The 2013 model year may well be one of the more impressive cycles in terms of market-ready and eye-catching new RVs from the North American recreational vehicle business. For that reason, however, the RVBusiness staff faced an intimidating task in selecting one unit over and above the rest this week (Nov. 27-29) at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., to best exemplify the industry’s 2013 lineup as our “Best of Show” designee.
In other words, there were no units so novel or preposterously different — no reinvention of the wheel, so to speak — that the show buzz dictated their selection.
So, we had to really step back and choose a unit that we felt best symbolized the general progressive sophistication of the industry’s product design, a unit that projects the overall spit-and-polish of the North American RV industry. And, long story short, we rather quickly reached a consensus on a fifth-wheel unit that is not only impressive for its design and elegant looks, but also for the revered high-line brand name it is reintroducing to the market after a hiatus of several years: the 32- to 40-foot Holiday Rambler Presidential fifth-wheel from Elkhart, Ind.-based Navistar Towables.
“Presidential is a venerable name in the business,” noted Matt Buckman, director of sales and product development for the Navistar division. “It is the name that most personifies Holiday Rambler in the towable market over the years. It’s been off the market for the past several years and we are reintroducing the Presidential back to its glory in the business as a luxury high-end fifth-wheel. We worked to refine the premium feel and look.”
Indeed, the Holiday Rambler Presidential brand harkens back to a day when Holiday Rambler was a towable leader and a signature brand of Richard Klingler’s privately held Holiday Rambler Corp. in Wakarusa, Ind., long before the brand was marketed by Harley-Davidson Inc. and, now, global truck-and-engine-builder Navistar International Corp.
But it’s not just the name that made the difference for us with regard to the Presidential, which, with MSRPs of $79,000 to $125,000, retails for much less than pre-recessionary, luxury class high-lines. As one of an elite group of chic new U.S.-built fifth-wheels led by Keystone’s Montana, Jayco’s Pinnacle, Heartland’s Cyclone, Gulf Stream’s Canyon Trail, CrossRoads’ Rushmore, Dutchmen’s Voltage, Evergreen’s Bay Hill, DRV’s Mobile Suites and Forest River’s Trilogy, among others, however, Navistar has done a lot of things right with its reprise of the Presidential fifth-wheel.
“We went to five Holiday Rambler RV Owners Club rallies and sat down with existing Presidential owners to find out what amenities and design elements they wanted to see in the new Presidential,” explained Craig Swisher, vice president, operations, for Navistar Towables. “You can see evidence of their influence throughout the coach, even in details like a rubber glove dispenser in our outside utility center/docking station and in the storage drawers under the bed in the front bedroom so that you don’t have to lift the bed up to access everything underneath.”
Other aspects of the Presidential drawing praise from RVB:
• A unique chassis engineered by Navistar and built by Lippert including a custom rounded, welded front end affording tighter turning radiuses, an unusual aerodynamic front cap and incredible outside storage.
• A standard MOR/ryde RE 4000 suspension with an optional MOR/ryde IS independent suspension with hydraulic disc brakes.
• Aluminum-framed, full-body painted sidewalls featuring an additional foam insulation layer all the way around, creating an extra sound and temperature barrier.
• Elegant interiors with stained maple cabinetry, an island kitchen and padded, radius living area ceilings providing 8 feet, 11 inches of headroom. “There’s no wasted space,” said Buckman, adding that interiors feature a custom kitchen that looks like a luxury hotel, a bathroom with tiered countertops and a 60-inch-tall, two-person shower plus a multi-level living area housing a 46-inch LED TV and Lane residential furniture. “It feels like a high-end diesel motorhome when you walk in there,” Swisher said.
Again, however, it wasn’t any one thing — but the entire package — that led to our naming Navistar’s impressive Holiday Rambler Presidential as our “2013 Best of Show.” Also capturing our attention was:
• Canadian builder Pleasure-Way Industries Ltd.’s first B-Plus style Class C motorhome, the Pleasure-Way Pursuit, built on Ford E350 dual rear-wheel cutaway chassis with a number of “special features,” including its 22-foot length.
“Building a B-plus was the next natural progression for us,” said Dean Rumpel, CEO of Saskatoon-based Pleasure-Way. “We received a lot of feedback from customers who love what we do but wished the Class B motorhome was just a little larger. The Pursuit is going to meet the needs of the consumer who doesn’t want to go up to a 24-foot motorhome but wants a little more than a traditional Class B.”
The Pursuit is constructed with a full-steel cage that is welded together along with a one-piece seamless fiberglass roof. All fiberglass is bonded directly to the steel which eliminates the need for additional screws and moldings.
The interior of the coach is set off by the use of rich hardwood maple throughout, including the fluted molding, custom solid wood cabinet doors and hand-fitted crown moldings. Rich ultraleather encompasses the rear lounge, while the spacious bathroom showcases a beautiful Corian and glass curved corner shower and also features a skylight, maple cabinetry with crown moldings, a Corian vanity with matching Corian backsplash, porcelain toilet and a stainless steel sink complete with a waterfall single lever faucet.
• Airstream’s newest concept trailer, the Land Yacht, featuring a high-luster teak and white wood inlay boat deck flooring, LED panel lighting elements, Corian solid surfaces and plush Ultraleather. The unit, capable of sleeping up to five people, has a bedroom in the front, a bathroom amidships and a rear social space, which includes a galley that can be hidden when not in use. The Land Yacht’s powered bed lift reveals access to hidden storage. The contemporary look was created by Tecnoform’s engineering department in partnership with Mauro Micheli, the long-time designer for Riva Yachts.