Tour Master Inc. — an affiliate of Gulf Stream Inc. — has drawn upon customer input to incorporate an assortment of interior living comforts and thoughtful design details into this reintroduced luxury diesel pusher.
By Jim Brightly, F358406
It has been said that if you care about the details, the big picture will take care of itself. That theme kept running through my mind during my recent test of this diesel-powered type A motorhome: "It's all in the details, and they're very well thought-out."
Other thoughts included: "Wow, that's really a neat design." "I want a bed like this at home!" "This is a terrific sound system." "Super storage bins." And, simply, "That's a great idea." It was obvious to me that the T40's designers spent much of their time making sure all of the small items dovetailed together to form a nicely designed whole.
If the Tour Master moniker sounds familiar, that's because in the mid-1990s Gulf Stream introduced a luxury diesel motorhome by that name to the RV marketplace. The coach was discontinued in 2000. However, the Tour Master was revived for the 2006 model year and is now produced by Tour Master Inc., a Gulf Stream affiliate. Tour Master Inc. was created with a philosophy of developing products that reflect customer preferences, especially those in the 40-something age category. The company's designers integrated the valuable customer input they received into the manufacture of this motorhome.
Now, let's explore some of the Tour Master's myriad details.
The first detail you notice about the inside of this vehicle is the ceiling height. In the main cabin, it's a full 7 feet 6 inches from floor to ceiling. Inside the living area slideout, the ceiling is still an ample 6 feet 4 inches high. This was accomplished without adding to the coach's external height of 12 feet 6 inches. Combined with the Tour Master's expansive windows, the lofty ceiling gives the coach an overall feeling of openness. Occupants get an uplifting sense of access to the outdoors while still being inside.
The unit my wife and I tested was equipped with three slideouts, one located on the street side in the living area, the other two situated on the street and curb sides in the rear bedroom. The coach featured an interior décor called Imperial Green (other available decors are Ocean Spray Blue, Painted Desert Tan, Seattle Mocha, and Tony Bermuda). The living area was outfitted with opposing couches, both sofa beds. On the curb side was a jackknife model, and opposite it was a hide-a-bed. Aft of the latter was a free-standing dinette (a fold-down dinette is available as an option).
Tour Master interior: opposing couchesMy wife commented that the sofas were so comfortable, she felt like a diva on a divan, and thought someone should be peeling and feeding her grapes. (Since it was the wrong time of year for grapes, she settled for frozen strawberries.) With the sofas, the T40 seats eight passengers and has seatbelts for each. All in all, it sleeps five, if you put two people on the queen-size bed in the rear bedroom, two on the hide-a-bed, and one on the smaller jackknife sofa (it can't be deployed while the hide-a-bed is folded out).
As mentioned earlier, the windows are huge. Two large sliding models provide a backdrop for the freestanding dinette and couch in the street-side slideout, and a casement window is situated on either end of the slide. Two more windows are located behind the curbside sofa. They consist of large, fixed viewing panels with smaller, sliding casement windows below. Combine these windows with the huge double windshield, large driver's window, external door glass, small passenger window, and long galley slider window, and you enjoy a 270-degree view from any seat in the front coach region.
Speaking of windows, the shape of the square windows with their vertical sides is softened with beautifully designed vertical valances that have sculpted curves. The window treatment fabric complements and contrasts with the carpet pattern and color.
The cockpit area has several great details worth mentioning. A lockbox drawer adjacent to the driver's right foot, because of its size and location, is an excellent spot for storing papers, purses, and personals. Gooseneck map lights for both driver and passenger are nice little extras that go a long way toward aiding seasoned eyes as they try to read a roadmap. (In my opinion, these lights would be good additions for the bedroom as well.) The Tour Master also has a larger-than-usual color backup monitor, with an accompanying microphone to use for backing instructions.
Tour Master: cabinets and windows with vertical valancesAs I've noticed in previous road tests, the driver's-side slideouts in some motorhomes restrict the driver's space because the front wall of the slideout is so close to the captain's chair. Such is not the case with the Tour Master. It provides plenty of room for the driver. In addition, all of the controls and gauges are well-positioned and well-designed for ease of use by the driver. The one exception is the radio. Although it's a very good dashboard unit, which includes cassette and CD players, I thought it was a bit far away for the driver to access when scanning for a signal while traveling.
A clever detail in the living area is a ladder that stows in a dedicated compartment behind the driver's side couch. It's out of the way, easy to get to, and easy to use. I was told it's designed for outside maintenance and window cleaning.
An abundance of lights are scattered throughout the coach, in varying and elegant designs. I like plenty of light on a subject for reading, small item maintenance, course charting, etc., and the Tour Master has it in spades. The assortment includes a ceiling fixture with six mini-spots under the control of a rheostat that can be brightened for reading or dimmed for an intimate discussion of the day's events.
Aft of the living area is the galley, and it, too, has many impressive extra touches. The Corian countertop, for example, located on the curb side, is deep rather than long to provide more wall space for the smaller jackknife sofa bed. Below the galley countertop is a trash container, with its cover set in the countertop. Remove the cover and drop trash through the hole. The container can be removed for emptying through its own door on the outside wall.
Hidden behind a single cabinet door are heavy-duty drawers that provide maximum storage and maintain the clean look of the galley. All of the galley cabinet shelves are carpeted, which reduces travel noise from rattling plates, pots, and pans. Smaller clear plastic containers, which fit easily in the higher cabinets, eliminate the need to climb up to search for individual items. Merely slide out the box, grab the item, and slide the box back into the cabinet.
Appliances in the galley include a three-burner range, a microwave-convection oven, a conventional oven, hardwood cabinets, and a residential-size sink with a gooseneck faucet. The Tour Master's GE residential refrigerator is said to require less power than many RV refrigerators and be able to maintain an interior temperature of 43 degrees longer than many comparable units, according to Tour Master.
Tour Master bedroom features wood cabinetryIn between the galley and the rear bedroom is a split-aisle bath region. A skylight-topped shower is on the curb side, and on the street side is a toilet, lavatory, and cabinet. You can sequester this area from the rest of the coach by closing the sliding doors fore and aft.
The Tour Master's bedroom suite is your place to retreat to after a full day of traveling, golfing, or sight-seeing. An abundance of warm wood cabinetry, plus designer fabrics used for the bedspread, pillows, and window coverings, set an elegant tone in this area. The T40's queen-size bed and personal reading lights provide the perfect place to relax with a good book or watch the LCD television. A full-size cedar-lined wardrobe keeps clothes orderly and smelling fresh. Overhead cabinets are great for smaller items, and nightstand storage is handy for change, magazines, and books. A small corner sink on the curb side of the coach makes a nice accompaniment to the bathroom lavatory.
The top third of the queen-size bed tilts upward to form a very comfortable chaise lounge. This makes a great spot to read or watch television in the morning with your coffee. The head of the bed is situated in the curb-side slideout and opposite it, the street-side slideout houses a wardrobe with drawers and mirrored doors, including a space that houses the TV. When both slideouts are deployed, the bedroom is transformed into a spacious area inviting relaxation.
We did note that in order to maintain engine clearance, the bed is mounted somewhat high off the floor, and whoever occupies the rear side of the bed must negotiate a big step up. For safety's sake, some people may need to add an intermediate step to avoid stumbling when climbing into or out of bed.
Exterior storage in the Tour Master is very accessible. A slideout tray extends the entire width of one of the compartments and can be pulled out from either side. In another storage compartment, clear plastic containers nest together for security and ease of use. Another compartment contains self-storing air and water hoses (they curl back into place when you're finished using them). The air hose is connected to the air suspension system and can be used to top off the tires of the coach and towed vehicle. The water hose is connected to the house water system and can be used for washing the vehicle, spraying dust off the awnings, etc.
Tour Master: head of bed in curb-side slideoutLiving outdoors with the T40 is almost as nice as living indoors, because in yet another patio-side compartment is a slideout combination freezer-cooler. Add the optional outside gas grill, and you have a well-appointed tailgate vehicle.
Inside another compartment is the generator — a diesel-powered Generac 7.5-kilowatt unit. It provides all the electrical power you'll ever need while dry camping or traveling. You'll really appreciate the noise-suppression system on the Generac, because if you're outside enjoying the patio, normal traffic sounds can actually mask the generator's exhaust. It's so quiet you must touch the coach to feel the minor vibration and verify that the gen set is running.
Just like many towed cars, the Tour Master T40 offers keyless entry via a key fob remote. Another nice detail is the headlamps. Most of us are accustomed to seeing large-lens lights in the front cap of motorhomes, which is not the case with the Tour Master. Small high-intensity headlights, more commonly seen on a sports car, are used instead. They provided clear, white beams that were a joy to follow through the night.
Our test coach featured two different Master-Sound surround-sound systems: a standard unit in the living area and an optional one in the bedroom. The multiple speakers may be small, but the sound they produce is huge. And, rather than a conventional television that can take up considerable space, the bedroom was outfitted with a 27-inch LCD model that measured only about 4 inches deep; it was slim enough to allow storage for DVDs, CDs, and tapes in a cabinet behind it.
For those of us who enjoy using a laptop with navigation software, the Tour Master could benefit from a 120-volt-AC outlet in the dash or near the passenger's seat. The coach has three 12-volt-DC outlets, but the only 120-volt-AC outlet in the region is in the cabinet that houses the entertainment center, situated over the windshield. A cord hanging from that area could be a distraction. In addition, next to the passenger seat you'll find the power awning deployment switch. Since it's not identified, an inexperienced passenger may begin to deploy the awning while traveling, thinking that it's the entry step cover switch. Actually, that switch is located near the driver's seat.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation makes the XC diesel chassis that forms the foundation for the Tour Master line today. The XC chassis is said to be Freightliner's most popular diesel-pusher platform. The chassis is available with either Caterpillar or Cummins engines, or the new Mercedes-Benz MBE 926 engine. Our test coach had the latter. Thus far, Freightliner is the only chassis maker using the MBE 926 engine for type A motorhomes.
The MBE 926 is a 7.2-liter, six-cylinder power plant capable of providing 330 horsepower at 2,200 rpm with 1,000 pound-feet of torque. This engine was coupled with the Allison 3000 MH six-speed automatic transmission. In my fuel economy test, the coach averaged 9.7 miles per gallon.
During my test, I found that the coach will stop on a dime and give you change — which you'll use for patience during the acceleration phase. In my opinion, the T40 is slow off the line, but once it reaches cruising speed, it holds nicely.
The XC chassis offers a new I-beam front axle with an increased 55-degree wheel cut. The higher the wheel cut, the easier a motorhome can be turned around in a given space without backing up — an important feature I appreciated when maneuvering the Tour Master in tight quarters such as parking lots, campgrounds, and difficult entrances.
A raised-rail-and-truss configuration acts as the foundation for this luxury diesel coach. It includes a seamless fiberglass roof; molded, high-density EPS (expanded polystyrene) roof brick insulation; and welded tubular aluminum roof framing.
The floor construction starts with a heavy-gauge welded steel truss system to which is added heavy-gauge tubular steel framing, seamless Structurwood floor decking, lauan decking, and extra-thick padding under stain-resistant carpet.
For lightweight strength, the sidewalls begin with heavy-gauge welded tubular aluminum. Bubble-wrapped foil insulation is added next; interior wall panels are laminated to the sidewall framing; and fiberglass exterior panels are vacuum-bond laminated to the sidewall framing. The sidewalls sit on steel lips and are lagged into the floor frame for greater structural integrity in what is called sill-plate construction.
Last but not least, the basement storage compartments consist of a seamless layer of galvanized steel securely attached to the steel floor framing. Galvanized steel is then used to form each compartment. Rust-prohibitive paint is applied to all steel framing for corrosion and rust protection, and then all-weather carpeting is added.
The base suggested retail price for the Tour Master T40 is $204,393. The price of the coach I evaluated came to $213,724 and included the following options: 15,000-Btu air conditioner; 7.5-kilowatt Generac diesel generator; aluminum sliding tray in basement; exterior pull-out gas grill; bedroom Master-Sound surround-sound stereo system.
Altogether, the many impressive details I found in the Tour Master T40 led me to conclude that it's like a good mosaic. If you put enough good sizes, colors, and shapes together, you wind up creating a beautiful piece of art.
Manufacturer … Tour Master Inc., 503 S. Oakland Ave., Nappanee, IN 46550; (800) 211-8794; (574) 773-7151; www.tourmasterrv.com
Model tested ... 2006 Tour Master
Floor plan ... T40
Chassis ... Freightliner XC
Engine ... Mercedes-Benz MBE 926, 7.2-liter, 330 horsepower @ 2,200 rpm, 1,000 pound-feet torque at 1,300 rpm
Transmission ... Allison 3000 MH
Axle ratio ... 4:78:1
Tires ... Goodyear G670 275 80R 22.5
Wheels ... aluminum, 22.5 inches by 8.25 inches
Wheelbase ... 288 inches
Brakes ... full air with ABS; disc in front, drum in rear
Suspension ... Neway air suspension with Sachs shock absorbers
Alternator ... 200 amps
Batteries ... house — (2) 12-volt; chassis — (2) 12-volt; inverter — (4) 6-volt
Steering ... TRW THP 60 hydraulic power 20.4:1 ratio with 55-degree wheel cut
Electrical service ... 50-amp
Auxiliary generator ... Generac 7.5-kilowatt, diesel (optional)
Inverter ... 2,000-watt
Convertor ... Intellitec 80-amp
Exterior width ... 100 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 6 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet 6 inches
Exterior length ... 42 feet 2 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 42,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 32,000 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 12,400 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 11,140 pounds; rear — 17,660 pounds; total — 28,800 pounds
Payload as tested ... 3,200 pounds
Frame construction ... welded truss chassis
Insulation ... 1.5-pound bead board
Fresh water capacity ... 90 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... black water, 75 gallons; gray water, 75 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 100 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Propane capacity ... 115 pounds
Water heater ... 10-gallon Atwood
Water delivery system ... Shurflo, on-demand
Furnace ... 40,000-Btu Suburban
Air conditioning ... (1) 27,000-Btu central air unit; (1) 15,000-Btu roof unit (optional)
Refrigerator ... 22-cubic-foot GE residential with ice maker
Toilet ... Aqua Magic
Warranty ... chassis — 36 months/50,000 miles; house — 12 months/12,000 miles; structural — 3 years/36,000 miles
Base price ... $204,393
Price as tested ... $213,724