Grand Aspirations

Photographer: Michael Gordon
The full-paint scheme of the Aspire is available in six color and pattern combinations; the 42DEQ sported the attractive Autumn Berry, complete with an impressive Sikkens-brand clear-coat to ensure continued looks of approval from passersby for years to come.

 

Entegra Aspire 42DEQ gets high marks for quality, livability and design

According to Merriam-Webster, “Aspire” means to seek to attain or accomplish a particular goal. Well, the 2017 Entegra Aspire 42DEQ has certainly attained a new level of design, luxury and function in a modern motorcoach.

For this evaluation, we took an Aspire 42DEQ to Aces High RV Park in East Lyme, Connecticut, a park perfectly suited for big motorhomes with its large number of lovely waterfront sites.

The Aspire, which occupies the middle spot in the company’s line of luxury diesel coaches, is designed for discerning couples who have reached a stage in life where their journeys will take them just about anywhere they want to go in comfort and style. Approaching the coach from the outside, the detailed full-paint scheme, available in six color and pattern combinations with a Sikkens-brand clear-coat paint system, is further evidence the motorhome is a major player.

The expandable J-Lounge sofa with integrated recliner enhances floorplan versatility. All seating offers a nice view of the 50-inch LED HDTV above the electric fireplace.
The expandable J-Lounge sofa with integrated recliner enhances floorplan versatility. All seating offers a nice view of the 50-inch LED HDTV above the electric fireplace.

The entry door is a standard bus-style door with electronic locks, which activate via remote control or the numeric keypad integrated into the chrome LED lighted assist handle. Locking the coach also activates the intrusion-alarm system, which can also be engaged by a keypad directly over the master bed. We did find that a certain sound within the coach in the morning, probably from the radio, set off the alarm, which was quickly reset. This was because of the integrated audio sensor by Directed Electronics, which detects sounds like breaking glass, and sets off the alarm.

Upon entering the coach, the first thing you notice is the well designed and equipped driver’s compartment. The nicely cushioned Flexsteel seats, adorned in delightfully soft brown Ultraleather, feature six-way power adjustment, as well as adjustable arms, back and the ability to rotate into the living space. Once rotated, there is also a power footrest that rises at the touch of a button.

Drivers of all sizes will find that it’s possible to adjust the seating position to suit any individual preference. Users can modify the seat, pedals and steering-column positions to adapt to 6-footers with ease, and I suspect people of shorter stature could just as easily find their comfort zone. Once adjusted, all the gauges are visible without having to contort one’s body, and all the switches and controls are pretty easily reachable. The view out of the full-width windshield was excellent, and there was no distortion at the edges of the windshield in relation to the electrically powered Ramco rearview mirrors.

The comfy Ultraleather pilot and co-pilot seats, in addition to the living-area furniture, are by Villa. The freestanding recliner can be moved as necessary.
The comfy Ultraleather pilot and co-pilot seats, in addition to the living-area furniture, are by Villa. The freestanding recliner can be moved as necessary.

The dashboard hosts an elaborate touch-screen entertainment, navigation and communications center just above the screen for the rearview camera system by Riverpark. The stereo features Bluetooth audio, HDMI input, USB input and AM/FM stereo, and the Rand McNally RV GPS system is integrated into the unit. The camera inputs are also routed through this head unit.

The coach is equipped with an Equalizer automatic hydraulic leveling system, which coordinates hydraulic leveling with the release of air-bag pressure and works flawlessly on a relatively level site; the system will lock out if too much of a slope is detected.

The passenger seat is extra-wide and very comfortable. It has all the same features as the driver’s seat plus a power footrest and power step cover. Electrically operated day/night shades cover the windshield and are adjustable from both positions, although the passenger can control his/her side only. There are also USB power connections all over the driver’s compartment.

Entegra has included a removable carpet mat for the entire front area; however, the coach features marble tile flooring from front to back, which adds to the air of luxury. The living room features a Villa expandable J-Lounge with integrated recliner and full queen inflatable sofa bed, which is very comfortable for guests and easy to deploy. Across from the lounge is a nicely sized Ultraleather recliner, also by Villa, which is movable so the user can enjoy the LED HDTV and built-in fireplace.

The natural cherry cabinetry throughout, with occasional white-washed accents, is exquisite and constructed flawlessly. Detail is everywhere, down to the inlaid multi-colored tile rosettes on the slideouts. The cabinetry and countertops have lots of LED lighting accents, including the counter edges, which had an onyx-like glow. Most of the multitude of LEDs are dimmable or adjustable using the multiplex switching system.

The galley consists of a bi-level solid-surface countertop with the aforementioned accent lighting, dual-basin stainless-steel sink with gooseneck extendable faucet and dual burner induction cooktop. Above this is a nicely designed upper cabinet with slide-out wire baskets and interiors trimmed out with Ozite carpet. Next to this is the built-in microwave convection oven with range-top vent system.


Below, the drawers are solidly constructed and plentiful. The silverware drawer is of unique design, with the top solid-oak tray utilizing regular ball-bearing drawer slides, and which automatically stows when the drawer is closed. This high level of quality and attention to detail is common in all the cabinetry. Below the sink is a large pull-out drawer for trash, storage and recycling, next to the drawer-type Fisher Paykel dishwasher. Across from this is the residential Samsung French-door-style refrigerator/freezer with ice and water in the door.

The mid-coach bath continues the attention to detail, and while a bit tight, gets the job done. Dual lavatory sinks in the solid-surface countertop are a nice touch and have a great amount of counter space around them. The only thing we wished was that the lavatory faucets sat closer to the sink bowls or that the fixture had a longer neck. It’s difficult to get hands under the faucets for washing, as the water stream is within an inch of the back of the sink bowl. Apparently no one checked this detail while selecting the bathroom sink and faucet hardware. The lavatory is contained in a large slide, which also moves the bedroom wall out.

The separate room, on the off-door side across from the lavatory sinks, contains the electric-flush toilet, a corner fiberglass shower stall with sliding rounded glass surround, and the rear coach control center, which includes the Airxcel HVAC controls. The rear-slide controls are also located here. That’s an interesting but functional placement, and the controls are completely accessible with the slides retracted. This room is a bit tight, so it helps to leave the lav door open while closing the locking solid-hardwood sliding pocket doors to the kitchen and bedroom to create a bathroom suite that makes for much more room to get ready for the day.

The master suite is of pretty common design, with the king bed in an off-door side slideout. The back wall contains a large wardrobe with an automatic motion-sensing light fixture and a separate area for the stackable washer and dryer. The motion-sensor light was super sensitive and turned the closet lights on and off all night long. We stuffed a towel into the space between the sliding doors for a temporary fix, as we could find no back-up switch.

The king-size bed has solid-surface bedside stands, perfect for the alarm clock or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Over the head of the bed are two flexible LED reading lights, which make reading in bed easy while minimally disturbing the spouse. Auto lock and alarm buttons are also directly overhead, along with the controls for the ceiling fan.

The mattress is a residential-style king-size pillow-top and is remarkably comfortable. For cross-ventilation, there are single hung windows to the sides of the bed in the slideout, and centered between is a deluxe headboard, utilizing oak with fabric and Ultraleather padded insets. Lifting the bed to reveal a spacious storage space is easy due to the lift-assist props, revealing a good place to store the additional folding dining chairs when not in use.

Across from the bed is a thoughtfully designed oak chest of drawers with a solid-surface countertop, window and LED accent lighting. The 32-inch LED TV mounted as part of the upper set of cabinets pulls open to reveal the entertainment electronics and a digital-combination safe to store valuables.

On the exterior, the paint scheme exemplifies the luxury of this coach, and the test model, with its tans, golds, browns and black, was accented with just the right amount of chrome to make this an appealing motorhome. The front end is designed like a fine motorcar. The relatively aerodynamic shape of the front cap is adorned with a chrome accent bar across the lower section connecting the LED head and fog lamp bezels, all with LED accent lighting. The detail continues at the top with a bright bezel around the center DOT lights. Chrome-backed bus-style electric mirrors with sideview cameras and auto-defrost complement the front-end styling.

External storage on the Aspire 42DEQ is ample, with one full pass-through basement compartment fitted with the optional two-way slide-out tray ($517) that functions well, has latches on both ends and is carpeted with Ozite to match the rest of the basement. The design of the basement is exceptional; the entire compartment is trimmed out very nicely, with hook-and-loop-attached panels where needed for electronics access. All the satellite-TV and entertainment-system components are very neatly dressed and easily accessible. Entegra has installed a panel on the door side, which allows quick disablement of some key systems and sections of the electrical system for safety, such as the 3,000-watt power inverter system. The basement is heated separately via its own zone thermostat neatly and conveniently mounted on the wall. The 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC outlets allow for plugging in any powered or charging accessories you may need, like thermo-electric coolers or power tool chargers.

You won’t need to use those outlets for outside entertainment, though, because the coach has a side-wall-mounted digital entertainment center, complete with a JVC stereo system and 40-inch Samsung LED HDTV on a swing-away bracket that allows angling the TV for viewing anywhere under the twin Girard electric lateral arm awnings. The JVC stereo offers TV audio, Bluetooth audio, an audio feed from the inside stereo system and its own AM/FM radio; however, we were unable to pull in any radio stations using that unit. Being in southern Connecticut, we felt we should be able to receive more, and indeed with the inside stereo we did.

The king bed is housed in a streetside slideout in the master. Handy solid surfaces on each side are perfect for nightstand duties. A large closet runs the length of the back wall.
The king bed is housed in a streetside slideout in the master. Handy solid surfaces on each side are perfect for nightstand duties. A large closet runs the length of the back wall.

The coach is built on the Spartan Chassis K2 raised-rail chassis, which is equipped with a Cummins ISL turbocharged engine that belts out 450 hp and 1,250 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm. It is mated to the Allison 3000MH series six-speed automatic transmission. A built-in, two-stage engine brake with driver controls does an excellent job of slowing the coach, and the Reyco Granning independent front air suspension makes driving this coach like riding on a flying carpet. Entegra works hard to stiffen its chassis to reduce flex and maintain structural integrity. The company welds X-bridge frames into the chassis for just that reason, and uses 2-by-4-inch floor trusses, on top of which is ¾-inch seven-ply plywood decking. Overall, this makes for a 5-inch floor assembly, one of the thickest in the industry, according to the company. The benefit: better insulation and reduced, noise and vibration.

The walls of the coach are 2½ inches thick with welded tubular aluminum topped with hung gelcoat fiberglass. Inside, fiberglass-batt insulation is tucked and glued to ensure interior comfort. The crowned roof features aluminum truss rafters that are insulated with the company’s Flex-foil fiberglass insulation. With this insulation and the thermopane radius edged frameless windows, the interior of the coach was quite comfortable in cool and warm temperatures, and exterior noise — including a neighbor banging on the underside of his truck, and another playing hip-hop music — was basically unnoticeable when the coach was closed up. Four-season usability is built into its DNA.

The lav is separate from the sink area and includes an electric-flush toilet and a corner fiberglass shower stall with a sliding glass surround.
The lav is separate from the sink area and includes an electric-flush toilet and a corner fiberglass shower stall with a sliding glass surround.

The aforementioned powertrain is easily accessed from the rear compartment on the door side, where many of the filters required for the engine and air system — as well as the diesel exhaust fluid tank — can be filled and serviced (or from a convenient remote fill on the streetside). A switch in this compartment electrically raised the back access door to the engine, which sits in a nice roomy compartment. Everything is accessible, which is a great feature of this coach. The side-mount radiator is out of the way on the left side, so servicing the engine is pretty easy. As usual, panels in the floor of the closet help for additional access. We were concerned about engine-compartment access in the event of a power failure, and while this feature is nice, we think manual gas-prop powered versions might be a safer bet, as we could not find a manual override in the event of a power failure.

The coach utilities are well designed on the Aspire, and make hooking up as well as dumping tanks a breeze.

One particular feature we found interesting is that the 100-gallon freshwater tank has three ways of being filled. Inside the utility bay is a valve to divert the city-water inlet to the freshwater tank through the integrated water filter. On the door side is a standard gravity fill, which allows for easy filling from another pumped-in source. It’s just not filtered unless you attach one to the hose from which you’re filling. This would be the fastest way to load the 100 gallons. The third way, which is somewhat unique, utilizes the main coach-water pump so the winterize valve and hose, along with the city-water-tank fill valve, allows the user to draft off a static water source and fill the tank. This is great if you have a portable water tank or jerry jugs that are used to carry water, say, from the community water spigot in a national or state park, making it unnecessary to move the coach to get some water. This would admittedly be a pretty slow process, but it would work nicely.

The utility bay is also home to the new Thetford Sanicon Plus macerator system. When you remove the access door, the Sanicon Plus allows dumping the holding tanks using a small, permanently attached hose, and a special nozzle with a fitting that attaches to the sewer connection. In this case, the Sanicon hose and handle are accessible from a separate hatch on the side of the coach for ease of use. The Sanicon grinds up waste and pumps it through the hose, making the process clean and sanitary. Another benefit is that this system can make dumping at home after a trip possible by running the hose to a clean-out in the basement or outside your home. For backup, Entegra has plumbed in standard dump valves and a single 3-inch sewer connection under the coach, and has a sewer-hose holder built into the front, streetside compartment. The mass of pipes and valves in there can be a bit disconcerting, but with a little study, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

The sink area features his-and-hers basins integrated into the solid-surface countertops and plenty of storage for bathroom accessories.
The sink area features his-and-hers basins integrated into the solid-surface countertops and plenty of storage for bathroom accessories.

Handling the usual utility connections is easy; the freshwater hose and the 50-amp electrical cords are on electric reels, making stowing them a breeze. Should the water hose fail, a backup/extension freshwater hose can be easily hooked up to a connection in the utility bay until a new hose can be put on the reel. In this coach there is no integrated pressure-relief valve or pressure regulator, so a portable one should still be used at the spigot.

The Aspire comes with a Cummins Onan 10 kW diesel genset mounted, customarily, up front, under the steel-reinforced front cap, and is attached to an Onan Energy Command 30 auto start system. Opening the electrical access compartment located beneath the driver’s side window reveals a pull handle that unlocks the front cowling. The front cowling is easily pulled out from the bottom, revealing the front of the generator, and allows easy access to all the front-cap lighting. However, to do any maintenance on the generator it must be separately unlocked and manually pulled out, which can be difficult. Once out, generator access and service is straightforward and easy. That said, in the event of a total coach power failure, generator and front-end access is guaranteed.

The Entegra Aspire is a beautifully crafted motorcoach, with thoughtfully designed and placed amenities with which anyone in the market for a motorhome of this caliber will certainly be delighted.

Entegra Coach | 800-517-9137 | www.entegracoach.com


 

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