Now that we have finished our first voyage to Florida and back, I have some observations and questions about several things including ride quality and what to expect. First and foremost our 2012 Aspire 40DRQ was a fantastic upgrade for us coming from a 35' gas motorhome (2001 Dolphin 5355 on W-22 chassis). There's NO going back to gas - ever! We got many people asking us about the coach. Some TS owners were really curious to see what Entegra has done to the original designs. Everyone that saw her said she's beautiful - and she is! The high-end look is really something. It's very distinctive and bold without being "over-the-top".
The build quality of this coach is stellar. Solid, great fit and finish, and an overall feel of quality workmanship. It's going to the factory tomorrow for the punch list trip and a few extra tweaks we'd like done. For example the main sink in the bathroom has the faucet too close to the wall making it nearly impossible to brush your teeth and lean over to wash out your mouth without hitting your head! It should be an easy fix by moving out the faucet towards the front of the fixture. There are the little annoyances like the slide retract/extend buttons being mislabeled, the aqua hot furnace not heating the bedroom properly (probably a valve being shut off that we did not notice) and other little things that I'm sure Entegra will take care of quickly.
My other comments concern the ride and handling characterisitics. Overall I am THRILLED with the ride quality and low noise level. We averaged 8.2 mpg pulling our Toyota Highlander. Unlike the gas coach, you can not tell you have a toad hooked up! The 450hp Cummins was amazing. The rpm almost never ticked up except on the steepest few hills crossing the Appalachians near Chattanooga.
On good roads and moderate winds the ride quality of the coach is nothing short of spectacular. I felt like I was in the most comfortable tour bus I've ever ridden in. However, ride-wise what is "fair and reasonable" to expect from a 40' DP in less-than-ideal conditions? For example, driving yesterday in a stiff 20-25 mph cold wind (at a 90 degree angle from our driving direction) on a truly horrible road (I-65 north through southern Indiana) gave us a bit of a noisy, rocky ride. There are numerous small potholes and pavement strips on I-65 that even the truckers were trying to avoid. Many of these are probably from the winter season and the "hardness" of the road surface that seems so common in cold weather. I also assume the rubber of the tires gets stiffer as the exterior temperature gets lower.
Every time we hit one we'd hear some rattling and the thud that comes with rough roads. The winds also made steering a little more work which required more adjustments to stay straight. Having said this, the coach is MILES ahead of my gas coach in terms of ride. I also notice an occasional feel in the steering wheel that indicates a little too much play. There's also a slight perception while steering that the coach "rocks" as it compresses the airbags. It's hard to describe, but it's as if steering from side to side subtly pushes against a soft-feeling resistance on either side with wiggle room in the center. I wish I could describe it better than that. Any thoughts and observations from more experienced DP owners would be greatly appreciated! Other than the test drive before we bought this coach, I had never driven a DP before. Again, no major complaints but more of a curiosity about what I should expect.
My other concern with the 40DRQ is CCC. It's really low for such a high-end coach. I never carry full water tanks which is good, because with full tanks, passengers, etc... the CCC is a mere 750 lb! Off the record Spartan admits you can push the CCC a bit and not worry, but on this recent trip I'm sure I topped the limit by a bit - more than once. Shame on me for not weighing the vehicle during the trip, but I will ask Entergra for precise weight at the factory. According to Spartan. the CCC could have been increased by 1200-1500 lb easily by adding a stronger front axle. On the other hand the tires are rated so high that they are not the limiting issue. If Entegra wants to replace the front axle for me to raise the CCC, I won't complain -
I also placed a lot of my heavier junk in the toad to try and help lower the load on the axles.
All-in-all this is a great coach made by a great company. I am very pleased. My only questions remain about ride quality expectations and the CCC. Perhaps proper tire inflation and weight distribution will help the ride. Since I did not have corner weights, I kept the tires inflated to recommended settings from Goodyear for the estimated total weight of the coach. CCC is another issue that I will discuss at the plant tomorrow.
Bottom line - Entegra is building quality coaches and seems committed to keeping their customers happy. I am one of those happy customers.