The 36 GH is among the shortest of the floor plans offered in this popular diesel pusher line, but it packs in a multitude of features and provides ample storage, nonetheless.
By Gary Bunzer
Going on seven years now, the Phaeton, manufactured by Tiffin Motorhomes, has been consistently rated as a top-selling Type A diesel motorhome, and the 2013 versions appear to be no exception. I recently had a chance to examine the 2013 Phaeton 36 GH, which was on display at an RV show. I was immediately struck by how much motorhome can be found within a seemingly short, 36-foot length (actually 36 feet 9 inches, bumper to bumper).
The 36 GH joins another floor plan of the same length, the 36 QSH, along with several floor plans in the 40-foot and 42-foot range. All are equipped with four slideouts.
The interior of the 36 GH revealed a well-designed floor plan that was quite welcoming, from its L-shaped sofa and optional fireplace in the living area to its comfy and well-adorned bedroom in the rear. But first, let’s take a stroll around the exterior of this four-slideout beauty.
Situated on the raised rails of the time-tested Freightliner chassis, the Gold Coral full-body paint scheme on the Phaeton show model was simply gorgeous; upward sweeping lines from front to back made the coach appear to be “in motion” even while standing still. Five other color schemes are available, all with BASF full-body paint and three coats of clear finish. For additional protection, a clear, thin polymer film is adhered to the front cap.
Up front, the expansive, tinted, one-piece windshield is standard across the entire Phaeton line. The powered side mirrors are heated and include built-in cameras that facilitate lane changes. A rear-mounted backup camera is also standard on this and all Phaeton models. And there’s good news for owners who live in or frequent cold climates; all the windows are double paned for added insulation value (not to mention less noise intrusion).
A couple of nice touches all prospective owners will appreciate: the storage bays are lighted and lockable. In addition, the bay doors are equipped with compressed-gas, cylinder-type shocks. Speaking of locks, the entry door comes standard with a remote locking system. For additional security, a manual deadbolt is included.
This coach is outfitted with awnings galore! One is mounted over the entry door (automatic), and nearly every window has an awning (manual). An awning also tops each of the four slideout rooms, and an electric awning on the side of the forward curbside slideout serves as a patio awning.
Additional standard exterior features include heated plumbing bays, a roof ladder, side-mounted docking lamps, an automatic entry step, a molded fiberglass roof and molded fiberglass front and rear caps, a black water holding tank flush kit, a powered roof vent, two roof-mounted air conditioners (with heat pumps), a digital television antenna, a gravity fresh water fill, an 8,000-watt generator, and dual fill entries for the 100-gallon diesel tank. The coach is even prewired with a jack for a campground telephone connection. One important feature pertaining to what this author calls the “forgotten” exterior surface, the undercarriage, is the application of a protective undercoating. Often available for an additional charge on some brands, undercoating is standard on Phaeton motorhomes.
Featured exterior options include a roof-mounted spotlight, storage compartment slideout trays, air horns, a bay-mounted outside television, and a satellite dish, just to name a few.
All of this is moved down the road by a 380-horsepower Cummins ISC power plant, which delivers 1,050 pounds of torque while riding on an air-ride suspension. This should make for a very comfortable travel day, day after day (unfortunately, I was unable to test-drive this particular motorhome, as it was a display model). An Allison 3000 MH transmission takes the driver through all six forward gears as the coach ramps up to highway speeds.
Air brakes, an engine exhaust brake, and polished aluminum wheels round out the finer accoutrements of the chassis. By the way, fog lights, daytime running lamps, and cruise control are standard features across the entire Phaeton line.
Road-ready at a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) that’s slightly more than 35,000 pounds, the Phaeton offers plenty of room for towing, with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 45,320 pounds. The high-output alternator (160 amps) is the same as that used on Tiffin’s larger Type A coaches. An automatic hydraulic system takes care of leveling the coach for campground setup as well as for powering the four slideouts.
Inside, “spacious” is a somewhat redundant description that comes to mind, considering the Phaeton’s ample 7-foot ceiling. As mentioned previously, especially for a 36-footer, the interior feels much larger.
In the cockpit, the comfortable pilot and copilot perches, covered with Ultraleather, are situated nicely for forward viewing. Both swivel completely around to accommodate and complement the living section. The copilot’s seat also includes a handy footrest.
The dash layout is easy on the eyes, with the instrument cluster centered, convenient, and utilitarian. All switches, the stereo/CD player, the camera monitors, and other controls are ergonomically situated; those at the driver’s left elbow are angled slightly, for example.
Other standard cockpit components include a light and an accessory drawer mounted in the entry step well, twin auxiliary fans, a slideout computer tray for the copilot, powered sun and privacy windshield shades, and side window shades.
One striking visual in the living section is the L-shaped sofa snuggled into the forward street-side slideout. Outfitted with a chaise section that doubles as a sleeper, our show model featured the optional Ultraleather version of the same sofa (the standard issue is cloth-covered). The coffee table positioned between the sofa and the reversed pilot and copilot seats makes for a quaint and cozy space for entertaining.
Opposite the sofa, a leather recliner/lounge chair sits alongside the optional fireplace and the television, which are mounted at an angle in the forward curbside slideout. If a fireplace is not desired, an entertainment center comes standard. With both slideouts extended, you actually have room to dance on the bright tile floor while you mingle with your guests.
A standard, 72-inch dinette booth is positioned directly behind the lounge chair, though our show model featured the optional freestanding dinette with two chairs and built-in cabinets for plenty of storage (this author’s preference). A freestanding dinette with an integral computer workstation is another option, as is a U-shaped dinette.
The final component in the forward slideout on the passenger side is a full-size, stainless-steel residential refrigerator. This appliance features an in-door ice and water dispenser. If you wish, an optional four-door absorption-type refrigerator can be substituted for the residential refrigerator.
The shorter portion of the L-shaped sofa forms the boundary between the living section and the galley. Both areas share space inside the same forward slideout on the driver’s side. With the refrigerator situated across the aisle, only the cooktop, the microwave/convection oven, and the angled galley sink are mounted here. The result is a very clean countertop, especially when the sink covers and the permanently mounted, solid-surface cooktop cover are in place. The sink is stainless-steel and the countertops are all solid-surface.
Also standard on all Phaeton models is a cool “expand an island” in the galley, which slides conveniently out of the cabinet for additional work space and gracefully disappears when not needed. By the way, each of the raised-panel cabinet doors is outfitted with invisible hinges. And another Tiffin signature: all cabinetry features solid wooden doors, faceplates, and fascias along with the company’s trademark fit-and-finish detailing.
In the lavatory section farther down the aisle, the toilet, shower enclosure, and a small sink are positioned on the driver’s side, while a larger sink, a medicine cabinet, a vanity, and a linen closet are directly across the aisle inside the leading edge of the rear curbside slideout. I’m a big fan of having a second, separate lavatory sink detached from the rest of the bathroom components, and this 36-foot Phaeton is one of the few floor plans that accommodate this so nicely.
The cozy confines of the Phaeton’s private bedroom in the rear of our subject coach houses a queen bed and a multitude of storage cabinets, all separated from the lavatory section by a sliding pocket door. The large closet across the very rear contains an optional stacked washer-dryer and a large wardrobe, each revealed when their respective sliding, mirrored doors are opened. For added comfort, a large ceiling fan (standard) graces the ceiling.
The lavatory section, along with the bedroom television, dresser drawers, hamper, and overhead cabinets, is ensconced in the rear slideout room on the passenger side, while the head of the queen bed extends into the rear slideout on the driver side. Again, with opposing slideouts, the bedroom is quite spacious and meticulously decorated.
Phaeton purchasers have three exclusive interior designs to consider. Peruse the brochure or check online for the exact color and pattern schemes, but choices include Capri, Glitter, and Mystere fabric suites. The hardwood cabinet choices are English chestnut or a slightly darker alderwood finish.
Our show model featured gleaming porcelain tile in the living room, galley, and lavatory, and carpeting in the bedroom, the cockpit, and in each of the four slideouts. Window and slideout valances round out the elegant touches inside the coach. The attention to detail is exemplary, something Tiffin owners have come to expect.
Standard on all Phaeton motorhomes is a home theater system, complete with hidden speakers and surround sound. All ceiling lamps are equipped with LED bulbs. Two Suburban furnaces are located aboard, so comfort heat can be controlled independently between the bedroom and the living section. A 10-gallon, automatic-ignition, gas/electric water heater is standard, but a tankless water heater is available as an option.
The Phaeton line is also equipped with expected features such as a monitor panel; a low-voltage disconnect switch; a Fan-Tastic Vent fan; window shades; and safety monitors for smoke, propane, and carbon monoxide.
A plethora of interior cabinets, extra storage under the bed, and abundant bay storage all contribute to an expansive area in which to put your “stuff.” The typical concern with motorhomes less than 40 feet long is the reduction in storage space. Not so in the Phaeton 36 GH. It is my belief that anyone considering this coach will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of storage available, along with its ample stock of features.
Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., 105 Second St. N.W., Red Bay, AL 35582; (256) 356-8661; www.tiffinmotorhomes.com
Cummins ISC, 380 horsepower @ 1,050 foot-pounds torque
Allison 3000 MH six-speed
36 feet 9 inches
12 feet 7 inches with roof A/C
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 66 gallons; black water — 50 gallons
100 gallons; dual fuel fill
(2) Suburban furnaces
coach — 10-years limited on frame, 5 years limited on sidewall bond;
engine — 5 years/200,000 miles;
transmission — 5 years/200,000 miles;
chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE