This new double-slideout diesel pusher from Fleetwood Enterprises embodies innovation in its looks, performance, and conveniences.
By Lazelle D. Jones
In the ebb and flow of corporate America, eventually all companies must recalibrate how they do business. This is what has happened in recent months at Fleetwood Enterprises, which is involved not only in the RV industry but also in the manufactured housing business. Along with refocusing on the company's goals and making changes to enhance efficiency, Fleetwood officials have rededicated themselves to creating RVs that incorporate innovative, exciting features. One of the results of this return to innovation is the new Fleetwood Revolution, a type A diesel motorhome that company officials say is "leading the charge into 2002."
Several Revolution demo and show coaches were displayed at the FMCA summer convention in Redmond, Oregon, this past August, and I was given an early advantage by reviewing the second unit built, one that Fleetwood considered a prototype. By definition, a prototype coach is built to be tested, so that any changes, additions, and deletions can be incorporated into the production units that follow.
Company literature touts the Revolution as being "for the rebellious spirit in all of us." One look at its exterior provides the first hint that something is different about this coach; a sleek, rounded design gives it a fresh and modern look. The Revolution also has been designed to provide heightened accessibility, with dual fuel fills, separate water and sewer access, pass-through exterior storage, optional slideout storage trays, a rear fan-cooled radiator, and unobstructed side access to all quick-connect wiring and fuses.
The Revolution is available in three models and two different lengths. Two models are 38 feet long and one is 40 feet. All are 102 inches wide and have an exterior height (to the top of the roof air conditioner) of 12 feet 4 inches.
All models feature two slideouts, both on the street side of the coach. The 38-foot models can be configured with either a galley-sofa slideout or a sofa-dinette slideout. The 40-foot model comes with a galley-sofa slideout. All three models feature a rear slideout that contains the head of a queen-size bed flanked by nightstands. The unit I reviewed was the 40C, a coach that is actually 1 inch shy of being 40 feet long.
In terms of price points, the Revolution fills a void between the Fleetwood Discovery and the American Coach Tradition. The base suggested retail price of the 40C is $192,682. As tested, my review unit carried a suggested retail price of $206,850.
The Revolution is built on a stacked-rail Freightliner chassis. It's powered by a 330-horsepower Cummins turbocharged diesel engine coupled with an Allison 3000MH electronic transmission.
In a stacked-rail chassis, the two main I-beam rails that run the length of the coach sit on top of two shorter rails of equal dimension. It is there that the front and rear suspensions, axles, and suspension linkage are attached. The Revolution has a solid front axle with air bags and Bilstein shock absorbers mounted outboard of the main rails on the front, with a similar setup on the rear axle.
All four wheels feature antilock (ABS) air drum brakes as standard equipment, and an exhaust brake is also standard. The exhaust brake seems a perfect match for a coach this size; it provided excellent supplemental slowing in town, on the highway -- wherever our travels took us.
The Revolution's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 31,000 pounds. It is equipped with a DrawTite 10,000-pound class IV hitch receiver, so full advantage can be taken of the engine's 330 horsepower and 950 foot-pounds of torque. The receiver has a weight-distributing head assembly and a maximum tongue weight of 1,000 pounds. The motorhome's gross combination weight rating (GCWR) is 41,000 pounds.
When loaded with a full tank of fuel (100 gallons) and a full tank of fresh water (95 gallons), my test coach weighed in at 27,060 pounds. The remaining carrying capacity for cargo, passengers, and LP gas was just shy of 4,000 pounds, a very respectable margin.
As a side note, Fleetwood provided me with its own weight data for this coach. They weighed each wheel individually. The front wheel weights were very close, with the left wheel weighing 4,380 pounds and the right wheel weighing 4,315 pounds. The left rear wheel weighed 8,755 pounds, while the right rear wheel weighed 7,570 pounds. The greater weight differential between the rear wheels is because of the slideouts, and this weight falls well within the Revolution's engineering specifications.
The exterior cargo bays yield 140 cubic feet of storage capacity and include pass-through storage. The gray water and black water holding tanks have capacities of 60 gallons and 40 gallons, respectively. The basement storage compartments and the holding tank areas are insulated and heated. As previously noted, the Revolution can be refueled from either side.
The front end of the coach incorporates a welded steel bulkhead, which provides structural strength in the cockpit area. A bonded steel frame surrounds the two-piece windshield. With the exception of the windshield, the windows throughout the Revolution feature dual panes to minimize heat transfer, and they are tinted to mitigate the effects of ultraviolet rays on the interior fabrics.
The walls are vacuum-laminated structures that consist of a welded tubular steel infrastructure, block foam insulation, an exterior fiberglass skin, and vinyl-dressed lauan panel for the interior surface. These parts are sandwiched together, sprayed with an adhesive, and subjected to 5 to 7 inches of vacuum pressure to literally draw the individual parts together into a single, high-strength structure.
The walls are lagged into a welded tubular steel, vacuum-laminated floor that is anchored to the raised rails of the chassis. The roof exterior consists of a single piece of molded fiberglass. This is set atop welded steel beams; block foam insulation that is cut to fit around the coach-length plenum, ducting, and framing; and a non-woven interior headliner. A nice design feature is the distinctive look of the forward roof cap, whose subtle curves sweep slightly upward and away from the windshield.
The driver and passengers of this motorhome will find that it provides a good ride. The solid front axle exhibited good road manners during my test, well within my own subjective range of acceptability. I experienced little if any road wander, good straight-forward braking response, and acceleration that did not leave me wanting. Although I did not tow a vehicle, the engine's response leads me to believe that towing up to the maximum allowable load should pose no problem.
Visibility out the front of the coach and down the driver's side via the heated side mirror is fine. However, I struggled a bit when trying to position the passenger-side mirror properly. The side mirror system has a tri-level configuration, with the largest mirror located in the center. This mirror is power-adjustable, while the top and bottom sections must be adjusted manually.
The Revolution features an innovation in cockpit design: the instrument panel tilts with the steering wheel, so that no matter where the steering wheel is positioned, the driver can see the readouts. The instrument faces are white and are backlit in green for ease of reading at night.
A Smart Wheel steering wheel offers touch pad controls for the ICC lights, cruise control, and windshield washer/wiper functions. The odometer and the trip meter are positioned in a single digital unit to the left of the driver. I found that bright sunlight sometimes made this instrument difficult to read.
The dash is visually pleasing with its curved surfaces, as is the contrast between the neutral tones of the dash and the black floor-to-dash center island where several control switches are located. I liked the ball-type dash air-conditioning vents, which can be swiveled and adjusted in almost any direction. However, I would suggest that the CB radio be relocated so that the wire connecting the optional handheld device for the radio does not get in the way of the driver as he or she moves in and out of the driver's seat.
Positioned in the center of the dash is a Magellan global positioning system (GPS). Users can glean directions in three different formats: a visual map, a written list, and audible instructions. The Magellan GPS does not require one to change map CDs when traveling around the country. This is a satellite-based positioning system, and as maps around the country are updated, Magellan can mail users updates to their systems.
The wraparound windshield privacy drapes are held in place by a classic sash-and-hook device on either side of the window, behind the driver and passenger seats. The drapes look good and function well. The captains chairs in my test coach were covered in optional UltraLeather.
One last note about the cockpit area. It seems to me that an elegant and luxurious high-end motorhome such as the Revolution should have a power stairwell cover. My test coach was equipped with a manual cover that the owner folds up or down as required.
Buyers have their choice of alpine oak, clear white maple, walnut, or cherry wood cabinetry and four decor packages. On the exterior, the standard graphic design is offered in four color schemes, with a second graphic design available as an option in each color scheme. An application of clear coat gives the finished exterior surface a final glow. My review coach featured the optional window awning package, as well as an optional electric patio awning.
A conventional-shaped fabric-covered sofa and sofa bed are standard; they are also available with optional UltraLeather material. Other furniture options include an UltraLeather recliner, an UltraLeather J-shaped love seat, and a lounge recliner. The unit I reviewed featured optional UltraLeather on the sleeper sofa in the slideout and on the curbside sofa opposite it.
The living area is defined by the use of plush, residential-grade carpet. Ceramic tile begins where the carpet ends, flowing aft through the galley and into the center-aisle bath. Grout is used between the 12-inch-square ceramic tiles to ensure flexibility and elasticity between the tiles as the coach moves down the road. Despite the visual separation of carpet and tile, similar textures, colors, and themes are used throughout the coach, creating continuity.
The galley countertop and dining table are made of Corian. My review unit featured the standard table with chairs, but a bench-style dinette is available as an option.
The galley is equipped with a four-door Norcold refrigerator-freezer with an ice maker, a double porcelain sink, and a convection-microwave oven. My test unit also had the optional three-burner cook top with a 22-inch oven (a three-burner cook top sans oven is standard).
The coach's optional washer-dryer is located in the walk-through bath, sequestered behind louvered wooden doors on the street side. Next to it is a private water closet that contains a bank of storage cabinets. Across the aisle is a sink made of Corian, with cabinets below, and a corner shower with a skylight above it. The shower in my test unit included a convenient, optional shower seat.
The 78-inch-by-60-inch queen-size bed and nightstands extend and retract along with the bedroom slideout on the street side of the coach. A coach-wide floor-to-ceiling wardrobe is positioned along the rear wall.
The windows throughout the coach feature day-night accordion blinds surrounded with fabric-covered lambrequins and valances.
Standard components that make up the entertainment system include a VCR, a 27-inch front overhead TV, and a 20-inch rear bedroom TV. My test unit also had the optional DVD player and six-disc CD changer (an optional DSS auto-lift dish and receiver are available). Sony speakers are positioned in the front and rear.
The Revolution utilizes a 50-amp electrical energy management system to minimize the overloading and tripping of circuit beakers. This system comes with a 7.5-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel generator; a Heart 2,000-watt inverter/100-amp convertor; four deep-cycle wet-cell house batteries; a solar panel; and a 35-foot-long, 50-amp shore cord.
The interior of the Revolution is kept comfy by two 34,000-Btu furnaces and two 13,500-Btu high-efficiency roof air conditioners. The 10-gallon water heater can be powered by LP gas and/or 110-volt electricity.
Fleetwood's slideout mechanism of choice is the Powergear electric rack-and-pinion system. An interlock on each of the slideout control mechanisms prevents the slideouts from being activated when the parking brake is not set. Fleetwood suggests that the three-point hydraulic leveling system be extended prior to operating the slideout rooms. Topper awnings extend and retract along with the slideout rooms, and each slideout is operated by a key.
Overall, in my view, the livability and functionality of the Revolution matched the luxury and comfort found inside. In a matter of seconds, the slideouts create a commodious interior, yet the coach can be fully enjoyed without the slideout rooms extended. The size of the holding tanks, the location and quiet operation of the generator, and the ample interior and exterior storage space allow the coach to support stays at RV resorts or dry camping situations.
Diesel motorhome aficionados will find that the Revolution merits a close look.
As mentioned, the base suggested retail price of the 40C Revolution is $192,682. With options such as the GPS system, DSS with auto-lift and receiver, home theater system, UltraLeather furniture, six-disc CD changer, CB radio, cook top with 22-inch oven, washer-dryer, shower seat, and awnings, my review coach was priced at $206,850.
Manufacturer. . . Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., 3051 Myers St., Riverside, CA 92503; (800) 444-4905, fax: (909) 351-3578; www.fleetwoodrv.com
Model . . . Revolution
Floor plan . . . 40C
Chassis . . . Freightliner
Engine . . . Cummins ISC 8.3-liter, 330 horsepower @ 950 foot-pounds torque
Transmission . . . Allison automatic 3000MH
Axle ratio . . . 4.63 to 1
Tires . . . Michelin 275/80Rx22.5
Wheelbase . . . 266 inches
Brakes . . . four-wheel ABS air/drum
Suspension . . . air ride
Alternator . . . 160 amps
Batteries . . . chassis -- (2) 12-volt, 2,000 cca; house -- (4) 6-volt deep-cycle, 440 amp-hours
Steering . . . Smart Wheel
Inverter/convertor . . . Heart Interface 2,000-watt inverter/100-amp convertor
Electrical service . . . 50 amps
Auxiliary generator . . . 7.5-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel
Exterior length . . . 39 feet 11 inches
Exterior width . . . 101 inches
Interior height . . . 6 feet 7 inches
Exterior height . . . 12 feet 4 inches (including roof A/C)
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) . . . 41,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) . . . 31,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) . . . front -- 12,000 pounds; rear -- 19,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested . . . (weighed with full water, fuel, and LP-gas tanks) front axle -- 9,860 pounds; rear axle -- 17,100 pounds; total -- 27,060 pounds
Payload . . . 3,940 pounds
Frame construction . . . steel
Insulation . . . polystyrene block foam
Fresh water capacity . . . 95 gallons
Holding tank capacities . . . gray water -- 60 gallons; black water -- 40 gallons
Fuel capacity . . . 100 gallons
Fuel requirements . . . diesel
Propane capacity . . . 50 gallons
Water heater . . . 10-gallon LP gas/110-volt
Water system . . . demand
Furnace . . . (2) 34,000 Btus
Air conditioner . . . (2) 13,000-Btu high-efficiency roof units
Refrigerator . . . Norcold 12-cubic-foot, four-door
Toilet . . . porcelain with hand sprayer
Warranty . . . chassis -- 36 months/50,000 miles; coach -- 12 months/15,000 miles (components), 36 months (structural)
Base suggested retail price . . . $192,682
Price as tested . . . $206,850