This elegant diesel pusher on the Freightliner XCR chassis combines smooth power with luxurious livability.
By Lazelle Jones
If ever there were a natural proving ground for any kind of vehicle, and especially a 40-foot diesel-pusher motorhome, California State Route 74, also called the Ortega Highway, is it. It winds from sea level up to where it crests at the top of the Santa Ana Mountains and then drops dramatically down to Lake Elsinore below. This tortuous path was created during the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration, and except for paving, not much else can be done to this challenging ribbon of highway.
Recently, I visited the National RV factory in Perris, California, where I took delivery of a 2008 Pacifica PC40D diesel pusher to review it for Family Motor Coaching. I immediately headed for the Ortega Highway, "nature's proving ground." It seemed a perfect place to start assessing the coach's roadworthiness, livability, and general features.
The Pacifica joined National RV's diesel-pusher lineup in 2007. It is built on the Freightliner XCR raised-rail chassis and available in four floor plans, in 36-foot and 40-foot lengths, and with a choice of up to four slideouts.
As I soon discovered, the road manners and over-the-road performance of the 40-foot PC40D are excellent. The Pacifica drove and handled superbly, with more than sufficient power delivered by the combination of the 350-horsepower Caterpillar turbodiesel engine and the Allison six-speed 3000 MH transmission. (Subsequent 2008 models are outfitted with a 360-horsepower Cummins or an optional 400-horsepower Cummins ISL.) I challenged it while climbing 6 percent to 8 percent grades over State Route 74, entering interstate on-ramps, and passing and cruising at freeway speeds. The coach was quiet, smooth, and responsive — a mix of characteristics that minimize driver fatigue when negotiating a long leg of a journey or wrangling through heavy urban traffic.
The Pacifica's single-piece windshield is massive and unencumbered by any posts. Driving also is enhanced by power-adjustable split and heated side mirrors, and by a high-resolution color monitor that provides real-time images from the rear of the coach and along both sides when the turn signal is activated. Together these features provide the driver with a thorough sense of what is taking place around the coach. I felt confident behind the wheel as I maneuvered the Pacifica across a broad spectrum of driving situations.
The cockpit instrumentation has been kept simple, providing only the essential data a driver will actually need and use. The large, very legible white instrument cluster is helpful when visually transitioning back and forth between the bright light outside and the dash.
In the cockpit, instrumentation is uncluttered and easy to access.
In the cockpit, instrumentation is uncluttered
and easy to access.
I found that the Pacbrake exhaust brake worked effectively on the mountain grade over the Ortega Highway, and only a bare minimum of actual pedal braking was required to slow the coach as we descended. The adjustable brake and accelerator pedals allowed me to tailor them to a position where my legs and feet felt most comfortable. At park entrances, a small driver's-side slider window enabled me to communicate with the park ranger and provided an easy path by which the exchange of dollars for a park entrance ticket could take place.
You can never have enough cup holders, and National RV has definitely supplied them in the Pacifica. A supplemental set of beverage holders is located in the top drawer of a stack of three pull-out drawers in the center console that runs from the floor up to the dash. The two lower drawers provide an abundance of storage. However, herein lies one of two critique items I found in the cockpit area. In my view, these three drawers would be easier to grab if the finger pulls were a bit deeper. The other critique has to do with one of the vents that delivers chassis air-conditioning or heat out the front of the dash. The delivery path of the air from this particular vent was obstructed by the rear/side coach monitor. Company officials later noted that the offending air duct has been moved and is no longer obstructed by the flip-out screen.
The single-piece electric windshield shade lowers and raises at the touch of a button. It serves as a sun visor or provides a total blackout of light when desired or needed. This combination shade and visor manages the intrusion of sun and heat through the massive windshield while navigating. When you're parked and ready to sequester yourself from the outside world, simply lower this electric blackout shade down to the dash. Track-mounted, pleated fabric drapes on the passenger and driver side complete the process.
The Pacifica PC40D has a gross vehicle weight rating of 32,000 pounds. With a full tank of fuel (100 gallons) and a full tank of fresh water (105 gallons), I took my test unit to the scales, where it weighed 27,440 pounds. Doing the arithmetic, 4,500-plus pounds of cargo-carrying capacity remained, using the approximate 150 cubic feet of basement storage, as well as storage areas inside the coach. For the full-timer particularly, the significance of having that kind of cargo-carrying capacity is huge. National RV makes it possible to utilize the plentiful basement storage with optional slide-out cargo trays inside the 92-inch, coach-wide basement storage compartments.
For a sizable coach such as the Pacifica, the fuel economy I recorded during my test outing was respectable. The Freightliner XCR chassis engine and chassis systems computer resets itself each time the engine is turned off, which indicates the average mpg figure for each leg of a journey. Depending on the kind of driving situations I found myself in, the coach registered between 6.2 and 7.2 mpg.
When extended, the front curbside slideout reveals a spacious area for meal preparation and dining.
When extended, the front curbside slideout reveals a spacious area for meal preparation and dining.
National RV has incorporated customer feedback obtained via focus group interviews in selecting design features for the Pacifica. For example, ceramic tile flooring is standard, extending from the 30-inch-wide bus-style front stairwell all the way back to the threshold of the rear bedroom. The ease of maintenance as well as the durability of tile versus carpet in high-traffic areas becomes immediately apparent upon entering the coach. Epoxy-based grout, a product that permits flexibility and longevity in luxury motorhome applications, is used in conjunction with the 12-inch-square pieces of tile. Ceramic tile also dresses the backsplash behind the solid-surface galley countertop.
Luxury coach enthusiasts in the focus groups also indicated a desire to be able to personalize their mobile abodes to reflect their unique styles and preferences. For example, clients noted that they prefer to accent the interior with dashes of color and textures that they choose via designer rugs, runners, etc. Thus, the coach's handsome neutral décor provides them the opportunity to do so.
In this coach, graced with National RV's Carmel interior décor, the elegant fabrics, the textures of materials and surfaces used, and the synergy of hues were enhanced by solid maple cabinetry. Valance and lambrequin window coverings and shades were dressed with upholstered fabric surrounding the tinted dual thermal-pane windows. Other available wood finish choices are natural cherry and stained cherry.
The PC40D Pacifica offers an innovative and functional floor plan that I also found attractive and luxurious. Three features specific to the PC40D underscore this. One, this 40-foot coach comes with four slideout rooms: one each in the galley and living area, and two in the rear bedroom. All four slideouts are controlled from a panel that is located midway in the coach. They are articulated by electric rack-and-pinion mechanisms. The two front slideout rooms measure 20 inches by 156 inches and 33 inches by 151 inches, while the stateroom slides measure 14 inches by 84 inches and 23 inches by 80 inches.
National RV ingeniously integrated a private half-bath midway in the PC40D that houses a lavatory and a porcelain toilet — a nice touch for guests. At the very rear of the unit is the coach-wide master bath.
The master bath includes a combination shower and tub, a porcelain toilet, and a massive sink and countertop with cabinets below. This elegantly appointed area is a full 97 inches wide by 52 inches deep. It instantly becomes a private venue simply by sliding the wood pocket doors to their closed position. Both the rear master suite bath and the guest’s half-bath up front feature stainless-steel sinks with satin nickel hardware and faucets. Both employ the same solid-surface countertop material as is found in the galley.
The master bath extends across the rear of the Pacifica.
The master bath extends across the rear of the Pacifica and is closed off by wood pocket doors. Solid maple cabinetry appears throughout the coach.
The living area features two opposing sleeper sofas. The driver's-side slideout houses one sofa, or two optional Euro recliners, and a stand-alone dining table with two upholstered chairs; a booth-style dinette is also available. The curbside slideout includes the second sofa bed and the state-of-the-art galley.
The galley merits mention for its functional efficiency. National RV has created a pull-out counter (27 inches long by 15½ inches wide) with a solid-surface countertop that glides out to create a giant L-shaped galley. This pull-out counter includes two roll-out drawers. Additional storage behind the drawers becomes accessible when the counter is extended. The counter is locked in place for travel and unlocked for use by a bayonet-type lock and key. My test coach also included a three-burner LP-gas cooktop, with two large drawers below for storing pots and pans. The aft end of the galley counter curves out, permitting the dual sink to be positioned in an easy-to-use location. A convection-microwave oven is included as well.
The 13-cubic-foot, four-door, stainless-steel refrigerator-freezer with ice maker is located in the center aisle of the coach, just aft of the streetside dinette. Immediately aft of the refrigerator, housed behind louvered wood doors, is a washer-dryer combo with a large storage cabinet directly above it. The curbside half-bath is situated opposite the washer-dryer. A second wood pocket door separates the center aisle from the rear bedroom suite.
The bedroom appears to be right out of a high-end, custom residential home. Buyers can choose a 60-inch-by-80-inch queen-size bed or a 72-inch-by 80-inch king-size bed. The only sacrifice made with the larger bed is that the nightstands, topped with solid-surface material, are a tad narrower. In either scenario, there is more than sufficient room to walk around the island bed. Both beds are available with an optional Sleep Comfort (sleep by the numbers) mattress from Select Comfort, which enables each person to tailor the softness or firmness of their side of the bed. The firmness touch controls (one for each side of the bed) are conveniently stowed out of the way in their own wall-mounted carriers above each nightstand. If you settle in for an afternoon nap on a long travel day, you may never want to leave. This space is just that delightful!
An abundance of attractive and convenient storage (wardrobes, cabinets, drawers) is designed into the master suite. The curbside slideout houses a significant portion of that storage. Positioned midway in this slideout complex is a 26-inch LCD flat-screen television. Below the television are two large roll-out drawers, with additional cabinets below. On either side of the television are three-quarter-length wardrobes, each capable of storing your favorite garments. More roll-out drawers are situated below the wardrobes.
This bath-and-a-half floor plan includes ceramic tile backsplashes and solid-surface countertops.
This bath-and-a-half floor plan includes ceramic tile backsplashes and solid-surface countertops in both bath areas.
Holding tank capacities are such that they can provide days of stand-alone motorhome living, should that be your forte. For times when hookups are available, the 50-amp shore power cable is motorized, so it retracts at the touch of a switch. The Pacifica comes standard with a 2,000-watt inverter and an 8-kilowatt diesel auxiliary generator. An auto-start function is standard, so should the charge level of the house batteries fall below a predetermined set point, the gen set automatically starts and loads. Heating is provided by dual 20,000-Btu centrally ducted, forced-air furnaces. Two 15,000-Btu roof-mounted, centrally ducted air conditioners (with optional heat pumps) tame the hottest of outside temperatures.
The PC40D is offered nicely appointed at $251,020. Fully optioned, it has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $265,174. My test coach, priced at $256,320, contained these options: protective paint film mask on front cap; central vacuum system; King Dome satellite system; slideout storage tray; window awnings; Select Comfort Sleep Number air mattress; washer-dryer combination unit; 50-amp power cord reel.
National RV has done an excellent job in creating a coach that drives, handles, and performs well. Add to that its luxurious livability, and the Pacifica is a definite contender in the diesel-pusher arena.
National RV Inc., 3411 N. Perris Blvd., Perris, CA 92571; (800) 322-6007, (951) 943-6007; www.nationalrv.com
Freightliner XCR raised-rail
Cummins ISC 7.2-liter; 350 horsepower @ 2400 rpm; 860 pound-feet torque @ 1440 rpm
Allison 3000 MH 6-speed automatic with overdrive
4.78 to 1
Full air brakes with ABS
Neway full air-ride suspension with manual air dump
18-inch VIP SmartWheel with electronic cruise control
Leece-Neville, 170 amps
house — (4) 6-volt deep-cycle;
chassis — (2) 760-cca 12-volt maintenance-free
2,000 watt inverter-convertor with remote on-off switch
50-amp, 120-volt distribution panel with resettable push-button circuit breakers
8-kw Onan Quiet diesel
40 feet 1 inch
12 feet 4 inches
7 feet 1 inch
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 12,000 pounds;
rear — 20,000 pounds
WET WEIGHT AS TESTED
front axle —9,900 pounds
rear axle —17,620 pounds
total —27,440 pounds
(weighed with full fresh water, fuel tanks)
PAYLOAD AS TESTED
Framed with tubular steel; laminated with four-season insulation, fiberglass skin, and maple interior cabinetry
Four-season EPS block foam
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
black water — 40 gallons
gray water — 60 gallons
demand, with water pump
(2) 20,000-Btu electronic-ignition furnaces, ducted
(2) 15,000-Btu ducted low-profile roof units with optional heat pumps
13-cubic-foot four-door Dometic with ice maker and stainless-steel panels
Low-profile porcelain with sprayer
PRICE AS TESTED
One-year comprehensive, five-year structural