Full-slideout floor plans, such as the model reviewed, are among the many offerings in this luxury diesel motorhome line crafted by Newmar Corporation.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
The Mountain Aire is one of the iconic names in motorhomes. Originally introduced as a motorhome in 1993, the Mountain Aire has become one of Newmar Corporation’s top models and has earned the respect of knowledgeable motorhome owners.
The 2013 Mountain Aire is available in seven floor plans, either 40 or 43 feet long. Four 2013 floor plans feature a full-wall slideout. Every model comes on a Freightliner tag-axle diesel-pusher chassis, powered by a 450-horsepower Cummins ISL engine.
I tested model 4319, a 43-foot-long, bath-and-a-half floor plan featuring a full-wall streetside slideout, two curbside slideouts, and a corner TV over a fireplace. Although the 2014 floor plans recently were rolled out, the 2013 Mountain Aire 4319 remains an excellent representative of this product line.
Mountain Aire Construction
Before testing the Mountain Aire, I toured Newmar’s Nappanee, Indiana, production facility. I learned that Newmar’s construction techniques differ a bit from those of most Type A manufacturers. Where others use vacuum-bonded sidewall technology, Newmar engineers prefer the hung sidewall method.
Hung sidewalls are built in a manner similar to traditional residential construction and eliminate concerns about delamination from adhesive failure between the fiberglass and foam insulation board. The aluminum framing is welded first and then the interior plywood is fastened to it. The wall is lifted onto the flooring and screws are placed in the open walls to fasten them to the flooring substructure. Next, the walls are filled with batten-type insulation. Finally, the fiberglass sidewalls are lifted into place and adhered to the aluminum tube framing.
Newmar employees do not use jigs when welding the wall framing. Each wall section is built according to plans and welded on a large layout table. This gives flexibility to make design changes if needed. Changing furniture, tile, countertop materials, or cabinetry generally can be accomplished.
The roofs of Newmar motorhomes are supported by aluminum trusses that employ extensive diagonal bracing to achieve strength with minimal weight. Each truss is placed on 16-inch centers, with additional trusses inserted at key structural points, including an array of five trusses stacked over the cockpit area. The sidewall is connected to the roof structure, and a heavy-gauge aluminum extrusion is added to help tie the roof to the sidewall and contribute extra rigidity at that joint.
On any full-wall-slideout floor plan, a header is necessary to support the weight of the roof. Newmar design employs a rectangular aluminum tube header that isn’t as tall as those on other brands. This allows for greater height in the slideout area. The header, a custom extrusion, incorporates diagonal bracing within the tubing for additional strength with minimal weight. Newmar specs also call for R-19 EcoBatt insulation, rather than standard fiberglass, throughout the entire coach. This increases the R value of the roof to a total composite value of R-24.
Mountain Aire Chassis
All Mountain Aire floor plans are built on the Freightliner XCR Series chassis, although the 40-foot models use one with a shorter wheelbase. Each chassis is powered by a 450-horsepower Cummins ISL9 diesel engine, which feeds power through a six-speed Allison 3000 MH automatic transmission. Cooling is handled by a side-mounted radiator with a mechanical fan drive system. A 150-gallon fuel tank and a 13-gallon DEF tank allow for plenty of miles between refueling stops.
When I drove the Mountain Aire, the front air disc brakes and rear drums brought the coach to a stop in short order, while the 56-degree wheel cut made tight turns effortless. The Neway air-ride suspension and tuned Sachs shock absorbers gave a very comfortable ride.
Tag-axle coaches provide plenty of cargo carrying capacity (CCC), at least on paper, but the tag axles shift more weight onto the front axle, and that axle can approach capacity, or even become overloaded. However, my test coach passed with flying colors. The CCC as stated on the actual weight placard for this coach was 8,621 pounds. The scale reading for the 17,000-pound-rated ZF front axle showed 14,245 actual pounds with a minimal fuel load. Even with full fuel aboard, there is still plenty of extra capacity.
The Mountain Aire test unit was equipped with a 15,000-pound trailer hitch and tagged with a 62,000-pound gross combination weight rating (GCWR).
Comfort Drive Steering
Newmar is one of only two manufacturers that offer Comfort Drive. Developed by TRW, Comfort Drive is integrated into the chassis at build time. It uses electronics to monitor and modify the power steering of the coach. It will sense any consistent push to one side, whether caused by a crown in the road or a stiff side wind, and it will straighten the steering wheel so that the driver isn’t fighting to keep the coach going straight. It takes a bit of time for the device to determine this, so it won’t compensate for any sudden gusts, but it will compensate for a steady, consistent force.
A variable-speed dial on the dash allows the driver to adjust the steering effort. With the lowest setting selected, I could easily spin the wheel and park it with one finger. When set to the highest number, the feel was much like driving with a traditional steering system. Fortunately, the dial allows you to make instant changes so you can adapt it to your own driving style. For those who get sore shoulders after a long day’s drive or have difficulty wrestling their large coach into a tight campsite, Comfort Drive can minimize those issues.
Another Comfort Drive feature is that the wheels tend to snap back to center without undue pressure. When negotiating a tight city turn, you find yourself following the steering wheel back to center rather than forcing it. Whenever you shut off the engine, the wheels automatically center themselves so that they aren’t sticking out the side when you dump the air bags and lower the suspension while leveling the coach, thus avoiding damage to the fiberglass fender wells.
Mountain Aire Exterior
Newmar’s Masterpiece Finish on all units with full-body paint consists of a minimum of two coats of high-gloss clear urethane over the base color coats. The Mountain Aire receives Newmar’s exclusive Super Clear process: any remaining paint lines or orange peel is removed by sanding the unit after the first two coats of clear and following up with two additional coats of clear. This process achieves a high-gloss finish with minimal buffing, which reduces the chance for swirl marks and results in a mirrorlike shine. Combined with the smooth, hung-fiberglass sidewalls, this produces eye-catching results. The slideout end walls are also painted to complete the blended look once the slideouts are extended. New exterior graphics and paint colors have been unveiled on 2014 models.
The Mountain Aire includes an automotive-style windshield that is bonded to the front cap. This gives a clean, streamlined look; improves front cap airflow; and minimizes wind noise. Nano-shield front protective film guards the paint to prevent stone chips and other damage.
The basement compartments are fitted with side-hinged doors and are equipped with easy-slide trays for unencumbered access to cargo. The basement-compartment and entry-door locks can be controlled electrically via the remote key fob or the keypad that is built in to the illuminated entry assist handle.
An optional 40-inch Sony LCD television was enclosed in a patio-side compartment in the test coach. This allows viewers to watch the game or race while tailgating or entertaining outside. For the 2014 model year, TVs larger than 22 inches have been changed to LED units.
A Girard power awning over the entry door is complemented by power awnings over each window. Large Girard patio awnings are built into the roof fascia and offer a streamlined appearance. The test coach also was equipped with an optional driver’s-side awning. Flush-mounted dual-pane windows complete the streamlined look. On 2014 Mountain Aires, the Girard awnings feature LED lights on the lead rail, which are controlled by a separate switch.
The entry step area has been upgraded for 2014, including a Newmar exclusive: the new entry step is illuminated and extends all the way to the ground to provide more stability for occupants entering and exiting the coach. In addition, 2014 units incorporate a retractable screen door in place of a fixed screen and day shade.
With the full-wall driver’s-side slideout expanded, the interior of the Mountain Aire really opens up. The deep slideouts on both sides (50 1/2 inches) create additional floor space and allow for the placement of large furniture on either side. When retracted for travel, the area is a bit tighter than usual, but access to the rear of the coach in travel mode is still manageable. Automatic locks secure the slideouts during travel. The polished ceramic tile floor is laid out in an attractive pattern with accent tiles that set off the living area from the galley. New tile floor designs are featured in the 2014 floor plans.
The cabinetry in my test unit was finished in Manhattan Glazed Maple. From the hand-rubbed stain to the mitered doors and hidden hinges, Amish craftsmanship is evident throughout. This handcrafted quality is also visible in the ornate wood ceiling treatment, incorporated along with the soft-touch padded vinyl ceiling, to enclose a fully ducted air-conditioning system and recessed LED lighting.
The Mountain Aire features Villa furniture covered with Ultraleather. The test unit was equipped with an L-shaped, expandable jackknife sofa in the curbside slideout. The full-wall slideout contained a 40-inch Sony TV on a power-lift mechanism that raised it from behind the desk unit at the touch of a button and was easily viewable from the dinette area or sofa. An electric fireplace in the desk unit created a cozy feel and added warmth to the living area. A comfortable recliner can be used at the desk or can face the sofa. An additional 40-inch TV is located in the front overhead cabinetry.
Wall art, hardwood window treatments on the pilot and copilot windows, and new interior decors are featured in 2014 Mountain Aires. In addition, crown molding has been added around the perimeter of the coach interior for the new model year.
The galley work area is equipped with a solid-surface countertop and backsplash inlaid with decorative ceramic tile. A pull-out work area creates additional counterspace. The galley is equipped with a Fisher-Paykel drawer-style stainless-steel dishwasher. Removable solid-surface inserts expose the electric cooktop and dual-basin sink. A stainless-steel convection-microwave oven is installed in the overhead cabinetry.
Opposite the galley is a large stainless-steel residential refrigerator with a pull-out freezer drawer and in-door ice and water dispenser. A large pantry with pull-out shelving provides plenty of storage for dry goods or a wine collection. The dinette is fitted with comfortable booth-style seating with large pull-out storage drawers. A legless table offers easy access to the dining area.
The guest bathroom features a vanity with a solid-surface top and a recessed sink. The mirrored medicine cabinet hangs next to a full-height linen closet. A porcelain toilet and vented fan complete that area.
The rear bedroom is equipped with a king-size bed that has a Sleep Number Premier air mattress. The head of the bed extends curbside via a slideout. Decorative backlit hardwood fascia on either side provides warm accent lighting. Cabinets, recessed lighting, and multiplex wiring controls for the power shades and lighting are built into the canopy-style overhead.
Immediately opposite the bed, in the aft end of the full-wall slideout, is an expansive storage area that features wardrobe cabinets, drawers, and a 40-inch Sony TV. Raised-panel hardwood sliding doors separate the bedroom from the galley as well as the rear bath. A large window in the slideout serves as an emergency exit. A hidden safe was provided in the test coach.
While a carpeted bedroom is standard, this coach was fitted with optional ceramic tile. The ceramic tile flooring throughout the coach was warmed via a dedicated hydronic heating zone.
Mountain Aire Rear Bath
The circular shower surround in the rear bath reveals a solid-surface stall with a fold-down teak jump seat and convenient locations to place washcloths, shampoo, and other shower accessories. A rippled finish to the glass helps hide water spots. (For 2014, shower features include updated hardware, a rectangular shower with clear glass doors, and solid-surface shower walls.)
The vanity contains a flush-mounted sink recessed into a solid-surface top, while the solid-surface backsplash sports an inlaid ceramic tile design. A mirrored medicine cabinet above the vanity is flanked by a wardrobe and the stackable washer-dryer ensemble. A macerator-style porcelain toilet is located on the far side of the bath.
The cockpit area boasts one of the best layouts I have seen. The speedometer, tachometer, and primary instrumentation are placed in the center section and are readily visible to the driver through the steering wheel. Secondary instrumentation is situated to the right of the driver in the center console section. Rocker switches used to operate the various accessories are located in the driver’s left-side console or the center console section. The monitor for the rearview and side-view cameras and for the entertainment/navigation system display can easily be seen as well.
The parking brake is on the dash to the driver’s left rather than in the side console. This puts it into a safe area where pets cannot accidentally release it when parked. A backlit Smart Wheel controls the wipers, cruise control, and ICC flash switching. The sensitivity setting dial for the Comfort Drive is also located within easy reach.
The cockpit seating is first-class. Both six-way power Villa seats are heated, plus the copilot’s seat has a power footrest that can be extended during travel. A computer or map tray has been added at the copilot seat for 2014. Full-width power sun and privacy shades are operated by switches in the center console that are accessible from either seat. An optional 40-inch Sony TV is fitted between the two overhead cabinets. The left-side cabinet contains the surround-sound system and DVD player and is also where any user-supplied satellite receiver would be located. The right-side cabinet contains the switches used to operate the slideouts, the Magnum true sine wave inverter, the Onan EC-30 Automatic Generator Start system, the satellite dish, and other accessories.
Mountain Aire Basement Area And Utilities
As is typical of raised-rail chassis construction, the pass-through basement storage space is massive. A bank of eight AGM batteries is located on a slide-out tray in a forward driver-side compartment. Farther back, an Oasis hydronic heating system provides coach heat and domestic hot water.
The Mountain Aire’s 50-amp electrical service was fed via a power cord reel in another dedicated compartment. An Onan 10,000-watt Quiet Diesel generator in the nose of the coach is mounted to a power slide rail system that extends the entire lower section of the front cap for easy access. On 2014 models, the sliding generator tray operates with hydraulics. This coach was all-electric, so no propane tank was required.
The spacious plumbing service bay offers plenty of room to store sewer hoses or fresh water hoses. The fresh water system is fed through a canister-style water filter, while a set of panel-mounted valves controls the low-point drains, tank flush system, Sanicon macerator system, automatic tank fill system, and winterizing valves. The usual paper towel holder and handheld shower accessories are also found there.
Final Impressions of Newmar Mountain Aire
The Mountain Aire rode like a dream and handled well. It was one of the quietest coaches I’ve been in. The company’s attention to detail and quality construction make for a coach free of the usual creaks, groans, and rattles. The wooden floor design isolates the coach from the steel substructure beneath and helps to absorb any road noise or vibration. The Girard awnings in the roof fascia and the flush-mounted side windows and automotive-style windshield improve airflow and minimize wind noise. The result: an enjoyable drive and a very livable coach.
The quality level, the well-appointed amenities, the many floor plans, and the large list of available options make the Mountain Aire an excellent choice.
Newmar Corporation, 355 N. Delaware St., P.O. Box 30, Nappanee, IN 46550-0030; (800) 731-8300; www.newmarcorp.com
2013 Mountain Aire
Freightliner XCR Series
Cummins ISL9; 450-horsepower @ 2,100 rpm; 1,250 pound-feet torque
Allison 3000 MH 6-speed automatic with lockup
4.63 to 1
Michelin XZA1 315/80R 22.5 20-ply radials; for 2014, front axle has 365/70R 22.5 Michelins
276 inches; for 2014, 288 inches
full air with ABS discs and drums
front — ZF air;
rear and tag — Neway air
Sachs tuned shocks
ZF integral hydraulic power gear with 56-degree wheel cut
Leece Neville, 200 amps
chassis (2) — 1,900 CCA;
coach — (8) AGM, optional; (4) 6-volt, standard
Onan 10,000-watt Quiet Diesel
42 feet 9 inches
12 feet 9 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 17,000 pounds;
rear — 20,000 pounds
tag — 10,000 pounds
(weighed with minimal fuel, empty holding tanks, some water, one passenger, no gear)
front axle — 14,245 pounds;
rear axle — 15,935 pounds;
tag axle — 7,245 pounds;
total — 37,425 pounds
OCCUPANT & CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
aluminum frame, hung sidewalls
R-19 EcoBatt insulation in roof
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 65 gallons;
black water — 45 gallons
150 gallons plus 13-gallon DEF tank
N/A; 32 gallons if equipped
hydronic heating system
50,000-Btu hydronic heating system
(2) 15,000-Btu Penguin heat pump central air units
Norcold 12-cubic-foot residential with ice maker and water dispenser
half-bath — Thetford Aqua Magic Style Plus china;
rear bath — Thetford with macerator
coach — 1 year/unlimited miles;
structure — 5-year, limited;
chassis — 3 years/50,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED