS, it’s nice to have a motorhome that offers exceptional maneuverability without sacrificing the creature comforts. From a secluded riverbank or lakeshore to a top-of-the-world mountain peak, the Provan Tiger CX, built on a Chevrolet 2500-series four-wheel-drive (4WD) pickup with the GM InstaTrac 4×4 option, is a multitalented combo that can indeed go where few motorhomes have ever gone before. Although the test motorhome was built on the Chevrolet truck platform, the Provan can be built on a number of chassis. The company also builds these nimble motorhomes on GMC, Ford and Dodge standard cab, stretch-cab and four-door crew cab trucks in 3/4- and 1-ton configurations. This gives customers a wide selection of brand and chassis options, such as gas or diesel power, and two- or four-wheel-drive drivetrains. We tested a model that weighed in at 7,040 pounds wet, which is 1,560 pounds less than its 8,600-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr). It would be tough to pack enough people, supplies and goods in this compact coach to approach that 1,560-pound capacity, assuming good weight distribution. This coach’s gross combination weight rating (gcwr) is 14,000 pounds. That makes for a 6,960-pound towing capacity, which will be reduced by the weight of passengers, supplies and fluids. With a base price of $56,180 and an as-tested price of $59,786, the Provan Tiger CX has a lot going for it. It’s a compact, maneuverable, fully equipped, easy-to-drive-and-park motorhome that has a huge potential for exploring true backcountry locations in comfort and style. At first glance, the sticker may seem rather steep for a small motorhome, but when you analyze the cost of a fully equipped camper and pickup, the price is very close. And the extra floor space inside the Provan makes this tidy low-profile Class C more livable by comparison.
When buying a Class C motorhome of this size, you accept its limits graciously and live accordingly. The 6-foot 3-inch interior height is enough for most users, while the interior width is 7 feet 3 inches, about 6 inches wider than the truck itself, and that’s adequate for comfortable living. The coach’s 19-foot length is about 14 inches longer than the stock truck, so it’s still easily drivable, and its 8-foot 11-inch overall height is reachable for the
wash-and-wax brigade. One staffer commented that the coach could use another 6 inches in length, so the bath/shower would be a little more spacious without affecting drivability or
handling. The entire floor of the cab is covered in sumptuous dark-green padded nylon
carpeting that’s comfy under bare feet. From the curbside entry aft is a dark-green
fabric-covered 80×53-inch L-shaped sofa bed that is the primary sleeping space for adults,
unlike most chassis-mount RVs. (Four other color schemes are available.) A single table
post comes standard with two drop-on wooden tops: a small circular one with drink holders
and a large rectangular version for meals. We stashed our folded clothing in a string of
overhead cabinets above the sofa. An enclosed, very compact wet bath, incorporating the
toilet, shower and sink, is in the streetside rear corner. Even for tall guys, the toilet
facilities were a reasonable fit. Streetside, heading forward of the bath, are a wardrobe
closet and the galley. Thanksgiving dinner could be a trick here, but the kitchen’s
three-burner stove, double stainless sink with overhead microwave oven, 3-cubic-foot
refrigerator and undercounter storage do the job for most galley duties. Likewise, the
removable table serves as adequate dining space for just a couple of adults, or families
eating in shifts. Other standard features include LP-gas and carbon-monoxide detectors, an
85-amp-hour coach battery, a 30-amp power converter, a functional luggage rack and ladder, and privacy curtains for the windows. Atop the cab are sleeping quarters sized for somewhat more compact individuals. The firm top-quality innerspring mattress is 4 inches thick and is 72×44 inches in size. An aluminum bunk ladder is included. There are also four windows, as well as a two-stage ceiling light. We were comfortable inside all day and well into the evening before the 40-degree F outside chill called for firing up the 16,000-BTU
single-outlet furnace for a few minutes. The furnace’s air grate, located below the sink
almost at floor level, worked well at dispersing hot air. Provan’s tests suggest that the
furnace can keep interior temperature at 70 degrees F when the outside temperature is minus 15 degrees F. A well-engineered fold-down spare-tire carrier assembly is mounted in front of the rear storage compartment, which is also the dedicated location for an optional
2.8-kW Onan Microlite AC generator ($3,250). Other options include a 7,100-BTU roof air
conditioner ($720), an awning ($625), a TV antenna with cable hookup ($279), a three-burner stove with oven ($329) and stereo speakers ($110). The coach battery gave us plenty of power for interior lighting, running the furnace and powering the stereo, but since the motorhome did not have the AC-generator option, we had to hook up to 120-volt AC power to run the air conditioner or operate the microwave for popcorn and coffee-heating duty. We were very impressed with this motorhome’s ride quality and overall handling, drivability and parking ease. Even those intimidated by the high profile of most motorhomes will find this one easy to manage, right from the outset. The 131-inch-wheelbase chassis and the potent 300-hp 6.0-liter (366-cid) small-block fuel-injected V-8 engine are a healthy combination. This engine has a throaty exhaust tone unlike any other. It has platinum-tip spark plugs, a computer-controlled distributorless ignition and a high-performance stainless-steel exhaust system. The optional automatic transmission ($995) is the heavy-duty four-speed with overdrive model featuring push-button tow/haul mode.
When hauling or driving normally, the torque converter is in low-rpm mode. When towing, the driver can depress the button at the end of the column-shifter and the stall speed (engine rpm) increases by about 500 rpm. This lets the engine rev to a higher torque-producing rpm without the transmission downshifting. As a result, the engine works easier without additional throttle actuation and is therefore less stressed. A bold yellow script on the dash depicts tow mode when in use. A heavy-duty five-speed manual transmission with 0.70:1 overdrive is standard equipment. With two aboard and a full tank of gas, the Tiger CX ran a sprightly 11.11 seconds in 0- to 60-mph acceleration tests. Its engine has a wide torque curve from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, and it accelerates nicely at cruise speed in overdrive with swift and sure transmission kickdowns as needed. Because the engine is designed to run at higher rpm than the old-style V-8s, it can wind up in gear to a seemingly amazing level and run there comfortably. Our 40- to 60 mph tests averaged 7.35 seconds.
After driving almost 800 miles in all kinds of conditions from city rush hour/stop-and-go to 65-plus mph in the hinterlands, the fuel economy averaged 12.71 mpg, which is pretty good for a brand-new vehicle. The Chevrolet Silverado cab was loaded with every option imaginable, including full instrumentation with a tachometer; power windows, door locks and mirrors; air conditioning; intermittent windshield wipers; cruise control; tilt steering wheel; AM/FM stereo with CD; speed-sensitive power steering; tinted glass; remote keyless entry; and two additional 12-volt DC power outlets. Chassis/driveline no-cost extras included an automatic-transmission oil cooler and custom wheels. GM’s use of tan velour on the cab’s headliner was closely matched by Provan on the coach’s nearby bulkhead and helped visually unify the GM- and Provan-built areas. It seemed that seat travel was slightly limited by the Provan captain’s chairs hitting the coach bulkhead and not having enough aft movement for tall people. Drivers got used to the slightly limited legroom, but it was agreed that picking an extended cab would be a smart move for the long-legged buyer.
The other concern was GM’s outside rearview mirrors and the coach’s extra 3-inch width on either side. The mirrors didn’t give the driver a clear view to the rear. The rear coach window helped, as did small stick-on convex mirrors attached to the factory mirrors. Extension mirrors are recommended. Part of the key to the Provan Tiger CX’s drivability and chassis responsiveness, apart from its relatively low profile and low center of gravity, is two-fold. First, Provan’s steel-framed floor is integrally welded directly to the truck
frame, so there’s no apparent frame flex or movement. Second, the Tiger CX cabin is said to weigh only 1,100 pounds, which is easy work for the heavy-duty 2500-series truck. The
coach’s aluminum-framed, aluminum-skinned walls and one-piece fiberglass roof have
polystyrene insulation and walnut-veneer lauan paneling. The ceiling is an off-white-fabric
covering on a lauan backer, and the floor deck is 3/4-inch plywood with a sprayed-on
rubberized undercoating. Designing and building high-quality, high-efficiency recreational
vehicles since 1973, Provan Industries is well known primarily in the Central states for
its products’ high quality, durability and performance.
The company sells manufacturer-direct, so there is no dealer network. A complete motorhome can be ordered new, or your existing 3/4- or 1-ton pickup can be used as a platform for a Provan conversion. Build time is about one week, by appointment. Provan warrants to the original purchaser that the entire main flooring, aluminum framing and main-frame components are free of defects in materials and workmanship for five years. The truck has a GM no-deductible, bumper-to-bumper three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty. Like Class B van campers or other special-interest motorhomes, the Provan Tiger CX is not for everyone. However, it’s a well-built unit that can deliver exciting, adventuresome travel with its 4WD feature and compact size. A full plate of self-containment equipment and open interior space make it actually more comfortable than other similar-size motorhomes in the market.
For buyers looking for something a bit different, the Provan could be the rainbow’s end pot
of gold. Provan Industries, 10750 Irma Drive, Unit 1, Northglenn, Colorado 80233; (800)
531-9383 Article by: Doug Marion Photos by: Doug Marion