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More RVs feature commercial chassis

October 08, 2004|by JEFF JOHNSTON/Motor Matters

A growing crowd of RV manufacturers is looking toward the commercial truck industry as a source for chassis on which to build innovative new motor homes. The DynaQuest Touring Cruiser from Dynamax Corporation is a recently-released new coach that embodies the possibilities of this new type of home on wheels.

Based on the Freightliner M2 106-series Business Class truck cab and chassis, the DynaQuest offers high load-carrying capacity, a durable and husky powertrain and a substantial towing ability.

Most Class C motor homes are built on Ford or Chevrolet cutaway chassis, with van cabs, that are designed from the get-go as RV components. Since the Freightliner is originally a commercial chassis, it's designed to accommodate heavy-duty working applications. With a modest-weight RV coach body aboard, the chassis has plenty of capacity left over for additional payload use.

The 26-foot DynaQuest, which also has 32- and 35-foot counterparts, has a 23,000-pound Gross vehicle Weight Rating, which leaves approximately a 6,780-pound payload capacity after deducting the rig's 16,220-pound wet-but-empty curb weight. In addition, the rig's 26,500-pound Gross

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Combination Weight Rating means it has roughly a 10,280-pound towing capacity. That figure would be reduced by the weight of passengers and cargo in the coach, but that's still a hefty figure. Most standard Class C motor homes have less than 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, and sometimes 3,000 pounds or less.

What do those figures mean for the RVer? An average Class C (properly equipped), can safely tow a compact car or modest-size boat. The DynaQuest can tow a full-size pickup or SUV with capacity to spare, a much larger boat or a horse trailer with three or four critters aboard, for example.

Such towing capacity could be of great interest to someone who travels a lot with a trailer along and must also use the tow rig as overnight lodging.

Regardless of the load, drivers will enjoy the rig's road manners. We found the DynaQuest quiet in operation and fairly smooth riding for a commercial chassis. Leaf springs up front and automatic ride-height-adjusting air bags out back make for firm, but not harsh, ride qualities.

Cornering and straight-line stability are aided by use of a fairly long wheelbase on a fairly short body, both facts that add up to a drive that won't beat the driver up before reaching the destination. Braking is solid and dependable, thanks to the rig's four-wheel power discs, and that's always good for peace of mind.

Our test rig was powered by the Mercedes-Benz 6.4-Liter 250-hp diesel and backed by the Allison six-speed 3,000-series TRV automatic transmission. With a hefty 666 lbs.-ft. of torque, the Mercedes engine pulls hard and strong from a dead stop and climbs hills in sprinting fashion. All but the most diehard performance freaks should have few complains about the DynaQuest and its throttle response characteristics.

Engine access is superb due to the single-piece forward-tilt engine hood and fenders unit. Not only is the DynaQuest a highly capable road machine, it's built of top-grade materials that place it in the upper-midrange end of the price spectrum. Cherry cabinets and woodwork, Corian solid-surface counters and premium-grade upholstery and carpet fabrics are used throughout.

Dynamax builds the coach using vacuum-bonded sidewalls with smooth fiberglass skin, polystyrene foam insulation and aluminum framing. Molded fiberglass end caps and a fiberglass roof add durability and classy good looks, and the full-body paint sets the coach apart from others that use adhesive graphics.

Inside, the coach features a forward living room with a streetside sofa/bed - the main sleeping quarters in this version - opposing a fixed two-person dinette. The kitchen is aft of the slideout, and the bath is in the streetside rear corner. A small counter and vanity/lavatory sink are positioned across the back wall adjacent to the entry door.

Any smaller-size motor home has its compromises in living space, and the DynaQuest has a decent mix of flexible livability, along with efficient space utilization. As long as the crowd isn't too large, the DynaQuest is a comfortable home on wheels.

The rig's overall low profile means there's limited exterior storage, but the company still installed enough compartments to handle an average amount of camping necessities.

Good looks come naturally to this coach. We were the recipients of many an admiring gaze from passers-by of all ages while driving the DynaQuest. It's kind of fun to operate a specialized rig that provides comfortable living, and can haul the extras along as well. For more information, contact Dynamax Corporation, 888-295-7859, or visit www.dynamaxcorp.com

© Motor Matters, 2004

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