Travel Supreme 38′

What do you do for an encore after your small company makes a sizable and highly respected
name for itself in a single segment of the RV industry? You tap into your company talent
pool and make another splash in a new direction. Travel Supreme, a Wakarusa, Indiana-based
company with an 11-year reputation for manufacturing high-end fifth-wheel trailers, has
entered the upscale Class A diesel-pusher market with a unit that’s sure to set new
benchmarks for customer appeal. Presently, the company offers 35- to 38-foot coaches with
10 basic slideout-equipped floorplans and plenty of option packages to meet a wide variety
of customer tastes. Travel Supreme’s choice of a Spartan chassis means discerning customers
will find all of the usual diesel-pusher features they expect, including air suspension and
full air brakes. For an in-depth look at a 2001 Travel Supreme, we checked out a 38-foot
Model 38KS03 for an extensive field test. The motorhome is outfitted with a rear slideout
bedroom featuring a side-to-side-oriented queen-size bed, a midcoach slideout galley and a
forward living room. A split bathroom with a private streetside toilet enclosure is located
between the bedroom and the galley. The test coach carried a base price of $167,100 and was
adorned generously with standard features; Corian countertops and touch-control hydraulic
levelers were among the more noteworthy. Travel Supreme can spruce up any unit to be as
lavish as prospective owners might wish. For the test coach, a plethora of options ran the
price tag up substantially to $194,125. Although too numerous to list here, some of these
included the rear bedroom slide ($2,900), aluminum wheels ($2,030), a Winegard auto-dish
DSS satellite system ($1,885) and an Onan 7.5-kW Quiet Diesel AC generator ($5,365).
Strapped into this coach, we had a sense of being in command and control of a real road
machine. Leather-bound captain’s chairs cradle passengers comfortably, while the panoramic
view from the driver’s position allows plenty of forward and peripheral vision. The
high-gloss walnut dash is well laid out, and primary gauges, such as the speedometer and
tachometer, are quite easy to read. The motorhome is easy to drive, despite its formidable
size, and moves out smoothly and with decent acceleration, considering its 25,480-pound wet
weight. The cockpit noise level in this diesel pusher is blissfully quiet at speed compared
to front-engine motorhomes, and even while making its way up a steep-and-snaky 7 percent
grade, the motorhome displayed excellent control and sustained hill-climbing ability. When
we could really attack another 7 percent slope without having to slow down for curves, the
motorhome maintained a minimum speed of 45 mph in third gear at 1,900 rpm. Full air brakes
proved to be very effective under all stopping conditions; to help save brake linings and
frayed nerves on long descents, the motorhome is also equipped with a Jacobs exhaust brake.
The marriage of Travel Supreme’s high-end coachwork with Spartan’s Mountain Master chassis
is truly a great combination. When it comes to highway performance and available power, the
chassis’ Cummins ISC 8.3L, 24-valve turbodiesel engine is a robust and reliable performer.
With 950 lb-ft of torque, the motorhome is capable of 0- to 60-mph runs averaging 27.0
seconds with 40-to-60 intervals of 12.6 seconds. This comes in handy when entering freeway
onramps or just pulling away from a shoulder into busy traffic. Likewise, the Allison
transmission always seems more than able to select the right gear for a given driving
situation and makes efficient use of the engine’s power output. Cruising down the highway
at varying speeds, the coach is usually quite predictable and confidence-inspiring. It’s
also very smooth under most conditions because of its four-air-bag suspension. Even when we
were briefly surprised by high wind gusts in several coastal-canyon areas, the high-sided
coach bore the brunt of these blasts well with minimal lane deviation. Sharing the highway
with 18-wheelers and other boxy commercial vehicles likewise proved to be no sweat. Where
some coaches might move around a bit when near such vehicles because of the turbulent air
they generate, the test coach maintained lane position with nary a wiggle. Another
performance trait in which we found great satisfaction was the powertrain’s ability to
accelerate noticeably when running at speeds of 55 to 65 mph. This is mainly due to the
Cummins ISC 8.3’s freer-breathing 24-valve design, which optimizes fuel delivery and
combustion. What this means is that this very substantial motorhome still has considerable
scoot left in its power envelope on the high end for accelerating into faster traffic. It
can easily pass slower vehicles that are occasionally encountered in right-hand lanes as
long as there is a reasonable break in left-lane traffic flow. Colloquially stated, this
outfit is righteously set up to run with the big dogs under a variety of challenging
circumstances and terrains. We racked up mediocre fuel economy at a 7.4-mpg average.
Perhaps it was due to the headwinds we encountered throughout the test, or possibly the
several steep grades, ranging from 6 to 7 percent. In any case, we have no doubt that
cross-country travel on relatively level freeways should produce better figures. Though
obviously a high-end product, the Travel Supreme is not merely a white-glove showboat that
just looks pretty. The motorhome is loaded with usable architectural elements, high-end
appointments and contemporary decor. These aspects become apparent when people first peer
into its cavernous, pass-through basement storage compartment. This hangerlike recess
measures 154 cubic feet and can be accessed via multiple insulated doors from both sides of
the coach. Making things ultraconvenient for loading with minimal stress to lower backs,
this area was appointed with an optional metal slide-out tray ($914) that can be pulled out
from either side. With a cargo capacity of 5,520 pounds before reaching the motorhome’s
gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 31,000 pounds, the coach’s cargo hold and interior
compartments should more than accommodate just about all the gear that anyone might
reasonably wish to include on a long-term trip. It would take a serious
packing-and-stuffing effort for even a full-timing couple to reach that 5,520-pound
cargo-carrying capacity, but it’s nice to know the rating is available. Fit and finish on
the Travel Supreme are top-notch, as one might expect on a motorhome at this price level.
The test coach’s interior displayed optional solid-walnut cabinetry ($1,523) and the
manufacturer’s Tempting Taupe decor package, which includes beige upholstery,
similar-colored leather captain’s and swivel chairs and pleated day/night window shades.
Solid-wood window valances were also included in this setup, which, along with the other
walnut adornments, gives the entire interior the understated elegance of a Victorian
sitting room. Floorcoverings throughout most of the coach are light-beige carpet except for
the galley and the bathroom; real ceramic tile is used in those. It matches the aesthetic
level of the decor package and can put up with a ton of abuse. However, we found these
surfaces a bit chilly when padding around on cool mornings or evenings in bare feet or
socks. The midcoach galley slideout creates extra room in this area for meal preparation
and entertaining. We found the freestanding dining table, at 36×27 inches, offers just the
right amount of space for two. If guests are anticipated, a 12-inch leaf is included for
increasing the table’s surface. About the only item we can see that this area needs is some
sort of tie-down system for the two freestanding chairs. These unrestrained items seemed to
do the mambo around the galley floor when the motorhome hit a few high spots on the
highway. For a couple of bucks, owners can add their own hook-and-loop-equipped straps to
keep things under control. Corian countertops in the kitchen and bathroom are both visually
striking and practical. The galley’s L-shape streetside counter, plus the stove’s fold-down
lid, combine to provide a generous 20 square feet of usable surface area. What this
translates to is abundant counter area for lots of creative cooking ventures. Meals during
our trip were effortlessly assembled and served, thanks to appliances such as the overhead
microwave and the three-burner stovetop. An additional feature that we appreciated in this
motorhome and consider a “must have” is a slide-out pantry. Situated right next to the
curbside 10-cubic-foot refrigerator, that put most food supplies in one general location
for fingertip access. Bathing and grooming always seem to be much easier in a
split-bathroom arrangement, such as the one in this coach. Besides an aisle separating the
shower stall from the curbside washstand and medicine cabinet, there is also a private
toilet room with adequate foot space. There’s even a 2-inch gap beneath the door in case
users have feet larger than size 14 and need a place for their toes. Sudsing up in the
corner 30×30-inch shower stall allows lots of elbowroom for even larger folks. Headroom is
likewise bountiful, at 82 inches. A good night’s sleep is an absolute necessity for an
active outdoor adventure, and we definitely enjoyed this benefit throughout our test trip.
Besides being soft and supportive, the 60×80-inch queen-size master bed allows plenty of
elbowroom. Additionally, the bed was easily made up each morning because of decent aisle
space around it. Interior storage areas, including the rear closet with mirrored sliding
doors in the master-bedroom area, are generous. With an 8-foot width across the entire rear
wall, this 90-cubic-foot enclosure has space for a couple of wardrobes and then some. Added
to this is a large streetside hall closet, off the bathroom, which can be used for linens,
hanging clothes or even an optional washer/dryer. Thankfully, this coach has enough
alternative closet space and payload capacity to make use of the washer/dryer option a
no-compromise situation. Just plain living in this stylish coach is very easy to get used
to. Besides a comfortable furniture package, including a streetside sofa and a
leather-upholstered swivel recliner, we had abundant entertainment options, including two
20-inch televisions (living room and bedroom), a VCR and an AM/FM CD player. What’s also
nice is that the sofa will fold out to a 68×40-inch bed if guests are on hand. Even though
this roomy motorhome is intended primarily for a couple, it’s always nice to know that you
have space for friends or a couple of grandkids should the need arise. Travel Supreme’s
coachwork is mounted atop a raised-rail chassis that imparts extra frame strength to the
overall unit while maximizing basement storage potential. Built over this robust base is a
composite floor structure utilizing 2×4-inch wood frame members packed with fiberglass
insulation and capped with a 5/8-inch-thick plywood floorboard. The motorhome’s entire
exterior surface is gelcoated fiberglass; the walls are an assembly of an exterior
lauan-backed fiberglass sheet, a frame of welded 2×2-inch aluminum C-channel, polystyrene
insulation and interior-facing vinyl-clad lauan wallboard. Roof components consist of
welded-aluminum truss rafters on 16-inch centers, fiberglass insulation and an optional cap
of 1/2-inch plywood and the outer gelcoat fiberglass shell. Interior ceiling elements
include a sheet of 3/16-inch lauan and an upholstered headliner of beige Ozite fabric,
which aids significantly in muting interior sound while adding an additional insulating
barrier. For front- and rear-slideout mechanisms, Travel Supreme employs its proprietary
Ever Glide electrically powered rack-and-pinion system. With single-touch actuators,
slideout-room modules completely deploy or retract with one push on the designated control
buttons. Travel Supreme’s Class A diesel-pusher line may be only one-year old, but this
fine example of the company’s production effort is right in there with its competition.
Built on a road-proven chassis and featuring a highline decor and appliances, the coach is
gorgeously appointed and thoroughly livable. For those who can step up to the $200,000
price tag, this motorhome should provide long-term use potential and enduring road
worthiness in a stylish package. Travel Supreme Inc., P.O. Box 610, Wakarusa, Indiana
46573; (219) 862-4484 Article by: Chuck & Teresa Campbell Photos by: Chuck Campbell/RV
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