Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Tampa RV Show

If you have never gone to a large RV show, go.  But be prepared to get overwhelmed.   We went to the Tampa RV show last week and saw lots of stuff.   You could look at all of the large class A motorhomes and wonder why our Fuse could fit in their bathroom but that would not help much and ruin any sense of perspective.

I limited myself to looking at motorhomes that are close in size and layout to our Fuse 23a or were on the Transit platform.  I am mostly interested in seeing what innovative things the other companies are doing.  I really am interested to see if there are any ideas I can get to improve our Fuse (and what I would want on a custom Fuse when I hit the lotto).

Winnebago Fuse 2017 and 2017.5 motorhomes

There was nothing really new on the Fuse front.  We have already talked about all of the new stuff on the 2017.5 Fuse in earlier posts.  We were able to see explicitly that Winnebago raised the Fuse an inch and a half between the 2017 and the 2017.5 models.  They had both parked next to each other at the show and it was very apparent.

Since we started out at the Winnebago booth, the first new thing I saw was the new Winnebago Paseo.  It is Winnebagos class B motorhome on a Ford Transit chassis.   A nice motorhome, but Sonya and I are still happy with our choice.   We need a little bit more room than a B provides and want twin beds which are not available on the Paseo.

Coach House Motorhome

We stopped by the Coach House booth and saw our first really cool feature.  If you have not heard of them before they build a very upscale coach and are twice the price of the Fuse making it outside of my price range.

Coach House Motorhome recliner/loveseat

What they had in their units that was really cool was a reclining love seat with tray tables.  I had wondered in the past if airliner seats could replace the love seat in the Fuse and this was a refined version of the same idea.   This was a little larger  than the love seat space in the Fuse, but they were over-stuffed, had a divider between the seats and were just super premium.  The good thing for us is that they were made by Flexsteel.  I have bought Flexsteel products in the past for the house and they generally have lots of options.  If nothing else, seeing the tray tables made me wonder if just that would make the love seat we have a whole lot better. (Note from Sonya: We talked to one of the Winnebago folks and mentioned it would be great to have similar recliners in the 23A.  During the discussion I learned Winnebago makes, and is increasing, the production of RV furniture.  Maybe they could custom make one for the Fuse.)

Leisure Travel Van Wonder Motorhome

The next vendor I visited was Leisure Travel Vans.   I got to see the new Wonder.  This is another motorhome built on the Ford Transit chassis.   Leisure makes a real nice motorhome and their cabinets are to die for.  But they are more expensive and you rarely see them on the dealers lots since they are purchased as soon as they are made.

Leisure Travel Van Wonder Motorhome interiorLeisure Travel Van Wonder Motorhome interior

The Wonder has a huge number of interesting features.  It uses a Murphy bed to gain space inside the unit.  The style is extremely clean and is a open euro-style floor plan  with the bathroom in the rear.    It is a 2 person coach but it is really nice.

I took another look at their Unity TB model that is on the Sprinter chassis.   I like this one as well and it is a twin bed unit like the Fuse.   At 6 foot tall, I still don't fit on the beds.  This was confirmed by a person who was looking at the Fuse beds.  They had the same problem being 6' tall and not fitting.   One thing I did like on both the Wonder and the Unity is that they are using a 30amp generator and a diesel generator option is available.   The batteries are also on a slide making servicing them much easier than the Fuse batteries.

Phoenix Cruiser was right next door but was rather disappointing.   Same models that they have had over the last several years.   The features seemed to be the same as well.

Thor Gemini MotorhomeThor Gemini Motorhome

Another B+/C built on the Transit chassis I looked over was the Thor Gemini.  They did not have a twin bed option, but overall it appeared to a fine unit at first glance.  This is probably the closest competitor to the Winnebago Fuse I saw at the show.  Overall quality, features and price were in the same ballpark as the Fuse.  I would call it Hyundai/Kia vs Ford if they were cars.   I would say the Fuse is a step ahead but only a step.  The good thing for both companies right now is that their floor plans don't overlap so they are not going head to head on the Transit chassis.   My quick look at the Gemini was that a plus/minus comparison is needed against the Fuse.   That should be good for a comparison article in the future.

Hymer Aktive Motorhome

The last vendor I looked at was Hymer.  Hymer is a huge RV company in Europe and recently bought Roadtrek. Though they don't have any models they are selling in North America today that would be an alternative to a Fuse (their single US offering is a class B) they have models in Europe that would.   If I was Winnebago, this is the competitor I would be concerned with.

Hymer is bringing some innovation to the market that I am interested in.  They are doing away with the generator and are using the main engine, batteries and an inverter to power the air conditioner and other 110v needs. Based on comments from some of the experts they are a little ahead of the wave with this, but are definitely heading in the right direction.    

Hymer Aktive Motorhome

Hymers euro styling is extremely sleek and makes most of what I see in US motorhomes look dated.  I took immediate note of the faceplates they were using at the entrance.  They also combine the auto and coach entertainment systems which would get my SiriusXM radio to be useful when stopped.

Hymer has missed the mark one one important item.  They use a cartridge toilet.  That is pretty standard in Europe, but is not going to work in the US (at least with my wife).

I also stopped at the Onan/Cummins booth.   I continue to hope that there is something we can do to help with the generator noise.   Walking up I asked if they had something other than the resonator many of us have installed that would quiet the generator.  Unfortunately they have no magic for the QG2500 generator to make it quiet.    The person I talked was very nice and said that most of the noise is mechanical and not exhaust noise.  He did say that Onan was working on a replacement  several years out that would be quieter but there were no quick fixes.   I had to ask.

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