Class B Trailblazer
The Roadtrek CS Adventurous with E-trek package reaches a level of sophistication not typically seen in a Class B
My dad stepped into the CS Adventurous through the sliding side door, took a look around, then stepped back out to take a second look at the marque on the side. “This is a Roadtrek?” he asked. “Wow, they’ve come a long way. I remember wanting one of these when you were growing up.” And it’s not just the looks that have changed dramatically, it’s also the innovative way the electrical and comfort systems have been integrated into the design of the CS model with the E-trek package.
The test motorhome we evaluated was loaded with a number of electrical components that rival big, luxury Class A’s. For one, the Roadtrek was fitted with eight 6-volt batteries, wired in a unique way to take advantage of a 5,000-watt inverter/charger, a 240-watt solar charging system, and a 3,500-watt electric engine-driven generator, which by definition, is actually an alternator.
What makes this Roadtrek unique is its ability to keep the rooftop air conditioner, refrigerator (electric only) and microwave powered up without the use of an LP-gas or diesel-fired generator. The engine generator (as described by the company) is driven by the accessory belt and charges the batteries while the engine is running. The result is clean power with the potential to save energy costs and increase bragging rights as an environmentally friendly motorhome.
Based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, Roadtrek has been building motorhomes since 1974. Today, the company manufactures Class B motorhomes ranging in length from 18 feet 9 inches to 22 feet 9 inches. The CS Adventurous, introduced in late 2013, is on the longer platform based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 dual-rear-wheel chassis. Power comes from the venerable 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 BlueEFFICIENCY engine, through a five-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz claims its BlueEFFICIENCY design allows smaller engines to deliver higher fuel economy and more power with lower emissions, but the emissions system is the very thing that delivered its share of problems early in our testing. A light on the instrument panel informed us that we had “7 Starts Remaining,” which confused us, until we realized that the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) reservoir was probably low. Stopping at an auto parts store to replenish it, the instrument panel informed us that we now had only six starts remaining. Hmm. A visit to our local Mercedes-Benz dealership in Thousand Oaks, California, revealed the problem: a faulty NOx sensor. Once this was replaced, we were happily on our way and experienced no more problems.
The CS has seating to haul six people comfortably — three forward and three at the very rear — and sleeping for three. The E-trek package specifically caters to those who enjoy primitive camping experiences, but will also feel completely comfortable in any full–service RV park.
We set the radio to our favorite station (standard is the plug-and-play Mercedes-Benz Becker MAP PILOT navigation system with Bluetooth and on-dash keypad, AM/FM stereo, aux-in and USB), pointed the Mercedes emblem south and settled into the Ultraleather cockpit seats. Fortunately, the seats, with various adjustments and three heat-level settings that warm the entire seat, including the back (wonderful!), were impressively comfortable, as we spent twice the time in them than planned due to the usual you’ll-have-lots-of-company Los Angeles traffic. As we made our way alternately through stop-and-go gridlock and smooth sailing at 65 mph, we noticed how quiet the engine was, and only one muffled squeak emitted from the back.
The cockpit is well laid out with a backup camera system and intuitive controls. We liked the dial-by-number temperature controls and abundance of storage compartments. Visibility is excellent, with an expansive windshield and large side mirrors. Looking into the rearview mirror, the driver has a partial view through the back double-door windows as well. One passenger who was sitting on the sofa bed at the back remarked that he felt like he was looking up an aisle in an airplane. The CS is equipped with Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Assist to alert you when it detects other vehicles in your zone or if you wander out of your lane.
Arriving at Santee Lakes Regional Recreation Preserve, we drove through the campground, again noticing how quiet the diesel was, to our site toward the back. Granted, we were traveling at a low speed, but unlike the children playing and riding bicycles, the plentiful geese didn’t look both ways before waddling into our path, so the brakes were tested several times, quickly bringing the motorhome to a halt.
Between the Roadtrek’s manageable size, good backup camera and big side mirrors, backing into our site was a breeze. Hooking up was equally easy with straightforward connections and no slideouts to crawl under to reach electrical outlets. We really liked not having to lug around a sewer hose, eliminated by the use of a macerator system (operated by a red button at the base of the driver’s seat). A super-flexible, 1-inch hose, connected to the macerator pump, simply pulls out for connection to the sewer and gets pushed back into its cubby underneath the RV when not in use. And since there’s no outside storage on the CS, that’s one less thing to pack inside.
Under the sofa bed, accessed via the rear doors, was enough space to hold the 30-amp electrical cord, water hose, three camp chairs and two Quik-fold tables, which pretty much filled the space. An XL model is available that adds 18 inches for additional storage.
The CS Adventurous packs all the creature comforts into a narrow floorplan that’s better suited for small- and medium-size folks. A second-row captain’s seat is placed in the sliding door entryway, giving your feet about 22 inches of space to step in around the seat. Walking toward the back, where the width opens up again to 5 feet 9 inches, you negotiate a 24- to 28-inch aisle that separates the wet bath on the left and the galley on the right. Unless you’re skilled at a close-embrace Argentine tango, two people will find it difficult to pass gracefully at the same time, so one needs to wait at one end. With the table set up in front, entry into the motorhome is effectively blocked. The captain’s chairs swivel for seating for three at the table, and the table is cut at an angle for refrigerator access. The flooring is a one-piece composite laminate available in two color choices.
Also, when loading up the refrigerator for our trip (and emptying it upon return), we found that the best way to stock it was to kneel in the aisle. The Norcold is large, having a 1.7-cubic-foot freezer and 5.3-cubic-foot refrigerator, and the door clears that second-row seat to open fully when the table is not set up. Above the refrigerator is a High Pointe convection microwave oven.
Within 20 minutes, we had our mat rolled out and were relaxing in our chairs under the 121/2-foot Carefree awning. The awning’s electric switch is handily placed above the passenger seat and, while not a problem for me at 5 feet 9 inches, shorter folks may need a step stool to reach up to release the support arms that brace the awning against the side wall once it’s deployed.
As the sun was setting, we noted how sleek and elegant the CS’s Charcoal Gray exterior (six colors available, plus custom paint) is with its frameless tinted windows and no distracting graphics. Trees, the warm glow of the sunset and other RVs were reflected on the side of the CS. Other RVers noticed it too, stopping to comment about how classy it looked.
When I reluctantly pried myself out of my chair to prepare dinner, I decided a simple meal was in order. The galley has a two-burner stove and sink with glass covers that are flush-mounted into the granite countertop. With the covers in the up position during use, there is only a teeny bit of prep space, so we set up one of the CS’s two tables. While cooking, I found that the top left cabinet, which flips open toward the ceiling, was a great place to hold a drink and cooking spices. Filtered drinking water is available through hot and cold spouts, and getting something out of the refrigerator or using the microwave was just a step away. Besides the lack of counterspace, which is to be expected in a motorhome this size, our second nitpick was discovered the next morning when making coffee: The electrical cord on our one-cup coffeemaker was too short to reach the electrical outlets located 221/2 inches above the countertop, so we had to balance the coffeemaker on an upside-down cooking pot.
The “entertainment” lounge is at the back, where there’s seating for five close-knit people, a 22-inch Samsung LED TV (a $540 option) and Sony home-theater system with speakers front and back. The TV is mounted on a swivel bracket so that it can be turned toward the front for viewing from the three captain’s chairs or while standing in the galley preparing a meal. Stored below a bench seat is a second dinette table. Additionally, a 17-by-123/4-inch wall-mounted table that stores flush against the wall on one side and a 15-by-15-inch table that slides out from under the TV provide space for snacks and drinks. This back area is surrounded by windows with day/night shades.
Comfort heating is handled by the European Alde Hydronic System, which provides warmth through a system of convectors and radiator panels integrated onto the interior walls and floor. The system circulates liquid that is heated in a compact boiler. The boiler is powered by 120-volt AC electric or LP-gas; engine coolant is also used to circulate liquid when on the road. The unit works efficiently and maintains an even temperature and was so quiet that we weren’t sure it was on until the interior warmed up. Hot water is also provided by the Alde unit, on demand.
The thermostat for the Dometic air conditioner is in the back of the motorhome and occupies a couple of inches of the 6-foot 2-inch ceiling height. This 11,000-Btu unit cools the interior rapidly, even in hotter weather.
With the touch of a switch, the comfortable power sofa lies flat in six seconds, making into two twin-size beds or a 67-by-77-inch bed where we enjoyed several nights’ restful sleep, and was one of the most comfortable RV beds we’ve slept in. While snug in bed, we had a great view of the TV, and bright push-button LEDs on either side cast good light for reading. The E-trek’s inverter is housed under the sofa bed, so if you’re in bed with the TV on, the low humming of the inverter is below you. For some, it’s a soothing sound; for others, it could be bothersome.
For those who want to let the out- doors in without the bugs, an optional screen ($390) for the rear doors zips around the perimeter. While lying in bed we could hear the night sounds, including howling coyotes, and enjoy a cool breeze. At some point, one of us had to get out of bed via the side sliding door to close the rear doors folded back flush against the exterior side walls. With the spare tire stored underneath, there was no need to move a tire out of the way to access the rear doors.
An optional 72-by-28-inch folding mattress is available ($400) to convert the cockpit and second-row captain’s chairs into a single bed. We didn’t have the optional mattress to test, but it is reportedly rated to hold 220 pounds. An optional cabinet is also available to replace that second-row seat.
During the next couple of days we realized how much storage space and amenities are packed into the CS Adventurous. The cherry-wood cabinets with push-button latches are deep and easily accessible. We’d prefer larger latches for better grip, and two of them stuck so we had to pry open the cabinets with our fingertips. And even though we should have learned a lesson after the first two times, we repeatedly hit our heads on the cabinet placed above where you step into the cockpit from behind the seats. We also had to put some muscle into a few things: The sliding door is heavy and especially awkward when operating from inside, and so are the two tables.
Our cozy home away from home had everything needed for a pleasant stay at a luxurious RV park as well as a couple of days boondocking at the beach a week later, plus was manageable to maneuver and park in town. There’s plenty of lighting throughout, with one-touch 12-volt DC tap lights that can be turned on or off as you walk through the inside of the motorhome. Early risers have nice seating up front for enjoying a cup of coffee and a view outside while the other snoozes comfortably in bed, which, again, scores high marks with us. A towing package is standard and the test motorhome was easy on fuel, at just over 18 mpg.
More people are taking to the roads — and off them — looking for a memorable RVing experience, and the Roadtrek Adventurous CS with the E-trek package is a combination of elegance, ingenuity and practicality that fills the bill. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at an RV park or heading off the beaten path into the boondocks, the CS Adventurous offers the ability to do both in a high-end economical motorhome that’s highly maneuverable and easy to handle.
My dad is right — the Roadtrek has come a long way. Whoever would have dreamed that a Class B would have this level of sophistication?
Roadtrek | 888-762-3873 | www.roadtrek.com