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Holiday Rambler's 45-foot, triple-slideout Navigator leads the way in luxurious living on the road.

By Lazelle D. Jones
September 2003

It's pleasing to the eye, elegantly appointed, and its cavernous interior reflects the maximum amount of livability that can be coaxed from a triple-slideout motorhome. It's the 2004 Navigator.

Holiday Rambler, a division of Monaco Coach Corporation, is celebrating 50 years in the RV industry by offering the quintessential luxury motorhome. The Navigator's performance package and long list of standard features and options give high-line coach enthusiasts something to celebrate, too. I learned this for myself when I took a 45-foot Navigator on a weeklong test outing this past May.

The 2004 Navigator is available in 10 floor plans and in lengths that vary from 38 feet 10 inches to 45 feet. All of them have an exterior width of 100.5 inches and an interior width of 96 inches. I reviewed the 45 PBT, a 45-footer with three slideouts.

The streetside slideout that encompasses the sleeper sofa and dinette is 153.5 inches long and 31.5 inches deep. An opposing slideout on the curb side encompasses a J-shaped sofa as well as the galley stove and sink area; it is 176 inches long and 19 inches deep. When both of these slideouts are extended, the living and galley area measures 12 feet 2.5 inches wide.

The rear bedroom slideout encompasses the head of the queen-size bed, the nightstands that flank it, and a closet that hangs above one nightstand. This slideout measures 106 inches long and 23 inches deep.

My test coach was equipped with a Cummins ISM 500-horsepower turbodiesel engine with a two-stage Jacobs Engine Brake and a side-mounted radiator. This engine develops 1,550 pound-feet of torque when married to an Allison MH 4000 six-speed transmission. A Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine is available as an option; it has a rating of 500 horsepower and 1,650 pound-feet of torque.

Each Navigator is constructed on Monaco's own Roadmaster S-Series chassis, which has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 47,600 pounds and a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 57,600 pounds. With 100 gallons of water and 150 gallons of fuel on board, my test coach weighed 39,420 pounds. It's amazing to consider that this coach boasted more than 8,000 pounds of cargo-carrying capacity.

The Roadmaster S-Series chassis is designed to accommodate the needs of any kind of RV lifestyle. Its entire carrying capacity is impressive. The gross axle weight rating (GAWR) on the front axle is 14,600 pounds, and the actual weight of the front axle when tested with fuel and water on board was 13,420 pounds. The GAWR of the drive axle is 23,000 pounds, and its as-tested weight was 19,580 pounds. The tag axle's GAWR is listed at 10,000 pounds, and its actual weight was 6,420 pounds.

Of course, all of this capacity means very little unless coach owners have ample storage room to accommodate their equipment and supplies. The Navigator's exterior storage bays offer massive amounts of space. To facilitate access to this storage space, an electrically powered cargo tray is available as an option.

Navigator interiorDriving the 45 PBT is a pleasant experience. It yields an exceptionally smooth ride, even on the tortured surfaces that lace some stretches of Interstate 5 in Southern California. This can be attributed in part to the 10 large air bags (eight of which are outboard-mounted) that make up the air ride system, and the 10 Bilstein shocks that have been tuned specifically for this suspension. Road and wind noise were essentially nonexistent, too.

Granted, 45 feet makes for a very large coach, but this one was easy to navigate — it lives up to its name. For one, outside visibility is superb. Each exterior side mirror consists of three power-adjustable sections. After you select which mirror(s) you want to adjust (passenger's side, driver's side, or both), a separate switch lets you toggle the mirrors, from top to bottom, on either side and then adjust them accordingly.

My test coach featured Holiday Rambler's optional SEE-Vision video monitoring system. When the coach's turn signal is actuated, a directional arrow lights up on the center mirror section. If the driver desires, the turn signal also can activate a video camera situated at the bottom of each side mirror; these cameras provide views of the sides of the coach, which are displayed on the dash monitor. The video cameras can be used whenever needed, not just when the turn signal is on. Thus, you can use the exterior side cameras to look down the right and left sides of the coach, and the rear camera to check on your towed car, any time you wish. The camera views are displayed not only on the dash monitor but also on a second video monitor in the rear bedroom. So, without leaving your bed, you can throw on the docking lights, check the view at the sides or the rear of the coach, and see what's going on outside.

In addition to good visibility, other features enhance the operation of this coach. As with other motorhomes, the Navigator's parking brake automatically is set when the engine is turned off. In addition, the same pull control for the parking brake can be used to bring about an emergency stop should all else fail. However, the Navigator's emergency stop function does not lock up the wheels. I tested it myself while traveling 40 mph. The coach gradually slowed to a complete stop, but the wheels did not lock up, and I remained in control of the vehicle. What a great feature.

The Navigator is equipped with front disc brakes, and its drive axle and tag axle have air drum brakes. An antilock braking system (ABS) is incorporated into all the brakes, including the tag axle brakes. Control during braking is the big dividend.

The foot brake and accelerator pedals are adjustable via a switch on the control panel to the left of the driver. The Jacobs Engine Brake can be toggled on and off from this same panel; when it's in the "on" position, another switch can set it for either "high" or "low" engine braking. The "low" brake position is equivalent to having three of the engine cylinders being acted upon by the Jacobs brake. The "high" setting means that all six cylinders are affected by the engine brake.

ShowerThe driver can raise the tag axle to prevent undue wear on the axle's tires when making tight turns. An audible alarm sounds while the tag axle is raised, so the driver doesn't forget to lower it after the turn. If the vehicle's speed exceeds 25 mph, however, and the driver has not lowered the tag axle, the coach's electronics automatically lower it. An automatic traction control switch allows the drive axle to be locked temporarily into a positive traction configuration that helps one negotiate slick roads (also a nice safety feature).

The windshield consists of a single piece of glass; it has no center post. This improves visibility from the cockpit and enhances the coach's visual appeal. Power sun visors block the sun near the driver and passenger. The driver can control both shades, and the passenger has a set of controls for his or her side.

Behind the passenger's seat is the electric push-button control for the privacy curtains that cover the windshield.

Both the driver's seat and the extra-wide passenger's seat are electrically adjustable.

As one would expect in a luxury motorhome, the stairwell cover is electrically powered. In addition, Holiday Rambler has done a first-rate job in creating a computer workstation that is designed into the passenger side of the dash. It consists of solid oak and is mounted on scissors-type hinges that permit it to be lifted up and pulled toward the passenger's seat for use. An odds-and-ends drawer is situated below it.

The Navigator is available with the OnStar mobile assistance system as an option. Users push a button to automatically dial an OnStar operator, who is capable of identifying the motorhome's location using global positioning system (GPS) satellite technology. He or she can alert emergency personnel if help is needed, answer questions about the location of the nearest campground, arrange roadside assistance, and more. What a great idea for a motorhome.

Two more high-tech options available on the Navigator are a Sirius satellite radio receiver and the Eaton Vorad Collision Warning system. The collision monitoring system tracks potential driving hazards (even on curves) and adjusts coach speed accordingly. For example, it changes the speed of the coach if it senses that slower vehicles are in front of it.

Monaco's own Aladdin video coach monitoring system is included in the Navigator. It displays all tank levels and performance data (engine functions, compass readings, interior and exterior temperatures), which can be viewed on the monitor or on the coach televisions. A joystick-type control to the left of the driver permits the operator to select and scroll through the data choices offered.

One monitoring feature ensures that tank level indications are accurate in the Navigator. Through the use of pressure sensors located below the fluid levels in the tanks, the weight of the fluid is converted electronically into a corresponding fluid level and then registered in the coach monitoring system.

All three slideout rooms feature electrically powered mechanisms and topper awnings. The slideouts cannot be extended unless the engine ignition switch is in the "off" position — a good safety feature. To operate the slideouts, first check for clearance on the sides of the coach, and press a control switch (one toggle switch per slide). After the slideouts are extended, the leveling system can be tweaked to make the coach level.

My test coach was equipped with the optional dual leveling systems — air and hydraulic. I took advantage of the air levelers while refueling the coach at one station that had an irregular concrete surface. I filled the tank until the pump automatically stopped, and then set the coach at level. The tank took another 25 gallons.

Navigator interiorAll of the fine craftsmanship that Monaco offers has been brought to bear in creating the Navigator's cabinetry and woodwork. This particular coach featured natural cherry, but five other types of woods and wood finishes also are available. A special mahogany-stained cherry wood is offered in the 50th Anniversary Edition Navigator. Interior coach color schemes are 50th Anniversary Golden Dream, Silk Road, Butter Rum, Cognac, and Napa Onyx.

Sculptured designs of different textures and tones of fabrics are used to create the frames that surround the dual-pane windows. Sculptured carpet adorns the living area floor, and tile appears in the galley, the center-aisle bath, and the forward entry area, which extends from the stairwell to the floor beneath the driver's feet. Accordion-pleated day-night shades cover every window, with the exception of the ones in the galley and bathroom, which feature mini-blinds.

With the standard 3,000-watt inverter and the house battery pack (four 6-volt deep-cycle batteries), nearly everything in the coach that uses 110-volt AC power can be operated by the house batteries. This includes the refrigerator-freezer with ice maker. The only exceptions are the three centrally ducted roof air conditioners with heat pumps. The 10-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel generator has an auto-start feature that is engaged if it senses a low level in the coach batteries.

The Navigator test coach had optional Girard automatic awnings, all controlled by electric pads inside the coach. The front door and patio awnings are protected by a wind sensor that retracts them before the wind exceeds a set velocity, and also can be run by remote control.

The coach entry door and bay doors can be locked and unlocked using a remote function on the key fob, or by using a combination touch pad located outside the main entry door.

So what were my criticisms with the 2004 Navigator? There were only two. The first pertains to the optional 42-inch plasma television that lowers from the cockpit-area ceiling. When the TV is in the vertical (viewable) position, it becomes a potential head hazard for folks entering the coach at the stairwell.

My second critique item involves the light above the head of the queen-size bed. The light is operated by a single switch, and once the bed is retracted, one must crawl over the bed to turn the light on or off. Dual switches are used on other interior lights, and I suggest that this one be added to the list.

The base suggested retail price of the 45 PBT Navigator is $406,364. The as-tested price was approximately $450,300 with the following major options: air and hydraulic leveling; VDO GPS system; Aqua-Hot heating system; 42-inch plasma television; Girard automatic patio awning and front door awning; window awnings; combination washer-dryer; solar battery charger; power cord reel; power water hose reel; SEE-Vision system; GE residential refrigerator.

So, how much more sophisticated can a motorhome be? That's a good question, and one that Holiday Rambler is probably already working to answer.


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer … Holiday Rambler by Monaco Coach Corporation, 91320 Coburg Industrial Way, Coburg, OR 97408; (800) 245-4778; www.holidayrambler.com
Model ... Holiday Rambler Navigator
Floor plan ... 45 PBT
Chassis ... Roadmaster S-Series by Monaco Coach Corporation
Engine ... Cummins ISM, 500 horsepower, 1,550 pound-feet @ 1,200 rpm; Detroit Diesel Series 60, optional (500 horsepower, 1,650 pound-feet @ 1,200 rpm)
Transmission ... Allison 4000 MH electronic six-speed with two-stage Jacobs Engine Brake
Axle ratio ... 4.30 to 1
Tires ... 295/80R 22.5 H
Wheelbase ... 283.5 inches
Brakes ... full air, six-wheel ABS with front disc brakes and rear drum brakes
Suspension ... Roadmaster Cushion Air-Glide with 10 mounted air bags and 10 Bilstein shock absorbers (8 bags and shocks outboard-mounted)
Alternator ... 200 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (2) 31D; house — (4) 6-volt
Steering ... TRW
Inverter ... 3,000 watts with remote start
Electrical service ... 50 amps, 120-volt/240-volt distribution panel
Auxiliary generator ... 10-kw Onan Quiet Diesel on power slideout with auxiliary start switch
Exterior length ... 45 feet
Exterior width ... 100.5 inches
Interior height ... 6 feet 7 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet (including roof air conditioner)
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 57,600 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 47,600 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 14,600 pounds; rear — 23,000 pounds; tag — 10,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front axle — 13,420 pounds; rear axle — 19,580 pounds; tag axle — 6,420 pounds; total — 39,420 pounds
Payload ... 8,180 pounds
Frame construction ... tubular steel framework with laminated, Vac-U-Bonded construction; eight-layer roof, six-layer walls
Insulation ... foam and vapor barrier
Fresh water capacity ... 100 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 60 gallons; black water — 40 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 150 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 38 gallons
Water heater ... 10-gallon LP gas-electric with electronic ignition
Water system ... electric pump, Manabloc
Furnace ... 42,000-Btu forced air, ducted
Air conditioner ... (3) 13,500-Btu ducted roof units with heat pumps
Refrigerator ... GE residential refrigerator, optional; Norcold 4-door with ice maker (two-way), standard
Toilet ... china, Opus
Warranty ... chassis — 3-year/36,000-mile limited warranty; coach — 1-year/24,000-mile basic limited warranty; 5-year/50,000-mile limited warranty on aluminum or steel frame structure of sidewall, roof, front and rear cap
Base suggested retail price ... $406,364
Price as tested ... approximately $450,300

 



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