Are The Most Expensive Motor Homes The Best?
When the most expensive and luxurious coaches are thought of, Prevost is the first one that will come up. Prevost chassis and shell that is. The actual final product is made by a number of conversion builders, Marathon, Millennium, Featherlite, Liberty, just to mention a few. Typical list prices for these can range from one and a half million dollars or more.
Why are they so expensive? Well, there are very few produced each year. They are on arguably the best bus chassis in the world, Prevost Coach. Each design is somewhat unique with interior touches tailored to the owner. All of this makes it a very impressive motor coach without question. But, are they really the best choice for the motor home application, even if money was no barrier? Maybe yes or perhaps no. Prevost is without question the finest commercial bus builder. But it is a commercial vehicle maker not a personal coach builder. So let’s look at why the commercial design may not be as fitting in a modern motor home.
Well, first, the dash boards on most have the unchanged look of a bus from decades before. While it is extremely functional, it lacks the modern feel and digital touches demanded by many high end buyers. The driver seat is designed commercially with an air ride suspended frame. This is great for a driver that is on the road day in day out, but unless you are going to run on logging roads it is not necessary for a motor home application. The big drawback to the air supported seat is its inability to be able to rotate it for use on the an XL model. Additionally, the controls for that seat are a near fluorescent yellow, again, reeking of a commercial vehicle functionality.
The small driver’s window is very commercial. It is really just a toll ticket opening. This mini sized opening does not meet some motor home owner’s needs, like going through customs at the border. Passenger buses are boarded during border crossings, therefore do not have this particular requirement. Park entrances often have a high and low mounted keypad. This usually requires leaning out through the window to enter the code. This is not even close to being able to accomplish through a commercial bus toll window.
Many motor coach owners like to have a choice of air level or the solid feel of hydraulic jacks. High end coaches many times are equipped with both. You can not get hydraulic jacks on a Prevost nor can you add them. The frame will not accommodate these jacks.
The XL model often allows the passenger seat to rotate and become part of the sitting area, the driver seat can not. The H3-45 can not use either of the front seats to be part of the sitting area due to the dropped driver level. This results in a loss of over 4 feet of living space. Why? Because the chassis and shell is designed for a commercial bus application, not a motor home.
Motor coach owners enjoy scenic views through large panoramic one piece windshields. Views are somewhat more restricted in a conversion because the windshields are the two piece type with added bulk to both the “A” pillars and center post. Why? Because it’s designed as a commercial bus.
Prevost uses either a 435 HP Volvo or a Detroit 60 series 515 HP engine. While these are adequate for their application, they do not deliver the horse power per pound that many motor home owners desire. A loaded passenger bus is far lighter than a custom coach conversion with granite floors, counters and so on. Also most motor home applications involve the towing of something, Hummers, two vehicle stackers, and more. But, this may be a trade-off experience using a commercially designed chassis. Bottom line, you are going to be the last one up the grade.
Conversion units do not offer a screen door as they were not designed with one in mind. There is little need for such a feature on a commercial bus. No opening windows are used on many conversion units. One must rely on the HVAC for air circulation. Nearly all high end non-conversion motor homes do have opening windows and screen door options.
Power door steps are not found on conversion chassis’s. A short legged portable step is often used by bus drivers to assist passenger loading. The same type of step is also used by the private coach owners. It kind of like the old days when manual steps or stand had to be deployed.
Motor home manufacturers have been equipping their product with the highly desired “Smart Wheel” for about a decade. Prevost has finally moved with the time and has installed the “Smart Wheel” on their 2010 motor coach shells. Additionally, I noticed Prevost now includes tire monitors on every chassis. I drove an ’08 a while ago. It was not equipped with a tire monitor. All that money and no tire monitor. They appear to be way behind the curve as far as meeting the motor home needs, wants and application.
Memory driver seat, mirrors, pedals and steering wheel are a great feature for two driver coaches. Don’t look for them on a commercially designed chassis. There is no application to handle the many drivers engaged with operating a single bus.
This is not a slam against Prevost or any conversion chassis or builder. It is just my observations. Even given the somewhat negative view I project of Prevost and conversions in general, I may still buy one in the future. The trade-offs may be worth it. Prevost is the finest chassis available as far as drivability is concerned. It should also be said, that Prevost’s slide out designs are excellent, surpassing all others in my opinion. But, not all slides on a Prevost conversion are in fact theirs. Converters add many themselves.
Well, these are just some of my observations and the way it looks to me. What do you think?
Presenting My Observations - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer