New well-appointed 2020 Coachmen Beyond 22C combines good road manners and full-featured livability
For many motorhome owners, a Class B hits the sweet spots of traffic maneuverability and RV-park livability, and for them, getting those benefits in exchange for less-roomier quarters is an acceptable tradeoff. Fortunately, today’s manufacturers have gotten skilled at sweetening that pot. Enter the 2020 Coachmen Beyond 22C, a Class B that’s loaded with convenience and livability features. What’s more, the test unit we received bears many of the available options for this model, so we could put many of them through the paces.
Right out of the gate, the Beyond became one of my all-time favorite motorhomes to drive. The exterior running board and interior step took me up into the cab in comfortable increments, a rare treat for someone my height, and I was wowed by the functionality there. I like to have everything my crew might possibly need close at hand and organized for precision item retrieval at a moment’s notice. Just in case. (You say paranoia; I say preparedness. Potato, potah-to.) Coachmen (574-825-6211) came through with a smattering of open, segmented cubbies throughout the cab that provide immediate access while securing contents with textured mats and raised edges.
The pilot position provides good visibility, along with adjustable components so drivers of all heights can comfortably align the seat, safety belt and steering wheel. The feature-laden, user-friendly Ford SYNC 3 navigation and infotainment system provides some cool features — a back-up camera, voice command, area gas prices and more — while simple buttons and knobs handle climate control. Missing was a CD player and auxiliary input, but we didn’t miss the too-prevalent tech dump that generally tends to overcomplicate everything.
The Beyond’s driving experience itself gets all thumbs up. Road-noise dampening gets an assist from Hushmat wheel-well insulation, and we were jazzed with the Beyond’s handling and maneuvering, which was so smooth I had to periodically remind myself I was driving a motorhome. That’s especially impressive when you consider the Ford Transit 350 chassis is a beefy fella with dual rear wheels and a stout towing capacity.
All Ashore Who’s Going Ashore
When you take the Beyond to an RV park, plugging into shorepower, et al., is a snap; hook-up points are mostly kept to a tidy cluster near the rear bumper or hidden demurely under the side trim. For those longing to RV quietly off the grid, the available Freedom eGen System upgrade ($23,192.75), which Coachmen co-developed with Xantrex, utilizes an Intelligent Battery Management System for swift recharging, increased battery life and more control over the lithium-ion battery bank and solar system. All systems are managed from a cluster of instrument panels over the side door, including a user-friendly master digital panel for controlling climate control, lights, generator and timers, etc., through touch screen or smartphone access.A secondary light-switch panel is found in the 22C’s rear lounge that is decked with two side jump seats flanking a front-facing bench seat. The cushions are extremely firm and are fitted with three seat belts. It made curling up with a book or using the dinette to view the 22-inch TV less comfortable, and while the bench seat reclines with the touch of a button into a 74-by-68-inch bed, owners might want to elect using a mattress topper for sleeping — although finding storage space will be somewhat of a challenge. With half of the streetside jump seat obstructed by the cabinet holding the TV bracket and charging station, and both being too straight-backed and firm (the nature of jump seats), we just used them as footrests or makeshift desks/dresser tops.
High tow and load capacities alongside good fuel economy, good handling, smart use of limited storage space, screen doors on the side and back, Truma Combi comfort and water heating
Window shade and screen materials, screen door should be heavier and smoother sliding, wet-bath double door design, extra-firm seating cushions
We did appreciate the lounge’s cup holders and reading lights, as well as the Bluetooth-capable stereo/DVD combo in the soft-close, felt-lined overhead cabinets, whose frosted glass panes nicely diffused motion-sensor bright white LED lights. Owners who like softer lighting options might want to modify with a lower-watt or even blue LEDs down the road. The window coverings are excellent in concept — pull day shades from the top or night shades from the bottom, and connect the two if you like — but the clasp often popped open and the night-shade material slips from the track and bunches up easily. Obviously, a stronger clasp could rectify this situation.
Additional storage is found in a pantry/wardrobe cabinet, a pleasant surprise that held more than we expected, next to a microwave, refrigerator and freezer stacked (in that order) on the streetside wall. Opposite that, a covered sink and arched faucet join a cooktop (two gas burners standard; a one-burner induction upgrade is available) in the kitchen’s solid-surface countertop. Above is a wall-mounted spice rack; below are three generous drawers and a pull-out cabinet holding a trash can while providing a little extra space. The absence of a cooktop vent is compensated by a kitchen window to one side and the roof-mounted Fan-Tastic Vent directly above, which satisfies the RV building code requirements.
The Beyond’s side door is framed by grab bars, a step light and porch light above. The screen door frame is thin and light, so it takes concentration and leverage to slide it and seat the handle with precision. We’d like to see a more weighted frame and substantial latch to smooth out that whole process, but we did enjoy having that open air throughout the motorhome.
If pedals are your mettle, you can opt for the double bike rack that attaches to the curbside cargo door. It largely blocks the latch that opens both doors, which was easier to reach from the curbside (and more convenient to close from there, too), but this rack makes hauling bikes easier and safer. Owners should be cognizant of the weight ratings of the trays and hold-down hardware.
A pull-down bug screen covers the whole back side, which is a great idea, but could use some tweaking. With about a foot between bumper and screen, users will have to lean in to reach the short, thin catch string and then pull at a deeper angle to bring it down. The company should consider adding protective edging along the sides to prevent the screen from coming out of the tracks and fraying. As with most Class B’s, there’s room for “Tetris-friendly” items like lawn chairs and fishing rods behind the rear seat, though stocky things like coolers and firewood bundles will do better in the aisle. A cargo net across the back would be a good add-on to aid in the stacking process and really maximize that space.
The Beyond’s wet bath has features that many compact motorhomes are missing, most notably its mirror and sink; a high-mounted wall bracket points the pull-out faucet at a downward angle for shower duty. You’ll also find a covered toilet-paper holder, hooks for towels, a three-chambered wall dispenser and three shelves — all contained in a one-piece fiberglass shell. It’s got a respectable 6-foot, 1-inch height, though the 3-foot, 6-inch width was tight, which is a product of the limited overall real estate afforded by a Class B interior.
The wet bath’s double doors are a product of designer ingenuity but could use some refinement. When in position, there’s a small see-through gap in the middle, which is not a big deal, considering there’s not a whole lot of privacy in the confines of any Class B, and owners just about always manage workarounds. A hinged flap that swings to a 90-degree angle gains a little more elbowroom by bumping the doors out to form a V that doesn’t fully match the angles of the floor, leaving triangular gaps through which the hallway floor is visible. The shower curtain is large but can be dislodged while showering, allowing water to seep into the hallway. Anchoring the sides of the shower curtain with hook and loop fasteners is an easy-enough fix.
In general, using this bathroom requires a little bit of a sense of humor. Surely, sounds cannot be masked fully, and friends might be a little intimidated by using the bathroom, but reality suggests that Class B’s are typically used by couples and therefore should pose little anxiety.
The Bottom Line
The Beyond’s strengths are big ones, both in importance and the lengths taken by Coachmen to put them there. We’re thinking of the available power system and the Ford Transit chassis with the spirited EcoBoost engine and good load capacity, along with the cab comfort and outstanding driveability. Upgraded features, like the Truma Combi comfort and water heating system, propel this motorhome to a higher status that’s expected by enthusiasts who are looking for upgraded appliances and systems, even though living within the confines of a compact rig suits their travel tastes.
The execution to bring the Beyond 22C to life may need a few adjustments, but the hardest work is already done. Coachmen has targeted this Class B motorhome at those who may want to downsize and still enjoy the lifestyle with few compromises. The appeal of a technology-laden Class B to those who are looking for a more adventurous itinerary (think bicycle rack) is right on track with the ever-changing RV population.
Coachmen Beyond 22C
ABOVE, FROM TOP: The new Ford Transit driver’s compartment is ergonomic and comfortable, and features the user-friendly Ford SYNC 3 navigation and infotainment system. Cup holders are in convenient locations, including by the back seats. The Beyond is filled with convenient livability features, including a pull-out trash and recycling drawer in the galley. The wet bath doors feature a handy book and magazine rack.
Engine 3.5L V-6 EcoBoost
SAE Hp 310 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 400 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Axle Ratio 4.01:1
Brakes Front/Rear Disc w/ABS
Suspension Front/Rear Struts/Sumo Springs
Fuel Capacity 25 gal
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper;
5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
Exterior Length 22′ 2″
Exterior Width 7′
Exterior Height 9′ 11″
Interior Width 5′ 8″
Interior Height 6′ 4″
Construction Rockwool insulation, marine-grade PVC vinyl interior walls, one-piece 5⁄8-inch marine-grade flooring over R-38 reflective film, Hushmat wheel-well insulation
Freshwater Capacity 30 gal
Black-water Capacity 15 gal
Gray-water Capacity 12 gal
Water-heater Capacity 2.6 gal Truma Combi
Propane Capacity 9.7 gal
Air Conditioner 13,500 Btu
Furnace Truma Combi, 20,400 Btu
Refrigerator 6 cu ft
Batteries (1) 12-volt chassis,
(1) 330 Ah AGM house
AC Generator 2.8-kW propane
MSRP as Tested $132,738
Warranty 1 year/12,000 miles limited
(Water and water heater, fuel, propane tanks full; no supplies or passengers)
Total 8,841 lbs
GAWR, F/R 4,130 lbs/6,720 lbs
GVWR/GCWR 10,360 lbs/11,200 lbs
ROCCC 1,519 lbs
GAWR Gross Axle Weight Rating
GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
GCWR Gross Combination Weight Rating
ROCCC Realistic Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (full water, no passengers)