Cues taken from Dynamax’s big brother models transform a Class C motorhome into a nimble luxury machine with high-tech features
When you look at the model lineup at Dynamax, a builder that specializes in luxury motorhomes, you won’t find conventional design. The company started its venture into RV manufacturing 21 years ago by mating a commercial, executive-class truck cab to a sleek body that really turned heads. My first encounter with a Dynamax was early on in the company’s history, and during a 2,500-mile test journey, I made a lot of friends with guys who loved the boldness of the design, but many of the women were less than enamored, until they stepped inside.
At the time, it was hard to define whether this luxury motorhome qualified as a Class A – certainly the level expected of higher-line coaches – and the company was adamant that it wasn’t a Class C. The experience made great happy hour conversations everywhere we stopped.
Fast-forward and the company has branched out into building Class C motorhomes with the same level of luxury, and clearly there’s no controversy on classification. The Isata 4 Series is as classic a Class C as one can get, especially since it’s built on the venerable Ford E-450 cab and chassis, and the 25FW we tested meets all the criteria, only notched up with Dynamax-style flair.
The floorplan elements are not unique to the industry, but after the Dynamax people pulled design cues from its big brother motorhome models, the aura changed dramatically. Here, form and function blend beautifully with the warmth of the dÃ©cor and the feeling one gets that this Class C is top shelf.
At 27 feet 5 inches long, with some of that space allocated to the engine compartment and cockpit, there are some livability limitations, mostly in the seating configuration in the living room. Fortunately, some of the space constraints are mitigated by the optional swiveling cockpit seats. And optional booster cushions can be placed on the cockpit seats when facing the living area, which make the seating surface much more comfortable.
Since space utilization is paramount, the front section of the motorhome is shared by the dinette and opposing galley. The proprietary Dream Dinette, with thick cushions and quasi-wraparound bolsters, allows for couch-like habitation and a place for two occupants to watch the 32-inch LED TV nestled in the cabover bunk. When converted into a bed, the surface easily sleeps one adult or two kids.
In true Class C fashion, the cabover can sleep two on the 52-by-81-inch sectionalized mattress. There is 29 inches of headroom up there; cup-holders and a storage area are in place for users to stash a decent amount of items. When not in use, the mattress stacks to make more headroom in the cockpit for easier passage to and from the living area.
“Compact” is the operative word describing the galley. It took some planning to prepare meals, but the front-mounted flip-up extension saved the day. Fitted under and on the rich-looking solid-surface countertop is an assortment of cabinets and drawers, a stainless-steel sink with a high-rise faucet and a three-burner cooktop with a folding glass top. One of the lower cabinets is huge, and allows access to the contents from the entryway and in front of the galley counter. And, believe it or not, there is even a trash chute built into the structure with a nicely concealed “plug.”
Above the counter are additional cabinets and the microwave convection oven. There’s no range hood, but the nearby MaxxAir power vent suffices, per code, for removing steam and smoke. The RV refrigerator and pantry are adjacent to the galley counter.
What makes the limited amount of floor space work is the full-wall slide on the driver’s side. Occupying this large slideout is the aforementioned dinette, the wardrobe closet and queen bed – divided appropriately. And while the flooring is not unique, the choice of the plank pattern in shades of gray, brown and white, works visual wonders. At the confluence of the lower front and upper back sections of the floor is a sweeping S-shaped divider that gives the impression that the interior is bigger than it really is. It takes a little acclimation when walking to prevent a misstep due to the raised floor in back, but the learning curve is quick.
Serving as a practical divider between the dinette and rear bed is a gigantic wardrobe closet. Those who like to take along a lot of stuff will be in heaven. Hang-up clothes can be stored in compartmentalized areas that provide enough room for any clothes hog. The front section is lined with cedar and has a drawer below the closet floor. Typically, the front seat bolsters will be stored here. To make the deal even sweeter, a sensor-controlled light makes finding clothing in the dark a breeze.
In keeping with a “bigger is better” design mantra, those who like to linger in the bathroom will relish the exceptional floor space. The roomy shower with an Oxygenics showerhead and flex curtain take center stage. While residential-quality fixtures complement the bathroom, the plastic toilet, albeit a large model, is incongruent with the status portrayed by this motorhome. There’s good storage space afforded in the bathroom, but the counter has limited room for essentials, although it’s rather long. Lingering in the shower, to take advantage of the pulsating showerhead, is supported by a Truma AquaGo instantaneous water heater, which encourages longer showers and time in front of the stainless-steel sink. Another MaxxAir power vent, with rain sensor, takes out the steam and clears the air.
The bedroom is understated, but it works well without the overdose of froufrou items that can be superfluous to RV living. Space limitations at the foot of the bed require the use of a folding mattress, which is very comfortable. At 10 inches thick, the gel-infused memory foam mattress offers great support. Although the bed is tucked tightly into the confines of the slideout, there’s enough room for a small nightstand on one side and a longer version on the other. Across from the bed, on a rather barren wall, is a 32-inch LED TV. Even though the area is not fancy, strategically placed windows offer a more open feeling than expected. Privacy is afforded by pull-down roller shades used throughout the interior.
It’s easy to establish that the Isata Series 4 is earmarked for those who relish creature comforts, but Dynamax goes one step further by injecting enough electronic features to make any technoid happy. Beyond the Bluetooth-controlled entertainment system with zoned speaker controls is a multiplex wiring system that’s tied into a touch screen. The Precision-Plex system controls just about anything in the motorhome that’s connected to electrical power. From the screen, the user can control the lights, check tank levels, open and close the awning and slideout, operate the AC generator and turn on the water pump. Without going into infinite detail on all the abilities of this screen, let’s just say, “There’s not much left untouched.” The system also has the ability to monitor 120-volt AC amperage input and shed loads as needed to prevent overloading the circuits – a welcome addition since there’s only 30-amp service into the motorhome.
The Precision-Plex system is supported by an app that can be downloaded to an iOS or Android device and paired via a Master Controller. Once paired, the systems can be controlled by a handheld device within Bluetooth range – a feature that soon becomes one that occupants can’t live without. Icing on the cake is the optional solar system comprised of two 100-watt panels and a 30-amp controller. The solar system is coupled to a pair of 12-volt AGM batteries and a 1,000-watt power inverter.
There is an expectation that outside storage would be somewhat limited in a Class C this size, but here the opposite is true. While the amount of space is not extraordinary, and will still require preplanning when sorting out what to take along, there’s enough space for essentials, and pass-through areas to handle longer items that aren’t too tall. Seamless Rotocast compartments are accessed via lateral doors fitted with heavy-duty adjustable latches.
Utility access is well thought out for easy hookups and to keep the hoses and cables organized. A narrow door opens down, exposing the city water hookup, black-tank flush, outdoor shower and a remote Precision-Plex monitor panel. A second access point within the main door offers a clever way to route the hoses. Interestingly, the hookups for cable/satellite TV and 30-amp power are outside of this compartment. There’s also an access door for the LP-gas fill, and the dump valves are in a compartment that allows the hoses to be stored neatly.
Full-body paint and pleasant looking graphics tie the accessories and compartments together neatly, and the armless patio awning is a nice touch. Aluminum wheels, in lieu of the stainless-steel liners, would be a good option the company should consider for jazzing up the exterior aesthetics.
Fit and finish of the Isata reinforces the Dynamax reputation for building higher-end motorhomes targeted at discerning buyers. Construction follows proven techniques using aluminum framing and 1½-inch laminated side walls with block-foam insulation. Roof trusses and the floor are framed in aluminum; the roof is capped with one-piece fiberglass. Gelcoat fiberglass walls have Azdel composite backing and the windows are dark tinted and frameless, which add to the modern look of the exterior. The test chassis was fitted with optional automatic, four-point hydraulic leveling jacks, which is a great investment in convenience and one that most owners will find indispensable.
Ride quality is certainly a product of workmanship, and interior noise on the road was kept to a minimum. This, in big part, is due to the proprietary DynaRide suspension upgrade that employs airless rubber shear springs to smooth out the bumps normally associated with the Ford E-450 chassis and improves handling characteristics. Additionally, the company uses a beefy Hellwig rear sway bar that helps reduce body roll in turns, especially when dips in the road exacerbate the conditions. Driving the Isata was a pleasurable experience, also attributable to the lively performance of the V-10 engine, which was relatively fuel-efficient, turning in a respectable 10.80 mpg under careful driving on open highways.
While the Isata 4 Series has a lot to live up to, given the legacy of the company’s larger luxury motorhomes, the long list of standard features and pinpointed option choices put this Class C into a desirable category targeted at those who are willing to pay for upscale amenities but prefer to travel in a more nimble motorhome.
Dynamax | 888-295-7859 | www.dynamaxcorp.com