RVers will find luxurious accommodations inside this type C motorhome, which features a living room slideout.
By Lazelle D. Jones
I've been told that a number of Coach House Inc. customers are folks who are downsizing from high-end diesel pushers, and it's no wonder. Granted, at a length of 23 feet, the model I recently reviewed — the Platinum 232XL — may not be large enough for everyone's preferences, but for many RVers, the four Platinum floor plans produced by the company, which include an abundance of quality appointments, would serve their needs well.
Coach House is located in Nokomis, Florida, a small town approximately 70 miles south of Tampa. The company has been building motorhomes since 1986, when it began converting 19-foot vans into type B units. In 2000 Coach House entered the type C market by introducing the 23-foot Platinum 232. In 2001 the company debuted the Platinum 270, a 27-foot coach, as well as the 23-foot 232XL I reviewed, which has a slideout. The Platinum 270XL, a slideout version of the 27-footer, debuted in 2002.
I stopped at the company's headquarters to take delivery of a 232XL that had just rolled off the production line. I slipped behind the wheel and was off for a week through Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. During my week out on the interstates and back roads of the Southeast, the coach performed almost flawlessly. The refrigerator needed to be serviced for a minor cooling problem, but that was it, and no motorhome is absolutely perfect.
I learned a bit about Coach House's construction techniques during my visit. For instance, each Platinum motorhome begins with a framework of heavy-gauge 1.5-inch square-tube steel, which is hand-welded and bolted to the chassis. The underside of the 1-inch-thick plywood subfloor is wrapped in baked-enamel aluminum and then attached.
Coach House has made a selling point of the Platinum's one-piece body shell. Each shell is built by hand. The process begins with a four-part clamshell mold that is first sprayed with an exterior layer of gel coat. Next come layers of "chop" — short strands of fiberglass material and resin that are sprayed out of a gun — and hand-laid fiberglass fabric, the latter placed at the points where reinforcement is required. Meanwhile, 3/4-inch marine-grade plywood is placed where additional structural reinforcement is required.
After this process is complete, the four-part mold is removed, and the remaining one-piece body is virtually seamless. If you look inside a completed shell before the foam insulation and foil-backed fiberglass insulation are installed, you can see that the reinforced areas of the shell also become the anchor points for everything that will be installed in the interior.
The single-piece, reinforced shell makes for a very quiet coach, something I made special note of during my 1,100-mile trip. The continuous reinforced surface also makes the inside impervious to dust and moisture; is exceptionally strong; and last, but not least, sure looks good.
The Platinum's radiused, rounded exterior lines are not only pleasing to the eye but they help reduce wind resistance as the motorhome is being driven. Coach House advertises that the Platinum is capable of achieving 14 miles per gallon. I believe this is possible under ideal driving conditions, although my test coach logged a very respectable 11.5 mpg while traveling at a steady 60 miles per hour and running the chassis air conditioner on the medium setting.
The 232XL has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,050 pounds. With a full fuel tank (55 gallons) and a full fresh water tank (25 gallons) as well as personal gear and supplies for a week, the unit weighed 11,920 pounds. This left 2,130 pounds free for additional cargo.
The gray water and black water tanks hold 30 gallons and 25 gallons, respectively. Speaking of water, the Platinum is equipped with a 6-gallon LP-gas/electric water heater.
The Ford E-450 chassis on which the Platinum is constructed boasts a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine; my test unit was equipped with this engine. Coach House also offers the Platinum with an optional 7.3-liter Power Stroke V-8 diesel engine.
A 4-kilowatt Onan gasoline generator provides all the uninterrupted 110-volt-AC power necessary to operate everything on board simultaneously. I liked the fact that the generator uses the coach's own 55-gallon gas tank as its fuel source, thus precluding the need to worry about depleting the LP-gas tank. All I had to do was to keep the gasoline supply above the quarter-full level and everything was good to go.
I ran the generator continuously to power the 13,500-Btu roof air conditioner when the coach was not connected to shore power. The air-conditioning system is centrally ducted, with six fully adjustable registers fore and aft that are set into a false interior ceiling. For rapid, localized cooling, occupants also can choose to let the air move directly from the roof unit into the main cabin. Overall I found the A/C system to be very effective at banishing the high temperatures and humidity so common in the Southeast.
The cab of the Platinum contains Coach House's own special touches. My test unit had the optional front air dam and fog lights; the fog light switch is mounted in the dash. The dash appearance is enhanced by a faux burled-wood inlay. A center dash storage compartment is hinged at the bottom and folds open. Coach House also adds its own cockpit chairs.
The cab-over area in the Platinum incorporates an entertainment center that includes a 19-inch flat-screen television, a VCR/DVD player, and controls for the power-adjustable antenna (the antenna need not be extended or retracted for reception). A small storage cabinet and the compartment that houses the DVD and VCR are dressed with smoked-glass doors.
Just aft of the cockpit is the galley. Coach House has created a sizable area of open floor space in this area, so that moving around while someone is preparing dinner is very doable. This front part of the coach is covered with vinyl flooring.
Perhaps my height (I am more than six feet tall) entered into the following criticism, but I do need to mention it. The refrigerator sits directly on the interior floor, and the freezer is at the top. This configuration required me to do a good deal of bending over every time I wanted to reach the goods inside the fridge. The microwave-convection oven sits atop the refrigerator-freezer, so if the height of the refrigerator were raised, the microwave oven would have to be located elsewhere. For other people, this arrangement may not be of any concern.
Suffice it to say that the rest of the galley — in fact, all of the areas that make up the residential side of the Coach House 232XL — were first-rate. This 23-foot coach can host two people very well. With careful planning, the solid-surface galley countertop; the dual-tub galley sink; the copious amount of cupboards, drawers, and cabinets; and the large roll-out pantry can provide extended periods of RV camping between resupply missions.
Just beyond the galley region is the living room/bedroom area. Plush carpet covers the floor in this area. This is a compact venue, replete with all the amenities required to relax at the end of a day of travel or sight-seeing. It has been well thought through. The slideout room measures 12 inches deep by 80 inches long and encompasses the sofa bed. A safety lock-out system requires the parking brake to be engaged and the ignition to be on before the electric slideout can be extended or retracted.
The 56-inch-by-80-inch sofa bed in the slideout also is power-adjustable, which makes it simple to put on sheets and bedding. One toggle switch moves the sofa either toward or away from the wall below the slideout window. Start in the sofa position, with the sofa away from the wall. Spread the two sheets, and then press a second toggle switch to lower the back and create the bed. Once the bed is flat, simply touch the first toggle switch to move it back against the wall.
Opposite the sofa are two upholstered swivel chairs with a dining table between them. The television can be viewed from anywhere on the sofa and from the rear swivel chairs. Two ceiling-mounted speakers deliver sound to the middle and rear of the coach.
Storage cabinets in the Platinum are available in mahogany and white colors; my test coach featured optional Sanibel White Maple cabinetry. I found that this motif created a light, open, and cool atmosphere. In addition, buyers can choose from four fabric décor packages.
Accordion-style day-night shades cover the living area windows — even the one in the entry door. The track-mounted, pleated fabric privacy curtain that manually pulls around the windshield while covering both the driver and passenger door windows worked reasonably well. This privacy curtain provided good insulation, helping to keep the interior cool and comfortable at a campsite. I can only assume that this drape works equally well when it comes to keeping the windshield and cab area warm during the colder months of the year.
The coach is equipped with a 30,000-Btu forced-air furnace that delivers warmth through four registers, including one in the rear bath.
Coach House has not skimped on the coach-wide bath area, which occupies the rear of the coach. It includes a three-quarter-length clothes closet with a shoe rack above and a large dressing mirror on the door. The remainder of the area is occupied by a marine-style porcelain toilet; a cabinet-mounted sink; and a full-size, separate shower with a skylight. A solid wood folding door sequesters the bath from the front of the coach.
So, just how much time can you spend in this coach before you need to take on water and dump the holding tanks? After all, none of these tanks has a very large capacity. Well, this was something that impressed me. By being conservation-minded when it came to the use of water, I found that my fresh water supply and holding tank capacity were good. I spent a full week on the road before I had to dump the gray and black water tanks and refill the fresh water tank.
It's also noteworthy how easy setting up camp can be with the Platinum. The unit's manageable size makes it simple to reach and enter any campsite, and the 25-foot-long 30-amp shore power cable is especially pliable. It can be taken out and connected easily when you set up camp, and just as readily stowed away. With a couple of minor manipulations, I found that the awning can be quickly cranked out for patio shade and just as easily retracted.
For a motorhome of this size, the 23-foot Platinum offers a respectable amount of cargo capacity in a streetside storage bay that measures 22 inches by 61 inches by 13 inches. Coach House created this available space by locating the LP-gas tank between the two chassis rails. Gear stowed inside this bay is easily accessible, for the door is equipped with pneumatic struts. When the latches are released, the door slowly opens by itself and remains there until manually closed.
The Platinum included exterior ports for a landline telephone, cable television, and LP tank fill, all conveniently located behind the same access door.
The base suggested retail price of the Platinum 232XL is $102,900; my test coach had a final price of $119,275 with the following options: HWH slideout system, DVD/VCR combo; leather pilot and copilot seats; coffee maker; front air dam/fog lights; Sanibel White Maple cabinets; deluxe paint and graphics; 13-foot Fiamma box awning; smaller engine cover console.
The 23-foot Coach House Platinum is big enough to provide luxurious accommodations for two adults. If an amenity-loaded motorhome in a smaller size sounds appealing, this coach is worthy of your own review.
Manufacturer … Coach House Inc., 3480 Technology Drive, Nokomis, FL 34275; (800) 235-0984; (941) 485-0984; fax: (941) 488-4095; www.coachhouserv.com
Model … Platinum 232XL
Floor plan ... Club Lounge
Chassis ... Ford E-450
Engine ... 6.8-liter Triton V-10
Transmission ... 4-speed automatic, electronic
Axle ratio ... 4.56 to 1
Tires ... Michelin LT 225/75R 16E
Wheelbase ... 158 inches
Brakes ... rear wheel antilock Hydro Boost
Suspension ... leaf with air assist
Alternator ... 130 amps
Batteries ... chassis — (1); house — (2) Interstate Group 27
Steering ... power
Inverter ... 1,500 watts, optional
Electrical service ... 30 amps with charger
Auxiliary generator ... 4-kw Onan MicroQuiet
Exterior length ... 23 feet
Exterior width ... 8 feet
Interior height ... 6 feet 3 inches
Exterior height ... 10 feet 5 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 20,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 14,050 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 4,600 pounds; rear — 9,450 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front axle — 3,220 pounds; rear axle — 8,660 pounds; total — 11,920 pounds
Payload ... 2,130 pounds
Frame construction ... 1-1/2-inch tubular steel; miter cut; welded, closed tubes
Insulation ... R-16
Fresh water capacity ... 25 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 30 gallons; black water — 25 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 55 gallons
Fuel requirements ... gasoline
Propane capacity ... 17.5 gallons/68 pounds
Water heater ... 6-gallon LP gas/electric
Water system ... demand
Furnace ... 30,000-Btu LP-gas with electric heat strip
Air conditioner ... 13,500-Btu ducted
Refrigerator ... 6-cubic-foot three-way automatic
Toilet ... Thetford porcelain
Warranty ... chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles; coach — 3 years/36,000 miles
Base suggested retail price ... $102,900
Price as tested ... $119,275