Fleetwood Enterprises has raised the roof on its flagship gas-powered type A motorhome and placed the coach on a Workhorse chassis.
By Jim Brightly, Technical Editor
If it looks like a diesel and drives like a diesel, then it must be a diesel, right? Wrong! Totally redesigned and built on the Workhorse W22 chassis, the 2004 Fleetwood Pace Arrow has all the earmarks of a high-line diesel pusher. These features include new graphics, a roofline that is 5 inches higher than that of the previous model, and 22.5-inch wheels and tires. It is offered in five floor plans, including the 37C that my wife, Saraine, and I had the opportunity to test recently.
Why is this coach masquerading, so to speak? According to Fleetwood officials, many customers expressed a desire for a more impressive-looking home on wheels that did not carry the additional costs associated with diesel-powered motorhomes. So, Fleetwood gave its top-of-the-line gasoline-powered model a new image.
The Workhorse W22 chassis — so designated because of its 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) — is engineered to offer the maximum carrying and towing capacity in its field. Its 8.1-liter Vortec V-8 engine develops 340 horsepower at 4,200 rpm and 455 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. The engine is mated to an Allison 1000 Series five-speed automatic transmission with two overdrive gears and a park pawl feature that securely locks the drivetrain when the transmission is in "park." The gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of the Pace Arrow is 26,000 pounds, and it has a 75-gallon gas tank.
We weighed our test coach at a busy certified truck scale, where we were asked to remain in the vehicle. With the two of us aboard, plus all of our gear (including a 100-pound toolbox) and partially filled fresh water, waste water, and fuel tanks, the front axle weighed 7,380 pounds and the rear axle 13,740 pounds, for a total of 21,120 pounds. Since we weren't able to obtain a true wet weight and payload figure at the scale, I thought I would share Fleetwood's figures in addition to the actual weights I obtained at the scale. According to a Fleetwood official, the coach, with full fuel, full water (including a full water heater), and a full LP-gas tank, but without passengers or cargo, would have the following approximate weights: front axle, 7,286 pounds; rear axle, 13,330 pounds; total, 20,616 pounds; carrying capacity, 1,384 pounds.
The Pace Arrow utilizes Workhorse's Stabil-Ride suspension, which consists of an auxiliary spring called Like-Air; single-stage, constant-rate, two-leaf parabolic springs on both the front and the rear axle; Monroe shock absorbers; and rectangular stabilizer bars (a 2-inch bar in front and a 2-1/2-inch bar on the rear axle). It is equipped with Michelin XRV 235/80 R22.5 tires. The chassis has variable-ratio hydraulic-assist steering (15.7:1 to 18.5:1), with a 47-degree wheel cut angle.
The Pace Arrow's ladder-type frame is built from 50,000-psi steel, and the 1/4-inch-thick, 9.6-inch channel rails extend the full length of the coach for more weight capacity and greater stability and structural integrity.
All of this helps to support the three slideouts in the 2004 Pace Arrow. Two of the slideouts encompass opposing sides of the living area; when they are opened, they offer a massive amount of room to spread out. The third slideout is in the rear bedroom on the curb side and includes the head of the queen-size bed.
The redesigned exterior features a new front fiberglass cap, a tubular grille with a custom-made look, 5 additional inches in the roofline (for a full 7 feet of interior headroom), dramatic stylized graphics, and an automatic patio awning.
The A&E Weather Pro awning is a joy to use, especially for those of us with a bit of age on our bones and a tendency to catch our fingers in the uprights when securing the awning for travel. The Weather Pro comes with a key fob remote so that it can be deployed or stored at the touch of a button, and it's equipped with an automatic retract feature that comes into play if the wind or rain kicks up. On a panel just above the entry door is another set of controls for the awning and the two front slideouts.
Also on that panel, which is hidden inside a cabinet, are all the monitors for the coach's onboard systems: battery condition; fresh water and holding tank levels; LP-gas level; and the electronic climate control (ECC) panels.
The automatic two-zone ECC keeps the elements at bay by controlling two roof-ducted high-efficiency air-conditioning units — a 13,500-Btu unit in the living area with a solar battery charger and an 11,000-Btu unit in the rear bedroom — and two Hydro-Flame furnaces — a 34,000-Btu heater in the living area and a 20,000-Btu unit in the bedroom.
Just a few steps away from the over-the-entry-door control panel is what a science fiction writer might call the "command deck." It includes two extremely comfortable captains chairs, which swivel and recline and have built-in storage pouches for magazines, flashlights, etc., as well as a pair of cup holders for each chair. In front of the navigator's seat is a computer workstation that offers a convenient desk drawer and outlets for 12-volt-DC, 120-volt-AC, and telephone landline connections.
The driver of this coach can take advantage of a tilt steering wheel and a lower dash, which increases visibility. The dash includes redesigned, easy-to-read gauges; a backup monitor with one-way sound; and a stereo with larger buttons and a large-print screen that displays musical selections clearly. The stereo includes a radio, a CD player, and a cassette player. A driver's-side door with a power window is standard.
Other comfort items in the cockpit area include a pair of goosenecked reading lamps, one for the navigator, and one for the driver. And an optional one-piece power sun visor reduces eye fatigue. My prototype test coach was also outfitted with optional sun visors on the side windows near the driver and navigator. Centered above the dash is a small display with a compass and an outside temperature monitor. The thermometer registers only while you're driving, unfortunately, so you can't check it while in camp.
With the exception of the dash radio, all of the Pace Arrow's other electronic entertainment components are made by Panasonic. Two TVs — a 27-inch flat screen in the front and a 20-inch TV in the rear bedroom — as well as a DVD player, a VCR, and surround-sound speakers are standard. A controller can supply either television with a signal from the roof antenna, cable connection, DVD, VCR, or satellite feed (available as an option).
Our test unit featured a somewhat unusual window-lined side corridor on the street side of the coach between the galley-dinette area and the bedroom. It's reminiscent of a bygone era of Pullman cars and late-night whistle stops. The corridor itself has two windows. All told, the 2004 Pace Arrow has eight windows — nine, if you count the two windows adjacent to the driver's seat. They lend the impression that the motorhome's walls consist mostly of glass. This impression remains with you whether you're traveling or at an RV park with the slideouts extended.
Saraine and I had more curious visitors with this motorhome than we've had in a long time during a test outing. It seems that everyone who had noticed all that glass from the outside wanted to see what the coach was like on the inside as well. Several people made the same comment as they toured the coach: "Now, this is the way a motorhome should be!" Don't worry about all that glass allowing too much heat transfer, either, because all the windows, save the windshield and the glass in both doors, are double-paned for insulation.
The corridor leads to the bathroom, which is almost big enough for two. It contains a residential-size shower enclosure (and an adjustable-height showerhead, as well as a three-compartment dispenser for soap, shampoo, and conditioner that's mounted to the wall); a linen closet; a cabinet for an optional washer-dryer that offers yet more storage if you don't choose the laundry option; a deep medicine cabinet; towel racks; and a china toilet. My one criticism of the bath area was that the showerhead has several different spray modes, but there is no way to switch it off quickly to conserve water.
One nice decorative touch in the 2004 Pace Arrow is that the plumbing fixtures and the bath and galley sinks are made of stainless steel, and all the brushed stainless-steel hardware used as cabinet handles, drawer pulls, and door knobs matches it, since it looks like pewter. Even the backs of the dinette chairs are made of this silvery metal. All of this lends a quiet, refined air of elegance to the Pace Arrow, without being gaudy. The motif complements the Corian countertops used in the bath and galley.
As for materials and fabric colors, Fleetwood offers four interior décor selections for the Pace Arrow (sand, slate, terra cotta, and lagoon) and a choice of maple, cherry, or birch woods. The furniture in the Pace Arrow is manufactured by Flexsteel and features Ultraleather upholstery with Ultrasuede inserts.
Fan-Tastic Vent exhaust fans are located in the bathroom and galley ceilings.
At the rear of the coach is the bedroom, which is made roomy by a 30-inch-deep slideout that encompasses the head of the bed and offers a window on each side of the headboard for cross ventilation. It's a fine place to relax when you feel like enjoying the newspaper, croissants, and coffee. Magazine racks are located on both sides of the bed so you don't have to search for reading material. On the bed is an extremely comfortable queen-size Restonic mattress. Under the bed, as usual, is a large storage area, as well as a not so usual touch: an ironing board secured in a rack.
A closet occupies nearly all of the bedroom's back wall. It is partially lined with cedar and equipped with a damp chaser that is designed to eliminate humidity, musty odors, and mildew. A cubbyhole that is tucked back into the side of the closet and extends below its floor provides hooks for a laundry bag — very convenient. All of the cabinet drawers in the bedroom — and galley — are equipped with ball-bearing roller guides and allow full extension.
The curbside galley resides in a slideout, so it offers even more space for food preparation. It includes a standard 12-cubic-foot Dometic stainless-steel side-by-side refrigerator with an ice maker. Occupants don't have to worry about the ice cubes retaining a bad taste from city water, either, because the coach has its own filter that starts at the point of water entry. In addition, a Shurflo high-output variable-flow water pump keeps the fluid flowing from the onboard tank.
A hinged, tilt-up table is mounted on the back wall of the galley beneath a curio cabinet, perpendicular to the refrigerator. A bracket beneath the table accommodates a supporting leg, which has its own storage spot in the bedroom closet when the table is not in use. Adjacent to the refrigerator is a pantry with pull-out wire shelves.
To the left of the refrigerator is a recessed stove top with two large burners. Beneath that is an oversized pots-and-pans drawer. A microwave-convection oven hangs above the stove. Left of that is a deep, double stainless-steel sink with a Moen faucet that incorporates a stainless-steel sprayer on a retractable hose. To the left of the sink is a cabinet on rollers that locks in place while traveling. This cabinet houses four stacked drawers and a Corian slab that can be lifted into its preset recesses for increased serving area or to hold vegetables as they're being cleaned in the sink. A pull-down spice tray resides in the cabinet in front of the sink. Also in the galley's cabinets are several storage baskets that pull out, which increases usable space a great deal.
A skylight overhead keeps the galley bright and cheerful all day.
Across from the galley area is a round dining table with four separate chairs. I should point out that RVers will need to remember to secure these chairs with their straps before getting under way. The chairs are heavy, very sturdy, and have a pleasant French château look, but they also can do some damage if they're not secured properly.
The living area's streetside slideout encompasses a sofa bed as well as the dining table and chairs. The sofa bed is equipped with two seat belts. Opposite the sofa bed, just aft of the doorway, a permanently mounted swiveling rocker-recliner sits by its own window. This is a great place to kick back and read using natural light; however, it has no seat belt, so it can't be occupied while traveling. If you decide you want the floor plan with the booth-style dinette, you'll get one more set of seat belts; the coach has ample accommodations (seat belts and sleeping areas) for four people with the freestanding dinette, and for five with the booth.
All of the furniture in the Pace Arrow is very comfortable, and if you are fond of reading, you're really going to appreciate the small round halogen spotlights located under all of the overhead cabinets.
With the two living area slideouts deployed, room is plentiful. As with any coach that has slideouts, some drawers and cabinets are not accessible when the slideouts are closed, such as the desk/makeup table in the bedroom, so you must plan accordingly while packing. But this situation is kept to a minimum in the Pace Arrow.
As I said earlier, from the outside the Pace Arrow gives the impression that it's a diesel pusher, because of its raised roofline and general overall appearance. The redesigned front fiberglass cap includes MCI heavy-duty headlights; ultramodern LED turn signals and side markers; and a two-piece windshield with Denso wipers, which include a "wet arm" design to facilitate windshield cleanliness.
Fleetwood calls the Pace Arrow's outside storage EZ-store, because the compartments move with the slideouts, enabling the doors to open all the way for easier access. Along the street side are five full-size storage bins and one half-size bin, the latter above the LP-gas cylinder. Five more exterior storage bays are located on the curb side. Secured to the rear end of the streetside slideout is a door for long items, such as flagpoles. The fresh-water fill valves and dump station are located in separate compartments to avoid cross-contamination.
Driving the Pace Arrow was very similar to driving a diesel, albeit with a bit more noise on the command deck, and decreased performance over the mountains northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. However, on the freeways of Southern California and southern Nevada, the Pace Arrow kept pace with the rest of the traffic, even while towing a 4,000-pound Jeep.
At first blush, the fuel economy for the 8.1-liter V-8 isn't noteworthy — 5.3 miles per gallon. However, there were extenuating circumstances. The engine was not broken in yet, since the coach had less than 1,000 miles on the odometer; we were towing a fairly heavy vehicle; and, because of the desert heat, we were forced to run the generator and use the roof air-conditioning system while driving. This was in spite of the fact that we had the cockpit AC running. Another mitigating factor is that this was a prototype — a preproduction coach. Many of its nits had not been picked. A substantial nit was the Denso dash air conditioning. In other words, the production version of the 2004 Pace Arrow likely will be much more efficient at cooling the cab of the coach while traveling.
That said, it was fun to drive the Pace Arrow, and its performance was peppy and responsive. Its high-output horns are electronic but sound like air horns, and were more than adequate at attracting the attention of erratic freeway fliers. The coach also comes equipped with side-view mirrors that are both powered and heated.
The standard rear vision camera/monitor system with one-way sound was, as they always are, a great aid in backing into our campsite. Even though Saraine couldn't hear me, I could hear and understand her directions easily. Once we were parked, I engaged the Allison's parking pawl, pressed down the parking brake, and, leaving the engine running, deployed the Power Gear automatic leveling system. After the coach was leveled, I put the slides out, turned off the engine, and deployed the awning. We were set for the next three days.
While unwinding after the drive to camp, I read over the Pace Arrow's long list of standard items and its short list of options. My prototype coach had only three options: an auto-locating satellite dish, a washer-dryer combo, and the previously mentioned driver-passenger shades with the electric sun visor. The base suggested retail price of the 2004 Pace Arrow 37C is $135,639, and with those options it came to $138,180.
John Draheim, vice president of Fleetwood's Sales and Marketing, RV Group, told me, "As is our custom here at Fleetwood, we've made the Pace Arrow to be what we believe is a complete package, and we've given it a very short option list. We think its base suggested retail price is very reasonable for a coach of this size, power, and comfort."
After living with the Pace Arrow for five days, we agree.
Manufacturer ... Fleetwood Enterprises, P.O. Box 7638, Riverside, CA 92513; (877) 308-7644, www.fleetwoodrv.com
Model ... Pace Arrow
Floor plan ... 37C
Chassis ... Workhorse W22
Engine ... 8.1-liter GM Vortec V-8, 340 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, 455 pound-feet torque at 3,200 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 1000 Series five-speed automatic with overdrive
Axle ratio ... 5.38 to 1
Tires ... Michelin XRV 235/80 R22.5G
Wheelbase ... 242 inches
Brakes ... hydraulic power four-wheel disc with ABS
Suspension ... single-stage, constant-rate parabolic with auxiliary springs
Alternator ... 145 amps
Batteries ... chassis — Delco, 690 cca; house — (2) Trojan 6-volt, 217 amps
Steering ... 47-degree wheel cut angle, variable ratio with hydraulic assist
Convertor ... WFCO, 65 amps
Electrical service ... 30 amps
Auxiliary generator ... Onan 5.5-kw
Exterior length ... 37 feet 8 inches
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet
Exterior height ... 12 feet 5 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 26,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 22,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 8,000 pounds; rear — 14,500 pounds
Wet weight as tested (with driver, passenger, and gear on board; partially filled tanks) ... front axle — 7,380 pounds; rear axle — 13,740 pounds; total — 21,120 pounds
Remaining payload ... 880 pounds
Frame construction ... Power Platform
Insulation ... beadboard
Fresh water capacity ... 80 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 58 gallons; black water — 42 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 75 gallons
Fuel requirements ... unleaded gasoline
Propane capacity ... 25 gallons
Water heater ... 10-gallon Atwood
Water system ... Shurflo high-output variable-speed demand pump
Furnace ... Hydro-Flame, (1) 34,000-Btu, (1) 20,000-Btu
Air conditioner ... Dometic roof-ducted high-efficiency units, (1) 13,500-Btu with solar battery charger, (1) 11,000-Btu
Refrigerator ... Dometic 12-cubic-foot, double stainless-steel doors, with ice maker
Toilet ... SeaLand china
Warranty ... chassis — 36 months/36,000 miles; coach — 12 months/15,000 miles
Base suggested retail price ... $135,639
Price as tested ... $138,180