Back Issues | Family Motor Coaching magazine
This solidly crafted Type C motorhome features a Mercedes-Benz diesel engine and a twin-bed floor plan.
By Lazelle Jones
The recent recession has posed challenges for nearly all businesses, and especially for the RV industry. Some motorhome manufacturers have faded away, but others have taken the lemons and made lemonade. Coach House Inc., a luxury Type C coach builder based in Nokomis, Florida, has responded by continuing to innovate without compromising the quality of its products.
Successful motorhome manufacturers know that introducing new and improved products that incorporate the latest technologies is of paramount importance. With the 2011 Platinum II and the 241XL DT floor plan, Coach House has hit a sweet spot in the luxury Type C motorhome market; the coach carries a price tag of approximately $173,000 when fully equipped.
Suffice it to say, the Platinum is not the "typical" Type C motorhome. Perhaps most notable is its patented one-piece fiberglass shell, which sets it apart from other motorhomes.
The company has introduced improvements to its 2011 model line, such as a wider, more secure side entrance door and entry step; increased storage capacity; a more ergonomically designed dashboard; stainless-steel sinks, appliances, fixtures, and cabinet locks; LED recessed ceiling lights to provide a warmer ambience and increased headroom; and an improved central control station inside the entry door.
Labor-intensive processes go into building a Coach House Platinum II. The motorhome is founded on a Freightliner Sprinter or Mercedes Sprinter 3500 chassis (with a 170-inch wheelbase), which includes the cab, seats, steering wheel, and instrumentation. My test coach was built on the Freightliner Sprinter chassis, which company officials note is identical to the Mercedes Sprinter except for the front badge, or nameplate. The Sprinter is powered by a 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz V-6 turbo-diesel engine that is married to an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission. The chassis comes with dual rear wheels.
Aft of the cab is the bare ladder chassis, to which the welded tubular steel subfloor structure and welded aluminum trusses are added.
Next comes the coach's one-piece house shell. The shell is created using a giant mold onto which gel coat is first sprayed on the inside surface. Fiberglass cloth is then laid up in sheets, with an agent (liquid catalyst) applied that chemically bonds the fiberglass cloth into a single layer. Three separate layers of fiberglass are used to create the exterior walls, roof, and rear end cap.
Improving products is of paramount importance at Coach House. Case in point is the company's new addition to the fiberglass-making process. In the high-stress areas of the coach shell (corners, angles, etc.), carbon fiber mat is now being added to the mix and layered in between the fiberglass cloth. Carbon fiber is an exceptionally strong material (and very expensive), but even with its super strength characteristics, it adds virtually no weight to the coach.
The one-piece coach shell affords a seamless, continuous exterior surface that is impervious to the outside elements. The lack of seams means moisture and dust will never find a path to migrate through the walls and roof to the inside of the motorhome.
The Platinum 241 can be enjoyed in several optional full-body paint and graphic schemes, as well as a standard choice of white paint with vinyl accent graphics that create a sense of motion.
The motorhome's subfloor measures 2 1/2 inches thick and hosts a honeycomb-shaped insulation material, which is dressed on the underside with a continuous sheet of aluminum. This area is also impervious to the dirt, debris, and moisture from the road that the coach will encounter over thousands of miles. The underbelly is painted with a tough, baked-on enamel. With the honeycomb insulation, road noise is intercepted and prevented from reaching the interior of the cabin.
The subfloor structure is fastened not only around the entire perimeter of the subfloor but also along every cross member that makes up the rectangular network of metal beams between the perimeter members.
Coach House augments the Freightliner Sprinter/Mercedes Sprinter factory suspension with a Firestone Ride-Rite system that can be adjusted to whatever level of cushion and comfort passengers find desirable.
Once the coach shell is set in place, a couple more important procedures are carried out. A double-layer, bubble/foil (very thin) type of insulation is installed against the interior side of the fiberglass walls and roof. Welded tubular aluminum members are used to create a grid structure to reinforce the exterior walls. Coach House does this to coax the maximum amount of headroom on the inside, creating an interior height of 6 feet 4 inches.
The cabinets and appliances that are attached to the walls are secured to marine-grade plywood pads incorporated in the fiberglass walls and roof during the creation of the shell.
The Platinum 241XL motorhome that I enjoyed for several days weighed 10,540 pounds (actual gross weight) when carrying 25 gallons of fresh water, a full tank of fuel (26.4 gallons), more than 50 pounds of propane, and six gallons of water (in the water heater), as well as me and my personal gear. On a trip of 250 miles, fuel economy was 16 miles per gallon. (Company literature notes that the 241XL may achieve 20 miles per gallon or better, depending on options, load, and driving habits.)
The federally required sticker that is located on the inside of the driver's door notes that the maximum number of seat belts on this unit is two. Should you want more, talk with the folks at Coach House and see if additional seat belts can be added; if so, this sticker would need to be revised. The sticker also lists the amount of cargo that can be carried aboard this unit as 1,070 pounds (this includes passengers, gear, and tongue weight).
The Platinum II can tow 5,000 pounds. This should provide the coach owner with sufficient latitude when making decisions about a towed vehicle. Its maximum allowable tongue weight (weight that the tongue of a towed vehicle adds to the rear of the coach) is 100 pounds.
The Platinum 241XL has three exterior cargo bays that yield 30 cubic feet of storage.
The Coach House Platinum II is available in two models: the 240 and 241XL. Each is offered in the same six floor plans. The difference between the 240 and 241XL is that the latter has an HWH hydraulic front slideout. The slideout encompasses a section of the coach just behind the driver's seat that, depending on the floor plan, either contains a dinette that converts to a bed, or tables that can be removed to make way for a power sofa bed.
Once you see all six floor plans, there appears to be no shortage from which to choose, and one should suit your lifestyle and needs. All are configured with a center aisle. The 241XL DT (DT stands for dinette twin) I reviewed was equipped with a curbside galley opposite the dinette. The dinette, located in the street-side slideout directly behind the driver's seat, converts into a bed. In addition, twin beds are positioned on either side of the center aisle, aft of the dinette/galley area. A full-sized, coach-wide bathroom is located at the very rear of the unit. High-quality, low-maintenance vinyl flooring runs throughout the coach living areas.
In the galley, every inch of available space went into creating a full-service food preparation venue the chef will enjoy. Were a time-and-motion study conducted, it would surely reveal there is no time lost to step-and-fetch motions, for everything is immediately at hand. The solid-surface countertop includes a trilogy of features that will instantly increase the useable counter surface area. One is a hinged, tempered-glass cover for the two-burner LP-gas cooktop. Lift the glass cover only when you need to heat something on the stove; otherwise, all of the countertop is useable. The same goes for the stainless-steel galley sink, which has its own custom cover. A third feature is the hinged, fold-up, solid-surface countertop extension that remains down and out of the way (flush with a wall of the entry stairwell) until additional surface is needed.
The cabinetry complex in the galley area is unexpectedly capacious. Careful thought has been paid to the stowage of items that may be needed. Below the countertop is a cabinet and three good-sized roll-out drawers that yield a respectable amount of storage. Above the countertop is the microwave-convection oven, and immediately aft of the countertop is a three-way, six-cubic-foot (two-door) refrigerator-freezer. Above the refrigerator is a built-in coffeemaker. Everything noted here is standard equipment on both the Platinum II 240 and 241XL models.
Those who may like to retire early or come to bed later and don't want to disturb their partner will find that the twin bed configuration takes care of those kinds of schedule differences. A half-size wardrobe mounted from the ceiling at the foot of each bed keeps clothing organized and wrinkle-free. Overhead cabinets "” like those on the wall above the dinette picture window "” line the walls above the beds. The jalousie-style adjustable windows above each bed and above the dinette permit metered ventilation even when it is raining outside.
The rear residential-style bath is a full-service area, designed to accommodate all needs. On the curb side is a full-size shower with a handheld spray nozzle and a frosted shower door. On the back wall is a countertop/cabinet complex with a brushed-steel sink and a mirrored overhead cabinet. A porcelain flush toilet sits on the street side of the bathroom. A full-length mirror on the outside of the bathroom door provides a full final view of how you look before leaving for an evening's engagement.
A track-mounted, heavy drape functions as a privacy curtain and sequesters the inside of the coach from the cab and windshield, and assists with heating or cooling the living area. A ducted 30,000-Btu forced-air furnace and a 15,000-Btu centrally ducted roof air conditioner (with a heat strip) are the sources of interior air comfort in the Platinum II. A solar battery charger and an 800-watt inverter can be added as options. A standard house battery pack and an optional 3.6–kilowatt LP-gas generator provide all the electrical power needed to run everything on board while enjoying stand-alone settings. A 30-foot shore power cord provides for hookup at RV campgrounds.
I found the Platinum II 241XL to be a pleasure to drive. Its exterior width of 96 inches and overall length of 25 feet 9 inches make it feel, even in an urban setting, as though it is only slightly larger than a full-sized conventional automobile.
The cab seats are made more comfortable by Coach House. Although the factory versions are perfectly acceptable, Coach House reupholsters them with Optima Leather. The result is an even more luscious and softer-to-the-touch spot from which to sit and view the scenery. It also lends continuity between the passenger cab area and the décor of the living quarters, for the rest of the upholstery is covered in the same material.
The Platinum 241XL DT that I reviewed had a base suggested retail price of $149,305 and included such options as the front slideout, a 15-inch bedroom HDTV with DVD player, a backup color video camera, an 11-foot Fiamma box awning, heated holding tanks, the 3.6-kw LP-gas generator, a Class III trailer hitch, and premier full body paint. Its as-tested price came to $176,015.
Coach House's Web site has a slogan that reads, "Full-size luxury in a downsized coach," and it describes the Platinum II 241XL perfectly. Considering all the features found in this motorhome, along with its convenient size and good fuel economy, I would have to agree.
Coach House Inc., 3480 Technology Drive, Nokomis, FL 34275; (800) 235-0984, www.coachhouserv.com
2011 Platinum II 241XL
Freightliner Sprinter; also built on Mercedes Sprinter
Mercedes 3.0-liter turbo-diesel BlueTEC V-6; 188 horsepower @ 3800 rpm, 325 pound-feet torque @ 1400-2400 rpm
4.18 to 1
4-wheel power, front and rear disc
independent front with reinforced leaf springs
Helwig Spring Kit System
coach "” (1) 100-amp
chassis "” (1) 100-amp
800 watts, optional
3,600-watt Onan LP-gas
25 feet 9 inches
10 feet 8 inches (including roof A/C)
6 feet 4 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front "” 4,080 pounds;
rear "” 7,720 pounds
(weighed with full water and fuel, 1 passenger and gear, 50-plus gallons propane)
front "” 3,800 pounds;
rear "” 6,760 pounds;
total "” 10,540 pounds
OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
double foil R-18
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
31 gallons (includes water heater)
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray "” 28 gallons;
black "” 25 gallons
(1) 15,000-Btu, ducted, with heat strip
coach "” 36 months/36,000 miles;
chassis "” 36 months/36,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED