This venerable model, part of the popular Holiday Rambler pedigree, returns to the motorhome marketplace for 2015.
By Bob Zagami
A few iconic RV brands have stood the test of time, survived the economic ups and downs, and weathered many storms through their corporate existence. One of those is Holiday Rambler. Founded as a trailer company in 1953 by Richard Klingler in Wakarusa, Indiana, Holiday Rambler has been connected to recognizable companies in its 61 years, among them Harley-Davidson, Monaco Coach Corporation, and Navistar International. In 2013 Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV) purchased the Holiday Rambler brand, plus Monaco, Beaver, and Safari, from Navistar Inc.
ASV created Allied Recreation Group to focus on its RV brands, and manufacturing now takes place in Decatur, Indiana. Once again, Holiday Ramblers are rolling down the assembly line and on their way to dealers across the country.
Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with Gary McLain, regional sales manager for the Holiday Rambler brand, at the Boat N RV Warehouse in West Coxsackie, New York, for a sneak peek at the all-new 2015 Holiday Rambler Ambassador diesel pusher.
The first thing I noticed when I began to inspect the 2015 Ambassador was a feature that many experienced RVers seem to appreciate: a mid-coach entry door. I’m surprised that more companies don’t offer this item in their diesel-pusher motorhomes, so I was happy to see it included in the new Ambassador.
The Ambassador’s entry door features mechanisms at the top and bottom that prevent it from opening more than 90 degrees; this protects the door from potential damage caused by the curb-side slideout.
If I appear to be spending a great deal of time talking about a door, I have a valid reason. When a company has been building quality RVs such as Holiday Rambler for more than 60 years, it has a legacy that next-generation RVers may not be aware of. Holiday Rambler designed the aluminum framing that led to lighter, stronger, more durable RVs. It also was the first company to offer built-in refrigerators and holding tanks. When Holiday Rambler began building motorhomes, company designers incorporated creativity and functionality that improved the lifestyle dramatically, including tag axles and the very kitchen slideout that changed the way designers looked at the interiors of motorhomes. The Holiday Rambler name stands for creativity to many, and I predict that veteran RVers who own this brand will want to upgrade to the new generation of Holiday Rambler motorhomes — produced by a new company — which will display that “HR” symbol on the front and rear caps.
The coach rides down the highway on a Roadmaster B340 chassis, a bridge-style construction using the Freightliner XCS Series chassis. The “340” represents the horsepower of the Cummins ISB 6.7-liter diesel engine and will be reflected in each Roadmaster chassis for easy identification of the power plant. The engine offers 700 pound-feet torque at 1,600 rpm. It is matched with the road-proven, well-respected Allison 2500 MH six-speed transmission with an electric shifter.
While we are on the outside of this sharp-looking coach, let’s talk about two other features that you usually see on more expensive motorhomes. All of the Ambassador’s basement storage units have side-swinging doors and lighted, molded rotocast bay liners for easy access. While most motorhomes at this price point come with steel wheels, the Holiday Rambler lineup comes standard with 22.5-inch polished aluminum wheels. This upgrade contributes to a more expensive look for this competitively priced motorhome, which will carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price starting at $206,000.
The Ambassador’s tank capacities are typical for motorhomes of this size and built on this platform. The diesel fuel tank holds 90 gallons. The fresh-water tank has a capacity of 77 gallons; gray water, 60 gallons; and black water, 32 gallons. The coach is equipped with a 28-gallon propane tank and a 10-gallon water heater tank.
Another nice feature on the exterior is the Dual-Shield clear protective mask across the front of the motorhome to guard against nicks and scratches and make it easier to remove those pesky bugs after a long road trip. The company also has added this special seal to the areas around the entry-door key slots and the entrance assist bar to protect against scratches from keys and rings that often come in contact with the exterior finish of a motorhome.
The first 2015 Ambassador motorhome floor plan off the assembly line is the 38DBT, a full-featured unit that offers 38 feet 11 inches of living space in a well-designed floor plan.
Turning to the right upon entering the 38DBT brings you into a large kitchen/dining/living room arrangement, highlighted by two opposing slideouts that really open up the interior, a feature not usually available in this segment, along with the mid-entry door. This inviting space offers great entertainment options when visiting with friends and family.
The street-side slideout starts behind the driver’s seat. It contains a pantry and the refrigerator. The unit I reviewed incorporated the optional 18-cubic-foot all-electric residential refrigerator with an internal ice maker and an effective locking mechanism to keep doors securely closed during travel. Some manufacturers using household refrigerators omit this simple but critical device to avoid catastrophes on the road, such as when the doors fly open, spilling contents all over the floor. Another nice touch with the refrigerator is framed woodwork around the unit, which provides more of that homelike feeling in this house on the road. The motorhome comes standard with a 1,200-watt inverter. When the optional residential refrigerator is selected, the inverter is upgraded to a 2,000-watt unit with an automatic-generator-start feature. The generator is a 6-kw diesel unit.
The cook in the family will appreciate the optional three-burner stovetop and full oven that are just below a microwave-convection oven. One oven just never seems to be enough if you entertain often or like to prepare fancy meals that require multiple cooking sources. I loved the location of the Fan-Tastic Vent, properly positioned in front of the stove/cooking area.
Solid-surface counters, including covers for the double sink and the stovetop, provide a reasonable amount of space for food and meal preparation on this side of the coach. At the end of this slideout is a 40-inch Sony LED TV with surround sound system to enhance your entertainment experience. Or, just relax on the couch and watch the football game or a good movie.
The couch, a 68-inch-long sleep sofa with an air mattress, is located in the street-side slideout, which also contains a 74-inch dinette. Four seat belts at the dinette complement the three seatbelts that come with the couch. This seating combination, along with the pilot and copilot seats, provides safe riding and protection for nine passengers. That’s pretty impressive!
Perhaps more impressive is the optional drop-down bed above the cockpit area. Yes, most manufacturers have this option now, but how many have the 650-pound weight capacity that comes with this bed? The auto-stop feature and bed ladder make this an easy-to-use sleeping arrangement that I predict will be employed frequently.
The cockpit area also has a fold-out computer desk for the copilot that seems to be located in the right place, because there is no door up front. It’s the small things that stand out in this big unit.
The Ambassador 38DBT offers a bath-and-a-half that also lends itself to entertaining guests, reserving the master bath for the coach owners. The half-bath is located across from the entrance door, which makes it convenient for guests without the need to travel through any of the living areas.
The master bedroom suite is located in the back third of the coach. This particular unit had the optional stacked washer-dryer just inside the bedroom on the left, with a light overhead. I would have preferred the light to be positioned farther forward so it could better illuminate the area just in front of these appliances. Next along this wall is a large wardrobe and dresser configuration.
More Holiday Rambler creativity is highlighted with the optional bedroom television, a 32-inch unit that is housed behind one of the sliding doors of the wardrobe, at an excellent height for viewing from the bed. The right side of the bedroom, as you face rearward, has a nightstand next to the 60-inch-by-80-inch queen bed, available with an optional memory-foam mattress. A king-size bed with a memory-foam mattress also is available for this model, although the king-size upgrade only allows for a combination washer-dryer instead of the stacked units.
The master bath at the rear of the coach offers wardrobe and storage cabinets. The large shower, with a built-in seat, comes with a dual-handled shower setup. You seemingly cannot build a house these days without a single temperature control valve, for safety and ease of operation. Many people don’t like playing hot-water roulette while trying to get the perfect temperature for their shower. In this house on wheels, I would have preferred the same kind of single-handled shower setup as in many stationary homes.
Back outside to finish our tour of the Ambassador, we see the large one-piece panoramic windshield mounted low for enhanced visibility; standard dual-pane windows, with day-night shades on the inside; and a Sony exterior entertainment system with speakers, CD/DVD, and iPod connection. The motorhome has a low profile that’s quite striking from a design perspective but also adds functionality for those consumers who need to fit their coach under a 12-foot garage door. The Ambassador rides at just 11 feet 10 inches, and that likely will pay back in increased fuel economy as well.
The Ambassador is equipped with a Power Gear four-point hydraulic auto-leveling system, a large awning with an LED light strip, and an impressive full-body paint design.
Allied Recreation Group returns the venerable Holiday Rambler to the marketplace, careful to keep the line familiar, yet fresh, with an all-new design and up-to-date details. The Ambassador diesel pusher is a great product for existing Holiday Rambler fans, as well as the next generation of RVers who might not yet be familiar with the brand’s storied past.
At a Glance
Allied Recreation Group Inc., P.O. Box 1007, Decatur, IN 46733; (877) 252-4666; www.holidayrambler.com
2015 Holiday Rambler Ambassador
AVAILABLE FLOOR PLANS
Roadmaster B340/Freightliner XCS Series
Cummins ISB 6.7-liter, 340 horsepower, 700 foot-pounds torque @ 1,600 rpm
Allison 2500 MH 6-speed with electric shifter
Onan 6-kw Quiet Diesel
1,200-watt, standard; 2,000-watt with automatic start, optional with all-electric residential refrigerator
Goodyear G670 RV 225/70R 22.5
38 feet 11 inches
11 feet 10 inches with A/C
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 60 gallons;
black water — 32 gallons
(1) 25,000-Btu and (1) 20,000-Btu electric furnace; heat pump on rear A/C unit
(2) 13,500-Btu air conditioners
coach — 1 year/24,000 miles;
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles;
structural — 5 years/50,000 miles
MANUFACTURER’S BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE