As the moon coasted through the Oregon evergreens and the ever-present April storm clouds, the condensation from our breaths dissipated before our eyes while we huddled beneath the Girard remote-controlled power awning. The campfire warmed our hearts, but raindrops hissed as they dried and died on the fire ring's hot rocks.
From its expansive, one-piece windshield to its 525-horsepower Caterpillar C-13 engine, this luxurious motorhome crafted by Country Coach Inc. is easy to drive, easy to like, and easy on the eyes.
By Jim Brightly, Technical Editor
As the moon coasted through the Oregon evergreens and the ever-present April storm clouds, the condensation from our breaths dissipated before our eyes while we huddled beneath the Girard remote-controlled power awning. The campfire warmed our hearts, but raindrops hissed as they dried and died on the fire ring's hot rocks. With mosquitoes searching hungrily for unprotected skin, it was time to return to the warmth and protection of the Magna 630.
It was April, and my wife and I were spending several days aboard a Magna Monet, one of three 2005 floor plans available in the Magna 630 model, a high-line diesel pusher manufactured by Country Coach Inc. We were charged with examining the drivability, livability, and numerous features of this unit, which was outfitted with four slideouts. As we suspected, comfort and luxury abounded.
After thoroughly drowning the fire, I thought about retracting the awning as I packed our chairs in one of the huge basement storage bays, but I decided to leave it open (we wanted to eat breakfast beneath its canopy the next morning). Besides, the Girard's auto-retract feature would wind the awning in should the Oregon breezes become too brisk during the night.
While the winds didn't worsen overnight, the temperature did drop. In fact, the rain turned to snow at what looked to be only 500 feet above the Magna's 12-foot-10-inch roof. However, the Hydro-Hot hydronic system kept the coach's interior warm and toasty, and it provided what could be called an unlimited supply of hot water as well, although our test unit also was equipped with an electric 10-gallon Atwood water heater as a backup. (An exhaust pipe for the Hydro-Hot electric/diesel boiler is visible on the driver's side.)
Similar to a residential boiler-type heating system, the Hydro-Hot system can operate on 12-volt-DC or 120-volt-AC power, but it is not wired to operate via the inverter (it would deplete the house batteries too quickly, hence the backup Atwood water heater). Typically, the system operates on 3 to 4 amps while heating the coach and 9 to 11 amps whenever the diesel burner is in a burn cycle. It uses 1 to 4 gallons of diesel fuel per day for all of the coach's needs, but the system has no need to run continuously. (It is reported that the coach would have to be in subzero weather with hot water running nonstop for the heater to operate continuously.)
Country Coach Magna 630 interiorIf the adage "April showers bring May flowers" is correct, then Oregon must have been abloom with flowers this past May. April certainly was filled with showers. We enjoyed many highway miles in the Magna 630 before finding a spot between raindrops to photograph its streamlined, Euro-looking exterior above the Klamath River in northern California. Sitting behind the coach's large, wraparound windshield, we enjoyed what we could see of the Oregon landscape among the low-lying clouds.
Unfortunately, because of the low temperatures that required almost continuous use of the Hydro-Hot diesel boiler, the storms that buffeted the coach on the highway, and our having to use the Onan 12.5-kw diesel generator for power during the evenings, I couldn't absolutely nail down the Magna 630's fuel economy. I can say, however, that mileage fell within the 5- to 7-mile-per-gallon range. No doubt helping the coach's fuel economy was Country Coach's design application of the aforementioned Girard power awning. It disappears into the roofline, producing a completely new exterior contour for a more streamlined appearance and reducing wind drag at highway speeds.
The 2005 Magna 630 attains an excellent balance between performance and elegant luxury. Built on Country Coach's own DynoMax chassis, it is powered by a 525-horsepower Caterpillar C13 turbodiesel engine with ACERT technology. The engine produces 1,650 pound-feet of torque at 1,200 rpm. The motorhome glides over rough roads. When parked, a six-point, computer-assisted leveling system turns the coach into a stable highway home.
The coach's paint scheme is captivating, and now available in no less than 12 color combinations. As one reaches the entry door, the coach can be unlocked remotely (the entry door lock is equipped with a key, a digital keypad, and a remote control).
The Magna 630 features power seats with heat and massage.Let's step into the driver's seat for a moment. The Magna 630 features a completely redesigned burl-wood dash that's custom-contoured with an Ultraleather wrap. According to Country Coach officials, careful attention was paid to gauge placement and seating ergonomics in the cockpit. New instrument clusters are easy to read, and intuitive switches are clearly labeled. Adjustable throttle and brake pedals, power seats with heat and massage, a SilverLeaf digital engine monitor/travel information center, power sun visors, dual zone heating and cooling for driver and copilot, and side and rearview cameras with a concealable touch-screen monitor are all features that are intended to ease time spent behind the wheel. For those who seek a few extras, the OnStar in-vehicle safety and security system, a digital dash, a global positioning system (GPS), and a tire-monitoring system that senses heat and pressure levels while on the road are also available.
Lined up along the outside wall of the driver's seat, at armrest height, are several controls on a built-in ledge. The push-button shifter for the Allison six-speed automatic transmission is immediately behind a cup holder that's adjacent to the dashboard. Next is the parking brake control, then several rows of rocker switches covering such items as engine brake on-off and high-medium-low, window sun visors, etc.
The Magna's 18-inch Smart Wheel telescopes in and out and tilts up and down. Buttons on this steering wheel activate the cruise control, the windshield wiper and washer, the headlights when passing (and when indicating clearance for passing 18-wheelers), and the clearance lights to use when thanking drivers in passed vehicles. The buttons are located in both arms of the wheel. The large center pad on the wheel sounds the coach's air horns. In addition to being able to relocate the wheel for more comfortable driving, the driver can move the floor pedals forward and rearward electrically.
The electric pedal adjustment should help ease long-distance driving chores. For me, however, the brake pedal felt too wide and interfered slightly with my placing my right foot on the throttle pedal. If this should happen to you, you may find yourself using cruise control as often as possible. Note that the engine brake does not operate when the cruise control is turned on, even if it's not engaged. As mentioned previously, there is an on-off switch and a three-position rocker switch for retarding-level control.
I also noted that the headlight switch, on the dash to the left of the steering wheel column, and the dash heater/air-conditioner controls, to the right of the column, were difficult to see and use while driving.
I appreciated the fact that unlike many motorhomes, the dual mirrors on the Magna 630 are fully adjustable from the driver's seat. Both the convex wide-angle mirror and larger standard-view mirror (on each side) are adjustable. In addition, the coach is equipped with three backup cameras, one centered high on the rear cap and one on each side under the side-view mirrors. The cameras did get wet and foggy in the stormy weather we encountered.
Just to the right of the driver, on the flat top of the dash beneath the one-piece windshield, a vaguely triangular-shaped, shallow catch-all area with a burl-wood frame is quite accessible and handy for corralling cell phones, notepads, pens, etc.
Information center controlsDriving the Magna 630 is easy and definitely not the task one might believe it is when approaching this massive motorhome for the first time. Once the driver is at the helm, the 630 is very maneuverable, whether it's on the highway or backing into a campsite. The coach has a wheel cut of 55 degrees and a tag axle that can be lifted for slow-speed maneuvers. Country Coach has incorporated a safety feature into use of the tag axle: if the driver has lifted the tag to facilitate maneuvering around, say, the narrow roads of a campground and forgets momentarily that it is up, the tag will automatically drop back down and accept its weight load when a speed of 15 mph is reached.
A driver must remember that the 525-horsepower Cat engine is moving a significant amount of weight (in excess of 45,000 pounds), so he or she must be patient while the coach builds up speed. Once the motorhome is rolling down the highway, though, just set the cruise control, lean back, and relax — the Magna almost drives itself. (Country Coach officials note that since our test outing, Caterpillar has retrofitted the turbochargers on Cat C13 engines, which has resulted in a significant improvement to the engine's 0-to-10-mph start.)
An amusing thing happened the first time I pulled the coach onto the freeway. Initially I thought that the coach was absorbing a great deal of road vibration until I realized that after encountering a bump on the entrance ramp, the electric seat massager had turned on accidentally. Once I realized it was the seat, and not the coach, I turned off the massager. Smooth driving ensued. By the way, in addition to its 52,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), the Magna can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Plus the DVD GPS navigation system will keep the driver on track through the thickest of storm clouds.
As easy as the Magna 630 is to drive, Country Coach officials prefer that new owners receive a complete education on their motorhome when taking delivery, and I would heartily recommend it. The Magna is loaded with electronics, and it takes a few days to become acquainted with everything. We found that a three-day test, which included several hundred miles of highway driving, was not long enough to totally familiarize ourselves with all of the motorhome's systems and amenities. It's like acquiring a new computer: each time you learn a new feature, it feels like a whole new discovery. These discoveries will keep a new owner's life exciting for several days aboard the Magna. It's worth noting that Country Coach provides an informational DVD with each motorhome, which includes detailed instructions for operating various systems, appliances, etc. aboard the coach. The DVD is sectioned into chapters for concise access and correlates with the published user's guide.
The DynoMax semimonocoque chassis shell is forged from steel tubing. Each junction is welded, ensuring strength and durability. In addition, the semimonocoque architecture integrates the chassis and bay structures, dispersing the overall structural stress level throughout the chassis.
The Country Coach Magna has ample cargo space.Storage space is another important feature to motorhomers, and the Magna delivers. Its chassis provides a minimum of 165 cubic feet of cargo space. In the DynoMax chassis, the frame rails are positioned above the cargo area, resulting in total usability of the bays.
All of the fiberglass storage bays in our test coach were lighted, carpeted, and equipped with full-width roll-out storage tray systems, providing easier access to stored items. They also were equipped with remote-controlled electric locks.
All of the components included in the DynoMax chassis' dual-circuit pneumatic braking system with antilock brakes (ABS) and automatic traction control (ATC) — air compressor and governor, air dryer, reservoir tanks, treadle valve, regulation valves, relay valves, and brake chambers — work together to provide total braking control and confidence.
Any coach needs a good air brake system, but when slowing from highway speeds or traveling down steep grades, a Jacobs compression brake certainly enhances service brake operation. Aboard the Magna 630, this brake enabled me to maintain a steady, controlled speed on downgrades while minimizing the amount of service brake applications.
This chassis features heavy-duty ArvinMeritor drive and tag axles, and Toyo steel-belted radial tires. The Magna's independent front suspension (IFS) system prevents bumps, dips, and other roadway irregularities from being transmitted from one side of the coach to the other and virtually eliminates oversteer and understeer. Body sway and roll are further minimized with the large ipd antisway bar, which allows the suspension to travel freely while resisting all side-to-side changes in the axle-to-frame spacing. Other special features included with the IFS: double-wishbone suspension, large bus-style air bags, and Koni adjustable shocks.
Speaking of air suspension, with air springs on each wheel, the Magna's air-ride suspension absorbed the majority of the bumps and bounces, which made for a smooth ride. Once we arrived at our destination, the air springs interacted with the chassis' leveling system to level the coach.
Country Coach Magna 630 cabinets in galleyAvailable in 40-foot, 42-foot, and 45-foot lengths, and now featuring an 83-3/4-inch interior height, the Magna 630 is offered in modular slideout choices (two to four slides are available with each floor plan). The minimum of two slides are both mounted on the driver's side, with the third slide incorporating the curbside living room, and the fourth the curbside sink and dresser in the bedroom. The four-slide model that we tested offers 400 square feet of living space when fully open. The slides measure as follows: streetside living room, 12 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 8 inches; curbside galley, 13 feet 8 inches by 1 foot 8 inches; streetside bedroom, 7 feet 11 inches by 2 feet; curbside bedroom, 6 feet 6 inches by 1 foot 2 inches.
Seating arrangement options include sofa beds, Hide-A-Beds, reclining lounge chairs, and table-and-chair combinations (the latter can even be a computer station and chair). Our test coach was outfitted with a streetside Hide-A-Bed and an opposing sofa bed in the living area. The patented Hide-A-Bed unfolds outward and comes with an air mattress to make a queen-size bed. The sofa bed folds down flat to make a sleeping surface.
In addition to these choices, Country Coach offers buyers the opportunity to personalize their coaches with customized cabinetry alterations, textiles, fixtures, etc.
Here's an additional note about slideouts: Please don't panic if you see water on the floor when you close the slides during a rainstorm; just grab some paper towels and clean it up. Rest assured that it's runoff from the slideouts, not leaks. This happened to us during our test, no doubt due to the excessive rain we encountered. Country Coach officials note that this really only becomes an issue during heavy rains or after a coach wash. They recommend that the slideout be retracted slowly in heavy rain. In addition, the user's guide suggests that the slide be brought in with a series of short movements to avoid pressure buildup of water at the seals. A wiper blade removes leaves and/or water buildup on the roof of the slideout, and in heavy rains, if the slideout is retracted too rapidly, the water runoff may overrun the blade's capacity.
Country Coach has provided as many power amenities as possible within this price range, and I've already covered a number of the standard items, most of which are outside the coach. However, inside, in addition to the power sun visors and power windshield curtain, you'll find power shades on all the double-paned windows (except for the small window over the galley sink). Once you learn which switch operates which shade, the shades are convenient and quick to use. In the bedroom, we would have preferred that the shade switches be positioned near the bed rather than near the pocket door that separates the bedroom from the bathroom area, particularly the switch that operates the shade on the streetside bedroom slideout. That way if you hear a noise while you are in bed, you wouldn't have to get up in order to access the switch.
Magna 630 bedroom: Imperial Arch headboard and custom windowBefore we leave the bedroom on our impromptu tour, I want to mention the digitally locked safe and the mini ironing board, both of which are mounted in the closet on the back wall of the bedroom. The bedroom also features an Imperial Arch headboard along with custom window and bed dressings in one of six available schemes (customers can design their own, too, if desired).
It is evident that Country Coach designers have paid great attention to detail in the Magna 630. Artistic ceiling consoles in the bedroom and living room house lighting and venting without looking like they do so.
Walking forward from the bedroom, you'll step through the nicely sized bath area, and your shoulder will brush by the etched-glass-and-chrome shower enclosure. Within the curbside water closet is an electrically operated china toilet, as well as a small sink. (As noted earlier, a second sink is located in the vanity area of the bedroom, in the curbside slideout.)
Continue walking forward from the bathroom and you'll encounter the galley, where gourmet gastronomic works of art can be created on the two-burner stovetop or in the GE Advantium Speedcook oven. Or one can simply heat some instant oatmeal for breakfast or prepare a bag of popcorn for a snack. The stove and double sink are both mounted in a semicircular simulated stone countertop with a detailed tile backsplash. Immediately across the galley aisle is the residential-size, double-door Amana 21.6-cubic-foot refrigerator with ice maker.
When it comes to entertainment, the 630 offers many appealing amenities. While the coach is in motion or during stationary living, the Panasonic sound system with XM/FM/AM and a six-CD jukebox with touch-screen controls provides beautiful music or entertaining talk shows (XM Satellite Radio offers more than 100 channels coast-to-coast, many of which feature commercial-free music). A fully integrated home theater system is high-definition-ready. One universal remote interfaces the 32-inch LCD high-definition TV, the VCR, the Integra home theater system with DVD (which also plays CDs), and the 20-inch LCD bedroom TV. For those seeking the really big picture, an optional 68-inch digital projection cinema package is available.
Other features of note in the Magna 630 include a water filtration system, a burglar alarm with keyless entry, a 3,000-watt solid-state inverter, and climate control with an auto-generator-start feature to keep the coach temperature consistent while the owner is away.
While the list of extras isn't long, in-motion satellite, dual directional roll-out storage trays, an exterior entertainment center, sculpted carpet, and a custom interior package are available add-ons.
Oh, by the way, we did enjoy breakfast under the awning the next morning. The weather was nippy and rainy, but the awning kept us dry. Breakfast among the pines is one of the reasons we love RVing.
Manufacturer ... Country Coach Inc., 135 E. First Ave., Junction City, OR 97448; (800) 654-0223; www.countrycoach.com
Model ... Magna 630
Floor plan ... Monet 42-foot, quad-slide
Chassis ... DynoMax
Engine ... Caterpillar C13, 12.5-liter in-line six-cylinder, 525 horsepower at 2,100 rpm, 1,650 pound-feet torque at 1,200 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 4000 MH six-speed with overdrive and power takeoff
Axle ratio ... 4.30 to 1
Tires ... Toyo steel-belted radials; front — 315/80R 22.5; rear and tag — 315/12R 22.5
Wheelbase ... 265 inches
Brakes ... full air with antilock (ABS) and auto-slack adjusters; front — 17 x 1.75 disc; rear — 14.5 x 10; tag — 16.5 x 7
Suspension ... front — independent with double wishbone construction and full air-bag suspension, ipd antisway bar, and Koni adjustable shock absorbers; rear and tag — Ridewell air-bag suspension and Koni adjustable shock absorbers
Alternator ... 270 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (2) HD 8DS; house — (4) AGM deep-cycle
Steering ... fully integrated full-time hydraulic-assist with tilt and telescoping wheel
Inverter ... Xantrex Prosine 3,000-watt solid-state true sine inverter with 130-amp convertor and 15-amp chassis battery charger
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Auxiliary generator ... Onan 12.5-kw liquid-cooled diesel
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 10 inches (including roof air)
Interior height ... 83-3/4 inches
Exterior length ... 42 feet
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 62,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 52,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 18,000 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds; tag — 14,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 15,200 pounds; rear — 19,380 pounds; tag — 10,060 pounds; total — 44,640 pounds
Payload ... 7,360 pounds
Frame construction ... tube steel cage, vacuum-bonded walls and floor
Insulation ... expanded polystyrene in walls and floor; R-20 value for roof
Fresh water capacity ... 102 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 50 gallons; black water — 50 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 150 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 13 gallons
Water heater ... (2) Hydro-Hot hydronic system with electric Atwood 10-gallon backup
Water delivery system ... demand
Furnace ... Hydro-Hot hydronic system — 45,000 Btu
Air conditioners ... (3) 15,000 Btu with heat pumps
Refrigerator ... Amana 21.6-cubic-foot double door with freezer and ice maker
Toilet ... china with electric assist
Coach warranty ... two years with unlimited mileage
Base price ... $536,760
Price as tested ... $582,872