This 40-foot, four-slideout motorhome from Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. makes room for living on the road in style.
By Jim Brightly
For 2004, Tiffin Motorhomes has added an attractive new floor plan to its popular Allegro Bus line: the new 40 QDP. Built on a Freightliner XC-Series chassis, this very comfortable 40-foot diesel pusher boasts striking graphics, four roomy slideouts, and plenty of power. But its size is misleading if you think it is tough to drive. Conducting a recent test outing in this unit, I found that it handles more like a 30-footer. And, once you park it, its ample space is definitely a plus for camping.
Actually, how can you call it "camping" when you're in this luxurious, multiple-slideout coach? Perhaps in this case, I should use the term "living." While stopped in the 40 QDP for an extended period, my wife and I felt as though we were residing in a small apartment rather than camping in a large motorhome. And we could drive our apartment to the grocery store instead of driving the groceries to our apartment.
Allegro Bus 40 QDP interiorLet's start our tour of this coach's 400 square feet of living space at the cab area. Both captains chairs have electric six-way controls (forward and back, up and down, etc.), and they both swivel and recline for use while the motorhome is stationary. The navigator's chair is far enough back that it can be reclined and used comfortably to watch the 27-inch flat-screen television, especially when the powered footrest is raised. Aft of the driving area on the street side is a slideout that measures 11½ long and 2½ feet wide; it contains a 74-inch easy-pull sofa bed and a 6-foot dinette booth that makes into a bed.
Immediately aft of the dinette is the coach's standard four-door Norcold refrigerator with ice maker. Adjacent to the fridge is a pocket door that divides the 41-inch-wide shower from the living room; another pocket door seals the bathing area from the bedroom.
In the bedroom, the head of the queen-size bed, along with a shirt closet and drawers, is in a streetside slideout that is 7 feet 9 inches long and 2 feet wide. Across from it is another slideout that contains a 20-inch flat-screen television and a vanity that includes a sink and multiple mirrors; the slide is 7 feet long and 1½ feet wide. A cedar-lined, ceiling-high closet stretches across the rear wall of the coach. An optional washer-dryer combination can be installed just to the left of the closet.
Now, as we move forward through the pocket door, again on the curb side of the coach, we find the water closet, which includes another sink and the toilet. If you wish, the water closet door also can be used to open up the bathing area while separating this part of the coach from the living area. Through the forward pocket door, we immediately find a pantry (directly across the aisle from the refrigerator) equipped with containers that slide out for easy access.
Allegro Bus 40 QDP galleyNext along the curb side of the galley is a double stainless-steel sink with a single-lever gooseneck faucet that can be pulled out for use as a hand sprayer. Just to the left of the sink, a two-burner stovetop is recessed into the countertop. (A slide-in oven with a three-burner cooktop is optional.) Both the sink and stovetop can be covered with matching solid countertop covers.
Just forward of the galley is another easy-pull sofa bed. This one is 5 feet 2 inches long, so it will have to be reserved for children or small adults. The sofa bed and galley, excluding the pantry, all are situated in a slideout that measures 11½ by 1½ feet.
The combination of abundant counter space, fashionable wood finishes, handsome floor treatments (both porcelain tile and carpet), and attractive brushed-satin nickel fixtures and knobs makes for a very nice package as far as creature comforts are concerned. And the dining room ceiling light fixture matches the wall-mounted light sconces.
My test coach was equipped with the optional Hydro-Hot hydronic heat system, which is similar to a residential boiler-type heating system. An exhaust pipe for the Hydro-Hot electric/diesel boiler is visible about halfway back on the driver's side of the unit. The Hydro-Hot system can operate on 12-volt DC or 120-volt AC but is not wired to operate via the inverter (it would deplete the house batteries too quickly). In addition to heating the motorhome, the Hydro-Hot provides hot water for use in the galley and bathroom and thus eliminates the need for a separate water heater — in fact, the hot water supply could be said to be virtually inexhaustible. The system operates on 3 to 4 amps while heating the coach, and uses 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 it does not need to run continuously. It is reported that the coach would have to be in subzero weather with hot water running non-stop for the heater to operate continuously.
When not equipped with the Hydro-Hot option, the 40 QDP Allegro Bus has a 10-gallon DSI propane/electric water heater and is warmed by two ducted furnaces — one rated at 42,000 Btu and the other at 20,000 Btu.
Allegro Bus 40 QDP counter spaceAlthough it was not installed at the time of our road test, the Allegro Bus had the optional state-of-the-art personal computer system, the Tiffin PC system. The computer is equipped with Microsoft XP Home Edition operating software and a 15-inch flat-screen monitor. It comes with word processing, spreadsheet, graphics, information management, and Internet interfacing software, as well as CoPilot GPS navigation System hardware and software. It uses a Pentium 4 motherboard featuring an Intel Celeron 1.7 GHz microprocessor, has 256 MB of RAM, six USB ports, one VGA connection, one printer connection, PS2 connections for keyboard and mouse, a telephone jack, and speaker connections. In addition, an infrared detector is provided for the wireless keyboard. The computer is installed in the center of the dash between the driver and passenger.
Yet another high-tech option available on this coach is a dome dish for satellite TV. The dish is mounted, wired, and ready for use once the coach owner establishes a satellite TV account.
The three risers in the door stairwell are lined with polished aluminum diamond plate for long-term protection against the elements and heavy-footed passengers. An air-driven electric step cover can be controlled by either the driver or passenger via switches located on both sides of the cockpit. In our test coach, the cover slid over the stairwell slowly when it is being closed, but it opened with a whoosh and a thump. According to Tiffin officials, the air adjustment apparently had not yet been performed on the coach steps; the opening and closing speed is something that can be modified.
When you belt yourself into the driver's seat of the Allegro Bus QDP, you'll first notice the ultramodern white-faced circular gauges, which are visible through the Smart Wheel steering wheel. All the necessary information that makes driving a 400-horsepower diesel pusher a joy is presented in an easily read format and layout. The Smart Wheel features cruise control buttons, wiper and washer buttons, and buttons to flash the headlights and clearance lights (when passing and thanking drivers of passed vehicles). These buttons are located in both arms of the wheel. A large center pad on the wheel controls the motorhome's distinctive air horns. Drivers are able to adjust the steering wheel to their liking by telescoping in and out and tilting up and down. In addition, the pedals move forward and rearward electrically so the driver can set them to suit his or her needs. Along with the power seat, the accommodations altogether make the pilot's "office" a comfy spot. It can't get much better without hiring a chauffeur.
Lined up to the driver's left, at armrest height, is a built-in ledge with several controls. The push-button shifter for the Allison six-speed automatic transmission is forward, adjacent to the dashboard; next is the parking brake control; then come three rows of four rocker switches each. The latter include such items as engine brake off/on and high/low, window sun visors, etc. Last is the control for the HWH automatic leveling jacks.
Once you've familiarized yourself with all the controls, you'll want to kick that 400-horsepower Cummins ISL engine over. The 400-horsepower power plant is optional on the 40 QDP; it comes standard with a 350-horsepower Cummins ISC. (The 2005 Allegro Bus will have the 400-horsepower Cummins engine as standard equipment.) After you turn over the engine, adjust the outside mirrors with the remote switch. The convex portions on the bottom of the heated side mirrors don't move remotely; you'll have to physically adjust them by hand. Now, let the Cummins idle while it heats up and the air pressure becomes sufficient; press the service brake; touch the transmission shifter; push off the parking brake; and you're ready for the road.
Unlike many motorhomes with a slideout directly behind the pilot's chair, the Allegro Bus has more than enough room for the largest driver. This test driver is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and I had more than enough space. In fact, I would estimate that an all-state center would be comfortable driving this vehicle.
At first blush, a 40-foot motorhome doesn't seem to be your typical byway touring coach or "blue-line special" (i.e., ready to drive on the small rural roads commonly called blue lines on maps). However, we were quite comfortable motoring down several two-lane roads in Arizona in the Allegro Bus. Multilane freeways were also well worth the trip. Just pull into the traffic lane, set the cruise control, and sit back and steer.
I would suggest that the backup monitor be repositioned; a person of shorter stature may have trouble seeing it. It's also a bit small.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Allegro Bus, with its dual-speed engine brake, although I never had to use the higher setting. On one of Arizona's two-lane blacktop roads, I coasted down an 8 percent grade with the engine brake on the lower setting and the Allison transmission in second and third gears, and never had to touch the service brakes.
I used 83.5 gallons of diesel fuel on the 680-mile test, achieving approximately 8.1 mpg. The dual fuel fills — one on each side of the coach — really ease the planning when you're approaching a fuel pump. With a 150-gallon fuel tank and 8.1 mpg, the Allegro Bus has an approximate range of 1,200 miles between fuel stops.
While climbing hills in the coach, a 6 percent grade would slow it down to 50 mph, while a 5 percent grade would slow it down to only 55 mph. On all other lesser grades, the coach was able to maintain 65 mph.
As noted, while on the highway this coach drives smaller than it looks; however, it is still a 40-foot-long wide-body motorhome when you try to slip it into a campsite. As with other 40-footers, you'll need to "square" the corners while you're driving, which means traveling farther into an intersection before starting the turn, especially a right turn, and then swinging the steering wheel as quickly as possible. This avoids rolling the right rear tire over the corner curb. Once you learn these maneuvers, you'll enjoy putting many miles on your Allegro Bus.
Overall, this motorhome offers plenty of room for passengers while traveling, even with the slideouts retracted. Other than covering up a few cabinets, the slideouts don't interfere with passenger comfort when they are closed.
The base suggested retail price of the 40 QDP is $239,960. My test coach came to $261,476 with the following options: 400-horsepower Cummins engine; Hydro-Hot heating system; automatic satellite dish; Tiffin computer/navigation system.
With its distinctive graphics and overall attractive appeal, our test vehicle garnered a great deal of attention wherever we stopped. If you're traveling in an Allegro Bus, be prepared to meet a lot of new people.
Manufacturer … Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., 105 Second St. N.W., Red Bay, AL 35582; (256) 356-8661; www.tiffinmotorhomes.com
Model ... Allegro Bus
Floor plan ... 40 QDP
Chassis ... Freightliner XC-Series
Engine ... Cummins ISL, 400 horsepower @ 2,000 rpm, 1,200 pound-feet torque at 1,300 rpm — optional; Cummins ISC, 350 horsepower @ 2,000 rpm, 1,050 pound-feet torque @ 1,400 rpm — standard
Transmission ... Allison MH 3000 six-speed
Axle ratio ... 4.63 to 1
Tires ... Michelin 275/80R 22.5
Wheelbase ... 276 inches
Brakes ... full air brakes with automatic slack adjusters and antilock braking system (ABS)
Suspension ... Four-bag air suspension
Steering ... 50-degree bell crank design
Alternator ... 160-amp, Leece-Neville
Batteries ... chassis — (2) 760 cca; house — (4) 120-amp deep-cycle
Inverter ... Xantrex, 2,000-watt
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Auxiliary generator ... 7.5-kw Onan Quiet diesel
Exterior length ... 40 feet 6 inches
Exterior width ... 101 inches
Interior height ... 6 feet 8 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 6 inches (with roof satellite dish)
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 (provided by company) ... front axle — 10,480 pounds; rear axle — 18,100 pounds; total — 28,780 pounds
Payload (provided by company) ... 2,220 pounds
Frame construction ... steel/aluminum reinforced sidewalls and roof
Insulation ... 2-inch block foam; argon-filled dual-pane windows
Fresh water capacity ... 90 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 70 gallons; black water — 35 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 150 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 35 gallons
Water heater ... Hydro-Hot, continuous unlimited capacity
Heating system ... Hydro-Hot dual zone — 50,000 Btu on diesel, 5,645 Btu on 120-volt
Water system ... demand
Air conditioner ... (2) 15,000-Btu with 11,000-Btu heat pump
Refrigerator ... four-door, two-way Norcold with ice maker
Toilet ... ceramic with electric flush
Warranty ... coach — 1 year; lamination — 5 years; unitized construction — 10 years; chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles; engine — 5 years/100,000 miles; transmission — 5 years/unlimited miles
Base suggested retail price ... $239,960
Price as tested ... $261,476