The 45-foot version of this quad-slideout motorhome boasts an exceptional ride, a redesigned exterior, and first-rate interior appointments.
By Lazelle Jones
There's good reason why, halfway between the Southern California coast and the area near Palm Springs, hundreds of giant wind turbines lace the hillsides and valley floor. The prevailing wind travels through a natural funnel-shaped pass that gives it tremendous velocity. There could be no better place to put a 2006 45-foot Intrigue 530 through its paces and gather impressions on its handling ability and road performance than on Interstate 10, which travels right through this valley.
The Intrigue 530, manufactured by Country Coach Inc., of Junction City, Oregon, is available in three lengths — 40, 42, and 45 feet. Each has four slideouts and measures 102 inches wide. The 40-foot unit is called the Elation; the 42-footer, the Ovation II; and the 45-foot floor plan, which I reviewed, is called the Jubilee.
With a profile that includes an exterior riding height of 12 feet 8 inches (including roof air; height varies with satellite option), this tandem-axle coach could be considered one of the "big boys."
Country Coach offers a choice of engines in this unit. The standard is the Cummins 8.9-liter ISL, which delivers 400 horsepower with 1,200 pound-feet of torque at 1,300 rpm. The coach I reviewed had the optional 12.5-liter Caterpillar C13, a turbocharged diesel that delivers 525 horsepower with 1,650 pound-feet of torque at 1,200 rpm.
An Allison 3000 MH transmission accompanies the standard Cummins engine, and an Allison 4000 MH comes with the Caterpillar option. I found that the latter combination does its job very well, with power to spare. It makes the coach responsive in all scenarios. For example, on a side trip up Interstate 15's Cajon Pass, where most other coaches are eventually reduced to a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour, the Intrigue 530 never fell below 60 mph. And as many times as I have driven this stretch of interstate, the performance of the Intrigue was nothing less than impressive.
Country Coach Intrigue 530 interiorIn addition to having plenty of reserve power, the Intrigue boasted exceptional fuel economy for a 45-foot coach. During one trip that covered 270 miles and included gridlock driving along freeways at rush hour, as well as over-the-road steady-state operations, the Intrigue 530 averaged 8.2 miles per gallon. During a second trip that covered 520 miles, the average came in at 7.9 mpg — very good for a coach that weighs almost 42,000 pounds. With its 135-gallon fuel tank, the driving range can approach 1,000 miles before refueling is required.
But let's go back to the aforementioned wind conditions to which I subjected this coach. The Intrigue proved to be a solid, steady performer; it was not buffeted by the wind, even at permitted interstate speeds. It never faltered.
I especially liked the side mirror system. It consists of three mirrors — upper, middle, and lower — all of which are power-adjustable. They provide the driver with plenty of visual information. To augment this, when the turn signal is activated, the driver can see views provided by fiber-optic cameras (one on each side of the coach) via a backup monitor. The only difficulty I had with this side camera system (something that is not unique to the Intrigue, but to the way the monitor is configured) is that when maneuvering to the left, the driver has to turn his or her head away from the left side mirrors to see the monitor, because it's to the right of the driver's seat. I never felt fully comfortable doing this.
A pleasant experience awaited in operating the three-stage exhaust brake; it permits the driver to dictate the level of braking he or she desires. In addition, the SilverLeaf VMS 200 EL digital engine monitor and travel information center is immediately user-friendly. It provides a level of information that can be as detailed as each driver requires. Also, with the touch of a button on the left-hand console, the brake and accelerator pedals are fully adjustable.
More controls are found in the SmartWheel steering wheel: cruise control, headlight flash, marker light flash, wipers, and headlamp control.
Other cockpit features include six-way power-adjustable captains chairs — and they are exceptionally comfortable. The passenger chair also features a power-adjustable legrest-footrest.
Country Coach Intrigue 530 interiorI decided to investigate why the Intrigue's over-the-road performance was so smooth, and I determined that the most influencing element is the DynoMax chassis, which is designed and built by Country Coach. Below the beautiful custom full-body paint job and graceful exterior lines sits a welded cage of steel. At each point where the tubular steel members join (chassis, storage bays, walls, floor, ceiling, and cockpit — literally everywhere), the members are welded together. Basically, the structural members that make up the roof, the chassis, and every other steel member in between are "one" because of this construction. What this means is that the coach's infrastructure will not twist as the coach moves over irregular road surfaces.
Modulation to accommodate the road below is achieved through eight very large, low-pressure air springs that are strategically placed just inboard of each tire. Matching Koni shock absorbers are tuned to each coach and can further be adjusted as each owner wishes. Independent front suspension (with a 1-5/8-inch sway bar) permits the front wheels to work independently of one another. Each front wheel is able to step up and down in response to changing road surface conditions without transferring the road-generated trauma to the opposing front wheel. The 50-degree front wheel cut facilitates ease of turning.
Full air brakes with front and rear drum brakes (ABS included) and traction control make the deceleration forces transparent to those inside.
I must call attention to the construction methods Country Coach employs in the creation of the walls, roof, and floor. In addition to containing welded tubular steel, these vacuum-laminated structures sandwich two-pound-density foam insulation that is cut to fit between the grids formed by the welded steel members. Next, the remaining sub-layer components are set in place and the structure is vacuum-laminated. Included in the sandwich structure is 26-gauge galvanized metal and, depending upon whether it's the roof, walls, or floor, these structures then are topped with lauan, fiberglass, padded vinyl, plywood, carpet, felt liner, rubber sound mat, weather seal, paint, and clear coat. For the exterior, four full-body-paint graphics schemes are offered.
The living area in my Intrigue 530 Jubilee was well arranged for function and enjoyment. With the two forward patented flat-floor slideout rooms extended, a spacious room is created. In fact, the total floor space in the Jubilee is an incredible 480 square feet when all four slideouts are opened. (The other two slideouts are located in the rear bedroom.)
The curbside slide in the living area measures 2 feet 5 inches deep and is 14 feet 5 inches long. The driver's-side slideout is 2 feet 5 inches deep and 16 feet 2 inches long. The curbside slide contains a 91-inch-long J-shaped sofa and a self-standing dining table that can accommodate four for dinner. Designed cleverly into the sofa are two storage drawers for bedding, pillow, etc.
SmartWheel steering wheel: cruise control, headlight flash, marker light flash, wipers, and headlamp controlAll slideouts are hydraulically actuated and articulate in a matter of seconds to the extended or retracted positions.
As its centerpiece, the driver's-side slideout houses an expansive picture window that measures 42 inches by 64 inches. An UltraLeather upholstered Euro-design recliner with matching ottoman located here creates a restful spot where — on the hottest summer day or the most wintry evening — one can enjoy being just inches away from the world outside yet remain wrapped in the lap of comfort. Next to the recliner is a small table.
Just aft of the recliner, still in the slideout, is the Intrigue's state-of-the-art galley. It's a first-rate venue for any chef, regardless of skill level. Its functionality is equaled by the elegance of its appointments. Among them are solid-surface countertops (with an inlay along the leading edge), an optional double-bowl solid-surface sink, a stainless-steel microwave-convection oven (which matches the optional stainless-steel residential refrigerator and stainless-steel dishwasher), and a recessed two-burner gas cook top (a three-burner cook top with a full-size oven is available as an option).
My test coach was equipped with the optional stainless-steel residential-size refrigerator, which provides 22 cubic feet of storage space, as well as cold water and ice dispensers. Immediately opposite this is a pantry with three large, roll-out drawers that are capable of being loaded down with the heaviest of canned and dry goods. The drawers can be pulled out to the point where items stored at the very back are completely accessible. This is a very substantial pantry structure.
This center-aisle coach features a full-size residential shower on the street side and a private water closet on the curb side. The water closet has its own lavatory. Another sink, with a cabinet, is situated on the street side and is part of the same slideout that, farther back, encompasses the head of the optional king bed (queen is standard) and two nightstands. A gliding pocket door sequesters the bath area from the galley forward, and another pocket door separates the bath from the bedroom.
The rear bedroom's curbside slideout encompasses a 72-inch-long dresser with a solid-surface countertop. A 24-inch flat screen television hangs overhead.
Country Coach Intrigue 530 bedroomAcross the rear of the coach is a large, floor-to-ceiling double-door wardrobe with mirror-clad doors. The spot for the optional washer-dryer is adjacent to it in the curbside corner. The only criticism I had with the entire floor plan was that when the bedroom slideouts are retracted, you can't reach the wardrobe without having to crawl over the bed. My wife and I found that when retrieving our coats from the wardrobe, we had to go through this maneuver, as there is no place to hang such items forward in the coach. It was the only livability issue we experienced. This issue can be rectified with the optional bed lift, a Country Coach exclusive. When activated, one end of the bed lifts, creating a navigable path around the foot of the bed, even when the slide rooms are retracted.
The only other critique item we noted had to do with the LED panel on the 3,000-watt pure sine wave inverter. Located behind a door in the bath area, the display was difficult to read. This could be resolved by raising the panel and adding brightness to the LED screen so one can see the inverter's status. I struggled to see the screen even after adjusting the brightness of the LED on the inverter display.
Because of the time of year we tested the coach in Southern California (November), we found no need to operate the 40,000-Btu hydronic heating system (with three heating zones) or the three 15,000-Btu roof air conditioners with heat pumps. (Two 15,000-Btu ducted roof air conditioners with heat pumps are standard; the third must be ordered with the 10-kilowatt generator.) However, considering how well-insulated this coach is, and the dual-pane, tinted windows found throughout, no doubt it's a comfortable habitat regardless of the time of year.
The Intrigue 530 is offered in four interior decor packages and a host of options that permit each client to individually tailor the coach. Buyers who want to take delivery of their new Intrigue 530 at the factory in Junction City, Oregon, can do just that. Country Coach has a dynamite facility and a first-class team that can accommodate it.
Country Coach Intrigue 530 interiorThe base price of the 2006 Intrigue 530 Jubilee is $451,165. The as-tested price of the coach I reviewed came to $541,710 with the following options: 525-horsepower Caterpillar engine; massage-heated driver and passenger seats with adjustable headrests; keypad keyless entry; custom J-shaped sofa; clipped corner tile pattern; radiant floor heating in galley and bath; tiled driver's seat area; decor package; medium cherry wood cabinetry; stained-glass insert in glassware cabinet; stainless-steel Advantium oven; double Corian galley sink; stainless-steel package; dishwasher; residential refrigerator; GPS navigation system; 37-inch LCD HD TV (dash overhead); in-motion satellite system; washer-dryer; safe; king-size bed (72 inches by 77 inches); sun screen; dual directional slideout trays; Carefree manual entry door awning; third roof air-conditioning unit with 10-kilowatt PTS generator; 400-watt solar panels; two 8D AGM house batteries; side-view cameras (cab and bedroom); SmarTire II monitoring system; 3M protective coating on coach nose.
The Intrigue was impressive in its solid construction, amenities, and road-handling ability. It's a worthy candidate in your next search for an excellent diesel-powered coach.
Manufacturer … Country Coach Inc., 135 E. First Ave., Junction City, OR 97448; (800) 547-8015; www.countrycoach.com
Model tested … Intrigue 530
Floor plan ... Jubilee 45-foot Quad Slide
Chassis ... DynoMax
Engine ... Caterpillar C13 12.5-liter, 525 horsepower @ 1,800 rpm, 1,650 pound-feet torque at 1,200 rpm, optional (Cummins ISL 8.9-liter, 400 horsepower @ 2,000rpm, 1,200 pound-feet torque @ 1,300 rpm, standard)
Transmission ... Allison 4000 MH, optional (Allison 3000 MH, standard)
Axle ratio ... 4:30:1
Tires ... 295 80R 22.5 steel-belted radials
Wheelbase ... 294 inches
Brakes ... full air brakes with ABS and automatic slack adjusters
Suspension ... front — Holland/Neway independent with antisway bar and adjustable shock absorbers; rear and tag — Ridewell air with air springs and adjustable shock absorbers
Alternator ... 270 amps
Batteries ... house — (2) 8D AGM, optional ((2) 8D domestic deep-cycle standard); chassis — (2) 12-volt
Steering ... fully integral, full-time hydraulic power
Electrical service ... 50-amp shore service with cord, power reel, and 30-amp adapter and surge protector
Auxiliary generator ... Onan 10-kilowatt with remote start-stop, optional (PowerTech 10-kilowatt also optional; Onan 8-kilowatt standard)
Inverter ... True Sine 2,000-watt
Convertor ... 100-amp solid-state convertor/charger with 15-amp chassis battery charger system
Exterior width ... 102 inches
Exterior height ... 12 feet 8 inches
Interior height ... 6 feet 10 inches
Exterior length ... 44 feet 10 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 55,200 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 45,200 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 14,200 pounds; rear — 20,000 pounds; tag — 11,000 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 13,200 pounds; rear and tag — 28,680 pounds; total — 41,920 pounds
Payload ... 3,280 pounds
Frame construction ... tube steel cage structure
Insulation ... vacuum-bonded roof, walls, and floor with 1-1/2-inch expanded polystyrene; R-16 value in roof
Fresh water capacity ... 104 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... black water, 43 gallons; gray water, 66 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 135 gallons
Fuel requirements ... diesel
Water heater ... Hydro-Hot with 3-quart expansion tank
Water delivery system ... demand
Furnace ... 50,000-Btu diesel-fired hydronic with zone control; cockpit system with driver and passenger controls
Air conditioning ... (3) 15,000-Btu units with heat pump (third unit optional)
Refrigerator ... 22-cubic-foot residential with ice and cold water dispenser, optional (12-cubic-foot two-way with ice maker, standard)
Toilet ... electric, china
Warranty ... chassis — 24 months/unlimited miles; engine — 60 months/200,000 miles; house — 12 months/unlimited miles; structural — 5 years/unlimited miles
Base price ... $451,165
Price as tested ... $541,710