Tantalizing (RV) Tech
The annual Recreation Vehicle Industry Association Show highlighted motorhomes both big and small, plus a host of exciting technologies
Elkhart, Indiana, and its surrounding suburbs are to RVs what Detroit is to automobiles, with more than 80 percent of the market coming from this essentially rural area. But every November, just after Thanksgiving, Louisville, Kentucky, becomes an RV mecca unto itself, as thousands of RVs and dozens of manufacturers roll into town for the annual Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) trade show. Everything from small Class B’s to $1 million-plus luxury coaches are on display, and every year we’re amazed at the creativity and ingenuity demonstrated by the manufacturers. The RV industry is enjoying great success and the result is a dizzying array of products and floorplans to choose from. Here are just a few:
Allied Recreation Group (ARG), unveiled the American Coach American Allegiance diesel pusher as a 2016 model. “We really felt this was the absolute right time for the relaunch of the American Allegiance,” commented Lenny Razo, director. “We’ve been watching over the last year and what we wanted to do was bring out a brand that offers more features than competitive products at a lower price point.” Key to that goal was making the Allegiance a “standard” coach, with almost everything included. “We’re talking about a full Aqua-Hot 450 hydronic heating system, integrated Girard awnings, all new front caps and LED lighting. This thing is just packed with features.” The Allegiance will be available in floorplans from 39 to 42 feet, with a price range of $410,000 to $430,000.
Coachmen RV Orion P24RB
Add Coachmen RV to the growing number of RV manufacturers building a Class B+ motorhome on the front-wheel drive Ram ProMaster chassis. The Middlebury, Indiana-based division of Forest River debuted the Orion P24RB, powered by a V-6 Pentastar 3.6-liter gas engine. The Orion features a rear bath and a drop-down queen bed over the living area — and is expected to be used more as a touring coach than an RV. “Orion buyers aren’t necessarily going to be RVers or weekenders, but it’s more of a situation where they’re going to be driving from their house in Michigan to their house in Arizona and they want to be able to have a restroom and cook and pull over and sleep if they want to,” said Mike Bear, Coachmen RV’s president of Class B and C motorhomes. The mostly standard Orion starts at $86,000, and its fuel economy is estimated at 16-18 mpg.
Featuring a completely re-engineered Freightliner M2 chassis exclusive to Dynamax, the all-new DX3 Class A motorhome made its debut in Louisville.
The new chassis is “much lighter, much less costly, and it’s still a better frame than what we had,” said Jim Jacobs, president of Dynamax, a division of Forest River. The weight and cost savings allowed Dynamax to add a number of features to the unit with a modest price increase of about $5,000. A handful of those features include an Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system, dual 18,000-Btu ducted A/C units with heat pumps, porcelain tile flooring, quartz solid-surface countertops, an 8,000-watt Onan diesel generator and a 3,000-watt inverter. In addition, the DX3 now boasts Carefree Mirage roof-mounted integrated awnings with LED lighting. A total of five 2016 floorplans will be available with an MSRP of around $289,000.
Tiffin Allegro Bus 450 OP
Tiffin displayed its Allegro Bus with a new chassis and a new floorplan. Previously built on its own PowerGlide chassis, the new Allegro Bus is on the 600-horsepower Freightliner chassis, which expedited Tiffin’s efforts to bring this new coach to market. The bath-and-a-half OP floorplan is open from front to rear, and offers LusterSheen cabinetry, an L-shaped sofa, a two-cushion sofa, dinette and computer workstation. The large master suite offers an elongated ottoman for a comfy seating area, and the rear bath is level with the main floor. In addition to its cabinets, Tiffin fabricates all the countertops, sinks and even the shower in its Bus models for a precision fit and unique appearance.
Holiday Rambler TREK
The original TREK Class A motorhome had an almost cultlike following of fans who appreciated its compact dimensions and generous living area. Now it’s back. “What we’ve done with the 2016 TREK is focus on the outdoor enthusiast — that younger demographic that really wants to get outdoors, go to national parks and doesn’t want a 35- or 40-foot rig,” said Steven Hileman, director of marketing for Allied Recreation Group. “They want a 26-footer that they can take just about anywhere, but that gives them more space than you’d typically get in 26 feet.” The TREK features a “TREK Room,” a queen-size, walk-around bed in the rear that can disappear into the ceiling to reveal a seating area. It also features a “TREK Trunk,” a 3-by-4½-foot luggage door on the back that lifts up just like the trunk on an SUV or an automobile and enables you to put large items in the back of the motorhome.
Built on a Ford chassis with a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr)of 16,000 pounds, the TREK offers features like solid-surface countertops, full-body paint, a side-view camera package and more. Initially offered in one floorplan at around $100,000, the company says more floorplans will be offered if there is sufficient demand.
Newmar Dutch Star 373
Newmar’s Dutch Star lineup has been revised for the 2015 model year, with upgrades such as a Girard awning integrated into the roofline, new front and rear caps, and other details. But the big news is the new 3736 floorplan, which is designed to feel a lot larger than it is. “Basically what we have to offer the consumer is a luxurious diesel that’s under 40 feet, but still offers a full-wall slide on the street side, plus an opposing slide and a bedroom slide,” said John Monterusso, product trainer for Newmar Corp. “When you walk in, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re in a 40-42 foot, and you’re getting the luxuries that people are accustomed to in a big tag-axle unit.” The bath-and-a-half floorplan offers a sofa bed on the street side, opposing love seat, residential refrigerator, standard queen bed, washer/dryer and more. Built on the Freightliner SLR 450 chassis with Newmar Comfort Drive, the new floorplan carries an MSRP of $384,000.
Newmar London Aire 4503
After a seven-year hiatus, Newmar’s London Aire tag-axle diesel-pusher motorhome makes its return for 2015 with three 45-foot floorplans, each powered by a 600-horsepower Cummins ISX engine on a Freightliner chassis. “When we last built the London Aire, it was at the top end of our lineup,” explained Monterusso. “Now it’s the starting point of our luxury lineup.” With a base MSRP of $570,732, the London Aire sure doesn’t look less expensive than the more upscale Essex or King Aire, offering the beautiful handmade cabinetry and overall workmanship the company is known for. “If you go through all three (of the models) and compare, you’ll see that this is a totally different look — much more contemporary than a traditional Newmar product,” Monterusso added.
Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL
There are a lot of Sprinter-based Class B motorhomes on the market, but this particular one has an interesting twist. “The big thing on this unit is the lithium battery package, which offers 20,000 watts of power,” explained Jeff Stride, director of operations and engineering at Kichener, Ontario, Canada-based Roadtrek. “It uses an undermount air conditioner, which gave us the ability to install 650 watts of solar panels on the roof.” With an underhood generator, Stride says the CS Adventurous is for those who want to boondock for days on end and be totally self-sufficient. “People want quiet operation, all the amenities and lots of power. That’s what we’ve achieved with this unit.” The CS Adventurous XL with the Lithium package and power supply will carry an MSRP of about $180,000 USD.
Anyone who owns a motorhome, particularly one that’s several years old, knows how hard it can be to find replacement parts, or to get help finding the source of an aggravating problem. Newmar’s Newgle attempts to solve this problem, at least for Newmar owners. “Newgle is Newmar’s knowledge base with the power of Google search,” explained Tim Bergman, service technical communications coordinator and applications administrator for Newmar Corp. “We’ve taken the knowledge and information about our coaches, and their systems and components, and we’ve put that in the knowledge base.” Right now, says Bergman, Newgle features more than 3,500 pages and is manned by a full-time team of people who are dedicated to constantly adding information to it. The company is also working with its suppliers and component manufacturers to get them involved in helping to maintain and add information. “So far, all of them that we’ve spoken with, have said, ‘We’re 100 percent behind you guys, how can we be involved, how can we help?’ The response has been overwhelming.” Initially rolled out for techs within Newmar, Newgle has since been opened up to dealers and Newmar service centers everywhere. So far, 2014 and 2015 are complete, with more to come. “It’s a living organism,” said Bergman. “And we have the ability to constantly add and update it.”