Forty-year-old manufacturer Jayco is very well versed in producing affordable RVs earmarked for the general populace. Heck, the name “Jayco” is virtually synonymous with the tent trailer, the quintessential camping machine that elevated many of us off the ground. But now the company, after acquiring certain assets from one-time luxury motorhome builder Travel Supreme, has entered the high-end coach space — a place where only the top producers can play.
The new marquee for Jayco reads “Entegra” and the Aspire is the company’s entry-level coach in the model lineup. It sports sticker prices slightly north of $300,000, and for the money potential owners get a feature-rich coach backed by a two-year warranty and an additional five years’ protection against defects in the structure. To see if Jayco can cut the mustard in the high-end arena, we tested the Aspire 40DRQ, a 41-foot-long coach with a front living area, a center bath suite and a rear bedroom.
Construction technique plays a big part of the Jayco mindset in producing coaches that will appeal to discriminating buyers. Starting with a Freightliner XCR chassis, the frame is beefed up using a proprietary process dubbed “Aluma-Tru Superstructure.” This entails an X-Bridge support system with additional reinforcements in the rear of the chassis to prevent flexing, which relates to crack prevention in the extensive network of tile flooring and grouting — and is designed to reduce windshield movement and noise. To that end, Jayco has successfully built a coach that is very quiet on the road, sans the melodic hammering of the microwave oven shelf and revolving pan. Wind noise is just about absent, which makes conversation with the copilot pleasant and lifts the enjoyment level of the high-quality sound system (with pigtails for an iPod and computer) built into the instrument panel. Integrated into the sound system is a powerful navigation component and the backup/sideview camera screen.
Overall, the driving experience is very nice, with much of the credit going to the proven Freightliner chassis. Powered by a 400-hp Cummins engine, the coach scoots along the flats with nary a whimper. Its 31,000-pound body weight slows the performance on the grades, but the coach still manages to keep pace, and outperform the big-truckers by a long shot. Fuel economy is appealing for such a big motorhome, turning in 9.7 mpg when we maintained constant speeds.
Driver comfort is a high point and instrumentation and controls are ergonomically placed, although some are not clearly marked so there’s an acclimation period needed. The passenger can cuddle up in an oversize seat and can slide the floor over the entry well to keep feet from dangling. Front sunshades are electronically controlled by the driver and/or passenger, and the side shades are manual. When parked, the privacy shades are implemented by a switch that’s part of the multiplex control panels placed strategically throughout the coach’s interior.
While long stints behind the wheel are clearly comfortable, once the coach is set up in an RV park, the exceptional livability afforded by the four slideouts really shines. Up front, the living room opens to an airy expanse furnished with opposing couches upholstered in Ultraleather. The couch on the driver’s side has flip-up leg extensions and can be converted/inflated for additional sleeping. Adjacent is the dining table that extends from the wall structure and is augmented with two free-moving chairs. The table can be pulled out to cozily accommodate four diners (using two folding chairs that are stored in the rear closet).
The rest of the living room is filled out with a residential double-door refrigerator with built-in water and ice dispensers, and the opposing galley. A 2,000-watt inverter, tied to a generous golf-cart battery bank, services the refrigerator’s power needs while on the road. Should the batteries lose their charge, the 8kW diesel AC generator can be called into action automatically or manually.
While the galley is not exceptionally large, it does the trick for most cooking adventures. Corian graces the countertop and sink complemented by nice fixtures and an expansive array of cabinets and drawers. Additional countertop space is provided by the recessed cooktop. Storage space for foodstuffs and cookware is good, but adjustable shelving in the overhead cabinets would provide additional flexibility for storing taller items.
Next to the galley counter, a 40-inch LCD TV is the focal point of a cabinet structure. Most of the TV screen is hidden when the slide is retracted, so another TV mounted above the dashboard can be viewed if conditions prevent the slides from being extended. The home theater component (with iPod hookup) is concealed behind the upper cabinet housing the main TV, and so is the pigtail to connect the in-motion satellite dome. But we couldn’t find a way to hook the satellite receiver to the TV without disassembling the TV mounting hardware. Same problem in the bedroom. A discussion with the service people at Jayco brought promises of clearly marked connections and further improvements. Apparently, the bedroom and outside TVs are hooked together as are the TVs in the living room. Looks like two receivers will have to be used if satellite is preferred. A distribution center is certainly in order here.
The floorplan utilizes a split bath configuration, which is partially hidden by the partition that’s created by the main TV cabinet. Curbside, a curvy shower stall with skylight is tucked in neatly next to the lavatory structure. This shower is roomy, the glass doors work perfectly and the fixtures are top-notch. The lavatory sink would also work much better if it were relocated closer to the front edge of the cabinet structure. The way it’s positioned now, our heads met the medicine cabinet when brushing our teeth. Nevertheless, the shower was one of the best we’ve ever used in a motorhome. Part of that praise goes to the optional Aqua-Hot 375-LP propane-fired hydronic water and comfort heating system. Typically coaches this size use a diesel-powered hydronic system, but this LP-gas version — that also can operate on 120-volt AC — is super efficient and quiet. Of course, the LP-gas requirement forces the 50-gallon propane tank to be part of the standard equipment package.
While we never ran out of hot water, the system also provided near-perfect heat distribution throughout the coach. The only flaw in the system was the lack of heat in the toilet room, which is disproportionately small. Because of the minimum allocated space, it was necessary to use a smaller china toilet and a compact lavatory. I’d rethink that design decision.
Carpeting is picked up again in the bedroom. The only other places you’ll find carpeting are in the front slideouts. The optional king-size bed with a Select Comfort mattress ($1,358) contributed to great sleeping. For those awake moments, a 26-inch LCD TV, mounted in a swing-up door, provided entertainment. Concealed behind the TV/door was a second home theater system. The entire rear wall is occupied by a wardrobe closet (with sliding mirrored doors) and a compartment housing for the optional stackable washer and dryer.
There’s plenty of room to store all the bedroom essentials in the cabinets and drawers, plus there’s more than adequate walk-around space, although on one side the floor is elevated to provide access to the engine compartment.
The Burnt Walnut décor and Mocha Glazed Maple cabinetry are contrasted nicely against the light-colored tile flooring and ceiling with sculptured highlights. Recessed lights, complemented by numerous other lighting fixtures, are controlled by switches in the multiple multiplex panels that have dimmers to soften the atmosphere.
Outside, large pass-through compartments are fitted with swing-out doors, making access convenient, even for those areas below the slideouts. Optional slideout trays enhance one’s ability to access stored items, eliminating the need to crawl inside the compartment to retrieve items. Utility compartments house the hookup essentials, including optional power take-up reels ($410) for the water hose and 50-amp power cord. Compartments are also heated for winter use and controlled by an independent thermostat, all part of the optional Polar Pack ($1,343).
While the compartments are cavernous, owners need to be mindful of the limited cargo capacity. After doing a little math, the coach is capable of handling an additional 1,280 pounds’ worth of supplies and people before hitting the gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr). Adjusting the amount of water carried will help, but leaving super heavy items out might be more practical to keep the load under control.
Exterior graphics are handsome and enhanced by the flush-fitting slideouts and frameless dual-pane windows. The front entry door can be locked by a wireless key fob. Polished aluminum wheels make the full-body paint and exterior graphics really pop. Overall, the coach sports eye-appealing body lines that will certainly exude pride of ownership — and no doubt an in-park experience that will be enjoyed.
2011 Entegra Aspire 40DRQ
Quiet ride; good fuel economy for a large coach; ergonomically placed cockpit controls and instrumentation; roomy shower; handsome exterior graphics and full-body paint.
Limited cargo carrying capacity; hooking up satellite receiver to the TV is problematic; toilet room is small and placement of lavatory sink is inconvenient.
Fuel Economy: 9.7 mpg
0-60: 30 sec
40-60: 15 sec
Model: Freightliner XCR
Engine: cummins isl
SAE HP: 400 hp @ 2,200 rpm
Torque: 1,250 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed Allison 3000MH
Axle ratio: 4.63:1
Brakes: all-wheel ABS, air disc front brakes, two-stage jake brake
Suspension, F/R: neway air
Fuel Cap: 100 gal
Ext Length: 40′ 9″
Ext Width: 8′ 5″
Ext Height with A/C and Satellite: 12′ 8″
Int Width: 8′
Int Height: 7′
Construction: welded tubular aluminum side walls, aluma-tru superstructure, gel coat fiberglass walls, Fiberglass Roof, flexfoil insulation
Freshwater Cap: 81 gal
Black-Water Cap: 60 gal
Gray-Water Cap: 60 gal
Water-Heater Cap: 12 gal
LP-Gas Cap: 50 gal
Air Conditioner (2): 15,000 BTU
Furnace: 42,000 Btu
Refrigerator: 12 cu-ft
Inverter/charger: 2,000 watts/50 amps
Battery: (4) 6-volt chassis, (2) 12-volt coach
AC Generator: 8 kW diesel
MSRP as Tested: $313,797
Warranty: 2 Yrs/24,000 miles; structural 5 years
(water and heater, fuel, lp-gas tanks full; no supplies or passengers)
front axle: 11,680 lbs
rear axle: 19,440 lbs
total: 31,120 lbs
gawr, f/r: 12,400/20,000 lbs
gvwr/gcwr: 32,400/42,400 lbs
rOCCC: 1,280 lbs (deduct weight of passengers for net cargo capacity)
gawr: gross axle weight rating
gvwr: gross vehicle weight rating
gcwr: gross combination weight rating
Roccc: realistic Occupant and cargo carrying capacity (full water, No passengers)