Aluminum frames and aluminum exteriors characterize this company’s motorhomes, which are built using Freightliner truck chassis.
By Lazelle Jones
Making an entry into the world of luxury motorhomes is no small task. Not only must the manufacturer be on the cusp of coach-building technology, but it also must have a dealer network. Optima Industries has both. And most importantly, the company also has a lineup of luxury motorhomes that truly catch the eye and capture the imagination.
Organized in 2003, Optima is a subsidiary of Pace American, a company that has been building high-end, professional auto and cargo trailers for the past 22 years.
RV enthusiasts attending FMCA’s 77th International Convention in Perry, Georgia, this past March had the opportunity to tour Optima’s top-of-the-line luxury motorhome model, the í‰lan. The base suggested retail price of this 42-foot-long, three-slideout coach is $355,893. As equipped with options, the coach on display was offered at a suggested retail price of $355,893.
While in Georgia, I had the opportunity to visit the Optima manufacturing plant in Eastman, Georgia, and talked with general manager Greg Williams. The factory encompasses 7.5 acres and employs 95 full-time workers. Optima’s production capacity is 17 units per week, which includes motorhomes, motorhomes that also are “toters,” and the company’s custom-built trailers.
What sets Optima motorhomes apart, among other things, is that they’re made from aluminum. Not just the structural members “” walls, roof, and floor “” but also the exterior .050 smooth skin. Also, Optima uses the Freightliner Columbia chassis as the basis for these homes on wheels. This Class V truck chassis is powered by a 450-horsepower, six-cylinder, turbocharged diesel Mercedes-Benz engine. The transmission is a 10-speed Eaton Fuller Ultrashift.
The Freightliner chassis can have either a single rear drive axle or a twin rear axle, with the aft-most axle also functioning as a drive and load support axle and not simply a tag axle. I was told that fuel economy figures of 10 and even 12 miles per gallon are typical with this chassis/engine combination. For a coach that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 54,000 pounds, that kind of fuel economy seems more than respectable.
Another important addendum to this Freightliner chassis idea is the coach’s amazing towing capability. The Optima can tow 40,000 pounds, which puts the gross combination weight rating of the Optima motorhome at 80,000 pounds. For RVers who want their motorhome to haul some good-sized toys, this level of towing prowess makes the Optima especially attractive.
The chassis/cab is all Freightliner, with a tilt-up hood that makes access to the engine (and everything else under the hood) simple. Two 60-gallon diesel tanks (one on each side of the cab) are cross connected. Even at 10 miles per gallon, you will not have to refuel but every 1,200 miles, which is a nice option to have when you’re in the midst of a long travel day, or the price of diesel is significantly cheaper in a state that may be a couple of states away.
Although Optima motorhomes are built on truck chassis, the floor of the cab is level with the floor of the living area. No need to step up or step down to walk from the cockpit back to the rest of the coach.
Optima makes the luxury í‰lan in three floor plans (40, 42, and 45 feet). All are 102 inches wide and, depending upon the length, are equipped with either two or three slideout rooms. The base retail price begins at $320,600 and goes to $376,000. When equipped with all options, the 45-foot í‰lan has a suggested retail price of $436,800.
The living area of the 42-foot í‰lan I toured included a slideout that encompassed the sofa and the dinette table; it measured 13 feet long by 36 inches (3 feet) deep. The motive force for extending and retracting the slide is an HWH hydraulic system; the coaches also use an HWH leveling system. This í‰lan contained two additional slideouts in the rear bedroom area: a street-side slide that incorporated the head of the king-size bed, and a seven-foot slide with a closet that extended out the back wall.
But Optima does not stop with the í‰lan. It also makes the Garagehome, a luxury toy hauler that is offered in 41-foot and 45-foot lengths. The Garagehome is equipped with one slideout room and is also 102 inches wide. Its rear garage/cargo area can be tailored to the size and needs of the client. What’s more, it can haul a full-sized automobile when the garage area is configured accordingly. The standard lift is rated for 1,600 pounds, with an optional hydraulic lift available that can manage up to 6,000 pounds.
As mentioned, Optima manufactures its motorhomes with aluminum roof, walls, and floor structural members, all precision jig-built. Frames feature 4-inch aluminum cross members. The walls and ceiling contain residential-style insulation, with a vapor barrier added to prevent moisture from penetrating through to the inside. Storage compartments are also aluminum and are lined, lighted, and keyed alike. Optional full body paint is available.
A 200-gallon fresh water tank and dual 120-gallon waste tanks are standard on the í‰lan, as is a 10-gallon water heater powered by 110-volt electricity and LP gas. The standard furnace is a 40,000-Btu unit, and the coach comes with two or three 15,000-Btu ducted roof air conditioners with heat pumps. The interior height on Optima motorhomes is a spacious 7 feet 2 inches, with an option that can increase the height by another 5 inches if desired; this taller height is standard on the í‰lan.
Also standard on the í‰lan are a 12-kilowatt generator; a four-point auto leveling system; a 3,000-watt inverter; a 12-cubic-foot refrigerator with freezer; a convection-microwave oven; a satellite dish (with a receiver); and a home entertainment package. Air-ride seats and pedestals are standard in the cab.
Options on the í‰lan and the Garagehome include a stainless-steel outside grill, a curbside entertainment center, granite flooring, and a Xantrex power management system that includes generator auto-start. Oak cabinetry that is made in-house is standard, but maple and walnut are offered as options.
Last, but not least, Optima also makes the Toterhome. It is built using a Freightliner Coronado, Columbia, or M2 truck chassis. Like the other motorhomes, it features an aluminum frame, walls, and skin, but it is designed to focus on hauling. The “home” portion of this motorhome is offered in lengths of 16, 17, and 19 feet, but the “toting” part is capable of handling professional-sized trailers.
Optima Industries may be a “new kid” on the luxury motorhome block, but the prowess, functionality, and livability of Optima motorhomes means they sure belong in the neighborhood.
Optima Industries, 224 Industrial Blvd., Eastman, GA 31023; (866) 645-7223; (478) 374-7372; www.optimamotorhomes.com.