This Type A motorhome blends European vision with American ingenuity.
By Bob Zagami
It may be hard to find many good things that came about as a result of the 2008-2009 recession, but the Serrano motorhome certainly is one of them. It’s no secret that the RV industry was severely impacted, and many manufacturers could not withstand the financial challenges and havoc that was wreaked upon them.
However, Four Winds International had the backing of its parent company, Thor Industries, a stable corporate entity. That, combined with creativity and a determination not only to survive but to grow resulted in the introduction of new products relevant to current market conditions and consumer demand.
One example is the Serrano, a small, European-styled Type A motorhome. The 2011 version is available in three floor plans: the two-slideout 31V, which measures 32 feet 10 inches long; the two-slideout 31X, which measures 32 feet 10 inches long; and the 31Z, which has one slideout and measures 32 feet 1 inch long.
I had an opportunity to examine the 31V during a recent visit to Four Winds’ Elkhart, Indiana, production facility.
When I arrived, Jon Krider, Four Winds’ national sales manager, familiarized me with the various features of this 32-footer. I was impressed with Jon’s product knowledge, but truth be told, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Workhorse-powered motorhome to see whether her road manners lived up to expectations.
So, let’s start the review from the pilot’s seat while making our way from the factory, out through the streets of Elkhart, and onto the highway.
Under the hood, right between the pilot and copilot seats, resides the new International MaxxForce 7, a 6.4-liter V-8 diesel engine. This front-engine model is fully compliant with current EPA emissions standards and has undergone more than 80,000 hours of testing and six million miles of development and validation. It propels a Workhorse W20D chassis, producing 230 horsepower at 2,600 rpm and 620 foot-pounds of torque at 1,400 rpm. The Workhorse comes with a 40-gallon fuel tank and a three-year, 36,000-mile transferable limited warranty with 24-hour roadside assistance.
Now, you might be thinking, Front engine equals noise, and what kind of mileage does this coach get?
According to Four Winds, the Serrano has averaged more than 13 mpg in road tests. And as for the sound level, Jon and I had no problem carrying on a conversation in the cab as I became comfortable in the driver’s seat. The diesel noise is audible when the key is turned on, but before we left the driveway of the Four Winds plant, the engine settled in for the ride. It was amazingly quiet as we toured the neighborhood and cruised along at highway speeds during my test drive.
To be honest, I was skeptical at first about this front-engine-diesel configuration. But after my driving experience, I would encourage you to get out and drive one for yourself. Witnessing the quality engineering of this coach, chassis, and engine combination will likely alleviate any concerns you might have about driving — and owning — a front-engine diesel-powered motorhome.
Engine power was evident on the highway as we passed trucking brethren in 18-wheelers while cruising uphill. The engine is coupled with an Allison six-speed, electronic-control automatic transmission with overdrive — an industry favorite for many years.
Another feature I liked in this compact coach is its very small turning radius (a 50-inch wheel cut angle). This made the Serrano comfortable to maneuver through parking lots and along tight streets off the beaten path.
While I’m on the subject of driving, let’s not forget the large, single-piece windshield that will stay clear with the help of four defroster fans built into the dash. One of my favorite items outside the motorhome is the pair of top-mounted bus-style heated side mirrors, a popular feature for years on buses in Europe. These aerodynamically styled mirrors are designed to provide a clear view along the sides of the coach without creating blind spots toward the front.
I’m not sure whether the European influence came from Serrano Street in Madrid, Spain, or the charming village of 1,406 people in the province of Lecce, located at the heel of the boot in Italy, but this coach has the beauty, flair, and serenity of a villa built for the road.
The 31V offers a very efficient floor plan equipped with a mid-entry door. The Serrano’s uncomplicated dash provides all of the information needed to enjoy the driving experience, and you won’t have to be retrained the second time you get into the cockpit.
Your copilot can work up front using the built-in computer shelf with easily accessible cup holders on the side walls. Above the cockpit, a curved array of stylish cabinetry contributes to the motorhome’s stunning ambience.
Upon entering the 31V, you’ll find yourself standing in the galley. As you look around, you’ll notice more of the contemporary, European-styled cabinetry. The cook also will appreciate the recessed two-burner gas cooktop and the large convection-microwave oven located on the street side. An innovative cabinet topped with the same solid-surface counter as the rest of the galley rolls out at a right angle, creating additional room for meal preparation. To the left of the large single-bowl sink with a high single-lever faucet is the 8-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator and a slide-out pantry.
Opposite the pantry and refrigerator on the curb side is a comfortable private bathroom. You’ll appreciate the porcelain toilet and glass shower door, features usually found in more expensive coaches.
Between the cockpit and the kitchen is a comfortable living room arrangement with a leatherette U-shaped dinette and sofa bed with air mattress. Rotating the driver and copilot seats into the room will allow seating for eight people inside the motorhome on a rainy day to watch a football game or a movie on the 32-inch LCD television. The TV is positioned on a cabinet opposite the galley and faces the front of the coach. Plush leatherette also covers the captain’s chairs and provides a very comfortable place to relax.
Four Winds designers were creative in the rear bedroom as well. The craftsmanship up front is carried through to this area, with additional curved cabinets above and beside the raised queen-size bed, which includes an innerspring mattress and subtle accent lighting built into the headboard. The bedroom is small by design, and you are not going to dance in there, but you certainly will sleep well. One benefit of the two-step arrangement to reach the bed is the cavernous storage area it creates at the rear of the motorhome.
With the engine up front, Four Winds created a pass-through under-floor storage compartment that will hold outdoor furniture, plenty of toys, or a collection of storage containers for the “stuff” RVers like to take with them on the road. This is a nice trade-off if you are downsizing from a 40- to 45-foot motorhome and still want to retain the quality and luxury of a larger coach in a smaller, more fuel-efficient package.
I get excited about the little things that make the RV lifestyle so enjoyable, such as the roof ladder. Now, you might wonder why somebody would ever write about a ladder! Well, if you have ever had to scale the height of a motorhome to do preventative maintenance on the roof, and if you were skeptical of reaching the top given the insecure feeling that many ladders foster on us humans, then you — like me — will sincerely appreciate the Serrano’s ladder. Many RV ladders stop at the top, and it becomes a challenge to finish your journey. The ladder on this motorhome extends deep into the roof area and provides a safe climbing experience (both up and down) without accelerating your heart rate when you find it necessary to go up there in the first place.
A great option on floor plans other than the 31V is an exterior entertainment center that includes a 26-inch LCD television, an AM-FM stereo, a CD-DVD player, an iPod-ready jack, and speakers, which can extend your enjoyment in the outdoors.
The 50-amp electrical service with a marine-type detachable cord is complemented with an Onan RV QD 6,000-watt diesel generator when shore power is not available.
Four Winds has built a lot into this coach that veteran RVers and newcomers to the lifestyle will appreciate. All of it is protected with a fully welded tubular steel floor system and aluminum roof and sidewall cage construction. Front and rear fiberglass caps, seamless roto-cast storage compartments with side-hinged aluminum exterior doors, and a premium one-piece TPO crowned roof reflect new-world comforts generated with old-world craftsmanship.
Top it off with a pleasing full-body paint package with gel-coat sidewalls, which comes standard on this coach, and you will be the talk of the town when you drive down main street or set up at your favorite campground or luxury RV resort.
The Serrano is a unique motorhome that I would be equally comfortable driving down the interstate or maneuvering down Serrano Street in Madrid, Spain, on a European vacation.
AT A GLANCE
Four Winds International, 701 County Road 15, Elkhart, IN 46515-1486; (574) 266-1111; www.fourwinds-rv.com
AVAILABLE FLOOR PLANS
3 (31V, 31X, 31Z)
Workhorse/Maxxforce 7 — 6.4-liter V-8 diesel
32 feet 1 inch (31Z); 32 feet 10 inches (31V, 31X)
6 feet 8 inches
11 feet 5 inches (with A/C)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 46 gallons (31Z); 56 gallons (31V); 68 gallons (31X)
black water — 36 gallons (31V); 39 gallons (31X, 31Z)
(2) 13,500-Btu low-profile units
coach — one year/15,000 miles limited
chassis — three years/36,000 miles limited, transferable
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE