An attractive option for RVers who wish to enjoy motorhoming in compact comfort.
By Lazelle Jones
In these challenging economic times, it's easy to look at the proverbial glass and consider it half empty. But those who prefer to look at the glass as half full might also subscribe to another motto: out of crisis comes opportunity.
Some companies continue to look forward and strive to deliver new, improved, and highly innovative products. In the RV industry, one is Phoenix USA, creator of the Phoenix Cruiser luxury Type B+ motorhome. The Phoenix Cruiser is offered in seven floor plans, with slideout rooms ranging from zero to two. This array of choices enables prospective buyers to select the configurations and options that are right for their particular needs and lifestyle.
This past December I took delivery of a 2009 Phoenix Cruiser 2551 for a test outing. Simply put, I found this coach replete with innovation, livability, functionality, and observable quality. I also was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is offered at a truly affordable price point. Standard-equipped, this unit comes with a base suggested retail price of $67,890, and when fully appointed, as was the unit I reviewed, it is offered with an MSRP of $83,572.
Long story short, the Phoenix Cruiser 2551 is a Type B+ motorhome that is a viable and affordable choice for those who want to begin enjoying the luxury RV lifestyle. Read on!
Though it is classified as a Type B+ motorhome, the Phoenix Cruiser's interior is surprisingly spacious. The coach offers excellent livability, not only for a couple who might be considering full-timing, but for RVers who sometimes accommodate overnight guests.
The Model 2551 I reviewed was a twin-bed floor plan that included an optional streetside slideout room housing a 54-inch-by-74-inch sleeper sofa. Overhead cabinets line the wall above the sofa for easy-access storage. The sofa is a trifold electric unit that opens or closes at the touch of a button. A fold-down/fold-up section in the center can be lowered and used as an armrest, a place to set beverages or snacks, or a small work surface.
The amount of interior space that typically is taken up by a stationary dining table is a moot point in the Model 2551. Instead, this floor plan employs an on-demand dining table system. Two stainless-steel poles remain stowed until mealtime approaches and/or a large table is mandated, and then the legs are inserted in floor ports in front of the sofa. A removable tabletop is then attached to the top ends of the poles, instantly creating a dining or utility table.
The 2551 also features a rear-bath configuration that spans the width of the coach and includes all of the residential features and amenities luxury RV enthusiasts expect. Housed on the curb side of the bath is a huge double-door wardrobe with a linen closet; a full-size shower is on the street side, with the toilet and lavatory in the middle. A pocket door glides closed to sequester the bath and the bedroom from one another. At the front end of the bedroom, an accordion-style door creates separation from the midcoach galley.
For those who like a twin-bed sleeping arrangement, the 2551 is just the ticket. Half-height wardrobes sit above the foot of each bed, with an optional LCD television mounted to the wall of the wardrobe adjacent to the curbside twin bed. The television is attached to the wall via a robotic-style arm. The TV remains flush against the wall until ready for use; then it articulates out and can be positioned for viewing from both beds.
Overhead cabinets that yield easily accessible storage line the walls above each of the beds.
I enjoyed another option that will be appreciated by those who use their coach for all-season camping: the insulated (dual-pane) glass option, which is particularly effective at holding back the heat and/or cold transfer between the inside of the coach and the outside ambient temperatures. This feature is especially nice in the rear bedroom, where the dual-pane side windows prevent cold spots from occurring, thereby making sleeping more comfortable.
Maple wood finish is standard in the Phoenix Cruiser, but my test unit featured the cherry wood option from front to rear. Its warm, natural tones and beautiful wood grain together create a visually inviting ambience.
The galley is first-rate, from a functional as well as an aesthetic standpoint. The countertop and oversized galley sink, made of marble-look solid-surface material, delightfully complement the cherry tones of the cabinetry. Beveled pieces of mirror lend further visual interest in this area.
Phoenix USA designers have not stopped there. The well-laid-out galley also boasts generous storage capacity. Below the countertop are two huge, deep, drawers mounted on ball-bearing drawer glides. Two counter extensions — one that opens out toward the center aisle and a second that folds up and occupies part of the airspace assigned to the entryway stairwell — create additional work area. The large galley sink and the two-burner cooktop include solid-surface covers that yield mega amounts of added countertop area when needed.
Directly above the cooktop is an optional microwave-convection oven, and right across the center aisle and opposite the cooktop is a double-door refrigerator/freezer. The front of the refrigerator is dressed with matching cherry-wood tone panels that continue the elegant interior theme.
In the cockpit, the captains seats were covered with optional leather. The dash and instrument panel include an optional faux burled wood treatment with an abbreviated center console that provides drink holders and storage for small miscellaneous items. The passenger seat swivels and can be turned toward the rear and used as additional seating when guests arrive. Above the windshield is an entertainment center that includes an optional 26-inch LCD television flanked by cabinets.
I enjoyed the optional rearview mirror containing a compass and temperature display; the six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat; and a small but highly functional, backup monitor. The monitor is mounted high and totally out of the way in the middle of the windshield, where it doesn’t interfere with operator function or visibility.
The Phoenix Cruiser will not leave the driver fatigued after a long travel day. With its automotive-style cockpit, everything is instantly familiar to anyone who has ever driven a large sedan. This is not an oversize coach by any stretch of the imagination, as evidenced by its exterior length of 27 feet 1 inch and an exterior width of 93 inches. It feels comfortable in urban settings where responsiveness, good braking, and all-around visibility are of paramount importance.
My only critique concerns the manual privacy shades that draw together and close in the center of the windshield. During my test outing, they seemed to be unnecessarily stiff and somewhat difficult to close and open.
The 2551 contained a couple of innovative exterior design features that I liked a lot. For one, the spare tire is housed inside a Continental-style kit cover off the rear wall of the coach, which offers a couple of advantages. First, it aesthetically blends with the lines and theme of the coach. Second, the tire can be accessed immediately if required. There is no need to lower the spare tire from below the rear of the chassis, because it is right there, nicely disguised but at your immediate disposal.
The second design feature worth noting is the pair of large exterior storage compartments. One is at the very rear of the coach on the curb side. The large opening to this cargo bay provides access to a storage compartment measuring 42 inches by 21 inches by 32 inches. The bottom portion of this compartment contains a pull-out storage drawer. The other exterior compartment is off the rear of the coach and immediately adjacent to the spare tire; this is where the 30-amp shore power cable is stowed.
A ladder up the back of the coach leads to the roof, which can be used as a viewing platform for spectator sports or whatever. The one-piece fiberglass roof is strong enough to accommodate stowing gear up there as well.
The Phoenix Cruiser 2551 uses the Ford E-450 as its platform of choice, a popular and very successful chassis among motorhome manufacturers. It receives power from the Triton 6.8-liter V-10 engine, which is married to a five-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel ABS brakes are standard, as is the 55-gallon fuel tank.
Phoenix USA uses Vacubond construction, a laminating process that adheres the gel-coat fiberglass exterior to the tubular aluminum members, which include cut-to-fit pieces of block foam insulation. This process is used in the manufacture of the roof, floor, and sidewalls. Metal framing surrounds all of the windows and doors. The structural members used in the 2-1/8-inch-thick floor are welded tubular steel with a sheet of moisture-proof plywood added for the subflooring. The bottom (exterior) of the floor features a plastic fluted underbelly that is vigilant against moisture and dirt. Phoenix adds rubber pucks between the floor and the chassis frame, a design feature that accommodates and helps achieve the kind of smooth over-the-road performance that I experienced when driving the motorhome.
For RVers who enjoy primitive camping, the only options that would need to be added to a standard-equipped unit for several days of "roughing it" are the optional 4-kilowatt auxiliary generator and the roof air conditioner.
The 2551 comes with two standard auxiliary batteries (mounted on a slide-out tray) and a 2,000-watt inverter. So, everything but the optional 13,500-Btu roof air conditioner can be run without a shore power connection or the use of the auxiliary generator. Centrally ducted heating is provided by a 30,000-Btu forced-air furnace.
My test coach was equipped with an optional premium convenience package (Onan generator, roof air-conditioning with heat strip, Class 3 trailer hitch, convection-microwave oven, 26-inch LCD TV over cab, 110-volt DSI water heater, outside shower/faucet, TV antenna and booster, Fan-Tastic roof vent, wood accented dash and drink tray, electric step, and heated remote-controlled mirrors). Other options included: 14-foot box awning, full body paint, 15-inch LCD TV in bedroom, backup monitor, bedspreads, slideout with electric sofa, six-way power driver’s seat, insulated glass, surround sound with DVD player, leather-upholstered captains chairs, mirror with compass and temperature display, cherry wood.
Recently, Phoenix USA announced the opening of a factory outlet store near its manufacturing facility in Elkhart, Indiana. Customers will be able to take advantage of factory-direct pricing at this facility — an additional incentive for those looking for their first motorhome or for existing motorhome owners who are ready to downsize. The Phoenix Cruiser 2551 makes an attractive choice. Check it out.
Phoenix USA, 2601 Marina Drive, Elkhart, IN 46514; (574) 266-2020; www.phoenixcruiser.com
Triton 6.8-liter V-10
4.10 to 1
4.0 kilowatts (optional)
27 feet 1 inch
6 feet 4 inches
10 feet 1 inch
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
weighed with no passengers on board, full fuel tank, empty holding tanks
front axle – 4,060 pounds;
rear axle – 7,040 pounds;
total – 11,100 pounds
PAYLOAD AS TESTED
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
black water – 35 gallons
gray water – 23 gallons
Atwood 30,000 Btu
Duo-Therm 13,500 Btu (optional)
coach – 1 year/12,000 miles;
chassis -- 3 years/36,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED