Thor Motor Coach responds to customer feedback and pulls out all the stops in its 2016 luxury motorhome line
When Thor Motor Coach took over the reigns for building the Tuscany, the brand was under the Damon banner. At its inception, the Tuscany was positioned as a higher-end coach, but it could be argued that some of the features were not upper-echelon. Indeed, buyers got a lot for their money, but not without a few sessions at the dealer for debugging. During the last few years, Thor has put a lot of time and effort into smoothing out the wrinkles and its efforts have paid off. The introduction of the 2016 Tuscany represents a lineup of luxury coaches that give discriminating buyers an opportunity to indulge in high-end diesel-pusher ownership without breaking the bank.
What does $400,000 buy? How about a 45-foot coach with a tag axle, built on a Freightliner XCR chassis thatâ€™s powered by a 450-horsepower Cummins engine and packed with luxury features often only found in coaches with much higher sticker prices?
For Thor to be building and marketing a luxury coach at the maximum end of the length limit seems like an anomaly. The companyâ€™s bread-and-butter business is predicated on mass marketing travel trailers and fifth-wheels, which keeps Thor at the top end of the heap in the RV industry. Building high-end coaches is a different animal, and the company banked on its extensive experience as an RV builder and listened carefully to its customers, resulting in a highly refined flagship coach for 2016, dubbed the model 45AT.
Working with nearly 45 feet of interior real estate â€” expanded by a slide on the curbside thatâ€™s a better part of the full wall and two other slides on the streetside â€” makes it pretty easy to be feature-rich. Itâ€™s almost unheard of to have a 45-footer without two bathrooms, and this coach is no exception. When expanded, the visual aura is embellished by smartly upholstered furniture, stately cabinetry and a polished porcelain-tile floor that just exudes luxury. Closed up for travel, access to the rear bathroom is restricted by the bed but itâ€™s easy to get to the second bathroom as well as the kitchen counter and refrigerator.
First entering the coach, most people head straight for the back. I think that has to do with the fact that the inside seems so long that human curiosity drives onlookers to find out where the living area ends. In the Tuscany, itâ€™s the master bathroom, which is pretty common in coaches this size. Here, extensive use of mirrors, copious high-gloss, hardwood cabinetry and the dual sinks are the focal points. The countertop is perfect for spreading out toiletries that can easily be stashed in the surrounding cabinets. Thereâ€™s plenty of room around the vacuum-type porcelain toilet, but the shower is somewhat understated for a motorhome of this caliber. On the plus side, the full-height shower is plenty big to luxuriate in a long steam of on-demand hot water supplied by the Aqua-Hot hydronic comfort and water-heating system.
Once the decorative sliding door closes off the bathroom, the bedroom takes on a different look, promising coziness offered by the king-size bed and gorgeous â€” and practical â€” opposing cabinet structure. The 32-inch LED HDTV takes center stage in a network of drawers on a dual-level landing thatâ€™s topped with solid-surface countertops. Crown-type molding and additional closet space are built around a large window thatâ€™s covered with pull-down shades. This window augments the two others on the sides of the bed when itâ€™s time to brighten the room with ambient light. Small nightstands are obviously designed for a book, phone or glasses, etc., and the padded headboard adds a touch of class to the room. The ceiling fan is a nice addition that does a good job of circulating air, especially in hot weather.
A second sliding door in the front portion of the master bedroom completely closes off the room from the rest of the coach. Doing this transforms the rear of the coach into a master suite with plenty of room for primping and dressing. The transitional space leading to the galley and living room is devoted to the second bathroom, opposing washer/dryer and residential refrigerator. From here, the galley counter on the streetside starts with a curved section that houses the double sinks with high-rise faucet and continues until it meets up with the couch. Itâ€™s pretty roomy as is, but once the pullout cabinet is extended, the prep area becomes suitable for fixing large meals or entertaining. An electric induction cooktop is paired with the convection oven/microwave for cooking duties, and once the chef uses the induction surface, he/she will be hooked. Itâ€™s fast and clean, but does require cookware that can attract a magnet on the bottom. For the more conventional cooks, an optional three-burner LP-gas cooktop is offered. If thatâ€™s chosen, the coach goes from an all-electric motorhome to one with a 12-gallon LP-gas tank.
Owners will not want for cabinet and drawer space to store utensils and foodstuffs. In the cabinet above the sinks is a metal storage rack that slides out for easy access to items that can be packed tightly in the area â€” and certainly an appreciated use of space. This and the raised countertop extension on the back wall of the galley cater to the sensibilities of owners wanting to get the most out of every nook and cranny in the coach, even if itâ€™s 45 feet long. To add convenience to the galley, thereâ€™s even a drawer-type dishwasher.
One of the very few options for this coach is the proprietary Dream Dinette in place of the buffet table and chairs. Itâ€™s cleverly designed to convert into a bed with virtually no effort by releasing a handle and pushing the table down, taking all the frustration out of converting a dinette. The booth-type seating is eye-appealing and very comfortable, but since the bed is not that big, we might consider passing on this option, although it would be hard to give up the stylish look, which complements the dÃ©cor in the neighboring living room. Itâ€™s a matter of personal preference; thatâ€™s why options are offered. A large picture window adjacent to the dinette offers a commanding view of the outside.
Up front, the living area has relaxation written all over it. The partially curved couch expands by pulling out the section closest to the galley counter. As a couch, it easily seats four people and can be converted into a queen-size (60-by-80-inch) air bed, should owners elect to share the coach with family and friends.
Across from the couch is the focal point of the living room. A 60-inch LED Smart HDTV occupies a big portion of the rounded structure and sits stately next to a window, which wards off claustrophobia in this area during the day. Visibility to the screen is excellent from the couch and pretty good from the rear dinette cushion. The TV is also visible from the driverâ€™s cockpit seat which, along with the passenger seat, join the living room when swiveled around.
A Euro chair is tucked into an opening in the TV cabinet that serves as a desk. When itâ€™s pulled out and swiveled toward the center, the living room can seat seven people, transforming the coach into a very entertainment-friendly environment. Add places for four more guests at the dinette, which essentially is an extension of the living room, and itâ€™s party central in this coach. A large electric fireplace below the TV adds to the ambience.
Just in case TV fans canâ€™t get enough from the 60-inch screen in the living room, an optional TV can be placed above the cockpit dashboard. And a 40-inch TV behind an exterior cabinet door provides patio viewing.
Outside, the expected array of storage compartments will not disappoint those who subscribe to the â€œmore is betterâ€ philosophy of packing. Side-opening aluminum compartment doors with electronic locks provide clear access, and thereâ€™s even a sliding storage tray to organize stuff thatâ€™s normally hard to reach. All the compartments are lighted and gas pistons hold the doors open.
Handsome graphics integrated into the fully painted body sets the theme for the coach, which exudes luxury. This coach has a naturally big profile and the exterior accessories like the patio and window awnings, metal-wrapped slideout toppers, triple air-conditioner shrouds and the Winegard TRAVâ€™LER HD satellite antenna flow nicely with the exterior lines. Black frameless dual-pane windows contribute to the sleekness of the shiny painted surface.
Under the skin is a network of welded tubular side wall and roof framing tied to a welded tubular steel floor. The framing is wrapped and vacuum-bonded and the roof has a domed fiberglass cap. The entire structure is mounted on a Freightliner raised-rail chassis that is perfectly matched for this coach. All this relates to a super-smooth and quiet ride with very few extraneous noises to disturb the peacefulness of the drive.
The big 450-horsepower Cummins diesel makes short work of hill climbing and the weight of the coach contributes greatly to its road-hugging attributes. Of course, the air suspension (independent front), robust shocks and 60-degeree wheel cut keep the driver smiling. The general consensus on first look is that this 45-footer is hard to maneuver, but once you get behind the wheel, youâ€™ll quickly change your mind as the wheel cut guides the coach into amazingly tight spots.
Plunking oneâ€™s self into the plush captainâ€™s seat sends an immediate message to the driver that the coach controls are ergonomic (and nicely arranged) and that the visibility out the huge windshield will make the on-the-road experience fun. Long stints behind the wheel are nonfatiguing and the adjustable brake and accelerator pedals help the driver settle in with no complaint.
Cockpit electronics play an important role in keeping the driver informed and entertained. A 10-inch touch screen delivers navigation information with software loaded by Rand McNally, while images from the three cameras placed on the sides and rear of the coach provide extra elements of safety. A smart steering wheel gives the driver touch controls without losing attention and, of course, no self-respecting big motorhome pilot could live without the air horns.
New for 2016 is a trendsetting keyless start system, which mimics the direction of the auto industry. As long as the key fob is in the vicinity, the engine can be started and shut down using the big green button in the dash. If you lose the key fob, the engine can be started with the traditional key.
By now itâ€™s pretty obvious that Thor Motor Coach has pulled out all the stops in developing the new Tuscany. The standard equipment list is extensive and for the test coach there was only $218 in options, which illustrates the direction the company is going with this coach. Our return visit with the Tuscany was a refreshing experience and our hats are off to Thor Motor Coach for responding so positively to making improvements and changes that easily position this coach as a true contender in the high-end motorcoach arena.
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