Santiam 40′

Within the realm of higher-end diesel motorhomes, the Beaver marque has long been
recognized for high class, strong performance and elegant livability. Now produced by
Monaco Coach Corporation of Coburg, Oregon, the company has recently moved to expand the
Beaver line by producing a hierarchy of four models with a broader selection of
powertrains, decor options and price points. The Santiam, which we recently road-tested in
a 40-foot floorplan (Model 40 DST), is a step up from the lowest-priced Baron in the Beaver
series, but is more affordable than the top-of the-line Marquis. It is built on Monaco’s
proprietary Roadmaster RR8R-Series raised-rail chassis that serves as an integral and
relatively seamless foundation for the unit’s upper coachwork. The Beaver Santiam is
available for 2003 in 13 floorplans, from 34 to 40 feet, six of which sport triple
slideouts. Our test coach had the benefit of three slides; two opposing slides forward
create a generous living-room/galley area and a streetside slide opens up the bedroom. The
coach also boasts not one, but two bathrooms: a half-bath with sink and toilet between the
galley and rear bedroom and a full bath aft of the bedroom that includes a tub/shower. All
cliches notwithstanding, this floorplan is about as close to traditional homestyle living
as one can achieve in the amount of space available in a motorhome. As with many luxury
coaches, the Santiam comes equipped with a standard selection of appliances, appointments
and amenities that by themselves would render a motorhome completely outfitted. Some of the
more prominent of these include tinted thermopane windows, a 10,000-pound hitch receiver,
hydraulic leveling jacks, a Pacbrake and six-way ultraleather upholstered pilot/copilot
seats. For this wealth of fixtures and much more, the base price of the test coach totaled
$178,888. Several options were added to the already generous standard features, which
pushed the motorhome’s final price up to $195,212. The costlier items included aluminum
wheels ($2,100), a full pass-through slide-out tray in the cargo compartment ($1,120), a
four-door refrigerator with icemaker ($2,100) and an Onan 7.5 Quiet Diesel AC generator
($5,208). Construction elements used with the Santiam line are of sturdy quality and
incorporate Monaco’s Alumaframe superstructure with steel-cage support and a steel-frame
floor topped with laminated Structurwood oriented-strand board (OSB). The coach is further
appointed with molded fiberglass nose and end caps, gelcoated fiberglass side walls and a
peaked aluminum roof that provides the remainder of the unit’s exterior skin. Internal
insulation consists of fiberglass in the roof assembly and polystyrene foam in side-wall
and underbelly areas. Chassis/Powertrain Monaco’s Roadmaster chassis has
earned a solid reputation for strong performance and robust durability beneath many of the
company’s highline and midrange coaches. For the Santiam platform, raised steel rails are
utilized, which allow an abundance of pass-through basement storage. Frame rails are
3/8-inch thick, and rail portions in the rear engine compartment are flared to 42 inches,
allowing a lower engine-mounting position. This provides for better residential use of
rear-coach areas, plus improved suppression of engine noise. Another practical construction
element is aircraft-grade, weather-resistant wiring throughout the unit that is stamped
every 3 inches with the name of the system or amenity it is associated with. Suspension
components on the chassis that help impart a velvet-smooth ride consist of eight
outboard-mounted air bags (two per wheel), plus four shock absorbers for optimum roll
resistance and vibration dampening. Each axle is also appointed with leveling sensors that
continuously adjust air pressure to maintain a level ride. Powertrain mechanisms on this
model include a Cummins ISC 330-hp turbodiesel engine that proved to be more than adequate
for pushing the motorhome’s hefty wet weight of 29,493 pounds. The engine is backed by an
Allison 3000MH sixspeed World transmission, and braking is assisted by a Pacbrake
compression braking system. Road Trip Initially entering the cockpit prior
to takeoff, the first thing you notice after sinking into soft and supportive ultraleather
adjustable seats is the area’s uncluttered dashboard, appointed with a Roman bronze
instrument panel and easily readable gauges. The switches and accessories surrounding the
driver’s area, such as a Sony color rearview monitor and a radio/CD player, are well within
reach and not lost in a clutter of dashboard bric-a-brac. The driver’s position also has
adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, which add optimum comfort and control to long-term
driving. Piloting a 40-foot coach takes a bit more calculation and preplanning when turning
tight corners and negotiating mazes, such as busy gas stations. However, though we thought
we might be somewhat limited by the motorhome’s length, we really weren’t. We did catch a
few sideways glances from passersby during our first parking attempt, when we realized it
took two regular curbside parking spaces to dock this baby. The Santiam is not exactly a
jackrabbit off the line, with 0-to-60-mph times averaging 32.4 seconds and 40-to-60-mph
readings of 17.3 seconds. Despite that, it accelerates smoothly and adequately, allowing
easy merging into traffic, and picks up speed nicely after engine rpm gets a chance to
build. Once off and cruising with the average flow of freeway traffic, the driver must make
a concentrated effort to hold speed to 65 mph because the motorhome definitely wants to go
faster. We especially noted and appreciated the powertrain’s willing mid-range acceleration
ability during lane changes and when the need arose to quickly pass slower vehicles. Ride
throughout the test was smooth, predictable and relatively quiet with no drifting or other
negative tendencies. Most of the time, it was like floating along on a cloud. We did hit
some high winds, though, that had us hanging onto the wheel pretty tightly. Despite being
bopped around mercilessly for about 10 miles, we managed to keep the coach in its lane.
Further into the test, we encountered a 6 percent grade on the outbound leg and again when
returning. In both instances, we breezed up the moderately steep incline at 54 mph at 2,000
rpm in fifth gear. Going down the other side, we kicked on the Pacbrake, which slowed us to
the point where we had to override its braking effects and accelerate to keep traffic from
piling up behind us. We toured around the local attractions and nipped in and out of angled
driveways and busy parking lots with plenty of room to spare. Turning is smooth, precise
and predictable, and we experienced no trouble whatsoever negotiating narrow lanes and
shoulderless byways. Overall, this coach is a very well-mannered, comfortable highway
cruiser that takes much of the effort and headache out of most driving challenges. Fuel
consumption of 8.1 mpg was adequate, considering the high winds encountered, though we
weren’t hindered by them for very long. Moving into the triple-slide luxury of the Santiam
40DST is something we’d love to get used to on a regular basis. The two forward slideouts
create a luxurious living room, galley and dining area that are truly residential in
proportions. Livability Loading is considerably simpler on this coach than
some others we’ve encountered for two distinct reasons: First, it has two flat-floor
pass-through cargo bays of generous proportions. Second, there is an optional
full-pass-through slide-out tray that takes the back strain out of the process and is a
must-have, in our estimation. Considering the fact that users can load up to 1,891 pounds
of cargo before reaching this unit’s gross vehicle weight rating of 32,000 pounds, there
should be more than enough space and capacity to carry all the necessary supplies and gear
for extended travel and livability. The test coach was appointed with the company’s Golden
Essence decor package, which is one of four available. Cabinetry was Western oak, with
beige carpeting in living and bedroom areas and light-colored ceramic tile in the galley
and bathrooms. Solid-surface countertops are found in the kitchen and both bathrooms, and
window treatments consist of cloth day/night shades and easily cleanable metal blinds in
the galley and the rear bathroom. The living-room layout, with its double-slide roominess
and handsome interior amenities, should appeal to just about anyone — especially if you’ve
been used to motorhomes with a single slide or none at all. The floorplan featured an
ultra-leather upholstered J-sofa curbside and a fabric-covered Flexsteel Magic bed in the
streetside slideout, which converts effortlessly into an auxiliary sleeping location
without giving up too much floor space. Although we didn’t need the sofas for nighttime
sleeping, they sure made comfortable locations to sprawl out and enjoy the easily viewable
25-inch television installed over the dash. The sofas likewise made great locations for
just looking out the large windows on both sides of the coach and enjoying the oak-studded
savannas and verdant ranchlands at the end of a long travel day. Meal preparation is
uncomplicated in the expansive galley, which includes a convection/microwave oven and a
three-burner stovetop. Higher-end coaches often come without a conventional oven as
standard equipment, as with this floorplan, but we didn’t feel the loss, considering that
microwave meals are usually our food of choice on most trips. For long-term travel,
however, we like a conventional oven as an alternative, and there is one available as an
option with this model. When we were sitting down to eat and later to write up field notes,
the streetside freestanding dinette table served admirably. Chairs upholstered in
dark-maroon brocade and adjacent brass accent lights helped create a swanky ambiance. The
solid-surface countertop in the galley, with approximately 14 square feet of clear space,
has excellent potential for preparing more complex menus if so desired. Lots of overhead
and undercounter cabinets are also located in this area. Helping to support culinary
efforts further is a streetside four-door refrigerator/freezer with icemaker and a
vertically oriented slide-out pantry for stashing canned and narrow boxed goods. When
preparing for bed, we felt very pampered with our own separate bathrooms to wash up in, and
the distaff member of our team quickly opted for the rear full bathroom with its shower-and
tub combination. The oval tub is actually large enough, at 46 inches long and 10 inches
deep, to take a modest soak. The shower space above is plenty roomy for comfortable bathing
with 78-inch standup room. Situated in its own bedroom-slide module, the master queen-size
bed is bracketed by narrow nightstands that additionally function as shirt closets. Behind
the master bathroom, a wardrobe closet and cupboards are situated for easy access and are
out of the path of bedroom/bathroom cross traffic. Beaver’s Santiam, with triple slideouts
and two bathrooms, is truly built for long-term living and extended travel. With a
sophisticated Roadmaster chassis that imparts superior handling and ride, along with
voluminous cargo space and an elegant decor package, this may be the last motorhome you’ll
ever want to own. Floorplan, Specs For full specifications of the Santiam
40′ and to view floorplan, click
. Beaver Motor Coaches, (800) 423-2837,


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