Look at Rexhall Industries’ address, and you’ll get a surprise: unlike many Class A coach
manufacturers that call Indiana or Oregon home, Rexhall Industries is based in the sunny
desert of Southern California.
Look at the price tag for this 36-foot RoseAir motorhome, and you’ll get another surprise: $161,745 (base) buys a diesel pusher with all the trimmings, including a Spartan chassis, a 330-hp Cummins ISC power plant (subsequent models have been upgraded to 350 hp), a six-speed Allison automatic transmission, air brakes and air suspension. Combine these technical features with a large living-room slideout and a well-executed floorplan, and the Rexhall RoseAir is a solid value indeed.
Ranging from 29 to 39 feet, the 102-inch widebody RoseAir is the flagship of the Rexhall product line and is also available with a Ford V-10 gas engine and a bedroom slideout. Step into the RoseAir through the front entrance, and elegant attention to detail becomes evident.
The test coach was outfitted in the Embassy color scheme, which features light, earthy green tones highlighted by cream leather trim and matching carpet. This combination lends a light, airy feel to the coach, while the oak woodwork used throughout adds an element of warmth. The overall effect is very pleasing.
Flexsteel driver and passenger seats are thickly padded, and the dash is adorned with Stewart-Warner instruments. The living quarters feature a recliner and an L-shape sofa bed aft of the driver’s seat, both of which face a curbside entertainment center replete with a 25-inch color television and a VCR. The layout is more like what you would find in someone’s living room, a welcome departure from entertainment centers that are located up front, often requiring viewers to either lie down or turn their heads at uncomfortable angles in order to watch television.
The L-shape kitchen features Corian countertops with a mirrored backsplash and a large two-sided stainless-steel sink. Out back, there’s a queen-size bed, and the master bath features a fiberglass tub/shower combo with glass enclosure. The RoseAir is a complete package that doesn’t leave you wanting more.
Rexhall’s raised-rail Uni-body design allows plenty of room for several lighted, carpet-lined cargo compartments, including one particularly large compartment curbside that features a pass-through to accommodate long items. Packed for the test trip, the RoseAir took on our gear with an embarrassing amount of room left over. It was kind of like packing the luggage compartment of a Greyhound bus for two.
The first evening of our travels found us among snow-packed peaks where temperatures dropped well below freezing. This would be cause for concern when camping by lesser means, but we simply set the Dometic Duo-Therm thermostat for 70 degrees F, and began setting up for the evening. We lowered the front jacks to level out the coach, then deployed the large living-room slideout, which can only be performed after the jacks have been lowered. That done, the room slides out effortlessly after the turn of a key and the press of a button.
The kitchen is a very welcome place for meal preparation. The L-shape countertop features adequate space and a slide-out cutting board for prep work. And, instead of placing the sink on the same work surface (which reduces both effective working space and the size of the sink), Rexhall locates the sink across from the galley and includes two large Corian covers, so the sink can double as another work surface. A tap for purified water is included, and there is plenty of room underneath the sink.
The side-by-side Dometic refrigerator is located adjacent to the sink, and at 10 cubic feet, it has more than enough storage room. The large convection/microwave oven, located above the cooktop, features an exhaust fan and a light on its underside, both of which worked effectively. Moreover, there is adequate storage for pantry items, and the drawers and cupboards are easily accessed from the front of the cooktop. After cleanup, a Corian range cover atop the three-burner stove provides a clean, flush appearance.
The living area proved to be a nice place to enjoy the evening. The L-shape couch beckons you to spread out and relax, and, as we mentioned earlier, the entertainment center is in the perfect location for viewing. Although there is a two-place dinette curbside, we found the freestanding table an ideal place for casual dining. This small table can be lowered for use as a game or coffee table, or raised and extended to serve as a dining table. We liked its versatility and the fact that it could easily be moved to one side (or stowed) to open up more floor space.
Overhead storage compartments abound and feature frosted glass panels that allow you to view what’s inside, but aren’t so transparent that their contents are in full view of your guests. Though the temperature outside had dropped into the low 20s during our test, the furnace kept the interior toasty and it dutifully clicked on and off throughout the night.
The bedroom, while modest in size, has adequate room to walk around the bed, and there’s plenty of room for clothing in the small closets and drawers on either side of the bed. The queen-size mattress was a little firm for our taste, but it was comfortable, and we awoke the next morning feeling refreshed.
The bathroom is laid out with the tub/shower combo, sink/vanity and toilet in one room. Sliding doors separate the bathroom from the sleeping quarters and the kitchen, and provide an area that is private, yet roomy. The shower has plenty of space to move around in, and a skylight allows extra room for tall people, not to mention welcome morning sun. Water pressure was adequate, and the water pump was virtually silent. In situations when a 120-volt AC hookup is not available, the RoseAir requires that the AC generator be started before you can run items like the coffeemaker, microwave and television. However
these appliances also could have been powered by the optional 2kW inverter that is
available for this model.
The test coach was equipped with a Generac 7.5-kW diesel AC generator; to start it, a preheating switch on the dash is depressed for a few seconds before the start button is pushed. The AC generator started faithfully, ran as quietly as could be expected for a diesel, and allowed us to prepare a simple breakfast and watch the morning news. The curbside dinette is framed by three large windows, which provide plenty of light and sweeping views of the scenery.
The RoseAir will surely be appreciated by frustrated truckers. If you like, you can even access the driver’s seat through a streetside front door and take a big step up, just like big-rig drivers do. Turn the key, and the big 8.3-liter Cummins roars to life, then idles contentedly. The coach sounds like a city bus on the outside, but the engine is little more than a distant purr on the inside.
Once underway, the Allison MD3000 electronic six-speed transmission shifts quickly through its gears to keep the turbo spooled up and the engine at its peak torque. Acceleration is smooth and brisk for a coach of this size; we managed to record a string of 0-60 times in the 27-second range. The engine’s 950 ft-lbs of torque also enabled us to pull a 6 percent grade at no less than an indicated 60 mph, and it showed no signs of slowing as we neared the top of the grade. Steering feel was appropriately heavy for a coach of this size, and the fat leather-wrapped steering wheel with raised welts helps the driver maintain a firm grip. Driving down a steep mountain road, the RoseAir tracked positively and responded quickly to steering input. Slowing for corners was equally problem-free, as the Allison downshifted almost intuitively, and the air brakes, assisted by a Jacobs engine brake, helped us maintain a safe speed without any signs of brake fade.
Reyco 240 AR air suspension provided a smooth ride and did a good job of soaking up harsh expansion joints on the highway. The seating position in the RoseAir is comfortable; the seats are cloth with leather trim, and have the feel of a good chair-soft enough to be comfortable, yet firm enough to be supportive. The driver’s seat allows plenty of legroom for tall drivers, but there is still adequate space between the seat back and the slide-out room in its stowed position. The passenger seat, though allowing more than enough legroom for anyone, doesn’t permit much of a recline angle due to the entertainment system located directly behind it, but if you slouch slightly, you can still take a snooze.
We were satisfied with the RoseAir’s instrumentation and switch gear, but we had a few small complaints: The gauges are too small to be read at a glance (particularly at night), which seems unnecessary since there appears to be more than enough area to install larger gauges with bigger numbers. The same goes for the Panasonic stereo system; it provides great sound fore and aft, but the controls are tiny and the settings are difficult to discern.
The turn-signal stalk is mounted too low on the column for tall people and can rub the driver’s left knee when his/her legs are not extended. Mounting the cruise-control switches on the turn stalk or steering wheel would be nice, but instead they are mounted on the dash, requiring the driver to take his or her eyes off the road in order to set them. On a more positive note, the rearview camera is in the perfect location and provides an excellent
view behind the coach, day and night.
The RoseAir rides on a Spartan chassis and uses Rexhall’s Uni-body steel-cage construction. An all-welded steel floor substructure is covered with Structurwood, and uses Mylar air-bubble insulation. All welded steel side walls are vacuum bonded and feature polystyrene block foam for insulation. The outer skin is seamless gelcoated fiberglass laminated to lauan plywood, while the inner wall consists of decorative lauan plywood. The roof is likewise all welded steel, vacuum bonded, with one-piece molded gelcoated fiberglass outside, polystyrene block-foam insulation and a lauan interior panel with a fabric headliner.
Rexhall’s construction techniques make the RoseAir a coach that is quiet, rides smoothly and gives the rock-solid impression of a much more expensive bus-type motorhome. Rexhall Industries Inc., 46147 Seventh Street W., Lancaster, California 93534; (661) 726-0565 Article by: Chris Hemer Photos by: Chris Hemer