Newmar Versus Prevost

Marathon versus Essex. Two great coaches. I have friends with a Marathon coach. And I have friends with an Essex. These two luxury coaches are significantly apart in terms of their asking price.

This Marathon, coach number 1303, lists for $2.2 million USD, or $3 million CAD. Ouch.

A Newmar Essex starts at around $770,000 USD, or a little over $1 million CAD, list price. Another ouch, just not as big an ouch as the Marathon.

In the video below, a detailer takes you through the differences he notices between the two coaches. And, to be honest, I had never really thought about many of those differences. There should be something for the added cost of the Marathon.

But I question a few of them. I’ll let you decide but these are the ones that left me puzzled. Why would Newmar do that?

  1. Lots of silicone on the Newmar. Although the detailer doesn’t highlight this difference in the video, there are several Newmar body panels that attach to the frame by screws. Screws that can work themselves loose.
  2. Unfinished slideouts on the Newmar.
  3. Cheap latches on the Newmar bay doors. I’ve had first hand experience with the cheap bay door latches. Not to mention a plastic latch for the sewer hose compartment on our coach.
  4. Plastic plumbing bay on the Newmar.
  5. Clear coat. Newmar does put a bit more clear coat on their high line coaches but one look at the finish of a Marathon and you can immediately tell the difference.

A Prevost chassis has superior engineering when compared to a Spartan chassis. That is reflected in the cost. But for a million dollar Newmar coach, I would expect a little better on some of the details highlighted in this video.

Newmar Problems

Maybe you shouldn’t own a motorhome. Sound advice if you are expecting a zero-defect experience with your Newmar coach or with any brand of coach for that matter. This post, Newmar Dutch Star Problems, is one of the most popular posts on our website. And I suspect it is due to people searching about problems with Newmar coaches.

I was asked if I had second thoughts about purchasing a Newmar coach. Absolutely not. This was my reply:

Newmar customer service has been excellent and our dealer has also been helpful. However, there are definitely quality control issues.

I think the RV industry as a whole faces some fundamental issues related to how they manufacture their product. For the most part, they are assembling a coach from a variety of suppliers and building to order without the same advances in quality control that the automotive industry has achieved.

Orders increased significantly as stock markets recovered and more people decided to go upscale and purchase Class A motorhomes with higher end finishes and features. Suppliers cut corners to squeeze out more margin. New labor not as skilled throughout the supply chain and the final assembly. Pressure to get product out the door to meet the increase in demand.

Once outside the relatively short warranty period, RV manufacturers let their customers work out the defects in their product by redirecting them to suppliers.

When our Oasis system pump failed after literally only a few weeks of use, it was not Newmar who owned the issue. We were passed on to the supplier. It would be like owning a GM car, having a faulty engine and being told by GM to call the supplier of the engine to resolve the issue.

For a product that costs half a million Canadian or more, there is an assumption that the product has a higher level of quality. And it isn’t the case. The RV industry cuts corners where it can to maximize unit profitability.

You will often hear people tell you to purchase a coach used to avoid the steep depreciation of a new coach — not unusual to see 40% or more of a hit in the first two years of owning new. And, if you purchase a coach that has been used, many of the initial defects will have been resolved by the original owner (hopefully).

We went in knowing that there would be problems and that there will continue to be problems. Class A motorhomes are simply not built to the same level of quality as a Toyota or a Ford.

There are really only a small group of builders and Newmar would certainly be amongst the better companies.

The industry seems to get along without addressing some of these quality issues. Business has been very robust over the past five years. Despite some real horror stories out there.

For the most part, Newmar owners like their coaches and put up with the quality issues, tackling them as just a normal part of the ownership experience.

As long as you have that expectation going in, a Newmar coach is likely better than most in the market.

This recent thread on iRV2 was started by a frustrated Newmar owner. We have met a few of them on the road. He wants a different customer experience than what the RV industry will provide.

The best response to his comments? This one.

[Quote]
First of all, my message was focussing on POST warranty issues. But, what came to light was that most of you believe that owning a MH is a DIY HOBBY. As a Heavy Equipment Mechanic in a prior life and a master at DIY, and owning 3 homes besides the MH, I find my time or desire for a DIY hobby was not the plan. In fact, if the MH industry marketed to DIY guys they would go broke. I know this as I have met loads of clueless people on the road that do not know the business end of a screwdriver, never mind the ability to Google solutions.

In response to someone’s comment, “Maybe you shouldn’t own a MH!” Is that a joke? LOL!!
[End Quote]

I’ll just focus on the two points above.

To the second, no, it’s not a joke. It’s unfortunate, but you fall into the same category of most dissapointed MH owners, who didn’t do his research and thought buying a MH was like buying a car. It isn’t, from Newmar or elsewhere, and that’s easily discoverable with less than an hour of research on the internet.

So, you went into this endeavor uninformed and with unrealistic expectations, based on the reality of motorhomes being produced today.

We may not like it, but it’s a reality and it wouldn’t have taken much research, such as basic research to see which manufacturers are the most reliable, that quickly reveals what owning a motorhome entails and what realistic expectations are.

As to the first paragraph, leaving the snarkyness aside, again, you are naive in this regard. If you own a motorhome, you have three choices:

1. Be willing to fix the small things yourself whenever possible
2. Be prepared to have it spend a fair amount of time (depending on your dealer, weeks or months) waiting for repairs
3. Be prepared to drive it back to the factory (if the factory does repair work) on a fairly regular basis

That’s the reality of owning a motorhome. It’s not like owning a car. These things aren’t put together like cars, and they aren’t comparable to a house, as they are built like a house, but go down bumpy roads at 65 MPH like a car. Then to add to the problem, the manufacturers are churning them out as fast as they can, and QC has suffered for a very long time, and that’s left to owners to find, and dealers to fix, which then puts a great strain on dealer service departments, which is why many won’t even work on coaches (especially under warranty) that weren’t bought from them.

That’s reality. It’s fine to complain about reality, but that won’t change it. It’s much better to be informed and then decide if the “reality” of MH ownership is something you want in your life.

Such good advice. If you came to this post wondering about the ownership experience and you are worried about having issues with a motorhome, then maybe you shouldn’t own one.

We take the issues that come with the motorcoach experience in stride. Overall our Newmar is a terrific machine and we are thoroughly enjoying our new life in retirement living out of our beautiful coach.

Girard Awnings Randomly Deploy

Behold, a Dutch Star approaches. Lorraine was away. I was busily dealing with some network configuration and programming. Head down for the most part. Hunched over my keyboard, clackity-clack-clack. Solving the world’s greatest technology issues one keystroke at a time. Although things were not going particularly well for the world’s greatest technology issues at this point in time.

Heaving a deeply dissatisfied sigh, pondering whether to destroy every last bit of silicon in every computing device within my grasp, I decided to turn away from my 4K display, covered as it was with technical gobbledygook.

And, just in case you need a bit of clarification on what exactly defines technical gobbledygook: language that is meaningless or made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms.

Care for an example?

Where were we? Oh yes. Technical gobbledygook. All over my monitor. Too horrible to share.

I looked up from my computer just in time to see this Dutch Star slowing down in front of our site. The driver was looking very intently at our coach. I mean, yes, it is always nice and clean. And certainly people have slowed down to take a look. But this gaze seemed different to me. Almost if we had occupied his site.

He stopped.

Right in front.

I looked more closely to consider the situation. And then it struck me.

“Henny!”

Henny and Carole were our neighbours when we were at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort in Florida. What were they doing here, in front of my coach?

Henny had been at the Hitch House, a Newmar dealer about a 10-minute drive from our site. He had asked them if they knew me, which they do quite well, and if they knew whether I was in the area, which they did.

He made the drive up to say hello which was so nice. Wonderful to see him.

We talked about some of the issues that he had experienced with his coach, a 2018 Dutch Star, including a random deployment of the Girard awning. He had his rear awning randomly deploy. He now has it strapped with rope on the roof to hold it in place until the factory resolves the issue.

This thread is still up on the iRV2 forum but nothing further in terms of a technical service bulletin or recall for the random deployment of Girard awnings. I suspect that the incident count is still relatively minor compared to the overall population of coaches. Newmar is treating the issue on an individual basis.

The source of the problem seems to be poor wiring practices where the awning motor control modules connect to 110v power. A grounding issue can cause the awnings to randomly deploy.

It happened to our coach and, before we had the problem addressed at the factory, we simply unplugged the motor control modules from the 110v outlets when we were travelling in the coach.

Our issue was resolved by the Newmar tech redoing the grounding wires and running wires up to two motion sensors on the roof of the coach presumably to defeat voltage to the awning motors when the coach is moving.

Hopefully the 2019s and above closed the issue.

2020 Newmar New Aire

I love the idea of the New Aire. It is a beautiful coach. A wee bit too small for the both of us. I mean, we already find a 40-foot coach to be a bit too small. Going to a coach with less storage, one less washroom, and a queen-sized bed? Not now.

When we were at the anniversary show put on by the Hitch House last weekend, we had a chance to walk around several coaches including a 2019 New Aire 3343. This is the floor plan from that coach:

And the exterior colour scheme:

I spoke at length with the couple that wound up buying the 2019 New Aire. They were downsizing from an Entegra Cornerstone, similar to this one:

They were in their early 80s and they wanted a smaller coach. They do not full-time. They spend their winters in Florida but, as far as I could tell, they drove the Entegra down south and parked it in a large garage beside a house. I don’t think they make much use of a coach now but they had a real love for the RV lifestyle having travelled extensively over the years in a variety of trailers and coaches.

They seemed fine with going into a much smaller coach. The 2019 model is a great choice however, if it were me, I would have waited for the 2020 models.

Although the same 33-foot models will be offered in 2020 — 3341, 3343 and 3345 — Newmar will be offering three new 35-foot models: 3541, 3543 and 3545.

What changes do you get with the extra two feet?

Turns out, quite a few, but these ones are certainly significant to me.

  • A king bed over the queen.
  • A new chassis with a 450 hp Cummins L9 over the 360 hp.
  • A larger fuel tank, 90 gallons over 75.
  • A larger fresh water tank, 105 gallons over 75.
  • Integrated tire pressure monitoring system — I can’t believe that this still isn’t standard equipment on all of the Newmar models.

You can see the complete list of feature and product changes over at the Steinbring site.

Chris Anderson does his usual fine job of taking us through the new 2020 New Aire in this video.

Newmar Kountry

Newmar Kountry. Different than I imagined. More industrial, with sharp contrasts between bleak and stark and clean and modern. Old meets new perhaps.

Let’s start with the old. Customer coaches currently park for service in a bleak and stark gravel lot.

We are parked here, on site 15.

Rustic.

We have a full service pedestal, with 50 amp electric, water and sewer.

The immediate area consists of buildings bounded by chain link fences topped with barbed wire.

The head office is not too far from where we are parked.

Understated.

It is clear that Newmar does not overspend on production facilities. We have a plant tour tomorrow and that should give us a better look at the operation although I won’t be allowed to take pictures.

I did, however, spy a Newmar Super Star, the new Super C model, in one of the fenced-in areas. I clambered up the fence to snap a photo before an Amish dude tackled me to the ground. Fortunately, as I was tumbling to the ground, I was able to eject and swallow the memory card. After performing a different form of ejection protocol, I was able to develop the following image of this new coach.

As far as I know, there are only two of them in existence. Haven’t seen the other one yet.

Every morning, for the three days of service, we are up at 5am to prep the coach for delivery to the new customer service centre. This building is located a few miles away from the production facility. That would be the new part of Newmar. They are building 60 or so modern sites in a gated area for customer coaches. Concrete pads, fully paved, adjacent to a modern, state-of-the-art 50-bay service facility. Should be open soon. Just not now.

We drive our coach to the service area where it is taken to its assigned service bay, bay 41, with oversight by our service technician, Dean.

We are feeling the effects of the time zone changes coupled with the lack of sleep. Waking up at 5am really does feel like waking up at 2am right now.

We then spend the day in the pet lobby of the facility.

The lobby areas are nicely designed. Clean and comfortable.

We can check up on our coach at any time by simply walking over to the service bays.

We’ve made a number of friends here as we generally pass the time by sharing coach war stories.

But you never know who you might meet.

Back in December of 2016, I had posted about a Dutch Star catching fire due to what would later become a major recall item for Freightliner. You can read that post over here.

A couple entered the lobby this afternoon. Their 2016 Dutch Star was in for some maintenance work. And we began talking and sharing some coach war stories. Their story was dramatic as they shared the time that their coach caught fire shortly after they started the engine. Their story was very familiar to me.

I asked them if they had read about a similar event on my website. Not only had they read it, it was their coach and they left a number of comments on that post.

Small world.

They are still in the same coach. The fire damage was resolved.

They have quite the story about how they had to challenge the manufacturers to do the right thing. Thankfully, they pressed hard which resulted in a safer coach for many of us.

Our maintenance items are very minor in comparison. The service team here has been outstanding in every way. They have done an excellent job on our work items as well as on the 3-year maintenance service.

And the Girard awning issues? Fully resolved.

Newmar installed a ground correction system to remedy the potential random deployment of our awnings.

The LED lights on the awning are just like factory now.

All like new.

Makes me happy for some odd reason.