Fleetwood’s 38S model may be the smallest coach in the veteran builder’s higher-end lineup, but it’s packed with all the features expected for luxury living
In the world of luxury coaches, space is an important consideration. So when Fleetwood released its 2014 American Revolution lineup, a full-wall slide was a key ingredient for all four models. Add two complementing slideouts to the mix and these spacious abodes on wheels become likely candidates for buyers who like to be pampered.
As part of the American Coach banner under Fleetwood’s wing, the Revolution has evolved into a quintessential brand in the luxury coach market. Four plans are available on the Revolution roster; three are 42s and the solo 38 is the one we tested. When traveling in a coach that’s only a foot shy of 40 feet in length and expands laterally in dramatic fashion, choosing the right park is a big factor. So it seemed only fitting to spend the week in Newport Dunes RV Waterfront Resort and Marina, Newport Beach, Calif., in a site on the water.
Those drivers who have experienced Southern California traffic will immediately understand how stressful negotiating some of the busiest freeways in America can be. The journey to the RV resort could have been one of those white-knuckle trips as the coach was maneuvered through tight lanes and barricades in construction zones with lots of other vehicles in close formation. Fortunately, acclimation to the Revolution comes quickly and getting into the comfort zone was uneventful.
Fleetwood’s Liberty chassis in concert with the Freightliner XCM platform is well matched to the Revolution body. The NEWAY Air-Ride Suspension takes most of the bumps out of the ride, and steering precision is on the favorable side. Heavy traffic gave the air disc brakes a real workout. Hard braking to neutralize following distance shortened by cars cutting in front of the motorhome slowed the coach safely at all times.
Performance wise, the coach is not a rocket ship but the 400-hp Cummins does a respectable job. The coach can be loaded to 37,700 pounds, which means the Cummins ISL engine will be working hard at times, but for the most part, the ride is pleasant, with not a lot of pedal effort. Approaching a 6 percent grade at 65 mph, the coach maintained decent road speed until dropping to 37 mph in the middle of the ascent and stayed at that speed until the road flattened out. There was no car in tow at the time, but the Allison transmission should help keep the speed constant, even with the additional weight.
Driving comfort was at first a mixed bag, but after spending time behind the wheel, the climate changed favorably. Adjustability of the steering column is excellent, and it’s needed because the seating position is a little close for long-legged drivers. That’s because the 30-foot slideout occupies some of the space that could be used for additional seat adjustment. The instrument cluster travels with the steering column, which promotes unobstructed visibility for most drivers.
Cockpit ergonomics are good, and the controls can be learned quickly with good reachability. While the stereo is high quality and the sound projects into the cab with excellent volume, balance and tone, the touch-screen icons are a little small for adjustments while driving. Right from the get-go passengers get the sense that the ride is going to be quiet with nary a sound coming from the interior, which is testament to solid fit and finish. Even the turntable in the microwave was quiet.
Tagged a 38S, this American Revolution has all the elements that allow it to pass the test for high-end motorhome living. Once the slideouts are extended the inside opens to generous proportions complemented by beautiful polished porcelain tile flooring (even in the cockpit) that contrasts handsomely with the sculpted ceiling. The premium chestnut stained maple cabinetry against the light flooring stands out in stately form. Add in the other components, like the extra long Ultraleather couch with an expanding end, a hutch/dining table arrangement that conceals the 46-inch retractable LED TV and perfectly sized galley and this bath-and-a-half floorplan is destined the spoil the occupants. While space is king here, the opposite happens when the slides are retracted for travel. Aisle space is restricted so those moving about will need to carefully negotiate the narrow walk space to access the center/rear of the coach. The lip in the front curbside slideout makes walking more difficult; removing the dinette chairs will help open the space. Access to the rear bath is completely cut off when the master bed — in the rear curbside slideout — is retracted. It’s a tradeoff that’s quickly forgotten once the coach is set up in a site and the living space expands.
People who appreciate hardwoods will love the cabinetry in the Revolution. It’s on the dark side and has a very rich feel. But smallish windows prevent ambient lighting from brightening up the interior. Fortunately, an extensive use of flush-mounted LED lighting changes the atmosphere dramatically. The décor inside the Revolution, accented by crown molding, finely decorated window valances and Auto-Motion pull-down shades, is ultimately an acquired taste. Some people like a darker environment with plenty of privacy and this coach delivers in that department.
Up front, the living area has “entertainment” written all over it. Turn the cockpit highbacks around and the living room opens to party central — or a grand place to kick back for an evening of watching TV or reading. The couch occupies the entire curbside slide. It’s long, plush and heavenly to lounge on — and easy to stretch out on for an afternoon nap.
Visibility to the TV across the aisle is exceptional, after pulling the dinette chairs away from the table. The hutch where the TV resides on the power lift looks integrated into the galley counter on the left, only it’s slightly shorter. Although the sink covers can augment the galley counter, the cook can easily spread out to the hutch, especially when the TV is retracted. Next to the dinette table, which pulls out to allow seating for two additional people, is a pullout computer desk. A good selection of cabinets and drawers above and below the hutch counter provides storage for a large number of items.
Chair positioning is a little awkward because the slideout floor doesn’t sit flat with the main floor, leaving a lip that unbalances the chair legs. The lockdown system for securing the chairs when in travel mode could also use a little work.
Since the coach is all electric (no propane), the two-burner induction stove handles all the cooking in pots and pans. This high-tech cooktop is exceptionally fast and only heats up when compatible cookware is placed on the burners. The rest of the meal preparation can be done in the microwave/convection oven and the dishes go in the dishwasher in a drawer, mounted in the kitchen cabinet complex. Storage below and above the galley counter and the two-drawer pantry adjacent to the 21-cubic-foot Dutch-door residential refrigerator handle a lot of groceries and utensils. The use of residential refrigerators is becoming increasingly popular, so it’s probably time to dispense with the nylon strap that keeps the doors from opening while traveling. Internal latches would be much more classy.
Six AGM 6-volt batteries tied to a 2,800-watt pure sine wave inverter provide power for the refrigerator while on the road, and for a little while if stopped without hookups. Generally, this coach is designed for use in parks with hookups, but the 8 kW diesel generator can deliver power when necessary. Controls for the electronics and other systems are centrally located in a shallow cabinet above the entry door.
Appliances are controlled by a 50-amp energy management system, which prioritizes the dual 15,000-Btu air con-ditioners (and other programmed appliances) when only 30-amp power is available. Ducting for the air conditioners balanced the climate inside the coach nicely. Comfort heating and hot water are provided courtesy of the Aqua-Hot system, which will also operate on diesel fuel.
The rear portion of the coach is reserved for the bedroom and main bath. Roomy closets and the 32-inch LED TV are expanded when the full-wall slide on the driver’s side is extended and the king-size bed moves out in the smaller slideout on the passenger side. Once expanded, the room has generous proportions but minimal walk-around space due to the large bed. While making up the bed is a little difficult because of the space restrictions, the comfort afforded by the foam mattress is exceptional — so bed making becomes a distant memory. The only windows out back are on the sides of the slideout where the bed resides, so if privacy is important, you’ll love this configuration.
A short step from the mattress is the rear bathroom. Here the space is dedicated to a beautifully crafted sink counter with storage cabinets below and above. Adjacent is a cabinet housing the stacked washer and dryer. There’s plenty of room in the shower, and the fixtures are first class. A Tecma two-button, vacuum, porcelain toilet resides in both bathrooms. Tecma toilets are super comfortable and efficient, but they do use a lot of water (even in the lower flush mode), so plan on dumping a little more often.
It’s nice to have the half bath forward of the bedroom, especially when entertaining guests, but in this case the designers might have overlooked the sit-down test. Certain requisite procedures can be amusing (if you have a sense of humor) because of the tight fit of the toilet between the room wall and sink structure.
Owners of a coach of this caliber expect enough storage capacity in both cubic feet and payload and the Revolution meets that requirement handily. Exterior compartments are large and fitted with pullout trays to make loading and unloading easier. Swing away doors with slam latch mechanisms make access convenient, even for those compartments located under the slideouts. A well-equipped utility compartment makes hooking up a snap; there’s clear access to all the fittings and connections and they are clearly marked. Holding tanks can be emptied using the standard sewer hose or via the built-in macerator system. The 50-amp power cord is mounted on a power take-up reel located in another compartment. Generator access is revealed when the power-actuated front cap extends from the motorhome body, operated by a switch inside the front, left compartment. When extended, the generator is wide open for service.
The coach body surrounds an aluminum interlocking framework that’s beefed up with a steel front bulkhead. Vacuum bonding is used to sandwich the fiberglass exterior to the bead foam insulation in the side walls, rear wall, roof and floor. The roof is reinforced with a six-layer structure and the floor has five layers. Fiberglass caps seal off the front and rear and the entire exterior is finished with an automotive paint that’s sanded and buffed to a brilliant shine. Classy exterior graphics are complemented by close fitting slideouts and flush widows.
Awnings over the slideouts and the patio are integrated well into the exterior design. We just couldn’t get our eyes to like the protrusion
of the entry door awning past the profile of the front cap. It must be a necessary evil, since many other coaches in this category have the same awning placement.
We found the Revolution to be perfectly at home in Newport Dunes’ highline RV park. Its stately appearance generated lots of stares and thumbs up from onlookers walking the pathway that followed the shoreline. Inside, the long list of standard amenities made life in this 38-footer on par with luxury coach living. Impressive are the features — some, only little things like receptacle locations and reading lights — that make life inside this coach more pleasant. The heated holding tanks, whole-house water filter, holding tank flush system and easy satellite receiver hookup, just to name a few, are just icing on the cake.