This new diesel pusher is one of several Type A motorhomes now produced by Entegra Coach, a division of Jayco Inc.
By Guy and Pam Selbert
The 2009 Anthem by Entegra Coach is a real eye-catcher. We recently had the opportunity to test a new 42-foot-10-inch diesel pusher in this model line. Patterned in a vivid exterior color scheme of cream, gold, and pearl black, it grabbed our attention as dramatically as a zebra on the dun-colored Serengeti.
While putting this good-looker through its paces, we wondered whether the Anthem could continue to intrigue us. The answer was a resounding "yes." We spent a week touring Michigan's Lower Peninsula and thoroughly enjoyed the captivating beauty of the woods, the water, the towns, and the motorhome, which proved first-rate in all categories.
The Anthem is part of a newly formed line of RVs launched by Jayco Inc. after the company purchased some assets of the former Travel Supreme Inc. in early 2008. Two other Type A diesel pusher models, the Aspire and Cornerstone, are currently produced in this line, as well as fifth-wheel travel trailers and toy haulers.
Foundation and performance
Entegra engineers chose the Spartan Mountain Master tag axle chassis as the basis for the Anthem, which we viewed as an excellent selection. As with other motorhomes we have tested on Spartan diesel pusher chassis, we found the Anthem to be exemplary in ride, handling, lack of road noise, and parking.
The Anthem is pushed by a 425-horsepower Cummins ISL 8.9-liter electronic diesel engine, which is smooth, quiet, and efficient. Our test tank, computed over several days under various road and weather conditions, yielded 9 miles per gallon. We found the big Cummins to be clean-burning and far more campground-friendly, in terms of exhaust, than older units we have tested.
The Cummins is backed by the ever-smooth Allison 3000 MH six-speed World transmission with an electronic shifter. The highest compliments you can pay an automatic transmission are that you don't generally notice it and that downshifting can be done with just a touch. Both are true of the Allison.
The 425 horses are routed to the drive axle by a Meritor 4:88-to-1 differential. The hefty 295/8R 22-inch XZA2 Michelin radial tires are mounted on highly polished aluminum wheels.
All this is what makes the coach go. What stops it is a combination of all-wheel pure air disc brakes controlled by an antilocking system assisted by a two-stage Jacobs Engine Brake. On the Anthem, the Jake brake is set to turn off under acceleration; thus, it can be left on in case it is needed.
Our road test included a 60-to-zero-mph braking test performed on a flat, smooth, straight road with no traffic. We stopped the motorhome using both the Jake brake on full and the ABS air brakes, with impressive results. The hefty coach came to a dead stop as meekly as a sports car, with no dip, sway, or squealing of tires, and was fully under control.
Trademarked X-bridge frames — an Entegra Coach exclusive — are engineered into the Anthem chassis below the frame between the basement bays to provide further support and stabilization. The ride is easy and quiet, yet the driver never feels out of touch with the road.
The front independent suspension axle by Spartan, combined with a Hendrickson air-bag suspension system and Bilstein shock absorbers, keeps control in the driver's hands while minimizing jolts inside the coach on bumpy roads.
One of our other tests, which involved driving the coach diagonally down a steep driveway cut to determine how it would recover from the resulting sway, happened by accident. Pulling out of a parking lot on what appeared to be a driveway, we bumped down over a curb. Though each tire thumped independently, we noticed no sway. The equalizing system between the Hendrickson air bags worked instantly and smoothly, allowing the coach to simply step down off the curb.
Overall, the Anthem's driving performance was excellent. We negotiated rough and smooth roads through wet and dry weather conditions, at various speeds in towns and on the open road. In all instances, we found that the coach handled easily and safely. With its 55-degree wheel cut coupled with a tag air dump, which operates automatically in reverse, the Anthem slipped easily into and out of tight places.
We've already noted the Anthem's impressive exterior. One might be tempted to just stand awhile and admire the superb paint job (completed by Precision Painting Inc. in nearby Bremen, Indiana) before climbing in. This particular color scheme, dubbed White Diamond Pearl, is a real showstopper. The gorgeous exterior is painted on, clear-coated, and hand-rubbed — no decals or appliques.
When you mount the tiled stairs, you'll find an elegant interior with a porcelain tile floor, Flexsteel furniture upholstered in distressed-look Ultraleather, an array of solid wood cabinets (cherry in our test coach), and so much room when the four slideouts are extended (433 square feet) that you might even envision holding a dance there.
The forward slides (161 inches by 30 inches on the street side, 138 inches by 17 inches on the curb side) expand the living-dining area, which includes sofas on both sides, a dinette on the street side, and the galley opposite.
The curbside sofa, positioned behind the copilot's seat, is a hide-a-bed with an inflatable air mattress. The facing sofa is a double recliner. Dinette seating is integral with the street-side recliner/sofa, and the combination runs the length of the living area. At the rear of this living area, adjacent to the dinette, is an impressive 42-inch LCD TV with home theater surround sound and an optional electric fireplace as its base. In addition to being decorative, the fireplace provides significant warmth.
In the galley, a two-bowl sink is served by a single-handle, brushed-chrome faucet with pull-out sprayer. Sink covers, galley countertops, and the dinette table all are of matching Corian, as are countertops elsewhere throughout the coach. A three-burner cooktop with a folding Corian cover is complemented by a large GE microwave-convection oven. Over and under the cooking appliances is a set of cabinets and drawers with smoothly operating doors and drawers. All have carpeted bottoms to help hold contents upright when the coach is moving and to help minimize noise.
Behind the galley, in the waist of the coach, is a GE residential-style, two-door, 23.3-cubic-foot stainless-steel refrigerator featuring cold water and ice dispensers in the door. This is an option; a Norcold four-door, 12-cubic-foot refrigerator with ice maker is standard. The fridge receives its power via either the shore line or a 2,800-watt sine-wave inverter that can also operate other 110-volt appliances, including the microwave, from four deep-cycle six-volt house batteries.
A center half-bath is located behind the TV and fireplace, necessary because when the bedroom slides are in, the rear bath cannot be accessed. The half-bath is outfitted with a Thetford toilet, a small vanity, and a medicine cabinet. Across the hall, a large cabinet hides a stacked Whirlpool washer and dryer.
A beautifully crafted pocket door opens into the bedroom, where the comfortable 72-inch-by 80-inch king-size bed has plenty of walk-around room, and cabinet space is plentiful. The headboard is mounted to the street-side slideout, with a cabinet overhead. Opposite it is a well-designed wardrobe with hanging space above, large drawers below, and a makeup counter in the middle. Above the counter is a 32-inch LCD TV, a hinged unit that hides a safe.
Another pocket door leads aft to the large master bath, which features a porcelain tile floor and a Corian-topped vanity. Adjacent to the curbside vanity is an Aria electric push-button porcelain toilet. This model has two flushing options and a manual override in case of lost power. Opposite it is a luxurious, clear-glass radiused shower with quarter-round sliding doors. The roomy shower, with a porcelain tile surround, is served by a brushed-chrome spray-type shower set with an oversized shower head.
A large cedar closet spans the rear of the coach and is fronted by matching mirrored pocket doors.
Ceilings throughout the Anthem are covered in padded vinyl; in addition, a mirrored lunette enhances the living area ceiling. All floors are tiled except in the bedroom, which is carpeted. Two large rugs made of matching carpeting are custom-made for the master bath and cockpit.
Reversing our steps, let's return to the cockpit. Once in the pilot's seat, the driver will enjoy the Smart Wheel, which increases safety by allowing the driver to keep both hands on the wheel when operating common functions such as the cruise control, the headlight switch, the wiper/washer controls, and the ICC button (for signaling other drivers by flashing the running lights). To enhance visibility in this area, the Anthem has been equipped with a one-piece wraparound Ultra-Vision windshield featuring frameless, tinted, dual-pane safety windows.
Three large, round analog gauges are located on the dash just in front of the driver. At the left is the tachometer, and in the center the speedometer. To the right are four smaller circular gauges that give readings of front and rear air pressure, voltmeter, and oil pressure. Other important information regarding the odometer, trip odometer, fuel economy, remaining fuel, outside temperature, etc. appears on the Spartan Message Center, which is accessed by a small screen on the dash. Just left of the analog gauges is the control center for the Equalizer four-position leveling system, which works quickly and well.
A set of switches at the driver's left hand activates the Jake brake, exterior lighting, mirror control, heat for mirrors, and more. To the driver's right is a dual screen for the AM/FM/XM/CD radio navigation center, and below it is a monitor screen for the outside cameras. Three color cameras are accessed from this screen: one on each side of the coach that are activated by the turn signal, and a backup default camera, which also supplies sound. The Pioneer radio is a true miracle of engineering. Not only does it present a vast array of XM channels from which to choose, it also provides driving instructions from the GPS.
Farther to the right on the dash are the heat and air-conditioning controls and the switch for the Onan diesel 8-kw generator. When dry camping, the whole coach runs on the big sine-wave inverter; should the house batteries get low, the gen set fires up automatically to recharge them.
A central console houses a map compartment and is topped by a tray with two cup holders.
Pedals are adjustable, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. The driver's seat adjusts electrically to a seemingly infinite number of positions, and the copilot's seat is a recliner.
Illumination throughout the interior is provided by a series of frosted ceiling halogen lights, sconce lights, and base cabinet reflectors, all controlled by a multiplex switching system. Five strategically located control panels operate several sets of lights via clearly labeled buttons.
This coach features four flat-panel LCD TVs. In addition to the living area entertainment center and bedroom units, a third is housed in the exterior entertainment array, which folds out of the forward curbside bay. The fourth TV, with a 26-inch screen, is encased above the dash on the copilot's side, just above the entry door. All of the TVs are served by the standard manual crank-up antennae and by a King-Dome satellite dish mounted on the roof, and they include first-rate DVD players.
A word about the cockpit TV. To shut the entry door, you must brace yourself directly under this set. As the door closes and you step up, it's easy to bump the TV with your head. Because the coach includes three other TVs, including the home theater at the far end of the living-dining area, perhaps this over-the-dash TV could be eliminated.
The home theater in the Anthem is positioned as a focal point of the living area. However, seating in this area is limited to along the exterior walls, which makes viewing difficult for more than one person. An extendable dinette table with extra chairs might resolve this seating issue.
In our test motorhome, heat and hot water were supplied by the optional Aqua-Hot system, which also can preheat the engine. The Aqua-Hot runs on either campground or generator electricity, or on diesel fuel. The system routes a hot antifreeze mix through a 42,000-Btu forced-air furnace to warm the coach and a heat exchanger to heat domestic water. The furnace also warms the basement bays and thus keeps the coach floor warm. Dual 15,000-Btu low-profile air conditioners mounted on the roof are equipped with heat pumps.
The Anthem's fresh-water tank holds 100 gallons, and the gray and black water tanks hold 60 gallons each.
Just aft of the entry door in the first curbside storage bay is the top-notch entertainment array. Its chief component is a 26-inch swing-out LCD TV with radio/CD and speakers. The Carefree One Touch power awning over this area can transform the curb side of the coach into a first-class three-season porch. The power awning that protects the entry door and the toppers that roll out over each of the four slideouts are also Carefree products.
The number two bay is dedicated to storage and is well served by a sliding tray that can be triggered from either side. The Aqua-Hot occupies the next bay on the street side, but the curb side is open for storage. The curbside doors on these bays swing open, while the street-side doors lift up.
The utility bay is the fourth back on the street side. A 50-amp (220-volt) shore line measuring 30 feet long is stored in this bay, as is a 40-foot-long fresh-water hose, both on motorized reels. The dump is standard, with a screw-type floor plug for the drain and an outdoor shower for convenient rinse-out.
The Anthem 42 RB we reviewed carried an as-tested price of $354,785 (base price is approximately $17,000 less). Options on our test unit included a slide-out storage tray; XM Radio tuner/antenna; Pioneer navigation system; GE residential-style refrigerator with water and ice in door and 2,800-watt sine wave inverter; Whirlpool stackable washer-dryer; electric fireplace; exterior 26-inch LCD TV; multiplex coach switching and Aqua-Hot 450 water and heating system with in-floor heat throughout.
The Anthem provides a great deal of value, in our opinion. In fact, our only true disappointment with the coach was that we weren't able to keep it longer.
Entegra Coach Inc., 903 S. Main St., P.O. Box 460, Middlebury, IN 46540; (800) 945-4787; www.entegracoach.com
Spartan Mountain Master
Cummins ISL 425 hp (8.9 L); 425 horsepower @ 2,200 rpm; 1,200 pound-feet torque @ 1,300 rpm
Allison 3000 MH 6-speed
ABS, full air
Hendrickson air suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers
chassis — (2) 12-volt heavy-duty
house — (4) 6-volt deep-cycle
Douglas adjustable tilt/telescoping steering column with 55-degree wheel cut
50-amp power cord with electric reel
8.0-kilowatt Onan diesel
42 feet 10 inches
12 feet 9 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 14,600 pounds;
rear — 20,000 pounds;
tag — 10,000 pounds
WET WEIGHT AS TESTED
front axle — 13,000 pounds;
rear axle — 15,060 pounds;
tag axle — 7,720 pounds;
total — 35,780 pounds
(weighed with two people onboard, full fresh water and fuel tanks, and empty holding tanks)
PAYLOAD AS TESTED
Aluma-Tru Superstructure on 16 centers
Polar Pack Insulation with reflective Flexfoil plus foam insulation laminated to sidewall; floor (R-33), roof (R-24), and sidewalls (R-16)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 60 gallons;
black water — 60 gallons
12 gallons, or optional Aqua-Hot
42,000-Btu, dual zones
(2) 15,000-BTU low-profile roof units with heat pumps and drain tubes
12-cubic-foot Norcold with ice maker, standard; residential-style refrigerator with water and ice in door and 2,800-watt sine wave inverter, optional
half-bath – Thetford Aqua-Magic Plus porcelain with water sprayer;
rear bath – Thetford Tecma SP Electric Macerator porcelain with electric push button
coach – 1 year/12,000 miles;
structural – 3 years;
chassis – 3 years/36,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED