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Old 03-23-2014, 08:04 PM   #1
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340hp vs. 400hp - Need advice please!

We are looking at the Newmar Dutch Star, Mountain Aire, and Ventana. The DS and the MA are both 400hp, but the Ventana is 340hp. Is the difference quite significant in performance?

We will be pulling a 3500lb Honda CRV and have a motorcycle lift for two motorcycles weighing approximately 1600lbs. We will be full timing, so most of our belongings will be stowed on board with us. Much of our travels will be in the western US, so we will frequent mountainous terrain.

If we go with the Ventana, we can afford a fairly new model, but will have to go with a 2007 DS or MA to remain in our price range. Having a newer rig is appealing, but the HP is confusing.

With the weight requirements we have, will the Ventana's HP be too little for decent torque and towing power, or should we stick with models 400hp+?
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:08 PM   #2
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IMHO you need to compare torque as that's what "gets you up to speed".......hp keeps you there
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CWinLV View Post
We are looking at the Newmar Dutch Star, Mountain Aire, and Ventana. The DS and the MA are both 400hp, but the Ventana is 340hp. Is the difference quite significant in performance? We will be pulling a 3500lb Honda CRV and have a motorcycle lift for two motorcycles weighing approximately 1600lbs. We will be full timing, so most of our belongings will be stowed on board with us. Much of our travels will be in the western US, so we will frequent mountainous terrain. If we go with the Ventana, we can afford a fairly new model, but will have to go with a 2007 DS or MA to remain in our price range. Having a newer rig is appealing, but the HP is confusing. With the weight requirements we have, will the Ventana's HP be too little for decent torque and towing power, or should we stick with models 400hp+?
Add up the GVWR + weight of Honda+ weight of motorcycles and lift. Divide that number by the HP. If the result is 100 or less the engine will be adequate. The lower the number the better the performance.

A bigger concern might be the motorcycles and lift on the back. You need to make sure that you will not be exceeding your rear GAWR. The weight on the back will unload the steer axle somewhat and can cause handling issues. With that kind of weight on the back, you might consider going back a year or two and getting a coach with a tag axle.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:30 PM   #4
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........................... With that kind of weight on the back, you might consider going back a year or two and getting a coach with a tag axle.
THAT is very good advice to meet your requirements.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:37 PM   #5
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Add up the GVWR + weight of Honda+ weight of motorcycles and lift. Divide that number by the HP. If the result is 100 or less the engine will be adequate. The lower the number the better the performance.

A bigger concern might be the motorcycles and lift on the back. You need to make sure that you will not be exceeding your rear GAWR. The weight on the back will unload the steer axle somewhat and can cause handling issues. With that kind of weight on the back, you might consider going back a year or two and getting a coach with a tag axle.
I think I forgot to add that we are also looking for a tag axle. We know the added weight of the motorcycles will require a tag, so we aren't looking for anything less than 42'. If Ventana doesn't come in a tag, we'll eliminate it from our choices.

Thanks for your input and the calculation you provided. We hadn't seen that one before. Glad we joined this website because there is so much to learn!!
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:06 PM   #6
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Let me confuse you a little more...

VERY GENERALLY speaking, starting in 2007 some equipment was added to Cummins engines to meet EPA specs and HP went up to 425. Starting in 2010 even more EPA equipment (DEF) was added and HP went up to 450. IMHO, The increasing HP was made to help overcome some of the working overhead and especially in 2010 the added weight of the DEF equipment. So...in effect, there is somewhat an equalization of HP per weight of coach.

BTW...all that is relative to when the ENGINE was built not the coach itself so don't be surprised to see a 2010 coach with out DEF built on a 2009 engine/chassis.

I subscribe to the benchmark of 1 HP per 100# of COMBINED weight. That is not a hard, fast rule, just one I think works well. In my case my combined MH (fully loaded for full time use) & toad weight is 40,360# and I have 400 HP. That is just short of 101#/1HP. I am certain I would be unhappy if I was at my GCWR of 54,200# increasing my ratio by nearly 35% to 135.5#/1HP.

Can the Ventana do it? Well, it can as long as your expectations don't exceed its capability. What I would consider doing (because that is what I did for us) is getting the the weight of the coach as delivered (see sticker), calculate weight for fuel, water, propane and toss in a healthy amount of weight the for STUFF you need to live in it. Then add the weight for lift, bikes and toad to that to see the ratio of weight/1 HP.

Now, I don't want to get into that whole torque stuff but that will also be a factor in getting things moving as quickly as possible and perhaps a factor in big climbs. Still...going back to reasonable expectations, if you can live with the "limitations" of a smaller engine and save enough money to make that a satisfying exchange...go for it.

Let me toss out one other factor. I'm not as versed in the Ventana line but in the DSDP line my 2006 has a single stage "Jake" brake. I'm putting that in quotes because it is really more of a exhaust brake using the turbo than an engine brake but it was developed by Jake in partnership with Cummins. It works but not as well as a 2 stage brake. Starting in 2007 they went with the 2 stage Jake brake which is much more effective. Keep that in mind if lots of big hills are in your future. I'm thinking that it is possible that the Ventana line hung on to the 1 stage version like mine but I don't know that for a fact.

Finally, you haven't mentioned if you are looking at tag chassis or not so...1600# of bikes and lift on the hitch is going to really put some weight on the drive wheels without a tag. (I have no answer on how you improve the hitch to handle that loading but I see them all the time.) You will need to CAREFULLY calculate that impact on your ability to load your coach. It will lift some weight off of the front wheels and add it to the rear. I'm not a math wiz but I think I read that it should remove about 1# from the front for every 6# of weight and transfer it back to the drive wheels. That means for the 1600# of bikes and lift you loose about 270# on the front but add 1870# to the drive. (Leverage equations give me a headache so if the ratio is off a tad, you still get the drift.). Going into a purchase with that in mind you will need a very accurate 4 corner weight to see if you can do it and stay within manufacturer's specifications for axle/wheel weights.

Adding a tag axle helps to mitigate your bikes and carrier but now you are going to be looking at 400 HP or more in DSDPs depending on year. Again...I don't know the Ventana line but according to brochures, a 2011 Ventana runs at 360 HP for a 43' with tag axle.
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Old 03-23-2014, 09:40 PM   #7
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2014 Ventana tag has 400 HP ISL engine. It is the same engine as the Dutch Star but with 50 less HP. The torque on both is the same.

2012 - 2013 Ventana tag has 380 HP ISC engine.
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:00 PM   #8
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I'm not going to sugar coat it for you OP. I would not want to buy any diesel MH with less then about 550 HP. Unless you want one that is a dog in the mountains and on any steep grade. There is a thread on here now about how doggy many of the new 450 HP Newmars are in the hills. They will all get the job done, some just do it much easier. You can never have to much power in your MH.
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Old 03-23-2014, 10:25 PM   #9
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Other Options

Why don't you consider a trailer for your auto and motorcycles? That would eliminate all that weight of the motorcycles on the back of the motorhome.

Consider the weight of the entire auto, trailer, motorcycles, "wet weight" of the motor home, and possible trailer, because you can easily exceed GCVWR. Once you do exceed that weight, all bets are off as far as handling and possible legal complications if you are ever involved in an accident. If you are over weight and in an accident, you are in deep trouble...

Horsepower is a relative thing. Sure, they make diesels with 550 horsepower and some will say that is what you have to have. As soon as someone makes one that is 800 horsepower, some will say that you have to have that as well. Knowing how to drive a diesel, understanding torque, power range of the engine, how to shift, and anticipate conditions are all part of driving a diesel. Most folks have only driven gas engines, completely different animal. Many truck drivers are hauling 80,000 lbs with only 350 to 450 horsepower all over the United States, everyday, but they know how to drive them.

So spend all your money, or spend time researching what you really need, and how to drive a diesel and you might be surprised at what you really ought to buy. Asking for opinions and all you will know is someone's opinion. Educate yourself, then you will know....
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:25 PM   #10
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Many great points so far, only can add my opinion. My '99 350hp Cummins ran way better than my '09 425hp Cummins pulling a trailer with same vehicle and motorcycle. My '09 obviously has many more emission extras that my '99 did not have, but I still don't have DEF, which for me is good.

I also would agree looking at a trailer for the 2 bikes and toad, I wouldn't want my bike sitting in the elements number one, but I also would make sure you know your tongue weight rating as pointed out. I have not seen a tongue weight on a tag axle above 1,500 lbs unless you are talking about a Super C which doesn't seem to be the case. I am also assuming you are not looking at putting the toad as I doubt the toad would have a tongue rating to handle the lift. I could be wrong on this point, but I would certainly verify so you are not disappointed or severely overweight on the tongue.

Good luck in your evaluation!
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:58 PM   #11
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The Ventana is a lower end Newmar, the Dutch Star in the middle, and the Mountain Aire next above Dutch Star. To compare you would need to let us know the years.

On new coaches, the 3 all have similar rear axle capacities. The Dutch Star and Mountain Aire have the same HP rating. The Ventana is lower.

You should also be looking at what level of fit and finish you wish to have. I was not impressed with the Ventana. Personally I would look at Dutch Star or above, but a lot depends on your budget. The Ventana had manual unlocking pins for the slides, the Dutch Star and above were automatic. The Ventana heating system was winterized when we test drove, and it was cold. The Dutch Star had the hydro hot system and worked fine. I am not sure if the Ventana had the Comfort Steer, but the Dutch Star and above do.

Comparing the Ventana to the Mountain Aire is even worse. The Mountain Aire is considered a Luxury Coach in the Newmar line.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:17 PM   #12
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Attachment 59082We had the same question and our budget was 100k max. We rented a 2004 Fleetwood Expedition powered with a 330 cat. and it ran fine with nothing in tow. When we started shopping we wanted 400hp due to us towing a Jeep commander (5000#)and a Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe (900#) in a v-nose enclosed trailer (3500#). We bought a 40' 2005 Monaco Diplomat with a ISL 400hp Cummins (31,500#loaded) which is prior to the power robbing emission changes. The coach does a great job and on our run from MI to south CA we could run the speed limit easily with exception of the short steep grades that we were unable to build up our speed on the approach. Our overall average was 6mph. which was acceptable to us being able to travel at the speeds we were and to have all our things protected inside a clean dry trailer. We are full timers and enjoy having the trailer for storage, we do three extended stays in MI, CA and TX on an annual basis chasing the good weather.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:34 PM   #13
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Much depends on whether it's an ISC (8.3L) or ISL (8.9L) and the torque. Post #8, does not pertain the a MH with your GVW or GCWR.
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:14 PM   #14
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One thing I didn't see in the previous posts is that there is a huge difference between a true compression brake and an exhaust brake regardless of whether or not it is made by Jacobs and can be called a Jake brake. Compression brakes take the engine's power and use it to stop the vehicle; exhaust brakes simply strangle the exhaust. My CAT can produce more that 300HP to oppose the forward motion of the vehicle; it's a delight to drive in the Rockies.

As for horsepower, my opinion is that more is better. One of the (many) reasons I love my MH is that I have ~1.18 HP/100 lbs of total weight (including the toad). When that is combined with 1550 ft-lbs of torque, makes it a heck of beast to drive. Could I live with less power? Of course; but now that I'm used to it I would hate to give it up. We climbed Cabbage Hill last summer and never went below ~53 mph and didn't have any concerns about engine temperature. If you are familiar with that climb in eastern OR you will understand the significance of that performance.

This is not to say that one must have lots of power or that I'm in a hurry to get where I'm going. All I'm saying is that having this much power and torque makes the MH a lot of fun to drive. You can live with whatever you want; all will get you up the hill (eventually).
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