This redesigned flagship of the diesel-powered motorhome line produced by Sportscoach, a division of Coachmen RV, features four slideouts and a 350-horsepower Caterpillar or 400-horsepower Cummins engine.
By Lazelle Jones
California State Route 74 — also referred to as the Ortega Highway — runs east from San Juan Capistrano in the southern part of the state. The road's winding, climbing lanes present a broad spectrum of driving challenges that are perfect for testing the road manners and driving behavior of any vehicle. And because of their size, it’s an even more excellent proving ground for large type A motorhomes.
It was one of several thoroughfares on which I challenged the 2007 Sportscoach Elite during a recent test outing, and the coach answered with an impressive performance. It has more than enough power (both in horses and in torque), making it responsive whether climbing grades, entering freeway on-ramps, or pushing the upper end of the envelope on allowable highway speeds.
This 2007 model marks a new look in many ways for the Elite, now a four-slideout, diesel-powered motorhome produced by Sportscoach, a division of Coachmen RV. It joins the Sportscoach Encore, Pathfinder, Cross Country SE, and Cross Country in Coachmen's stable of diesel-powered type As. The 2007 Elite is available in one floor plan, the 40 QS. This unit is exactly 40 feet long from bumper to bumper and 102 inches wide. The letters QS stand for "quad slide" (did you already guess that?).
The Elite's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is listed at 33,460 pounds. I weighed it at the local moving and storage scale with a full tank of fuel (100 gallons), a full tank of fresh water (103 gallons), and 50.6 gallons of LP gas. The unit tipped the scales at 29,300 pounds, which left an amazing 4,160 pounds for passengers and cargo. The front axle has a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of 13,460 pounds, and the actual weight for this axle on my test coach was 10,560 pounds. The rear axle has a GAWR of 20,000 pounds, and the actual weight on the test coach was 18,360 pounds. The Elite is rated to tow 10,000 pounds and comes standard with a 10,000-pound receiver hitch.
Sportscoach bases this home on wheels on the Freightliner XC raised-rail chassis, and company designers have worked closely with Freightliner to create what they call the Thoroughbred Performance Platform. Basically, Sportscoach makes some changes before the chassis accepts the Elite house. During the creation of the Thoroughbred Performance Platform, the all-steel infrastructure is treated and coated with a weather-resistant finish.
My test coach contained the Legend option package, which includes independent front suspension (IFS). The 55-degree wheel cut that comes with the IFS deserves a mention for merit. This is so important for navigating into and out of a campsite, or when turning corners.
Sportscoach Elite cockpitWhen added to the standard air suspension system (which includes four high-volume/low-pressure air bags) and the Sachs shock absorbers (one for each wheel), the IFS makes the coach a pleasure to drive. It’s not only powerful but smooth and very quiet. A bell crank designed to intercept road trauma is incorporated in the Freightliner steer/suspension system.
Another improvement to the Elite for 2007 is the single-piece windshield, a feature that yields a superb level of visibility. The driver can also check the coach's position with the help of heated, adjustable side mirrors that are mounted at the top corners of the windshield, giving the Elite an “ET phone home” appearance. It's a good look, one that complements the new front-end cap that Sportscoach has designed for 2007. Optional power sun visors make controlling the amount of rays you want as easy as touching a toggle switch (actually, two switches, one for the driver and one for the passenger). The passenger seat is extra wide and comes with a power-adjustable footrest.
As noted, the exterior lines of the 2007 Elite include redesigned elements that are a major departure from the 2006 model. The rear cap has been totally reconfigured, and the roof of the coach is a molded one-piece fiberglass structure that wraps downward to meet the sidewalls.
Also of significance are the redesigned basement bay doors. Formerly hinged along the top, now they are hinged on the side, providing full access to the basement cargo bay doors, even when the slideouts are extended. But it doesn’t stop there. Basement storage totals 215 cubic feet, and giant sliding cargo trays are offered as options on two bays. These slide trays can be reached and moved from either side of the coach. It's great! The only bay door that articulates upward — has hinges across the top of the bay door — is the one containing the optional exterior entertainment center. It includes a 26-inch LCD flat-screen television and a DVD/CD player.
Sportscoach Elite interiorThe roof, walls, and floor are bonded together using a vacuum-laminated process. Welded tubular steel structural members create a grid pattern where 1½-inch block foam insulation is cut to fit and inserted. A gel-coat fiberglass exterior sheet and a lauan interior panel complete the process. The floor is made using two 1/4-inch sheets of solid Structurwood and a galvanized sheet-metal exterior; sandwiched in between these materials is a welded block-foam-filled structure.
My test coach included twin 13,500-Btu roof air conditioners with optional heat pumps. Cool air is distributed throughout the vehicle via a plenum routed in the ceiling. Should you need warmth, the unit contains two 25,000-Btu furnaces. And a Fan-Tastic Vent roof fan with a rain sensor is standard.
The exterior of the Sportscoach Elite is exceptional. To create its automotive high-gloss finish, workers apply a total of four top-dressing layers of clear coat. Elaborate, eye-catching full-body paint schemes are offered — seven exterior paint options and four exterior flame-shaped designs, for a total of 11 possible variations. All are elegant and visually appealing, and the flame graphic provides that extra visual pizzazz for those who prefer it. Whichever design you choose, this front-entry bus-style motorhome is sure to turn heads.
Sportscoach has made yet another change to the Elite by incorporating four standard slideouts in the 2007 40 QS. It's interesting to remember that a mere decade ago coach manufacturers were proud to produce single-slideout motorhomes. For livability, the quad slide is the ultimate, for when the slideouts in the 40 QS are extended, a total of 380 square feet of living space becomes available. The slideout behind the driver's seat houses the dinette and sleeper sofa and measures 31 inches deep and 12½ feet long. The galley slideout on the curb side houses a second sofa — as well as the galley itself — and measures 20 inches deep by 12 feet long. When both slideouts are extended, the dimension between the two walls is an amazing 12 feet 7 inches.
In the rear bedroom, the slideout on the driver's side contains a queen-size bed, and the one on the opposing wall encompasses a complex of cabinets, an entertainment center, and a vanity. At the rear of the coach is a wardrobe with a mirror-covered door that, I found, is not accessible when the slideouts are closed unless you climb over the bed.
Sportscoach Elite bedroomSportscoach's mechanism of choice for articulating all four slideouts is an electric system by Lippert Components. I found this system to be exceptionally smooth, quiet, and quick to complete the in-out evolutions. The slideouts operated nicely off the house battery pack. Automotive crush-type bulbs seal the slideouts from the outside world in both the extended and retracted positions. A wiper-type blade removes any moisture that may collect on the outside walls when the slideouts are extended, and each slideout has its own topper awning.
When the bedroom slideouts are extended, you really appreciate that the walk-around queen island bed is blessed with a flat floor. The word “blessed” may sound somewhat extreme, but consider that the flat floor keeps you from tripping or having to step up when moving around the bed or reaching the rear wardrobe. A king-size bed is offered as an option.
Sportscoach has raised the interior ceiling height of the 2007 Elite from the previous models' 6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet. Not only is this a quad-slideout coach that yields ample living area, but the extended interior height creates an even greater feeling of spaciousness.
As previously noted, my test coach included the Legend options package. It tacked on $21,980 to the base suggested retail price of the unit, but, in my mind, adding the Legend package is totally justifiable.
First of all, you get the 400-horsepower Cummins engine, which develops 1,200 pound-feet of torque, rather than the standard 350-horsepower Caterpillar diesel, which offers 860 pound-feet of torque. The aforementioned independent front suspension with the awesome 55-degree wheel cut is part of the package as well. Also included are adjustable pedals that permit each driver to tailor the controls to his or her dimension.
Sportscoach Elite sinkNext and oh so important, the Legend options package comes with a generator auto-start feature. This means that the 8-kilowatt diesel generator automatically comes on if it senses low voltage on the house battery pack, and it will start when a specific set point is reached (as determined by the user) on interior temperature. When a preset temperature is reached on the interior thermostat, the generator will fire up and then enable the roof air conditioners to do their job. This works during stand-alone RV camping regardless of whether someone is at home. This is a nice feature.
The last item that comes with the Legend package is all-hardwood cabinetry, which is our segue into the interior appointments found in the Sportscoach Elite. To begin with, three different wood finishes are offered that can be complemented by any of the four interior décor packages available. The interior designers at Sportscoach do a superlative job of creating the kind of ambience that goes hand in hand with the luxury motorhome lifestyle.
Leather covers the captains chairs and the living area sofas. My test coach included the optional leather sleeper sofa with air mattress. Floor coverings run the gamut, with choices of ceramic tile, luxury carpet, and optional wood flooring. Polished solid-surface material dresses the galley countertop, bathroom lavatory, and bedroom nightstands.
Sportscoach Elite interiorThe split-aisle bath features a large residential-size shower with textured, frosted-glass panels and a skylight. A porcelain toilet and one sink are located on the curb side, while another sink is next to the shower on the other side of the aisle.
Inside the galley is a 15-cubic-foot stainless-steel double-door refrigerator, a microwave-convection oven, a three-burner range top, and a very fine and functional pull-out pantry. The pantry extends the counter to form an L-shaped workspace. Plus, it provides more ways to access items and food.
The base suggested retail price of the Sportscoach Elite 40 QS is $242,900. The price of my test coach came to $278,250 with the following options: Legend options package; wood floor; built-in dinette with two chairs and two folding chairs; leather sleeper sofa with air mattress; in-motion satellite dish system; exterior entertainment center; safe; window awnings; heat pumps; side-view cameras; front basement sliding storage tray; rear basement sliding storage tray; power sun visor; power awning with power entry door awning; central vacuum; and Diamond Shield front end paint protection.
It’s no coincidence that Sportscoach has focused on presenting a luxury motorhome that will meet the tastes of the sophisticated RV enthusiast at an affordable price point. It is the company's intention to offer the maximum amount of bang for the buck possible to those who desire and want to enjoy this experience. With all of its exterior and interior amenities, the Sportscoach Elite hits the target nicely.
Manufacturer ... Sportscoach, a division of Coachmen RV Co., 423 N. Main St., P.O. Box 30, Middlebury, IN 46540; (800) 353-7383; (574) 825-5821; fax (574) 825-4696; www.sportscoachrv.com
Model ... Sportscoach Elite
Floor plan ... 40 QS
Chassis ... Freightliner XC raised rail
Engine ... 400-horsepower Cummins with optional Legend package, 1,200 pound-feet torque @ 1,300 rpm (350-horsepower Caterpillar standard, 860 pound-feet torque at 1,440 rpm)
Transmission ... Allison 3000 MH
Axle ratio ... 4.63:1 with Legend option (4.78:1, standard)
Tires ... 275/80R 22.5H with Legend option (275/70R 22.5G standard)
Wheelbase ... 266 inches
Brakes ... air brakes
Suspension ... air-ride suspension and Sachs shocks
Alternator ... 160 amps
Batteries ... house — (4) 6-volt; chassis — (2) 12-volt
Steering ... TRW THP-60 power steering and Smart Wheel controls
Inverter ... 2,000-watt
Electrical service ... 100-amp convertor with 50-amp service
Auxiliary generator ... 8-kilowatt Onan diesel
Exterior length ... 40 feet
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Interior height ... 7 feet
Exterior height ... 12 feet 6 inches
Gross combination weight rating ... 43,460 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating ... 33,460 pounds
Gross axle weight rating ... front — 13,460 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 10,560 pounds; rear — 18,360 pounds; total — 29,300 pounds
Payload as tested ... 4,160 pounds
Frame construction ... raised rail
Insulation ... 1.5-inch bead foam
Fresh water capacity ... 103 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... black water — 47 gallons; gray water — 52 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 100 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
LP-gas capacity ... 175 pounds
Water heater ... Atwood-16 gallon equivalent gas/electric
Heating system ... (2) 25,000-Btu furnaces
Water system ... demand
Air-conditioning ... (2) low-profile 13,500-Btu ducted roof units with heat pumps, optional (two Dometic 13,500-Btu ducted roof A/C units, standard)
Refrigerator ... 15-cubic-foot Amana, standard (four-door Norcold, optional)
Toilet ... porcelain, Thetford
Warranty ... Freightliner — 5 years/100,000 miles; structural and major components manufacturers warranty — 2 years
Base suggested retail price ... $242,900
Price as tested ... $278,250