This diesel coach redefines "living large" by boasting two full-length slideouts and more than 350 square feet of living space.
By Jim Brightly, F358406, Technical Editor
Over the past couple of years, Rexhall Industries has incorporated a revolutionary design in its motorhome lineup: the T-Rex. T-Rex is an apt name for this floor plan, which is available in Rexhall's RoseAir, RexAir, and Aerbus motorhomes. Ordinarily associated with the Tyrannosaurus rex of dinosaur fame, the name brings to mind something massive, which is only fitting given the huge living space that is created when the opposing full-length slideouts are extended on either side of the vehicle.
I recently tested the mettle of the TR-3690-DS RoseAir, a posh 2006 diesel pusher, and the first 3690 to roll off the production line. When both slideouts are open, its main living area looks as expansive as a ballroom; plus, the size of the galley countertop could put some buffet tables to shame. When both of the coach-length slideouts are deployed — each measuring 25 feet 9½ inches long — the TR-3690-DS presents more than 350 square feet of interior living space, including more than 200 square feet of open floor space in the front living area alone. I believe I've had apartments with less living space, and definitely with less storage capacity.
Obviously, plentiful space and storage are especially appealing to full-time RVers and others who travel for extended periods. The RoseAir T-Rex has both, in spades. In my opinion, it's an excellent choice for an older or childless couple who are planning on full-timing (or mostly timing) and who enjoy entertaining wherever they travel.
"Huge" is the first word that comes to mind as you ascend the two Kwikee electric steps and three interior steps in the forward entry. As you look about, it’s like watching a curtain being raised to reveal a large, well-designed stage. In your imagination you can immediately populate the T-Rex’s "ballroom" with several couples. And if this floor plan and furniture setup does not meet your specific needs, Rexhall offers other options for your consideration.
Rexhall RoseAir: tilt-up makeup mirrorLet's begin our exploration in the rear sleeping quarters. The room is outfitted with a 60-inch-by-76-inch queen-size bed, whose headboard rests against the rear cap. The bed is accessible whether the slideouts are open or closed and offers storage below. The rear of the coach contains a large cedar-lined closet with mirrored double doors.
Across the bed on the street side of the room is a window with cabinets above and below. The shelf below the window also holds a tilt-up makeup mirror. Drawers and cabinets take up the remainder of the room — seemingly as many as it can hold. Three fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling, two of which are controlled by a wall switch. Two double under-cabinet sconces also illuminate the room.
The curb side of the bedroom also includes cabinets and drawers, as well as a television that rests atop a washer-dryer cabinet. Since the washer-dryer combination is an option, the cabinet alternately can be used as a nicely sized shirt closet.
This is a bed-and-bath area. Just forward of the bedroom's street-side cabinets is a commodious shower with a frosted-glass enclosure, which moves with the slideout. Diagonally across the hall on the curb side, enclosed by a glass French door, is the rest of the bathroom — a sink, a medicine cabinet, and a toilet. If the curbside slideout is not open, it's a tight fit; however, the area becomes quite spacious with the slideout deployed.
As we leave the bed-and-bath space and enter the galley area, we can grab a snack from the 12-cubic-foot double-door Dometic refrigerator. We can even chill an ice chest for a picnic, because this Dometic is equipped with an automatic ice maker. Also along the street side is what would be considered an excellent buffet table but actually is the galley countertop. The galley in our test coach included the standard three-burner stovetop, an optional oven, a double ceramic sink, and an optional dishwasher (yet another excellent idea for those who enjoy entertaining friends and neighbors). The microwave oven is mounted in a cabinet above the stove; the cabinet also includes the stove vent, fan, and light.
Rexhall RoseAir galleyBetween the end of the galley countertop and the driver’s seat, a comfortable swivel recliner is mounted to the floor. It makes a convenient spot for watching the 32-inch flat-screen television. The TV faces the front of the coach and is mounted on the wall that frames the curbside bath area. This is indeed the primary TV chair in the coach. Beware, though, not to have any pressing engagements scheduled if you sit down, because they may become unimportant once you’ve stretched out and settled in.
Directly across the aisle from the recliner is a fairly large four-person dinette. At first glance it appears that the table can be removed, but it can't. That's because it's supported by a single 2-inch wall-mounted cantilevered leg — it's made that way to keep it from interfering with occupants' movement.
The dinette does not convert into a sleeping area, but the J-couch next to it does make into a small bed. The J-couch is the second-most comfortable spot for TV watching.
In the living/dining/galley area are four fluorescent ceiling lights. They provide plenty of illumination for entertaining or relaxing, but, in my opinion, the RoseAir T-Rex could have used another light above the refrigerator. A lack of illumination there leaves the area in front of the fridge in shadow. According to a Rexhall official, additional lighting can be installed per customer wishes.
A fluorescent light above the stove, in addition to the light in the exhaust shroud, provides ample brightness for the most demanding of chefs. In addition to these lights in the galley-living area, the RoseAir has several rheostat-equipped mood lights under the cabinets in the living area. With the variable controls, the lights can be turned up for reading or turned down for watching television.
Both chairs in the cockpit swivel for use after the coach is parked. The passenger’s chair is a six-way power model equipped with a powered leg rest, which is extremely comfortable for long trips, when the chair can be set in recliner mode. The Flexsteel captains' chairs, dinette, recliner, and sofa bed all are extremely comfortable, made with rounded edges, rounded inside corners, and curved tops.
Rexhall RoseAir interior living areaThe T-Rex accommodates five passengers beneath seat belts, and sleeps three adults and a child. The queen-size bed sleeps two, and the J-shaped sofa bed can sleep one adult and one child.
Now let us focus on the cockpit. One item that I perceived as a flaw in the otherwise very nice T-Rex layout was that the cockpit lacked cup holders, especially since there seemed to be plenty of room for them along the sides, or in the center console. When asked later about the absence of cup holders, a Rexhall official replied that they are now being installed in several places throughout the cockpit.
I also would have liked a map light or reading light in the driving area. Again, Rexhall will install additional lighting in this area, and others, as the customer wishes.
This coach’s design is an exception among slideout-equipped coaches: it has plenty of room between cockpit chairs on both sides and their respective slideout bulkheads. When a slideout is retracted, the driver’s seat sometimes does not offer enough room for comfortable driving — but this is definitely not so in the RoseAir I tested. It even offers enough space to recline the chairs for a relaxing nap should the arms of Morpheus beckon between trips.
Speaking of driving, at first blush I thought the coach had no engine retard switch, and so I drove for several miles without using the retarder. But then I discovered that it was marked as the “power brake switch” and is a two-speed retarder. It made the highways through the Sierra Madre mountains much easier to handle. Overall, the RoseAir T-Rex was very stable on the highway, and an excellent drive.
On the lower portion of the dash just to the right of the steering wheel are five rocker switches that control the dome lamp, power brake (retarder), air dump, battery isolator, and headlamps, which were marked with what appeared to be computer printed paper tags that were glued to the dashboard just below their appropriate switches. This signage "system" was a temporary fix; normally, the names of these switches are engraved in the dashboard. As my 3690 test coach had just rolled off the production line, time didn't allow for this task to be completed before my road test commenced. The coach also has an antenna warning light so that the pilot doesn’t drive off and leave the TV antenna dangling on a tree limb somewhere.
Swiveling chairs inside the Rexhall RoseAirSince the RoseAir T-Rex is built on a Workhorse chassis, it comes with the Smart Wheel steering wheel. This means the controls for headlights, running lights, cruise control, horn, windshield washer, and windshield wipers are all on the face of the wheel, at the driver's fingertips. Since the cruise control is a direct design carryover from General Motors (Workhorse purchased GM’s motorhome chassis plans and jigs in the late 1990s), it is capable of fine-tuning while you’re cruising down the highway. Once you set the speed you desire — let’s say 65 mph — you can increase or decrease the set speed one mile per hour at a time with just a touch of the cruise controls. A quick press of the “resume” control increases the set speed one mph; a single touch on the “set” button drops the speed one mile. Those of you who own other Workhorse-founded coaches, as well as GM cars, pickups, or SUVs will also find that your cruise controls work in the same manner.
I have to say that it was a joy to drive this 36-foot Rexhall coach with its 400-horsepower 8.9-liter Cummins ISL in-line six-cylinder engine. While its horsepower doesn’t peak until 2,100 rpm, its torque or pulling power (1,200 foot-pounds) peaks very early at 1,300 rpm. This means that it’s slow to accelerate off the line, which is a function of horsepower, but once it reaches cruising speed, it can maintain that speed with ease, a function of torque.
Since this was my first test of the 400-horsepower engine, I decided to conduct a mileage check by towing a trailer with a Jeep on it. The Jeep and trailer combination weighs approximately 5,500 pounds. When added to the wet weight of the coach as tested, this brought the weight the engine needed to move to just 600 pounds below the coach's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). And this did not include the occupants’ weight and the other equipment we had on board. So, it proved to be an excellent test for this motorhome's powertrain. The driveline combination was one of the best-matched setups I’ve ever tested. After the coach and trailer combination achieved the preset road speed, it maintained that speed, regardless of the degree of difficulty imposed upon it by upward slopes. And last but certainly not least, with this combination the coach still achieved a 9.1 mpg fuel economy figure — and it was a brand-new engine.
One thing comes to mind at this time. My first fuel stop took much longer than subsequent pauses for diesel. This was because, curiously, I couldn’t find the fuel inlet. A phone call to Rexhall solved this dilemma. It turned out that the fuel filler was hidden behind the coach’s front grille. You must unlock the generator’s access panel and allow it to drop out of the way, and then you see the fuel tank inlet, secured in front of the generator. Once I found it, I realized it was in an excellent location, because it enables the coach to be refueled from either side.
Cummins’ 8.9-liter ISL engine is equipped with a Holset variable-geometry turbocharger and a high-pressure common rail (HPCR) fuel system, which make it more responsive and significantly quieter than previous models (up to 50 percent quieter, according to Cummins officials). Oil change intervals for the ISL have been extended to 20,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first, and it uses 7.3 gallons of oil in the crankcase. The engine also has a “no-adjust” 150,000-mile maintenance schedule.
There are two bulkheads, by the way, that remain in place when the slideouts are extended or retracted. These bulkheads support the roof. The slides slip past and around the bulkheads without touching them; however, neat little panels that slide up and down as needed cover the tops and bottoms of the slide mechanisms and provide privacy panels while in place. These small panels have curves so that they slip out of the way as the slideouts move in and out.
Although I was told that a T-Rex had actually been test-driven with both slideouts open at speeds exceeding 30 mph and no stress damage or surface cracks were observed, it is highly recommended that the coach’s HWH hydraulic levelers be deployed before extending the slideouts. The levelers were not automatic in the test coach, but they worked well as long as you sat there and fine-tuned them.
When in camp, you’ll quickly find that this unit has three major basement storage doors on either side that allow full pass-through storage. A smaller basement box is situated on either side of the rear axle. The main bins are quite large, and with the T-Rex’s three tons of cargo-carrying capacity, it is possible to tote along a fairly large rock collection.
For RVers who have become a bit less flexible over the years, I’d strongly suggest accessing the storage area when the slideouts are closed, not open. Otherwise, you have to crouch down beneath the slideouts to reach the storage bins.
While you’re down there below the slides, though, you’ll notice that Rexhall eschews the use of screws and bolts to build its framework. Instead, extensive welding jigs hold the all-steel tube frame components in place. This construction process is said to produce an all-steel-tube body framework of superior strength, which has been proved by protecting coach occupants in some unfortunate accidents. According to a company spokesperson, it’s like being in your own custom-made roll cage. It not only protects the coach’s occupants should a condition of upset occur, but it also provides a very stiff and solid coach body. With this framework, plus good insulation, which kept the coach cool in the heat of the day and warm during cool nights, squeaks and rattles will be a long time in coming, if ever.
Another interesting construction detail is that Rexhall is the first manufacturer to approach Weyerhaeuser and ask for oversized sheets of the company's patented Sturdi-Wood for use in motorhome construction. Sheets of Sturdi-Wood are now delivered to Rexhall in 8-foot-by-36-foot sizes. Rexhall, along with many other motorhome manufacturers, uses this marine-grade material extensively for its floorboards. Having the board in these sizes means that many more motorhomes can be made with one-piece floors, which again eliminates sources of squeaks and rattles. Rexhall uses no particleboard in the construction of its coaches.
While looking over the outside of the RoseAir T-Rex, you’ll notice that the graphic appliqués are not painted on but are decals. This is done for more than one reason, but the main one is the coach’s bottom line. Vinyl appliqués keep the initial cost of the coach down, and hold the cost down should a repair be necessary at a later date. If, for example, a pickup driver runs a red light and hits your coach in the side between the axles, if the coach has a custom graphics paint scheme you might have to return the coach to the manufacturer’s assembly plant to match the original paint design. With vinyl appliqués, your local repair shop merely contacts Rexhall, and new decals are shipped to the shop and applied. This saves time and money.
Spending the night in a T-Rex is very enjoyable, whether you're in a tony campground or a desert dry-camp. Beyond the obvious reasons — its huge floor space and storage facilities — Rexhall's own flush-mount awning (with handheld remote) was very effective in the warm desert evenings; the inverter worked great and operated the television and entertainment center, and still allowed us to make coffee in the morning; and the dual 13,500-Btu air-conditioning units kept the coach’s interior cool, dry, and comfortable in 90-plus-degree temperatures. I ran the 7.5-kw Generac generator during the day to keep the air-conditioning units humming while we dry-camped, which also recharged the house batteries and allowed us to enjoy quiet camp time in the evenings with TV and popcorn.
This particular T-Rex was equipped with electric dump valves. To use the system, you hook up your sewer hose, then press the electric dump valve button and it dumps your heated tanks. As of this writing, Rexhall is in the process of determining whether to continue equipping its larger coaches with the electrical dump controls.
The base suggested retail price of the Rexhall RoseAir TR-3690-DS is $214,410. My test unit's final price came to $224,264 with the following options: electric power visors; Pinnacle dishwasher; Dometic 12-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator; KVH satellite dish; Majestic washer-dryer; RCA surround sound; Tripp Lite inverter; and four house batteries.
The T-Rex version of the RoseAir provides plenty of power, ample floor space when parked, and superior storage. It's also easy to drive and has superb cargo-carrying capacity. RVers who consider these features must-haves in their next motorhome will want to take note of Rexhall's mighty design idea.
Manufacturer ... Rexhall Industries Inc., 46147 Seventh St. W., Lancaster, CA 93534; (661) 726-0565; www.rexhall.com
Model tested ... 2006 RoseAir T-Rex
Floor Plan ... TR-3690-DS
Chassis ... Workhorse
Engine ... Cummins 8.9-liter ISL, 1,200 pound-feet torque @1,300 rpm, 400 horsepower @ 2,100 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 3000 MH six-speed automatic
Axle ratio ... 4.63:1
Tires ... Michelin XRV 275/70R 22.5G
Wheels ... aluminum, 22.5 inches by 6.75 inches
Wheelbase ... 228 inches
Brakes ... full air with disc brakes in front and drum in rear
Suspension ... Gabriel Ryde FX air suspension
Alternator ... 200 amps
Batteries ... house — (4) Excide 900 cca; chassis — (2) Delphi 12-volt, 1,000 amps
Steering ... ZF variable-ratio steering with 50-degree wheel cut angle
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Auxiliary generator ... 7.5-kilowatt Generac
Inverter ... Tripp Lite
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 4 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet
Exterior length ... 36 feet 11 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 37,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 32,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 12,500 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 7,440 pounds; rear — 18,020 pounds; total — 25,460 pounds
Payload ... 6,100 pounds
Frame construction ... 100 percent welded unibody steel superstructure
Insulation ... Styrofoam
Fresh water capacity ... 96 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water, 70 gallons; black water, 70 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 100 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 29 gallons
Water heater ... Suburban, 10 gallons
Water delivery system ... Shurflo on-demand
Furnace ... 35,000-Btu
Air conditioner ... (2) 13,500-Btu ducted high-efficiency units
Refrigerator ... 12-cubic-foot stainless-steel Dometic with ice maker
Toilet ... SeaLand
Warranty ... coach — 12 months/12,000 miles; chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles
Base price (MSRP) ... $214,410
Price as tested (MSRP) ... $224,264