This compact Type B motorhome creates additional utility with its rear slideout.
By Lazelle Jones
Combine the phrase "necessity is the mother of invention" with the words "creative design and engineering," and you end up with the 2010 Roadtrek SS-Ideal motorhome. Its signature feature is an innovative slideout room that extends from the rear of the vehicle rather than out a side wall as is commonly seen in other motorhomes.
Introduced for the 2010 model year, Roadtrek's rear-slideout Type B motorhome is an interesting new addition for coach enthusiasts to consider. Its exterior length is 19 feet 5 inches in the closed (driving) position, a smaller-sized vehicle that makes for convenient handling. In the extended (living) position, the rear slideout adds 3 feet to the length of the coach. The SS-Ideal has an exterior height of 9 feet 7 inches and an interior height sufficient to accommodate those who stand 6 feet 2 inches tall.
The platform for the SS-Ideal is the Sprinter 2500 van chassis. It is powered by a Mercedes-Benz V-6 three-liter turbocharged diesel engine, coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission with touch shifting. By electing to use a Sprinter 2500 chassis for the motorhome's foundation, Roadtrek designers have created a motorhome that yields excellent fuel economy — obviously a plus in today's world.
During a recent test outing, I found the SS-Ideal to be user-friendly when navigating through urban settings and RV campgrounds, yet also comfortable and responsive when operated on high-speed byways. Plus, it was over-the-road quiet. The SS-Ideal turned heads with its carefully crafted interior design and exterior aesthetics (creative floor plan, elegant appointments, exterior lines, paint, and graphics).
Developing 154 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the SS-Ideal also is capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. For the boater or those who haul ATVs and other toys on a trailer, this is good news. But the motorhome also can be called into service as a passenger van and used to run around town for general transportation needs when not being employed for RV camping. This is made possible by seat belts for four (including the driver), its smaller overall length, and its penchant to sip fuel rather than gulp it (a combination of city and highway driving yielded 19 mpg — close to the 22 mpg figure commonly attributed to the Sprinter). I drove the SS-Ideal through all kinds of urban settings and found that it parked with ease alongside everyone else in mall parking lots.
The SS-Ideal is designed to accommodate two adults for a good night's rest. The rear sofa converts instantly into a 76-inch-by-69-inch bed when a destination is reached. Once the rear slideout is extended and the cushioned bench-style seat is folded forward, it takes no more than 30 seconds to arrange the thick foam cushions into their mattress configuration. Then setup of the sleeping quarters is complete.
This is one of the easiest electric-powered slideouts I have operated. I simply opened the two rear exterior doors that are incorporated in the Sprinter chassis, touched a button on the control panel above the cabin entry, and watched the slideout move directly aft into its extended position. Even though a full-size bed is created inside, the slideout expands only 36 inches out the back of the coach, which means that clearance issues with possible outside objects are held to a minimum. The one thing I found I needed to do when retracting the slideout was to go outside and make sure the topper awning returned to its travel position.
A storage compartment below the bed's platform is accessible from both the inside of the motorhome and the outside rear. This area measures 48 inches wide by 38 inches deep by 10 inches high and houses the 30-amp shore power cable when it is stowed for travel. The shore power cable features a bayonet-style fitting that couples into the side of the coach.
The SS-Ideal includes a 9-foot-10-inch-long Thule patio awning. The awning remains sequestered in a housing that blends nicely with the exterior of the coach until it is manually cranked open for use. The sliding side door that provides access from the outside patio area to the cabin glides effortlessly when opening and closing. It features a latch to ensure the door will not close until you want it to. A power step slides out when the door is opened and provides that intermediate step for entering or exiting the unit. An override enables this step to remain extended when the motorhome is parked. When retracted, the step becomes part of the running boards that Roadtrek employees add between the front and rear wheel wells. The driver's door, when open, permits access to the fuel fill, which means you do not have to lock and unlock the fuel fill cap. The fuel fill is secured when the driver’s door is locked (a good security feature).
Both cockpit seats are manually adjustable (forward and backward), including the seat back, base adjustments, and lumbar support. This is a Sprinter feature that may take a little while to become accustomed to, especially for those whose lives have been centered in the world of push buttons. The steering wheel also is adjustable. The flat interior floor that runs the entire length of the coach, from the cockpit to the rear sofa bed, facilitates movement between the cockpit and the cabin.
Roadtrek has built storage into seemingly every available area. For example, a compartment resides below the cockpit passenger seat. The interior sides of the cockpit doors provide generous storage room in molded pockets, and the dash contains large, open pockets that yield even more storage capacity. Storage compartments, cabinets, and drawers lace the coach fore and aft. These include a shirt-length wardrobe, and, as noted above, a pass-through storage area below the rear sofa bed. Including the galley-counter complex, I counted at least 12 storage nooks that line the interior of this diminutive coach. When the rear slideout is extended, two additional interior compartments with lift-up doors are revealed, one on either side of the coach.
Enter the SS-Ideal's cabin through the sliding door, and immediately to the left is a full-service galley. It features an engineered-granite countertop that complements the cherry wood cabinets located below and throughout the rest of the motorhome. The galley counter includes one drawer, three cabinets with doors, and two upper cabinets. A two-burner propane cooktop and a stainless-steel single-tub sink with a chrome faucet share the aft end of the counter. The cooktop comes with a glass top that flips up and down, providing additional counter area when the cooktop is not being used. Additional counter area is created by a matching engineered-granite sink insert. A 1-cubic-foot microwave-convection oven sits above the refrigerator.
Opposite the galley on the street side is a 5-cubic-foot, three-way refrigerator-freezer; the wardrobe is sandwiched between the refrigerator and the double-door wet bath. Inside the cabinet above the wardrobe, a flat-screen television is mounted on an articulated robotic-type arm that moves out, permitting the TV to be viewed from the sofa-bed in the rear, when the passenger and driver seats are rotated to face aft, or while sitting outside under the patio awning. Very ingenious!
The wet bath includes a marine-style toilet, a full stand-up shower, and a sink. A draw-across shower curtain prevents water from leaving the fiberglass-molded bathroom when the shower is being used. A power roof vent removes moisture from the shower and relocates it outside the coach.
RVers have choices when it comes to using the SS-Ideal's removable table. The tabletop and chrome support leg can be positioned next to the sofa in the rear of the coach, or installed up front as a shared table when the two cockpit seats are swung around to face the living area. Otherwise, they remain stowed in the wardrobe when not needed.
The SS-Ideal's black water system features a macerator pump that ensures that the waste-water holding tanks are fully evacuated. Dumping the holding tanks is quite simple. When the black tank's manual control valve is pulled (to the "empty" position), a red button located inside the driver's door and below the seat is pushed; this activates the macerator pump that evacuates the tank.
A six-gallon propane-fueled water heater provides hot water to both the galley and the bath. The 16,000-Btu forced-air furnace includes a wall-mounted, fully electronic thermostat that delivers heated air throughout the coach via one manually controlled register. The 11,000-Btu roof-mounted air conditioner is a direct-duct system that delivers chilled air directly into the coach, just aft of the center. It comes with manual controls.
The propane-powered 2.5-kilowatt Onan auxiliary generator makes this a fully stand-alone unit that permits all of the AC equipment and appliances to be operated in even the most primitive of RV camp settings.
The windows throughout the cabin are single-glazed and heavily tinted, which permits those inside to see out but prevents those outside from seeing in. Soft, heavy fabric curtains either draw across the windows or unsnap and pull down to add privacy at night, as well as another layer of insulation. Heavy fabric privacy drapes sequester the cabin from the dash area and the windshield.
An overview of what Roadtrek designers do to the Sprinter 2500 chassis to convert it to the SS-Ideal is both interesting and informative. In many ways, it equates to what high-end luxury custom coach converters do when they receive a bus shell and transform it.
First and foremost, the integrity of the factory-delivered van shell (chassis, floor, walls, and roof) is not violated. The design that went into the original van shell, as well as the engine, transmission, and cockpit, is not disturbed. Even the rear clamshell doors of the van structure remain an integral, undisturbed component and are simply opened and closed to permit the slideout to extend and retract. The only penetrations that are engineered into the van structure's walls and roof are for the windows that are added and the vents that are installed for the water heater, furnace, roof air conditioner, and refrigerator.
Roadtrek also adds the aforementioned designer running boards along the bottoms of both sides of the vehicle; tempered/tinted glass to the window penetrations; and a custom fold-up door on the street side (along the bottom) where the water fill, dump valves, connections, propane tanks, etc. are located. The company also installs an interior floor. And before the residential accoutrements and interior cabinets are added, residential-style fiberglass insulation is packed between the structural members that give shape to the exterior walls and roof that come with the Sprinter van shell.
The company designs and builds all of its own cabinets, using premium-grade plywood for the interior shelves and structure. To protect the wood against moisture and to facilitate maintenance and cleanup, Roadtrek employees dress the plywood surfaces with vinyl. In my test unit, the hardwood exterior on the cabinets was a stained cherry wood (gorgeous). The galley countertop was a combination of polyurethane mixed with shards of granite to create a composite that yields the best of all worlds. One, the counter can flex as the coach travels down the road; two, the polyurethane allows the counter to be half the thickness and, therefore, half the weight of conventional granite; and three, the counter looks like natural granite (again, gorgeous). The drawers glide out and in on ball-bearing mechanisms, while the door hinges are brushed nickel.
The SS-Ideal is available standard with the silver and white paint that comes with the Sprinter shell. However, Roadtrek offers three optional full-body paint schemes, with graphics: Butane Blue, Moss Green, and Desert Silver. The manufacturer's base suggested retail price on the unit I reviewed was $97,110 (U.S.). The suggested retail price as equipped was $108,036 (U.S.) and included the following options: coffeemaker, rearview backup camera; Onan propane generator; leather captains seats; premium radio with CD/DVD/MP3 player, Sirius Satellite-ready and iPod- and Bluetooth-ready; silver paint package; premium 19-inch flat-screen television; aluminum wheels. Two other options of note not included on my test coach were the Mercedes-Benz grille package and Continental spare tire kit.
After spending time in the 2010 SS-Ideal, I've concluded that Roadtrek designers have married all of the residential features and creature comforts coach owners have come to expect in this compact, well-appointed, high-tech luxury Type B motorhome.
Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc., 100 Shirley Ave., Kitchener, ON Canada N2B 2E1; (888) 762-3873; www.roadtrek.com/FMCM
Sprinter 2500 Van
Mercedes-Benz 3-liter V-6 turbo-diesel; 154 horsepower at 3,800 rpm; 280 pound-feet torque at 1,400-2,400 rpm
4.10 to 1
four-wheel ventilated disc ABS with electronic brake assist
independent front; live rear
chassis — 760-amp;
coach — (2) lead-acid 6-volt deep-cycle, 220 total amp-hours
19 feet 5 inches (closed); additional 3 feet in extended slideout position
6 feet 2 inches
9 feet 7 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 3,970 pounds;
rear — 5,360 pounds
front axle — 3,470 pounds;
rear axle — 4,420 pounds;
total — 7,890 pounds
OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
original Mercedes-Benz van body; entire body made of tailored high-strength steel, stamped and spot-welded
High-density 1- to 2-inch-thick fiberglass insulation and sandwich wall panels with lauan, foam, and fabric; average R factor 4.5
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
black water — 20 gallons (combined gray/black)
gray water — 11 gallons
6-gallon Suburban propane with bypass; 12,000 Btu
Suburban propane automatic; 16,000 Btu
demand; 12-volt with SHURflo water pump
(1) 11,000-Btu roof-mount unit with electric heat strip
5-cubic-foot Dometic three-way with auto source selection
Thetford marine with foot-pedal flush
coach — 4 years/48,000 miles;
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles;
1-year complimentary Roadtrek roadside assistance by Coach-Net
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED