With the consolidation of Damon and Four Winds into a new entity, Thor Motor Coach, this reconfigured diesel pusher is part of the company’s new look forward.
By Bob Zagami
Visitors to the recent Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show in Hershey received a few surprises when they entered the Damon Motor Coach exhibit area. In addition to observing the 2011-model motorhomes on display — including the redesigned Astoria diesel pusher, designated as a 2011.5 model — attendees learned of a recent shift made by parent company Thor Industries Inc.: the consolidation of Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International into a new motorhome division, Thor Motor Coach.
The mission of Thor’s new motorhome division is to let the RV consumer know just how big the combined companies are and to showcase several product upgrades that should increase the brand recognition associated with Thor motorized products. The Astoria is one of those upgrades.
Under the direction of Matt Thompson, vice president and general manager for diesel motorized coaches and a seven-year veteran at Damon, Thor Motor Coach unveiled a major upgrade to the Astoria motorhome for 2011. Excluding the model name, there is actually very little that isn’t new with this popular motorhome.
Three floor plans are available, all built on the Freightliner XC raised-rail chassis and powered by a Cummins ISB-XT 360-horsepower engine with 800 pound-feet of torque to master the hills and pass the 18-wheelers at will — safely, of course! With power to spare, RVers will be able to tow with ease, thanks to the Astoria’s 10,000-pound trailer hitch. The engine is coupled with the proven Allison 3000 MH automatic transmission. Owners will ride in comfort on the 22.5-inch radial tires, aluminum wheels, and air-ride suspension while protected by full air brakes with auto slack adjusters, Sachs shock absorbers, Meritor antilock brakes, and an exhaust brake.
The 40-foot 40KT (king bed triple slide) was the first 2011.5 Astoria to be produced. A second, the 40-foot quad-slide 40BQ (queen bed/bunk bed), went into production soon after. It was closely followed by the 36-foot 36MQ quad slide (queen bed midship TV). The 40KT was displayed at the Pennsylvania RV show, and one of the highlights for the Thor branding debut.
New fiberglass front and rear caps provide the Astoria with a distinctive look of luxury at a price that comes in around $200,000. The exterior standard full-body paint with gelcoat walls is complemented nicely by the black-framed dual-pane windows and a one-piece 1tinted windshield. Vision improvements include front-mounted heated chrome mirrors and a three-camera backup monitor system with audio support.
Convenience features on the exterior include dual fuel fills; a patio light on each side; and a color-coordinated awning package that includes an electric entry door awning, an electric patio awning with remote control, and slideout topper awnings. Side-hinged locking aluminum compartment doors with gas pistons and lighted compartments, including full-basement pass-through storage, provide plenty of room for just about anything you might want to bring along on your trip.
The Astoria’s spacious interior offers 85 inches of headroom while walking on 18-inch-by-18-inch porcelain tile, which is positioned diagonally throughout the coach for an elegant touch. It should certainly be easy to clean while retaining value through the years.
Ultraleather-covered sofas and Euro-styled recliners from Villa adorn the living room seating areas on all three coaches in the Astoria lineup. Sitting in this stylish and comfortable furniture likely will remind you of home when listening to music, watching a sporting event on the 40-inch high-definition LCD television, or becoming absorbed in a DVD movie brought to life with the 5.1 surround-sound home theater environment. You will appreciate the famous name-brand appliances and multimedia equipment. There are no mystery brands in these coaches.
The chef in the family will be the go-to person when cooking and entertaining from a kitchen loaded with solid wood raised-panel dark cherry cabinetry topped with Staron solid-surface countertops, matching range and sink covers, and a tile backsplash area. The cook will enjoy the microwave-convection oven, three-burner cooktop, and 12-cubic-foot four-door refrigerator with ice maker. The new 36-inch-high countertops are a convenient improvement to enhance the joy of cooking.
You won’t hesitate to carry the entertainment outdoors to an optional entertainment center complete with a 32-inch high-definition LCD television.
In the campground, the Astoria’s 50-amp 120-volt service will meet all of your electrical requirements. If you prefer to boondock overlooking a sunset in the mountains, you’ll enjoy the same conveniences courtesy of the 8.0-kilowatt Onan Quiet Diesel generator. Enclosed heated potable water and holding tanks, as well as a black tank flush, will start your camping season earlier or extend it into the fall in colder climates.
New features incorporated in the 2011.5 Astoria include the exterior entertainment option mentioned above; all side-swing luggage doors; a cantilever buffet design; front-mounted mirrors; Carefree electric awnings; decorative wall panels; interior colors; graphics; and floor plans.
As you can see, Thor Motor Coach came out of the gate with a stellar remake of a popular and affordable diesel pusher. In addition, the company has appeared to stay true to the value engineering built into its motorhomes.
The Astoria is a coach you will want to evaluate and test drive when considering motorhomes in this price range and higher. I say higher, because you will notice the engineering excellence built in at a price point that shouts “more expensive,” only to discover that it costs thousands of dollars less than you might imagine.
Now that will make you dance under the stars and toast your good fortune if you are ready for luxury at an affordable price!
AT A GLANCE
Thor Motor Coach, P.O. Box 2888, Elkhart, IN 46515; (800) 860-3812; www.astoriarv.com; www.thormotorcoach.com
AVAILABLE FLOOR PLANS
(3) — 36MQ 36-foot quad slide; 40BQ 40-foot quad slide; 40KT 40-foot triple slide
Freightliner XC raised-rail chassis; Cummins ISB-XT, 360-horsepower
36 feet 8 inches, 39 feet 10 inches
7 feet 1 inch
13 feet (with A/C)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 51 gallons;
black water — 51 gallons
(2) 20,000-Btu ducted units, electronic ignition;
(2) 13,500-Btu ducted central air conditioners
coach — 12 months/12,000 miles; structural — two years
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
$225,000 to $236,000