We have owned a Thor Motor Coach (TMC) Avanti (28 foot model) for almost a year. The Avanti is our first RV purchase. A 2011 model was hard to find in Arizona – we finally located one in Yuma, AZ. This year we have gone on 9 trips, short and long distances and it has been a learning experience.
Overall, this is the perfect unit for our needs. There are just the two of us, no children, grand- children or pets that travel with us. The coach is built on a Freightliner Custom Chassis (FCC MC-l), which is loosely based on their medium sized school bus/delivery truck. It is easy to drive but still rides like a school bus. The Cummins diesel engine is mounted in front (FRED) and is generally quiet except at cold idle or when the clutched cooling fan is engaged. Our experience is that the coach has marginal climbing power (at 220 hp and 1 hp per 90 lbs = 19800 lbs which is approx the GVWR), but the fuel economy is good – ranging from 13.6 – 14.5 mpg. The coach drives and handles best at 55-58 mph. Above 65 mph, and the chassis doesn’t feel “solid and secure” and it is noticeably more fatiguing to drive. This may be due the chassis’s heritage based on a school bus. The Cummins engine is certified for up to 12,000 feet – sound like a lot, but we climbed 11,000+ in the Rocky Mountains this year. The engine did, however operate as well as can be expected.
In our search for an RV, we paid close attention to the quality of components that was used by the manufacturer. The Freightliner chassis has been without any issues and is clearly well built. We found the Avanti coach had significantly better than average component quality and the use of limited space is amazing. We have been to the TMC factory in Elkhart and it was disappointing – employing little current “manufacturing best practices”. Each coach is basically hand assembled – meaning that each coach is unique with its own set of mistakes and problems. Our coach is no exception. There are many instances of sloppy assembly work and questionable design, but we understand that this is somewhat typical in the RV industry.
We compared the Avanti with the current crop of Sprinter (also Daimler Freightliner) units and found 24-25 feet was not adequate. The Avanti has a much more substantial “feel” on the road.
In our home (the desert Southwest), the air conditioning is ineffective (both chassis and house), the rear camera turns itself off when hot and the clutched engine fan makes a thunderous noise when is engaged (somewhat frequently in 100+ heat). To minimize the cooling fan noise, I plan on adding a misting system to raise the humidity of the air going through the radiator. The fan rarely was engaged in the more humid (and flat) Midwest.
Service and support has been an issue – TMC technical support is (strangely) not familiar with the coach and has been wrong or clearly guessing at most of my questions (I no longer use them). We had the transmission fluid changed by Allison – they did not torque the drain bolt and some of the transmission fluid leaked out before I caught it. We had the Cummins oil changed and the mechanic overfilled the engine by two quarts (the 6.7 ISB uses 1 qt in the filter, 15 in the pan = 16 qts max). As a result, I do as much of the maintenance as possible.
I did install a tire pressure monitoring system on all six tires – it has been extremely useful in maintaining accurate tire pressure (a safety and fuel economy issue). We are members of the Pilot/Flying J frequent driver club (it is free) – it saves several pennies per gallon and their website is useful in locating stations around the country.
If anyone has any questions about the Avanti, we will do our best to answer them based on our experience.