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Old 12-13-2018, 06:50 PM   #1
KJR
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Test Drove 2019 Ventana Le 3426 vs Bay Star 3626

We are considering switching from our 2008 Airstream Classic 25fb to a class A. We tow with a 2015 Ram 2500 Cummins. We are full timers without a house. Weíve decided the Newmar is our best choice. We have decided for gas the 2019 Bay Star 3408 and Ventana Le 3426 are the floorplans we like the best on paper and online photos/videos.

Today we test drove a Ventana Le 3426. After reading about the advantages of a diesel pusher I felt it was worth it to see and test drive one. The dealership was located along an interstate that had some hills. The coach had Comfort Drive and getting down the freeway on ramp I was able to acellerate to 65mph. I dialed up the Comfort Drive to 4. I noticed the mild crosswind was causing me to wander and when a truck passed me I felt the push. Then we hit a hill. The speed started to drop so I pressed down on the accelerator pedal but I couldnít keep my speed even when floored. I expected the transmission to shift down when I kicked down the accelerator pedal but it stayed in 5th gear. I suppose I couldíve pressed the - button on the transmission panel but it was at an awkward angle from my driving position and I didnít think about it. The Cummins engine is the 340 with specs similar to the Cummins in my Ram so I suppose carrying all that motorhome weight the 6 cylinder diesel. I was wondering what would it be like towing a 4500lb Jeep going up a hill.

We returned the same way we came from on the interstate and still noticed wind affects.

Maybe it was the perceived reputation of the DP power, ride and handling that set my expectations too high but I was pretty disappointed with the performance especially at a $200k plus price tag. It was a beautiful coach inside although we didnít care for the free standing dinning room chairs, the power flush toilet and the size of the bathroom.

Just for grins the dealer had a 2019 Bay Star 3626 and we test drove that over the same course. I was surprised with the V10. It acellerated up to 65 on the on ramp and when we hit the hill it shifted down easily to maintain 65 up the hill. The wind didnít seem to bother it as much. The ride wasnít as bad and the engine noise wasnít too bad especially when reduced to about 60. This was the first time driving a gas coach. I did like the diesel brakes better. They were more sensitive than the Ford.

One advantage of the Ventana Le was the payload (NCC) was about 4700lbs without water while the Bay Star was only 1853lb on a 24000lb chassis. It had a residential fridge with two extra batteries and no washer/dryer. Iím hoping a 3408 NCC is around 2500lbs as itís got one less slide than the 3626 but I want a residential fridge in a 3408 too and no washer/dryer. Funny the NCC quoted for the 3626 and 3408 are the same in the sales brochure.

So weíve decided not to pursue DP now. What makes it easier is Iíve read the services on the Cummins/Freightliner are about $1000 a year or every 15k miles and now diesel is anywhere from 70cents to $1 a gallon higher not to mention the base price differential of the diesel vs gas coach.

KJR
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:07 PM   #2
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Sounds like you gave both coaches a fair on-the-road evaluation. I would have to say, however, that our experience with a 2014 Ventana LE 3436 (very similar to the 3426 you test drove) was quite different. It had decent power from the 340 HP Cummins and shifted quite appropriately on the hills. I wonder if something was amiss with the 3426 you drove?

We pulled a 2014 Honda CR-V with the 3436 and can't ever recall being passed by a "gasser," even in the Mountain West where we do most of our travel. Before you make a final decision to go with a gas coach, you might try a test-drive in a different Ventana LE.

As for annual service costs, we found it ran closer to $450. I'm guessing that the annual service cost of the Ford V-10 (the most common gas coach power plant) won't be much less.

YMMV

TJ
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:38 PM   #3
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We owned a Baystar and now the Ventana. Your butt dyno is not wrong, the gas coach has more power and less weight.
At interstate speeds you won't get the Allison below fifth gear, these coaches are not geared like a pickup truck because of the weight.

Just my personal opinion the Cummins 340 is a sub optimal power choice. Not because of the engine, but because of the 2500 Allison it's mated to is unable to take full torque in overdrive. Which is why it downshifts easily on hills. The 360 engine / 3000 transmission is much more an upgrade than the 20 HP difference would indicate. The real difference is 800 torque in all gears vs 575 or thereabouts IIRC.
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Old 12-13-2018, 07:40 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, KJR
Here is a link with Newmar information you will need for what ever Newmar you have and threads on Comfort Drive and its use.
The LE should have shifted down and as said may want to test another coach.
In the link are links to Newmar Corp and the best dealers in the U.S.
You can also use the Newmar search engine and ask questions about any coach your interested in for the habits driving any coach you maybe interested in with answers from members of forum.
Good luck in your quest of a Newmar.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranquil Jim View Post
Sounds like you gave both coaches a fair on-the-road evaluation. I would have to say, however, that our experience with a 2014 Ventana LE 3436 (very similar to the 3426 you test drove) was quite different. It had decent power from the 340 HP Cummins and shifted quite appropriately on the hills. I wonder if something was amiss with the 3426 you drove?

We pulled a 2014 Honda CR-V with the 3436 and can't ever recall being passed by a "gasser," even in the Mountain West where we do most of our travel. Before you make a final decision to go with a gas coach, you might try a test-drive in a different Ventana LE.

As for annual service costs, we found it ran closer to $450. I'm guessing that the annual service cost of the Ford V-10 (the most common gas coach power plant) won't be much less.

YMMV

TJ
Weíre your annual services performed by a Freightliner service center? Iíve read they run higher. I got the $100 figure from a coupe of owners who have YouTube RV channels with similar sized diesel coaches.

I may test drive a 3412 but weíd have drive from Houston back to DfW where there is a couple. Iím a little concerned with payload on the gas coaches. We looked at a preowned 2017 Bay Star 36 and itís posted NCC was only about 1200lbs. When we dry camp we fill the water tank and then may have to drive 20 or more miles. Then return with full gray and black tanks.

KJR
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJR View Post
Weíre your annual services performed by a Freightliner service center? Iíve read they run higher. I got the $100 figure from a coupe of owners who have YouTube RV channels with similar sized diesel coaches.

I may test drive a 3412 but weíd have drive from Houston back to DfW where there is a couple. Iím a little concerned with payload on the gas coaches. We looked at a preowned 2017 Bay Star 36 and itís posted NCC was only about 1200lbs. When we dry camp we fill the water tank and then may have to drive 20 or more miles. Then return with full gray and black tanks.

KJR
Just a thought, you may want to look at the Canyon Star line. Better numbers because they are all on the 26k chassis.
jt
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJR View Post
Weíre your annual services performed by a Freightliner service center? Iíve read they run higher. I got the $100 figure from a coupe of owners who have YouTube RV channels with similar sized diesel coaches.

I may test drive a 3412 but weíd have drive from Houston back to DfW where there is a couple. Iím a little concerned with payload on the gas coaches. We looked at a preowned 2017 Bay Star 36 and itís posted NCC was only about 1200lbs. When we dry camp we fill the water tank and then may have to drive 20 or more miles. Then return with full gray and black tanks.

KJR
My annual service work is done by a local diesel service/repair shop, not Freightliner (or Spartan now with the new MADP). And, yes, their service is compatible with the warranty. FL is more costly, but not to the tune of $1K in my experience. More like $550-$600.

Not trying to coax you into a diesel pusher if you really want a gas coach, but the horsepower thing is not the major difference between the two. Torque is. That's where you get your pulling power.

The Ford V10 is a decent engine, but needs to run at high RPMs to generate sufficient torque to move the coach up hills. That also generates significant amounts of noise doing so. And, should you get bogged down behind a slow truck on a steep hill, the V10 has a hard time regaining momentum.

Diesels...even the Cummins 340 HP...generate their peak torque at relatively low RPMs and run much quieter. They usually also last much longer. Diesels are deceptive in that they don't sound like they are generating much power, but you find that they really are. We had our 340 HP Ventana LE 3436 over some very high mountain passes and rarely had any problem keeping up with much bigger diesel coaches or regaining our momentum if we got held up temporarily by a slower vehicle.

Personally, I disagree with the earlier assessment that the 340 HP Cummins ISB 6.7 is a "suboptimal power choice." Certainly, it is less engine that a 500 or 605 HP ISX 12/15, but it is an excellent engine for its designed purpose. It does an excellent job in the shorter coaches...and, is easier on fuel. We got 9.1 MPG with our 340 HP ISB in the Ventana LE 3436 over approximately 24K miles. Our current 500 HP ISX gets 7.2 MPG. Then, again, it is pushing a bigger, heavier coach.

Good luck with whichever way you decide to go. And, remember that your last...and most perfect...coach will ALWAYS be just down the road a bit.

TJ
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Old 12-14-2018, 05:49 AM   #8
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We started out in class A land with a Baystar. It had plenty of power to climb the Tennessee hills towing our Jeep. While climbing those hills though, the noise would just about drive you out of the cab. Test drove a Ventana 37' and when I first matted the pedal, I almost fell forward. Very disappointing acceleration . Now, we have a DS with the 450. That Baystar would still walk away from the DS even towing but once on the highway and in real mountains, you will find the diesel will be a much less taxing drive. Smoother, quieter, and a little better fuel economy to try to offset the price difference in fuel. Also, the heavier coach will feel MUCH more planted on the road when in real world situations like the winds out west.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:29 AM   #9
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Just a thought, you may want to look at the Canyon Star line. Better numbers because they are all on the 26k chassis.
jt
My understanding is the 26k chassis they beef up the rear axle 2000lb and the front axle remains the same as the 24k chassis, 9k.

If you are loaded up close to payload and add a 4500 toad towing on 4 wheels does that add to the weight. I canít imagine thereís much tongue weight from the tow bar, so as long as the weight is below GCWR it should be OK?

Thanks for everyoneís comments.
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:20 AM   #10
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Two thoughts:


1) Was the mode button selected? This is economy mode and will cause it to lug the engine and downshift very late in the hills.


2) I personally prefer to signal the downshift in my VLDP when approaching a hill to keep the torque up. It results in much less deceleration. I obviously pay a small fuel price, but it makes a big difference in the ability to pull a hill. Especially when towing a Dinghy.


At the end of the day though, I love being able to have a normal conversation with the wife while the engine is 40' behind me working its butt off. Its a much less stressful drive.



J
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:38 AM   #11
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My understanding is the 26k chassis they beef up the rear axle 2000lb and the front axle remains the same as the 24k chassis, 9k.

If you are loaded up close to payload and add a 4500 toad towing on 4 wheels does that add to the weight. I canít imagine thereís much tongue weight from the tow bar, so as long as the weight is below GCWR it should be OK?

Thanks for everyoneís comments.
Correct. The toad goes to GCWR. Only whatever weight is on the hitch goes to payload or GVWR. Very little tongue weight when flat towing.
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Old 12-14-2018, 03:59 PM   #12
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As you can see in my signature, we have a very similar Ventana LE to the one you test drove. We love our MH and am very happy with the way our Ventana drives. I will admit that there is a big difference between "Normal" and "Economy" modes on the transmission. The MH has noticeably more pick-up in "Normal" mode. I usually drive in "Economy" mode and we have no problems keeping up with traffic and sometimes passing 18 wheelers on longer climbs. Now I must admit that we have not taken the Ventana out west yet but I have been very pleased in our east of the Mississippi travels.

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Old 12-14-2018, 05:43 PM   #13
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Two thoughts:


1) Was the mode button selected? This is economy mode and will cause it to lug the engine and downshift very late in the hills.


2) I personally prefer to signal the downshift in my VLDP when approaching a hill to keep the torque up. It results in much less deceleration. I obviously pay a small fuel price, but it makes a big difference in the ability to pull a hill. Especially when towing a Dinghy.


At the end of the day though, I love being able to have a normal conversation with the wife while the engine is 40' behind me working its butt off. Its a much less stressful drive.



J


Fwiw, I have a 2018 bay star 3401. The newer gassers have a 6 speed trans and it doesnít rev up near as much as the older ones did. It is much quieter than my 2008 f250 ever was. Thing with gassers though is that they develop their power at higher rpms. This doesnít hurt the engine in any way and even at high rpms, you can have a normal conversation. Thatís my experience anyway. Plus, you can get a rear window. The big win as far as I am concerned.
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Old 12-14-2018, 06:00 PM   #14
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We test drove a Ventana 4369 with 400 hp, I was not impressed with power, my gasser did every bit as well. Everyone talks about all the torque but itís physics, you are hauling more weight, a lot more in most cases.

We find our noise level is fine, sure at times itís certainly more noise than a rear engine coach.

Fully loaded with toad we still have almost 2000 lbs of unused cargo weight, the CS3710 has the highest NCC in the gas line.

I change my own oil and filter, do the lube myself (I like this kind of stuff), A lube, oil and filter change on engine and gen set cost me under $100. We are not full time so itís one change a year.

Now Iím with you, loved the air brakes!

When we retire Iím thinking diesel but probably in the 450 to 500 hp range and a coach two years old.

Steve
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