This Cummins-powered pusher will charm first-time diesel buyers as well as current diesel owners who plan to downsize.
By Lazelle Jones
Fleetwood RV introduced the 33-foot-11-inch, 102-inch-wide Excursion diesel pusher last November at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s National RV Trade Show. Following its debut at the Louisville, Kentucky, show, the 2013 coach was driven around the country and showcased to Fleetwood dealers from Maine to California. When I had the opportunity to lay my hands on the unit, it already had 16,000 miles on it.
For review purposes, this was a good thing. I can’t even imagine how many folks already had poked around on the inside of the Excursion, opening doors and drawers and operating its various features. How many times had the hydraulic leveling system been called into service as a precursor to extending and retracting the single large street-side slideout? Yes, the Excursion had been well explored by many RVers by the time it arrived in Southern California.
Right out of the gate, the fuel economy recorded by the computer that monitors the 300-horsepower Cummins ISB 6.7-liter engine deserves a shout. Fuel consumption was based on 2,096 miles (since the odometer had last been reset to 0) and registered 9.1 miles per gallon. For a large diesel pusher, this is a respectable figure that is made even more noteworthy when you consider that the engine’s computer also factored in engine idle time of 31 percent. I can only imagine that under normal owner operating conditions, idling time would be far less than 31 percent, which would further improve the fuel economy figure.
The turbocharged Cummins 300 features other ratings that deserve disclosing. The torque it develops is rated at 660 pound-feet. The unit comes with a Class IV hitch receiver (rated at 10,000 pounds) and the necessary four- and seven-pin electrical couplers, so as far as the coach is concerned, it’s ready to go.
The Excursion 33A’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 26,000 pounds. I visited the scales with the fresh water tank three-quarters full, or about 65 gallons, and the 90-gallon diesel tank at 7/8-full, plus one adult. The Excursion registered 21,480 pounds. That left approximately 4,500 pounds of cargo carrying capacity. The cargo area includes the 174 cubic feet within the exterior storage bays (one is coach-wide) and the 166 cubic feet of storage space in the residential quarters above.
My driving impressions fell in the range of “very favorable.” I conducted the test over a broad range of driving conditions: urban; interstate; and winding, narrow, two-lane country roads. I was especially pleased with the get-up-and-go the Excursion exhibited.
One hill I often drive is a half-mile long, with a grade of at least 8 percent. It begins at a stoplight, so when I engage this hill, it’s not from a running start; it is from a full stop or near full stop, and it involves turning a 90-degree corner at the bottom before beginning the ascent. I was traveling maybe 2 mph as I completed the turn in the Excursion and started up the hill. Even with the tanks nearly full, when I put the pedal to the metal, the coach simply got up and went. No hesitation; no time lost, for the Allison 2100 six-speed transmission knew exactly which gear to go to, and the coach sailed up the hill. It performed the same way at a freeway on-ramp that is inclined. The Excursion very quickly got up to speed and effortlessly melded with the flow of traffic.
Features And Capacities
The Excursion is currently available in one model, the 33A. It comes with a single electric slideout that measures 30 inches deep by 14 feet long and features a flat-floor design. According to company officials, two more floor plans will be offered in the near future, with a maximum length of 36 feet.
The target market for this model is twofold. The Excursion is designed for the motorhome owner who wants to downsize from a much larger diesel coach but prefers to do so without losing the benefits and comforts that go hand in hand with diesel pushers. It’s also a motorhome for the new diesel pusher enthusiast, with a price point and features that enable the first-timer to experience the vast array of pluses associated with the luxury diesel coach lifestyle.
The chassis used is the Freightliner XCS Series, which comes married to Fleetwood’s Power Bridge frame. The axles, with gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) of 10,500 pounds for the front and 17,500 pounds for the rear, registered actual gross weights of 6,920 pounds and 14,540 pounds, respectively. To me, this indicates that the Excursion has been engineered to support the cargo-carrying needs of the full-timer or the family who wants to bring everything with them.
The ride and over-the-road performance are augmented by the 22.5-inch aluminum wheels and Goodyear 255/70R22.5 tires, an air-ride system, and tuned shock absorbers for each wheel location.
The holding tank capacities are adequate to support stand-alone camping (fuel, 90 gallons; fresh water, 88 gallons; gray water, 60 gallons; black water, 32 gallons; propane, 28.2 gallons). The Cummins Onan Quiet Diesel auxiliary generator is rated at 6 kw, sufficient to power everything onboard simultaneously, including the front 13,500-Btu roof air conditioner and the midcoach 13,500-Btu heat pump. The 34,000-Btu forced-air furnace, the 6-gallon water heater, and the three-burner cooktop all operate on LP gas.
The exterior full-body paint and graphic schemes are offered in four combinations called Cocoa Pearl, Gold Starfire, Platinum Frost, and Copper Java; my test coach featured the latter. Of the two interior décor choices and two wood choices available, the Excursion was outfitted with Tuscany Toffee and Classic Cognac, respectively.
Flooring throughout the entire coach consists of hand-laid vinyl-composite tiles from the bedroom to the cockpit.
Fleetwood RV designers have apparently managed to glean more functionality and livability out of this 33-foot-11-inch motorhome by extending the wheelbase and placing the front axle farther forward than may be standard with other motorhomes and by not consuming precious interior space with a front bus-style door. In addition, the diesel generator is mounted transversely across the front of the coach, a configuration that allows for the longer wheelbase and contributes to increased storage space.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the functionality, luxury, and livability that have been incorporated in the design of this coach. On the interior I discovered a number of major design enhancements. These are significant departures from the conventional thinking of many motorhome designers, and it’s a good bet they will appeal to the experienced motorhome user as well as to the novice.
Let’s begin with the living area, more specifically with the faux-leather sofa in the flat-floor slideout. This smart-looking sofa remains conventional until additional seating is needed. The aft section of the sofa pulls out perpendicular to the wall; from inside that section, another seat cushion folds up to complete an L-shape configuration. It’s as though the toy designers who invented Transformers have applied that technology to the modern motorhome sofa.
The post-mounted table that sits in front of the sofa is another notable innovation in this motorhome. It can be utilized as a formal or informal dining table that slides apart to accommodate a center leaf that adds a substantial amount of surface area. The distance between the table and the sofa can be adjusted, because the table also slides on a hidden mechanism. It slides out and in, as well as fore and aft, to adjust the space between it and the L-shape portion of the sofa when the latter has been extended. The table also lowers so it can be enjoyed as a conventional coffee table.
What’s the next innovative feature I found in the 2013 Excursion? You don’t have to look very far to find it, but interestingly enough, it’s almost invisible unless you actuate it: Fleetwood’s patented Hide-A-Loft queen-size bed, which is tucked against the ceiling above the cockpit. At the touch of a switch, the bed lowers from the ceiling. The 4-inch-thick bed comes all the way down to the top of the cockpit seats. An electric pump is housed inside the air mattress and instantly inflates the mattress when it’s plugged in.
Fleetwood’s engineers didn’t stop there. The cabinets above the windshield also lower with the electric bed, so you can access whatever is stowed inside them when the bed is in position for use.
The next innovation is the 40-inch LCD flat-screen television. One sees no evidence that there is a television anywhere in the living, dining, or galley areas — that is, until you touch a control switch. The thin screen lowers electrically from the overhead galley cabinet to just above the solid-surface galley countertop, with the back of the television resting flat against the exterior wall, directly across from the living area sofa.
RVers will appreciate what has been done inside the slide-out pantry situated across from the twin galley sinks and the three-burner cooktop, especially if the driver suddenly needs to apply the brakes. You will discover that all of the items stowed inside the pantry have remained standing and have not tipped over. Fleetwood designers accomplished this simply by creating a three-quarter wall on the forward inside of each shelf to prevent the contents from shifting.
The 8-cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer is also positioned across from the LP-gas cooktop and stainless-steel sinks; the refrigerator in my test coach featured the optional ice maker. Buyers also can choose an optional 18-cubic-foot residential-style refrigerator, which comes with an enlarged house battery pack and inverter.
Another innovative feature is found in the private bathroom: the shower door, which is composed of three glass panels, each of which glides individually along tracks above and below. A latch keeps the panels from moving when the coach is under way. Also noteworthy are the opaque panels that have been incorporated in the bathroom door as well as the floor-to-ceiling café doors that open in the center and provide passage to the rear bedroom. These panels permit natural light to pass through, but without compromising privacy.
The rear bedroom offers tasteful luxury. The queen-size bed features a standard pillow-top innerspring mattress; a memory-foam mattress is available as an option. Below this tilt-up bed is a humongous storage compartment. An unobtrusive, wall-mounted 32-inch LCD flat-screen television provides viewing when wanted. The day-night shades offer illumination as well as privacy.
My test coach included an optional washer-dryer combo that sits behind wooden louvered doors in the curbside wardrobe, with a shirt-size wardrobe above it that also includes adjustable shelves should you want to use it for that kind of storage.
The standard-equipped Excursion 33A is nicely appointed, with a base manufacturer's suggested retail price of $175,747. The suggested retail price of my test coach came to $182,475 and included the following options: 32-inch Sony bedroom LCD TV; Splendide washer-dryer combo; ice maker for Dometic 8-cubic-foot refrigerator; Hide-A-Loft drop-down queen bed; TRC Surge Guard with Neutral Loss Protection; Diamond Shield clear front mask.
With so many RVer-friendly features packed in a smaller diesel-pusher frame, it’s likely the Excursion 33A will be a viable part of the RV market for some time to come.
Fleetwood RV, 1031 U.S. 224 E., Decatur, IN 46733; (800) 322-8216; www.FleetwoodRV.com
Freightliner XCS with Power Bridge frame
Cummins ISB 6.7-liter with exhaust brake; 300 horsepower @ 2,800 rpm; 660 pound-feet torque @ 1,600 rpm
Allison 2100 MH six-speed automatic
5.13 to 1
Goodyear G670 RV 255/70R22.5, 16-ply
full air brakes with ABS
full air suspension with heavy-duty 38mm stabilizer bar
Delco Remy, 160 amps
chassis – (2) 950-cca maintenance-free;
house – (2) 6-volt deep-cycle (2 additional with residential refrigerator option)
1,200 watts; 2,000 watts with residential refrigerator option
Onan 6-kw Quiet Diesel
33 feet 11 inches
11 feet 10 inches (driving height);
11 feet 7 inches (storage height)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 10,500 pounds
rear — 17,500 pounds
(weighed with ¾-full fresh water tank and 7/8-full fuel tank, plus 1 adult)
front axle — 6,920 pounds;
rear axle — 14,540 pounds;
total — 21,480 pounds
OCCUPANT & CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
aluminum-framed Vacu-Bond sidewalls, ceiling, and floor; interlocking floor-to-wall-to-ceiling construction
Vacu-Bond bead foam
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 60 gallons;
black water — 32 gallons
6 gallons, quick-recovery
(2) 13,500-Btu units, 1 with heat pump
8-cubic-foot conventional with ice maker, optional;
(8-cubic-fo0t conventional, standard; 18-cubic-foot residential with ice maker, optional)
porcelain with water saver
coach — 12 months/15,000 miles;
chassis — 36 months/50,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED