Newmar Corporation uses the Spartan mid-engine chassis to create a coach with room for eight, including a double-deck rear bedroom.
By Jim Brightly, F358406
Load up the basketball team, volleyball team, or half the lacrosse team and head for the playoffs. The 2007 Newmar All Star 3950 motorhome shines with accommodations for eight. It even offers a "two-story" rear bedroom with two upper bunk beds and a queen-size lower bed (room enough for four total), so you can “send the kids to their room” and make up the living area sofas, if you please.
Children all love to claim the “shotgun” seat at the start of a trip; well, the All Star offers three front seats, in addition to the driver's. These four Flexsteel captain's chairs swivel and recline, and their armrests are adjustable (we all know how annoying it can be when you recline the back for a nap and the armrests remain sticking straight up). The driver’s and the navigator’s seats both have six-way electric controls, while the two passenger seats are manually controlled.
The passenger seats are located behind the front navigator’s chair on the curb side. They are placed closer and adjacent to the side windows, so occupants can see out easily. Between these seats is a small fold-up table with cup holders. During rest stops, lunch breaks, or at campsites, this is a convenient spot for playing board games or having a meal or quick snack. The two chairs can swivel to face each other across the table or face the rear to lend occupants a view of the 26-inch LCD television in the dining room entertainment center. For travel, both of these seats are equipped with lap safety belts and should face forward.
Even though the coach offers a trio of "shotgun" seats, the navigator’s seat in our test coach had no cup holder, nor did the navigator-side window open. (Newmar officials noted afterward that a cup holder for that seat is now included as standard equipment.) Plus, the front door step cover is controlled from the driver’s seat, not the navigator’s seat. So, navigators may opt to ride in one of the passenger chairs instead.
Behind the driver in a street-side 3-foot-by-12-foot slideout are a spacious dinette and a sleeper sofa, each equipped with two seat belts. So, a total of eight people can be secured safely while traveling. Since the sofa and dinette can each be converted to a bed for two, we now know where the sleeping accommodations for eight are placed.
Speaking of the slideout, this coach affords the driver plenty of room in front of the slideout while traveling. Even at 6 feet 2 inches tall, this test driver had no problem whatsoever getting completely comfortable behind the wheel. I will say that any driver who’s 6 feet tall or more should be careful of the overhead television; I hit my head three or four times during the test getting in and out of the driver’s seat. Then again, I’m sure an owner would quickly become accustomed to the television’s location.
While driving, I noticed that the remote-controlled and heated side mirrors bore stickers noting "patent pending," which called attention to a new arm design. The mirrors did work quite well, and their large surfaces covered both sides of the coach without apparent blind spots. They were augmented by a rearview monitor.
The All Star is built exclusively on the Spartan Me2 chassis, a mid-engine diesel-powered foundation. The Cummins ISL diesel engine produces 350 horsepower at 2,000 rpm and 1,050 pound feet of torque at 1,300 rpm. The accompanying Allison six-speed automatic transmission performed in a spot-on fashion. With its two overdrive gears (fifth/0.75:1 and sixth/0.65:1), the tranny does an excellent job of selecting just the right gear for the job, no matter how steep or how flat the roadbed. It performs equally well going downhill when the engine brake is engaged by holding down the coach’s speed. Although the single-speed engine brake works wonderfully, it is my opinion that a two-speed control might be more compatible with RV-type driving and drivers.
The 24-valve engine is supposed to be 50 percent quieter than previous models, according to Cummins, and its high-pressure common rail (HPCR) fuel system and Holset turbocharger maintain high-injection pressures regardless of engine speed. A combination full-flow and bypass oil filter increases piston ring and bearing life and comes standard on all ISL engines.
Newmar All Star battery compartmentThe 39-foot-10-inch-long All Star (it's also offered in a 41-foot-10-inch version) managed to ferry my wife and me and our youngest grandson in and around the Arizona region of Phoenix and Sedona with ease and aplomb. Its 50-degree front wheel cut sliced us in and out of Sedona’s parking lots, if not with ease, at least without creating any traffic tie-ups or scraped fenders. And we averaged 5.6 miles per gallon on the way up to Sedona and 10.1 mpg on the way back south to return the coach to World Wide RV, a sales facility in Mesa. That’s an overall average of 7.85 mpg -- not too shabby for a 27,200-pound coach that, theoretically, has close to an 800-mile range. Even though we had it lightly loaded (7,300 pounds below its GVWR) and we weren’t towing anything, 7 mpg should be an easily attainable average for an owner, because the engine wasn’t broken in. As the engine, chassis, and driver all become broken in and used to each other, and the coach’s load is increased, everything should even out overall.
The Spartan Me2 chassis has the engine in the middle of the coach and below the frame rails, allowing for flat floors, more room, design flexibility, improved performance, and better ride and handling. “Spartan is helping RVers take their experiences to the next level of comfort and fun,” said Richard Schalter, president of Spartan Chassis. “This new motorhome is an industry first, enabling customers to design their coach to their liking, similar to designing their own home. We are very excited that Newmar is developing new design opportunities with the Me2. This new coach demonstrates that the industry is exploring new roads in motorhome manufacturing.”
Because of the mid-engine chassis, Newmar can use the engine-free rear of the coach for the double-decker bedroom that was in our test coach, or for a garage. The mid-engine configuration also necessitates an engine access panel in the galley floor. It is not for service access in the normal sense, because regular engine service is handled through an access panel on the side of the coach; it's for the rare case when the engine would need to be removed, or other major work would be necessary.
Newmar All Star two-story rear sleeping areaNewmar offers the All Star in five floor plans, four of which utilize the extra rear space as garages. This is a popular feature for people who have movable toys, or need the space for a traveling business or other purpose. All of these coaches are 101.5 inches wide.
The "two-story" rear sleeping area in our test coach featured a queen-size bed on the lower level (with abundant storage beneath the bed), as well as two bunk beds "upstairs." From the queen bed you can watch a 26-inch LCD TV set; a smaller 13-inch TV set gives bunk occupants something to view, too. In fact, the All Star I tested was equipped with five TVs in all: a 24-inch flat screen in the cabinet above the driver; a 26-inch LCD monitor in the entertainment center in the dining area; the 26-inch and 13-inch units in the rear sleeping areas; and a 26-inch LCD monitor in an exterior entertainment center.
All of the televisions are connected to the signal-dispersing unit located in the entertainment center so that they can be tuned to the satellite receiver (which the All Star is prepped for), the DVD player, or over-the-air transmissions. All can be used with video games as well.
The interior is very attractive, and all the seats are extremely comfortable. The non-carpeted parts of the coach are covered with vinyl tile. And when it’s time to douse the lights and pull up the sheets, the windshield night shades provide a nice touch. They feature an accordion design and are deployed with heavy-duty pull chains on pulleys. These shades are quite easy to move and seem to be designed for years of use.
Newmar All Star living areaAfter an evening’s entertainment and a night of rejuvenating sleep, you can wake up in the morning to hot coffee and warm sticky buns without being plugged in to shore power or starting the generator. The four house batteries provide more than enough power to the Xantrex 2,000-watt inverter so that you can watch your morning TV show while enjoying the Danish and beverage. Just make sure the two-door refrigerator is on the LP-gas setting so that it doesn’t use up all the juice.
Other facilities in this coach designed to keep occupants comfortable include two Penguin air conditioners with heat pumps, each rated at 13,500 Btus. A propane-powered furnace provides in-floor ducted heat. And for galley chefs, the coach includes a three-burner cooktop with piezo ignition, a 30-inch convection-microwave oven, and a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator.
The bath configuration places the commode, sink, and shower on the street side. Across the hall is a wardrobe space where the optional washer-dryer goes, and aft of that is another sink, which gives the occupants in the back bedroom areas their own separate space to wash up.
The coach boasts many other standard items as well, such as slideout awning covers; an automatic entrance door with double steps; and two Fan-Tastic Vent fans, one in the galley and another in the bath area. Plus, full body paint with Diamond Shield front protective film is used on each All Star. Available options not included on our test coach include power-activated sun visors, a larger (12-cubic-foot) refrigerator with ice maker, a washer-dryer, SIRIUS satellite radio, and side-view cameras.
Newmar All Star bedroomThe All Star 3950 was obviously built for up to eight people who play together and stay together. However, I wouldn’t recommend this floor plan design for the full-timer, because it offers limited basement storage space. Ample room is available for your items inside the coach, however, especially if the optional washer-dryer isn’t chosen (which probably wouldn’t be needed if you’re not a full-timer).
My test coach's base suggested retail price was $216,594. Its as-tested price came to $225,169 with the following options: external entertainment center with 26-inch LCD TV and AM-FM radio and CD player; Ultraleather Cirrus sleeper sofa and booth dinette; large chrome exterior mirrors; hydraulic leveling jacks with touch control; A&E Weather Pro side awning and Oasis power front entrance door awning.
Although it may not be ideal for full-timing, in my opinion, the All Star is an excellent choice for a fairly large family, or a couple with plenty of friends and grandkids who want to enjoy some comfort in the wild. Hook up a trailer full of ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, or a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and find a secluded campsite. You’ll have sufficient supplies and holding tank capacities to enjoy a long weekend or a week of playing, even with eight aboard. And remember, after a day in the saddle, the entire family can recuperate with a hot meal, cold beverages, showers, and DVDs. And everyone can watch different programs (or play video games) in the bedroom (upstairs or downstairs), the dining room, the living room, or outside under the stars. It's just the thing for preparing yourself and your family for another fun day.
Manufacturer ... Newmar Corporation, 355 N. Delaware St., Nappanee, IN 46550; (800) 860-0086, (574) 773-7791; www.newmarcorp.com
Model tested ... All Star
Floor plan ... 3950
Chassis ... Spartan Me2
Engine ... Cummins ISL, 350 horsepower @ 2,000 rpm; 1,050 pound feet torque @ 1,300 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 3000 MH six-speed
Axle ratio ... 4:88:1
Tires ... Michelin XRV 305/70R 22.5
Wheels ... Alcoa aluminum, 22.5 inches by 6.75 inches
Wheelbase ... 252 inches
Brakes ... full air with drum brakes and ABS
Suspension ... independent front suspension, air
Alternator ... 200 amps
Batteries ... chassis -- (2) 950 cca; coach -- (4) 900 cca each
Steering ... Tuthill/Granning with 55-degree wheel cut
Electrical service ... 50 amps
Inverter ... Xantrex 2,000-watt
Auxiliary generator ... 8-kilowatt PowerTech
Exterior width ... 101½ inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 7 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet
Exterior length ... 39 feet 10 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 40,500 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 34,500 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front -- 14,500 pounds; rear -- 20,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front -- 12,940 pounds; rear -- 14,260 pounds; total -- 27,200 pounds
Payload as tested ... 7,300 pounds
Frame construction ... tubular steel
Insulation ... 5/8-inch foam; sidewalls, R11; floor and roof, R16
Fresh water capacity ... 105 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... black water, 45 gallons; gray water, 65 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 100 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 32 gallons
Water heater ... 10 gallons, Suburban
Water delivery system ... Shurflo demand
Furnace ... 42,000-Btu Suburban
Air-conditioning ... (2) ducted 13,500-Btu units with heat pumps
Refrigerator ... 10-cubic-foot Norcold, stainless-steel
Toilet ... Thetford with vacuum flush
Warranty ... chassis -- 36 months/50,000 miles; coach -- 12 months/12,000 miles
Base suggested retail price ... $216,594
Price as tested ... $225,169