This double-slideout diesel motorhome by Alfa Leisure Inc. was created for RVers who like luxurious basics.
By Lazelle Jones
Alfa See Ya Founder EditionThe Alfa See Ya Founder Edition pushes the envelope when it comes to quality and value. Especially since its price tag — approximately $165,000 — includes everything one would expect in a well-appointed, yet no-frills, motorhome. I made these discoveries during a recent livability review of this newest diesel-pusher model from Alfa Leisure.
The Founder Edition is the creation of John C. Crean, now retired, who established Fleetwood RV more than 40 years ago. His son, Johnnie, is founder and CEO of Alfa Leisure Inc., which entered the motorhome market a few years ago with the Alfa See Ya diesel-powered motor coach. John suggested that his son's company add a motorhome that was scaled down and designed for those who prefer a simpler, quieter lifestyle.
"My son and I have two different ideas about RVing. He prefers complicated gadgets to run everything as well as keeping him in touch with the outside world. I prefer a simpler lifestyle …" John Crean states in a letter published in Alfa Leisure's literature and on the company's Web site. Based upon his preferences, John took the Alfa See Ya and retained, augmented, or changed several of its appointments and features. He kept those he already liked, such as the 7-foot-6-inch overall interior ceiling height and the 6-foot-2-inch ceiling height in the 42-inch-deep living area slideout — not to mention the full-size closet and the Freightliner chassis.
But some things were sacrificed for simplicity's sake. “The Founder is scaled down for someone like me who doesn't want a lot of gadgets and stuff,” John explained. As such, the Founder features simpler electronics, and fewer of them. Two televisions are plenty, in John's opinion (as opposed to the four in the See Ya and See Ya Gold models), so that is how many the Founder Edition contains.
The Founder Edition also includes cavernous interior and exterior storage space that can be customized the way the owner would like. The coach's 22-cubic-foot residential-size refrigerator also was John's idea, because it's "bigger and holds more groceries …." The bottom line is that for John, as it is with many motorhome enthusiasts who have similar tastes, a less-complicated luxury diesel motorhome is preferable — but it still must have the amenities associated with upscale motorhoming.
The materials used in this coach are easy to care for, such as woven fabric surfaces and a faux-leather fabric that is luxurious in appearance and comfortable to the touch yet easily maintained. However, a Euro recliner and matching ottoman covered in real leather are standard. Instead of ceramic tile in the galley and center-aisle bath, the Founder contains a high-quality vinyl look-alike that is difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
The Founder is offered in one floor plan. It measures 37 feet 11 inches long and 102 inches wide, and it has two slideouts (one contains the sofa and dinette; the other holds a curbside wardrobe in the rear bedroom). As with all Alfa Leisure motor coaches, the 7-foot-6-inch interior ceiling leaves clearance sufficient to accommodate even the tallest of basketball players. And it doesn’t end there. As noted earlier, the ceiling inside the front slideout is a full 6 feet 2 inches high.
Alfa See Ya Founder Edition interiorThis coach has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 29,500 pounds. With the test unit full of fuel (90 gallons), fresh water (100 gallons), and LP gas (25 gallons), its as-tested weight came to 24,720 pounds. This left another 4,780 pounds for cargo. For everyone, especially full-timers, that’s great news. The actual front axle weight was 8,780 pounds, well below the front axle rating of 10,500 pounds. And the rear axle weight (15,840 pounds) was well below its weight rating of 19,000 pounds. Good job, Alfa Leisure.
The coach is rated to tow another 10,000 pounds — which covers just about anything an RV enthusiast would want to take along. And it comes standard with a Class IV hitch receiver and a seven-pin wiring harness with plug.
The Founder is equipped with a 300-horsepower Caterpillar C7 turbocharged diesel engine that develops 860 pound-feet of torque. The coach has plenty of zip and pickup, whether you're traveling from zero to 65 mph, "punching it" to pass other vehicles, or climbing hills. Its road manners are quite good. I noticed this especially when traveling over a stretch of interstate that consisted of a series of rough, abutting slabs of concrete — noisy stuff. The Founder was exceptionally quiet as the Neway air suspension intercepted and mitigated issues associated with the irregular road surface. Overall, the handling and performance characteristics were what one would expect from a luxury diesel coach: excellent.
Visibility is good, not only via the massive windshield, which has a minimal-sized center post, but through the power-adjustable side mirror system and the rear video camera.
The electric front visor system is a real plus. It’s a single non-translucent shade that spans the entire width of the windshield. Not only can it be articulated to reduce glare while driving or to provide shade, but once a campsite is reached, it can be fully lowered to function as one of the best blackout/privacy shades I have seen to date. The side shades (near the driver and passenger seats) also are total-blackout shades, and they can be manually lowered and raised as needed.
The coach's cockpit includes a power-adjustable pilot seat (the passenger's seat adjusts manually), and the telescoping and tilting steering wheel means the controls can be tailored as needed to each driver’s requirements. The faux burl wood inlay in the dash and the center console is elegant as well as practical.
Even with the front slideout retracted, this coach has sufficient room in which to live comfortably. Simply put, the interior (even when ready for travel) feels spacious. It's not necessary to open the slideout at a rest stop just to enjoy a break or a short nap while en route to a destination.
Alfa See Ya Founder EditionTwo elements of this coach that contribute to improved livability are especially worth noting. One is the rear queen bed. The head of the bed is positioned against the rear wall of the coach and is stationary. Even with the wardrobe retracted for travel, the queen bed remains an island-style configuration, which means that you can always move around the foot of the bed and never have to climb over it.
Another clever aspect has to do with the floor-to-ceiling pantry, located aft of the dinette/sofa slideout. It's accessible through two different sets of doors. Doors dressed with decorative mirror can be used only when the slideout is extended, while the doors that face the galley are always available.
As already noted, a true residential refrigerator is a standard feature in the Founder. This one has an in-the-door ice and cold water dispenser. The refrigerator also is approximately 10 to 12 inches above the floor, so most people will not need to bend down to reach inside.
The galley countertop measures a whopping 35½ inches deep and features a removable solid-surface cover that provides access to a waste can. A clever, convenient door on the outside of the coach lets RVers retrieve and empty the trash. And for folks like John Crean and his wife, Donna, who really enjoy cooking, the standard 21-inch LP-gas oven with a three-burner cooktop is just the ticket. A space-saver microwave oven is also standard in the Founder.
All of the dining area and approximately half of the living area are housed in the slideout. The valance above the sofa and dinette opens up to reveal overhead storage compartments. In the area above the leading edge of the slideout is another cleverly hidden storage area that, as John Crean points out, is the perfect place to stow things such as fishing rods. On the curb side of the coach are two large three-quarter-length windows. Near them is the Euro recliner, as well as a folding card table. Very convenient. Above the dash is a 27-inch television and combination VCR/DVD player.
In the rear bedroom, the massive wardrobe complex located in the slideout features sliding glass doors and a two-tiered stack of large drawers that span the entire length of the wardrobe. When the wardrobe slideout is extended, the second of two nightstands is revealed.
As for the center-aisle bath, suffice it to say that attention has been more than adequately paid to this area. On the street side is the commode; a one-piece sink and counter; a cabinet; and a large, mirrored medicine cabinet. The cabinet area next to the sink is washer-dryer-ready, in case buyers choose to add one. Across the hall on the curb side is a full-size shower with a dual-pane skylight. This is a pleasing configuration.
The entire coach is heated or cooled by basement-mounted units that deliver air through a central floor register system. The air-conditioning system features a 27,000-Btu residential unit with a heat pump; the 35,000-Btu forced-air furnace provides heated air for those cold mornings. The thermal efficiency of the coach is augmented by the use of solar privacy glass in the windows that reportedly provides 87 percent ultraviolet ray protection. Dual-pane windows are found throughout the Founder.
The coach's 110-volt AC system is supported by a 7.5-kilowatt diesel generator and a 2,000-watt inverter.
Center-aisle bath of Alfa See Ya Founder EditionTo complete the picture of this motorhome, it's important to look below the surface of the gel-coated Filon fiberglass exterior. The Founder, as well as all See Ya and See Ya Gold products, are constructed in an impressive manner.
Alfa Leisure starts with the Freightliner chassis. To this is added a floor with a perimeter of 6-3/8-inch steel with C-channel welded inside. Box tube measuring 2 inches by 2 inches is welded from side to side in the perimeter frame, with 3-inch Z-bar welded front to rear on top of the box tube. Steel bulkheads are welded in pairs, front to rear. The steel plates that surround the chassis are then welded between each pair of bulkheads. A 3-inch-thick steel framed, foam-filled basement floor is vacuum-bonded to the bottom of the bulkheads.
The walls are formidable structures that are also vacuum-bonded. They include a welded aluminum skeletal structure, 2-inch block foam insulation, lauan plywood-backed Filon exterior fiberglass, and interior décor panel. The roof is a one-piece rubber structure placed over an extruded aluminum welded superstructure that is insulated with high-density foam core. The interior of the roof structure consists of a panel with a carpet overlay that insulates and abates noise.
The suggested retail price of the Alfa See Ya Founder Edition is $165,060, and it comes complete. A few "lifestyle options" are available, such as a freestanding table and chairs instead of the booth dinette, a "J" lounge versus a recliner, and a combination washer-dryer. The price also includes Alfa Leisure's own extended warranty, the Solid Gold Five-Year Protection Plan. This consists of Alfa's one-year limited warranty and a four-year service contract the company purchases for the new owner from an outside provider.
The exterior of the Founder Edition is crisp white, decorated with understated ribbons of stars and stripes, a design that reflects the Crean family's patriotism. In fact, John Crean, the son of immigrants, was born on the Fourth of July. He'll be the first one to tell you he's achieved the American Dream. A statement is graphically embossed on the door of every Founder motorhome: "The See Ya was designed by the founder of the world's largest RV company ever, John Crean." Since its introduction, the Founder now has optional exterior color graphics available.
The Founder has a very qualified designer, and it's a good coach to add to your list of diesel-pusher candidates.
Manufacturer … Alfa Leisure Inc., 1612 S. Cucamonga, Ontario, CA 91761; (909) 628-5574; www.alfaleisure.com
Model tested ... 1005 — SYFE36FD
Chassis manufacturer ... Freightliner — XC model, straight rail
Engine ... Caterpillar C7, 300 horsepower @ 2,400 rpm; 860 pound-feet torque @ 1,440 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 3000 MH, 6-speed
Axle ratio ... 4.78:1
Tires ... 255/70R 22.5 LRH
Wheelbase ... 228 inches
Brakes ... Front — full air drum, 15 inches by 4 inches; rear — 16.5 inches by 7 inches, with auto-slack adjusters and ABS
Suspension ... Trailing arm Neway air
Alternator ... 160 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (2) 12-volt, 760 cca; house — (6) 6-volt, 75 cca
Steering ... 50-degree wheel cut
Inverter ... 2,000-watt Freedom 458 with 100-amp charge
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Auxiliary generator ... 7.5-kilowatt, diesel
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Exterior height ... 13 feet 1 inch
Interior height ... 7 feet 6 inches
Exterior length ... 37 feet 9 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 39,500 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 29,500 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 10,500 pounds; rear — 19,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 8,780 pounds; rear — 15,840 pounds; total — 24,720 pounds
Payload ... 4,780 pounds
Frame construction ... Power Platform; Vacu-Bond with aluminum tube framing
Insulation ... Styrofoam, 2-inch block foam
Fresh water capacity ... 100 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water, 73 gallons; black water, 45 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 90 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 25 gallons
Water heater ... 10-gallon LP gas/electric
Water delivery system ... demand
Furnace ... (1) 35,000-Btu
Air conditioner ... (1) 27,000-Btu residential-style basement unit
Refrigerator ... 22-cubic-foot residential Whirlpool
Toilet ... plastic, Thetford
Warranty ... coach — 5-year Solid Gold Protection Plan
Base price (MSRP) ... $165,060
Price as tested (MSRP) ... $165,060