This compact, amenity-filled motorhome delivers a solid driving experience.
By Lazelle Jones
Without a doubt, the 2009 272XL Coach House Platinum has visual appeal and can be considered nothing less than a luxury coach. This downsized Type C with aerodynamic styling definitely turns heads. However, beauty is more than skin-deep at Coach House Motor Homes. Tour the company’s Nokomis, Florida, facility and it becomes apparent that in addition to the looks, luxury, and functionality of a Coach House motorhome, considerable emphasis is placed on construction and attention to detail. I discovered this prior to taking a Platinum 272XL motorhome out for a test outing for Family Motor Coaching.
Coach House offers 16 Platinum models on two different chassis: the Dodge Sprinter with the Mercedes V-6 turbocharged diesel engine, and the Ford E-450 with a Triton V-10 gasoline engine or optional Ford Powerstroke turbocharged diesel. Platinum models range in length from 22 feet to 27 feet and can include zero, one, or two slideout rooms. Regardless of which chassis or model you choose, the design and construction of the house (coach) portion of this product is noteworthy.
The house structure is a monocoque type of design. The roof, walls, and skirts are fabricated as a single-piece structure without sections or panels, which reaps huge dividends in strength and over-the-road performance.
It all begins with a four-piece mold. The sections are bolted together and mounted on a giant device that rotates, permitting fiberglass technicians to work inside the mold and turn the unit as work progresses.
The first step is to spray a layer of gel-coat over the inside of the empty mold. The gel-coat is the high-gloss surface that ultimately receives the full-body paint and graphics. Next, individual strips of fiberglass are hand-laid by technicians, followed by an application of resin and catalyst to each layer. The fiberglass cloth is placed precisely and at the exact thickness required. Layer upon layer of fiberglass cloth is added, with the resin/catalyst process being repeated, until the thickness of the walls, roof, and skirts meets the engineered design of the Platinum. Some areas require additional thickness for strength, while other areas are not required to be as thick; thus, a savings in weight is achieved without sacrificing structural integrity. This construction step involves many man-hours (much more so than the process associated with applying fiberglass via a chop gun or a spray-on applicator), but Coach House employs this method because of the quality and strength it yields.
After the resin has cured, the forms that make up the mold are unbolted and stripped away. What remains is a substantial single-piece structure that is exceptionally strong and appealing to the eye.
Coach House does not stop there. Insulating the walls is another process worth a detailed look. Technicians attach a special insulating fabric to the inside of the fiberglass shell. This fabric comes on huge rolls and is cut to fit the exact location where it will be used. The cloth is laced with millions of tiny air pockets that stand vigilantly against heat transfer, be it from the outside to the inside or vice versa. This 1-inch-thick cloth is dressed on both sides by a temperature-reflective aluminum skin.
Next, molded fiberglass panels are added to the interior side to provide the final sandwiching of the high-efficiency insulation. This does a couple of important things. First, it is neutral to the eye. Second, it is low-maintenance and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
The floor is constructed using 1½-inch aluminum square tubes that are miter-cut and continuously welded to seal all joints, protecting them from moisture and road elements. Next, an aluminum skin and 1-inch lightweight honeycomb composite floor is manufactured and installed on the aluminum floor grid. To finish the process, a sheet of commercial-grade linoleum is installed front to back and side to side, making sure the floor is protected from the elements.
The floor is attached to the chassis rails via a bolt-on rail and puck system, which provides an additional cushion and greatly diminishes road noises. The one-piece house connects to the floor using a patented, sealed aluminum flange, while the front of the house is attached to the metal factory cab with Plexus adhesive and metal fasteners.
The Platinum’s suspension system is composed of three subsystems. Collectively and individually, they intercept and modulate trauma and vibration frequencies that can be generated when encountering rough roads. The first of these subsystems includes the shock absorbers and factory chassis springs. The second system is added by Coach House and consists of a series of rubber pucks that are placed between the floor and the chassis rails. They give the house or coach structure the ability to float in response to road-generated roughness. The third subsystem — Firestone adjustable air springs — also is added by Coach House. These springs modulate road-originated bumps and cushion the ride, and also assist in load leveling as cargo is added and removed and as holding tanks are filled and emptied.
The heating and air-conditioning in every Coach House motorhome is centrally ducted. For the air-conditioning, a central plenum is housed in the roof and runs the length of the ceiling. Adjustable ceiling registers permit occupants to tailor the flow of cool air to locations in the coach where it is needed. The 13,500-Btu roof-mounted air conditioner also features a heat strip as standard equipment that is more than sufficient to take the edge off a cool morning without needing to run the furnace. In addition, a 30,000-Btu electronically controlled forced-air furnace delivers warm, toasty air via its own central ducting system to all areas of the coach, making this unit fully capable of taming the very cold temperatures associated with four-season RVing.
My Platinum 272XL test unit had an overall length of 26 feet 10 inches, and when road-ready (the slideouts retracted), it measured 96 inches wide. This particular coach featured two slideout rooms, one streetside in the front living area and a curbside slide in the rear bedroom. With the slides extended, the overall width was 11 feet 6 inches. The actual gross weight of the unit reviewed came to 12,860 pounds at the scales; this included a full fresh water tank (38 gallons) and a full fuel tank (55 gallons). The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 14,500 pounds, which means the 272XL reviewed had a cargo carrying capacity (passengers and gear) of 1,640 pounds.
Coach House has elected to use HWH hydraulic slideout mechanisms to power the slideouts. Each slideout employs one or two hydraulic arms that articulate with precision for extension and retraction. The HWH system can be powered using the coach battery pack. Thick automotive-style compression bulb seals are placed around the opening of each slideout wall and ensure that the interior environment remains sealed off from the outside. Topper awnings extend and retract with each slide. When the slides are retracted, huge wiper-type blades clean away any moisture that may collect on the exterior surfaces of the slide walls.
HWH also makes the four-point hydraulic leveling system that comes standard on the Platinum. This system features an auto leveling function that levels the coach at the touch of a button.
I took the 272XL on a 300-mile road trip — long enough to determine that Coach House strives to ensure an excellent driving experience. The large-displacement Triton V-10 engine with which this coach was equipped provided plenty of motive force. The ride was excellent, and road noise and other sounds that can develop if air leakage is present through or around seams were absent. Visibility via the side mirrors and backup monitor was good. The 272XL was easy to maneuver in urban settings and to navigate through unfamiliar locales.
I liked the ease of movement between the cab and the coach, especially because the floor flowing between the two areas was on a level plane.
Early on I said that the Platinum’s outside visuals are pleasing to the eye, but let me add that they are equally appealing on the inside. To begin with, the front slideout can be appointed with either a convertible dinette/bed or with a sleeper sofa; my review unit included the latter. The sleeper sofa is powered electrically to fold out into a bed and fold back up into a sofa. The touch of a toggle switch first moves the sofa out and away from the wall. Another switch folds the sofa out flat into a sleeping quarter that measures 54 inches by 72 inches. The switch is toggled again to move the flat sleeping area back against the wall. The sofa is dressed with Optima leather-touch upholstery, as is the opposing lounge chair, which swivels. This upholstery is buttery to the touch and very comfortable, yet rugged and low-maintenance, as it cleans up with a damp cloth.
With the sleeper sofa orientation, the Platinum has no permanently installed dining table. When table surface is needed, two posts are pulled from storage and inserted into the floor in front of the sofa, followed by the addition of tabletops.
The passenger-side cockpit seat can be rotated rearward to yield another seating possibility in the living area.
The main entry is located immediately aft of the passenger cockpit seat, maximizing the livability of the salon and galley areas. Continuity in motif is the name of the game, and visually, the interior areas of the 272XL flow nicely with one another. Immediately aft of the swivel lounge chair is a state-of-the-art galley that includes a solid-surface countertop. This area incorporates a recessed three-burner LP-gas cooktop, a recessed double-basin galley sink, a microwave-convection oven, a range hood, a six-cubic-foot three-way refrigerator-freezer, a large pantry, and a built-in coffeemaker.
The fully appointed residential bathroom is housed behind interior walls midway in the coach on the street side. It includes a full-size shower with an interior height of 6 feet 2 inches; a porcelain toilet; and a sink/counter/cabinet that is fashioned from a fiberglass mold, the same way the coach structure is built. This unit features curved surfaces and is pleasing to the eye.
The rear bedroom is a luxurious venue that reflects a good deal of planning and forethought. The curbside slideout encases the head of the queen-size bed. At the foot of the bed is a floor-to-ceiling complex that includes a spacious wardrobe and a cabinet with roll-out drawers. Directly above this cabinet is space for an optional high-definition television.
The holding tank capacities are respectable for a motorhome of this size: fresh water, 38 gallons; gray water, 25 gallons; black water, 20 gallons. With fluid management, RVers can enjoy several days of primitive (stand-alone) camping. This can be further augmented by adding the optional power inverter, which runs off the house battery pack (two deep-cycle marine-style batteries; a third is an option) and can power everything that is 110-volt, with the exception of the roof air conditioner. However, the standard auxiliary generator handles this nicely under stand-alone camping conditions. Customers also can select optional heated holding tanks – an advisable addition for those who like to travel in really cold country.
The number of options offered on the Platinum are relatively few, for this is a very well-appointed motorhome. The base manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the 272XL is $165,850; my test unit carried a suggested retail price of $180,495 and came with these options: Bose 3-2-1 front TV surround sound; 2,000-watt power inverter; 19-inch Toshiba HD TV in bedroom; 11-foot Fiamma box awning; heated holding tanks; third auxiliary battery; deluxe full-body paint.
After my recent examination of the Coach House Platinum 272XL, I deduced that this motorhome is well worth investigating for its good looks, solid construction, and comfortable road performance.
Coach House Motor Homes, 3480 Technology Drive, Nokomis, FL 34275; (800) 235-0984; http://www.coachhouserv.com/
272XL FS (front sofa)
Ford E-450 Super Duty
6.8-liter Triton V-10
4.56 to 1
springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer bar
house — (2) deep-cycle marine-style, standard; (1) additional, optional 12-volt 90 AH deep-cycle maintenance-free; chassis — 12-volt
Dimensions 2,000-watt (optional)
26 feet 10 inches
6 feet 3 inches
10 feet 5 inches (including roof A/C)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front – 5,000 pounds;
rear – 9,500 pounds
WET WEIGHT AS TESTED
front axle – 3,740 pounds;
rear axle – 9,140 pounds;
total – 12,860 pounds
PAYLOAD AS TESTED
one-piece fiberglass body
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water – 25 gallons;
black water – 20 gallons
6-gallon electric/engine assist
30,000 Btu; thermostatically controlled
(1) 13,500-Btu unit with heat strip
3 years/36,000 miles conversion;
3 years/36,000 miles chassis;
5 years/60,000 miles powertrain;
24-hour “800” roadside assistanceBASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED