New for 2007, this quad-slideout diesel motorhome is built on a Spartan K3 chassis and offers solid luxury at a price point lower than most bus conversions.
By Guy and Pamela Selbert
"You don't get a second chance to make a first impression," an old saw advises, and the people at Travel Supreme Inc. have taken this advice to heart. When we caught our first glimpse of the 45-foot Select Limited diesel motorhome at the company's headquarters in Wakarusa, Indiana, our immediate reaction was, “Wow.”
The gleaming, gold-fleck paint job and reflective stainless and aluminum grabbed our attention immediately. The finish on this 13-foot-high coach is so mirror-smooth, a man could shave looking into it. And whether you are considering the whole or the particulars, this elegant home on the road can stand the most critical scrutiny. Its meticulously wrought details combine to form an extremely well-engineered and aesthetically pleasing vehicle.
Hidden underneath this craftsmanship is the chassis. For the 45-footer, Travel Supreme designers use the new Spartan K3 Ultima zero-camber chassis. During a tour of the factory, we did get to see a newly arrived bare chassis and watch some of the manufacturing process.
Rather than the typical frame composed of two “C” channels, the K3 is a modular space frame, consisting of six box rails tied together with cross members and “Z” struts. Anyone familiar with old-time race cars will recognize the term “space frame,” which refers to the spaces between the frame members.
The term “zero camber” means that the frame is absolutely flat. According to Travel Supreme regional sales manager Todd Hahn, who led us on our factory tour, it is necessary for coach builders to remove the camber (slight upward curve of the frame rails to allow for the addition of a load) from an ordinary chassis to install the floor. They do this by artificially loading the frame, tying down the center and slightly jacking the rear, which levels the rails. This is unnecessary with the K3.
The K3 has an 18,000-pound Dana Kirstall independent front suspension (IFS). This assembly is crucial in a diesel-pusher coach, because it dictates handling characteristics and also determines the ride.
Two air bags perform the suspension duties on the front, separating the road vibration encountered by the wide 365/70R22.5 Michelin tires from the Flexsteel captains chairs in the cockpit. The tires were a little firm (110 pounds of pressure) on our test ride, and this transferred more of those bumps to the chairs than we would have liked. However, a small change in tire pressure — within specs, of course — will likely solve that problem. We did find road and wind noise, while not excessive, a bit pronounced for such a high-end coach.
Travel Supreme Select Limited awnings, slideoutMoving back along the chassis frame, we come next to the rear drive/suspension/tag assembly. The rear drive assembly is by Meritor, a Quiet Gear model with a 3.73-to-1 ratio. The tag axle, made by Ridewell and equipped with cockpit-controllable air bags, adds 13,600 pounds to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The driver can dump the tag axle air bags on tight turns, thus cutting down on tire wear.
An Allison 4000 MH six-speed transmission attaches to the rear of the coach just aft of the tag axle. The transmission has a couple of new features; one is the addition of an extra overdrive gear. Since the engine has 600 horses, it can handle two overdrive gears. The other new twist is in the cockpit. The push-button selector readout now tells the driver which gear is in use. Older units just indicated the number of gears the tranny had (i.e., a six-speed transmission simply read "6" when in drive).
But the coach's biggest bonus, technically speaking, has got to be its engine. The 14.9-liter, 600-horsepower Cummins ISX electronic diesel produces 1,850 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. The two-stage Jacobs Engine Brake will dramatically slow down the coach if necessary. But when you want to go, just put your foot down.
The exterior walls of the coach are made of hardened aluminum square tube on 16-inch centers. They are insulated with fiberglass batting and a layer of half-inch foam, creating an R factor of 10. The walls are bolted through the subfloor and frame superstructure.
The interior of our test unit was well thought out. Its four slideouts open to transform a large coach into a sumptuous living space. Mount the granite-covered stairs to find yourself surrounded by luxury. The interior features a diamond pattern of Santa Celia granite tiles a foot square, highlighted by smaller tiles of gold-flecked black Uba Tuba granite.
The woodwork is elegant: the ancient Greece theme begun with the stone floor is carried upward by the fluted columns in the window valances to massive compound crown moldings at the ceiling. These crown moldings move with the slideouts and are illuminated by a row of indirect lights.
All of the woodwork on the test coach was “glazed.” The hard maple trim is painted a light base color and then covered with a darker hue that is then wiped off but leaves dark highlights in the molding grooves. The whole is given a finish coat of matte-texture polyurethane.
The ceiling is an off-white padded soft vinyl, elegant but understated so as not to draw attention away from the more finely wrought aspects of the interior. The best part about the ceiling (for the tall folks among us) is that it is a full 7 feet from the floor, providing plenty of headroom.
Travel Supreme Select Limited interiorThe living room, cockpit, and galley/dinette area offers 230 square feet of living space when both front slideouts are extended. No walls or partitions interrupt this space, giving it a wonderful sense of openness. The Select Limited's total living space is 411 square feet. The patterned granite floor continues on through the galley and into the bath.
The galley is well appointed and spacious, with plenty of cabinet space and a set of first-rate appliances. It includes a GE Profile side-by-side 22.6-cubic-foot refrigerator with ice maker, plus a freezer in the coach basement, giving this coach generous amounts of food storage space.
The Select Limited is an all-electric unit outfitted with two 2,000-watt inverters with eight six-volt batteries. (Pure sine wave inverters are available as options.) This much power, combined with a Hydro-Hot heating system (which uses diesel fuel) makes propane unnecessary. Thus, the cooktop is an electric flush-mounted two-burner style by Princess Gourmet. Combine this with an Advantium 120 microwave-convection oven, and let the gourmet cooking begin.
Beneath the cooktop is a Fisher & Paykel Dishdrawer dishwasher. As the name implies, this nifty gadget is mounted like a drawer in the galley counter.
The bath area, located in the “waist” of the coach, includes a stunning shower enclosure made of the same color granite tile used on the floor, though with smaller tiles, and a set of curved sliding glass doors.
The bath also features a two-bowl black granite sink top (more of the Uba Tuba Gold granite) that is accompanied by a mirror of the same length. Mirrors are plentiful in the Select Limited, increasing its appearance of spaciousness. Full-length mirrors hang on both doors opening into the bath, providing the occupant with well-rounded views.
Pocket doors here and at the rear cedar closet are operated by air pressure at the touch of a button. Because of the relatively low air pressure, they can be opened with a push, and they close so gently that a hand or foot left in the way won’t get hurt. The default position of the doors is "Open" in case of a power failure.
Travel Supreme Select Limited sink, shower enclosureThe toilet is made of black porcelain. Although it is not a macerator unit, a macerator pump is located in the service bay below. This allows the black water hose to be a mere 1-1/2 inches in diameter, so thin it can be located on a motorized windup reel.
A large clothes hamper, a spacious linen closet, and a double-door closet hiding a stacked Majestic washer-dryer complete the bath area.
Aft of the pocket doors in the rear bedroom are two more slideouts, on opposite walls. The head of the king-size bed (which is flanked by nightstands) is in the street-side slideout. In the curbside slideout is a cabinet topped by a 29-inch TV, as well as cabinet storage and a vanity. The latter has a granite counter and a beautifully finished, freestanding makeup chair. This chair, along with two additional folding chairs for the dinette, all store in a closet during transit.
The back wall of the coach is occupied by a copious cedar closet. A large shelf provides storage for a significant amount of clothing.
The windows on the Select Limited are insulated sliding glass. Although most of the industry has gone to hard window valances, Travel Supreme has gone a step further and equipped this coach with all-wood window treatments. As noted, the valances continue the theme of ancient Greece with arched lintels and posts of fluted columns. Side windows in the bedroom and living room are shaded from the outside by motorized individual awnings.
The lighting inside the coach is more than ample, and varied. Strip lights below the cabinets illuminate the floor with an indirect glow. Under-cabinet and reading lights provide illumination for specific functions, while ample halogen ceiling fixtures vividly brighten the entire coach. Plus, a row of indirect lights glow upward over the cabinets and valances, and a row of strip lights outlines the ceiling fixtures.
All of the lighting is controlled by several strategically placed clusters of electronic switches that are part of the Intellitec multiplex system. The switches also operate the window shades, small awnings, and pocket doors. A multiplex set at the front of the coach includes a button labeled “All,” which operates all the lights simultaneously. This is especially handy when you’re leaving the coach. Further, all switch buttons change from green for "Off" to white for "On," so you can quickly see which fixtures are in use.
Travel Supreme Select Limited bedroomThe Hydro-Hot system occupies one of the basement storage bays in the Select Limited. It uses diesel fuel to heat an antifreeze mixture that flows to radiators arranged in zone fashion throughout the coach. These may be controlled from the interior to provide radiant heat where you need it, right through the stone tiles of the floor — mighty pleasant in cold weather. The other part of the system provides residential hot water and preheats the engine on cold days for easy starting.
The Hydro-Hot is not the only heating device in the Select Limited. An electric fireplace is located in the living area. What could be nicer than settling down in front of a cozy fire in your motorhome on a frosty night?
Air-conditioning is handled by three 15,000-Btu Penguin air conditioners with heat pumps. These roof-mounted units feed into a ceiling duct system that provides return air into the units themselves.
The Flexsteel furniture in the living area of our test coach was covered with man-made but luxurious Ultraleather. We have tested other coaches equipped with this product and believe it is superior to the real thing, being more comfortable. The short sofas opposite each other, dubbed “Euro chairs” by Flexsteel, are not only recliners but also fold out into single beds.
To the rear of the street-side Euro chair, which is armless, is a sectional sofa that connects to the dinette seating. The dinette settee forms a booth around the legless table, the top of which is covered by more Uba Tuba granite. The table can be pulled out and extended slightly to provide space for two additional diners.
The Flexsteel driver's seat has an eight-way power memory setting. A matching “buddy” seat is provided for the passenger. The chairs are comfortable and convenient, except for a problem we had with the seat belt on the passenger seat. It was difficult to buckle and tended to get tighter after it was fastened. We have noted this problem on other manufacturers' motorhomes in the past. It's not a huge issue, certainly, but it can make traveling less comfortable.
The cockpit area is well appointed and driver-friendly. Great driving aids include a global positioning system (GPS) and a rear-view monitor. The GPS map program makes navigation a cinch.
The Weldex rear-view and side-view monitor shifts cameras with the turn indicator, which dramatically enhances safety of operation. The same screen superimposes the handy TripTek information lists onto the rear-view monitor. These lists provide abundant vehicle information to the driver: number of miles driven, fuel economy, engine temperature, and a checklist to refer to before setting out, among others.
Below the screen is a remote readout for the Tire Sentry system. Each tire is equipped with a small sensor unit screwed on like a valve cap to monitor the tire pressure and send a signal to a receiver on the dash. During our test one of the tires developed a slow leak, and the sensor worked like a champ. If there’s a problem, it indicates the location and frequently reminds with an alarm.
A Spartan Smart Wheel steering wheel comes standard on the Select Limited. It allows the driver to operate the windshield wipers, driving lights, and cruise control without looking away from the road, and greatly increases safety.
On the dash in front of the driver is a set of analog gauges for speed, engine rpm, engine temperature, and fuel level; most of this information is also available on a digital readout above the analog gauges. To the left of the gauges in the lower part of the dash is the control for the Equalizer four-point hydraulic leveler system.
Nothing too serious, but we would offer a couple of criticisms about the cockpit. The ignition key and parking air brake control are located rather low on the dash. (You could inadvertently leave the key turned on.) Also, the dash could use some reinforcement in this area. The brake requires a fair amount of force to apply and release, and when we did this the dash would move back and forth. We would suggest an additional strut to keep it solid.
With a turn of the key, the big diesel springs to life. As you ease out of the campground, the handling of the coach will surprise you. The Spartan chassis' 55-degree wheel cut will let you make turns you didn’t think possible. And should you be turning into traffic, the coach's ample visibility allows you to watch for an opening, while the 600 horses and Allison automatic transmission allow you to easily and smoothly accelerate into traffic.
Big coaches can be intimidating, and at first glance the Select Limited would seem to be. But we found this coach to be one of the easiest to drive of any we’ve tested so far. It handles well. In spite of the coach’s 13-foot height, its roll tendency is low, keeping it level as it turns. The 55-degree wheel cut allows this big coach to get out of tight spots with surprising ease. But the first time you look in the spot mirror and see the steering tire nearly perpendicular to the body, it’s a bit jarring. You'll get over it. This unit turns on a dime.
The six air bag suspension system levels itself constantly and almost imperceptibly. We drove the unit on several stretches of two-lane road with frequent high-speed turns (over 40 mph). We were impressed with the coach’s smooth handling and very little roll. The excellent Dana Kirstall front end along with the wide 365/70R front tires made it seem as though we were on rails.
Acceleration from zero to 60 seemed to be on par with an automobile; nothing sluggish or slow about it. Our brake test from 60 to zero was remarkable. The air system with all disc brakes took us from highway speed to stop without wheel lock in record distance and with nearly no dip or sway. One of the reasons this coach handles so well is balance: each axle on the Select Limited carries nearly the same weight.
If the Select Limited drives well, it camps equally so. The well-laid-out interior is not only luxurious, it’s practical. The galley provides plenty of counter space and storage. The living area is large yet intimate, with dual-purpose features in the sofas and dinette. The entertainment array is superb.
The Select Limited comes with four flat-screen TVs. The main unit, in the galley-dining area, is a 43-inch Cinema Pro Home Theater System complete with surround sound. It's equipped with an AM-FM-XM radio, a VCR-DVD player, and a roof-mounted Trac-King in-motion satellite dish. Above the copilot’s seat is a 26-inch LCD TV with DVD-VCR, and in the bedroom is the aforementioned unit, with surround sound. The fourth TV, a full 23 inches, is mounted on a swing-out bracket in the exterior entertainment center (which comes standard with the coach). The center also includes a separate DVD player.
Basement storage is another area where the Select Limited excels. In the second bay back from the door, a pull-out tray holds a 3.8-cubic-foot Coolmatic freezer. Bays three and four are for general storage; both have expansive pullout trays that, while handy, do take up space.
The coach even had a bay built to accommodate an optional outdoor grill, which was not included on our test coach. The last bay on the curb side houses the eight 6-volt deep-cycle house batteries that produce a combined 880 amps of power. Glass-mat batteries are available as an option.
All of the curbside cargo doors open to the side, while the doors on the street side open upward. Inside, the bay doors are covered with single sheets of stainless steel. While they are reflective and attractive, we found the edges to be sharp. We imagine that measures will be taken to correct this detail.
The coach is outfitted with four enormous awnings, which when extended provide ample cover for a large gathering. Small awnings are located over the windows and entry door, and roll-out awnings cover the slides.
The exterior fit and finish of our test coach was admirable, with one minor exception, and that concerns the slideout rooms. While they operated well, they didn’t fit snug against the coach. Perhaps the folks at Travel Supreme could attach an extension border to the slideout, which would close the gap between the slideout and the coach when the slide is retracted.
Our test coach's base suggested retail price was $630,750. The as-tested price came to $645,770 with the following options: granite flooring (living room, cockpit, entry steps, kitchen, and bath); electric fireplace; Renaissance faucet package; Ultraleather; Girard awnings off door side.
The people at Travel Supreme have definitely done their homework. With its larger and heavier chassis, the best running gear available, and some of the finest appliances, the Select Limited offers exceptional quality and drivability. The few minor flaws can be easily corrected. All in all, the 2007 Select Limited is an excellent candidate for people considering a coach in this price range; it's clearly made for those who want a bus conversion, but not the bus conversion price.
Manufacturer ... Travel Supreme Inc., 66149 State Road 19, Wakarusa, IN 46573; (800) 626-0563, (574) 862-4484; www.travelsupreme.com
Model tested ... Select Limited
Floor plan ... 45DL24
Chassis ... Spartan K3
Engine ... Cummins ISX, 600 horsepower @ 1,800 rpm; 1,850 pound feet torque @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 4000 Gen 4, six-speed
Axle ratio ... 4:30:1
Tires ... 365/70R22.5 Michelin
Wheelbase ... 320 inches
Brakes ... front — 17-inch air disc; rear — 16.5-inch-by-7-inch air disc; tag — 17-inch air disc
Suspension ... eight air bags, plus Bilstein gas-pressurized hydraulic shocks
Alternator ... 270 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (3) 950 cca; coach — (8) 6-volt, deep-cycle, 880 amps total
Steering ... power tilt and telescoping with 55-degree wheel cut
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Inverter ... (2) 2,000 watts each
Auxiliary generator ... Onan 12.5-kilowatt Quiet diesel
Exterior width ... 101 inches
Exterior height ... 13 feet 2 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet
Exterior length ... 44 feet 11 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 66,600 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 51,600 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 18,000 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds; tag — 13,600 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 16,340 pounds; rear — 16,800 pounds; tag — 11,740 pounds; total — 44,880 pounds
Payload as tested ... 6,720 pounds
Frame construction ... walls — aluminum tube; roof — aluminum bow truss; floor — wood
Insulation ... wall — R-10; roof — R-19; floor — R-19
Fresh water capacity ... 100 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... black water, 60 gallons; gray water, 60 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 200 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... N/A; all-electric
Water heater ... Hydro-Hot
Water delivery system ... demand
Furnace ... Hydro-Hot
Air-conditioning ... (3) roof-mounted, 15,000-Btus each with heat pumps
Refrigerator ... 22.6-cubic-foot stainless-steel side-by-side with ice maker
Toilet ... electric push-button
Warranty ... chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles; coach — 2 years limited, 5 years structural
Base suggested retail price ... $630,750
Price as tested ... $645,770