The company’s patented one-piece unibody shell and exacting attention to manufacturing and design standards result in this quiet, solidly built motorhome.
By Gary Bunzer
According to RV shipment numbers released by Recreation Vehicle Industry Association near the time of this writing, the motorized recreation vehicle segment achieved the largest gain over the same month from last year. In particular, Type B and Type C motorhomes showed strong growth, even outpacing that of their larger, longer Type A motorhome cousins. During the past few months, shipments of Type C motorhomes have kept pace with or surpassed the number of Type A motorhomes delivered to dealers.
That brings us to this review of the Coach House Platinum II, a vehicle that straddles both the Type B and Type C concepts seamlessly. Some call Coach House units B-plus coaches; others label them downsized Type Cs. However the units are defined, Coach House Inc. has fully embraced this smaller end of the spectrum since 1985 by offering impeccably designed and engineered creations (nine floor plans for the Platinum II alone), along with personal, family-style customer service.
The purchase transaction is personal as well. Coach House sells its motorhomes directly to the consumer, making sure each step in the process is pleasurable and trouble-free. The company fully guarantees each coach for three years or 36,000 miles (appliance warranties vary by product supplier).
One point of dissatisfaction among coach owners today is that many find they must take the motorhome back to the selling dealer in order to obtain somewhat timely service. Coach House owners can take their vehicle to virtually any service facility they desire, and with prior approval, a favored technician or preferred shop can be utilized.
I recently visited the Coach House factory, which is headquartered in the moss-laden Gulf Coast community of Nokomis, Florida, near Venice. I met with Steve Gerzeny, one of the sons of company founder Ruben Gerzeny (Steve’s brother David is also active at Coach House). Having briefly reviewed the Platinum II at FMCA’s 93rd International Convention in Perry, Georgia, this past March, I was eager to take one out for a test drive and closer inspection. But first I toured the manufacturing facility and learned just how this unit is put together.
The standout feature of a Coach House motorhome is its patented one-piece unibody shell. The entire fiberglass body of the motorhome — the sidewalls, the roof, the front and rear cap — is molded as one from hand-laid fiberglass. It is further reinforced with carbon fiber in key locations, resulting in a solid, one-piece structure.
This unibody structure has two distinct advantages. First, it eliminates all the typical joints in the frame members where the sidewalls usually meet the roof and the floor. No joints, no potential water leaks! Surveys have revealed that the number-one cause of RV damage is water entering the coach. Second, it does away with the common squeaks and creaks a coach emits as it racks and twists when going down the road, over speed bumps, around turns, and up and down hills. As a single load-bearing structure, the unibody remains solid and secure regardless of the terrain or treatment.
After completion of the one-piece structure, interior construction begins. Aluminum framing, insulation, and wiring harnesses are laid in place along with wood cribbing for attaching interior cabinetry, partition walls, etc. to flesh out the actual floor plan.
The Platinum II incorporates the venerable Mercedes-Benz 3500 Sprinter diesel chassis, while the Platinum model is built on the robust Ford E-450 Super Duty cutaway chassis. Coach House Inc., by the way, is certified by Ford as a Quality Vehicle Manufacturer (QVM) and by Mercedes-Benz as a Master Upfitter, to assure build codes and standards are strictly upheld.
The Sprinter chassis has a wheelbase of 170 inches. It is moved along by the 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz diesel engine. Other chassis components include an electronic five-speed transmission, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, xenon headlamps, a navigation system, power windows, tilt-wheel steering, a backup camera, and a 180-amp alternator to keep both battery banks fully charged while the vehicle is being driven. A Class III hitch receiver accommodates towing a small car behind the coach.
My particular test unit was the 2017 Platinum II 241XL DT floor plan (“D” for dinette, “T” for twin beds). It was outfitted with a dinette slideout mounted directly behind the driver’s perch, as well as twin beds. The interior featured the appealing Lakeside Cherry cabinetry and Camel rustic décor. The exterior was finished in the basic two-tone Desert scheme. This full-body exterior paint job comes standard. Coach House also offers full-body deluxe and premier graphic patterns as options.
Though floor plans are available with or without a hydraulic slideout, amid a variety of other options, every Coach House model features a full lavatory with a stand-up shower, a porcelain toilet, and solid-surface Corian countertops.
After a walk-through of the 241XL DT at the plant, factory rep Chris Corell and I headed out to Oscar Scherer State Park, actually just a few miles south of where I grew up. As is typical of the Sprinter platform, it handled nicely on two-lane back roads, the four-lane highway, and the freeway. Acceleration, braking, turning, etc., were all superb. The coach was empty of cargo during my test drive.
What was not so typical of a motorhome mounted on a cutaway chassis: It was totally silent! Not one groan or rattle came from the coach structure as we drove on the various road surfaces, the direct result of that patented one-piece fiberglass shell for which Coach House has become known. I noticed how smooth and tight the juncture of the unibody to the cutaway chassis appeared. Impeccable!
Positioned rearward of the entry door on our subject coach are two spacious lighted storage bays installed below the floor, fore and aft of the rear axle. I’m often amazed at how coach builders seem to find every possible square inch of space to use in some positive manner, both outside as well as inside a smaller floor plan. And this Platinum II maximizes space better than most.
The rear cap portion of the one-piece body features a wide compartment that houses the drain plumbing for the rear lavatory, with plenty of space left for cargo. The bay housing the fresh-water tank is positioned inside on the street side near the rear of the coach, while access to the holding tank termination valves is directly below the sidewall. As another example of good use of space, sewer hose stowage is molded into the corner of the rear bumper. Just forward of the fresh-water bay is a hose attachment for flushing out the black-water holding tank.
A 3.6-kw propane-fired Cummins Onan generator sits just forward of the rear axle, also on the driver’s side of the coach. A diesel-powered generator is offered as an option. A 1,000-watt inverter is also on board. Having these two sources of 120-volt-AC electricity makes this Platinum II perfect for boondocking excursions.
The 15-gallon ASME propane tank is mounted just forward of the generator compartment, supplying fuel to the four gas-fired appliances inside, as well as to a quick-disconnect fitting just to the left of the entry step for use with a portable outside grill. The propane container is further equipped with a safety solenoid valve that shuts the gas off at the container should a propane leak be detected. For the detachable shore power connection, a 30-amp Marinco receptacle is also mounted on the driver’s side.
My Platinum II 241XL DT test unit was equipped with the aforementioned hydraulic slideout, mounted directly behind the driver’s seat. The dinette in the slideout converts to a 34-inch-by-73-inch bed.
Looking around, I was immediately struck by how many cabinets, drawers, and nooks were distributed throughout the unit. With cabinets above the dinette and drawers below, Coach House designers have seemingly utilized every square inch inside.
Just inside the entry door to the right, a corner cabinet houses many of the controls for the various electrically operated devices in and on the 241XL. On the rear-facing portion of this cabinet, Coach House mounted the wireless Simu controller for the electric patio awning; the light switch (with dimmer control) for the awning-mounted LED strip; the solar charge controller (which features pulse width modulation and power boost technology); the step switch; and switches for the courtesy, porch, and ceiling lamps. The auxiliary battery disconnect switch is prominently placed near the bottom of the cabinet for easy access from inside or outside the motorhome.
Around the corner, behind a glass door, this same cabinet houses the remote switch and hour meter for the generator, DC controls for the water heater ignition and water pump, the liquid-level monitor panel, and controls for the stabilizer system and the HWH hydraulic slideout mechanism. Personally, I’m a big fan of having the majority of switches and controllers in one easy-to-access location.
Directly across from the dinette area, the galley, though smallish, holds all that is typical of an RV of this size. A single under-mounted stainless-steel sink shares the counter with a two-burner cooktop, and a flip-up extension can be deployed for added counter space. A stainless-steel exhaust hood and a convection-microwave oven are mounted directly above the cooktop.
Just aft of the cooktop and oven stands a two-door, 6-cubic-foot Dometic three-way absorption refrigerator. Above it, a storage cabinet shares wall space with a carbon-monoxide (CO) alarm; the AC switch for the water heater element; and a 12-volt-DC lamp switch, outfitted with a dimmer control.
In the bedroom, two cabinets and a wardrobe are mounted on the sidewalls above both twin beds, while an optional 23-inch flat-screen HD television is attached to the wardrobe cabinet above the streetside mattress. The television swivels and tilts so both occupants can view the screen. Three drawers are at floor level below this twin bed; below the curbside bed are the Xantrex inverter panel, a combination CO alarm and propane leak detector, the 30,000-Btu forced-air furnace, and the AC/DC power center. The power center circuits, by the way, are printed and color-coded for easy identification — a nice touch.
The lavatory is positioned at the very rear and stretches across the width of the motorhome. A full-height shower stands in the rear curbside corner, and the porcelain flush toilet (with rinser) is in the other corner, with a wide lavatory sink counter in the middle. The emergency escape window is installed above the countertop and behind the faucet assembly. The faucet assembly is installed toward the left side of the sink, but this still might add to the challenge of exiting the coach this way during an emergency. I would have rather seen the code-required escape window mounted elsewhere, though I recognize the difficulty of outfitting a complete motorhome on such a small footprint.
Overhead cabinet space and a nifty corner cabinet provide additional storage in the bath area. A full-length mirror adorns the lavatory door.
One huge “plus” I give Coach House is the use of HepvO waterless sanitary valves in the gray waste system instead of the typical P-traps found in most RVs. HepvO valves require no maintenance and are not subjected to the usual problems associated with P-traps, such as evaporation, bacteria development, odors, and winterizing requirements.
As is typical of B-plus coaches, the Platinum II does not have an overhead bed above the cab area. Rather, Coach House designers take advantage of that space to mount the main 32-inch HD flat-screen television. The TV conveniently swings and folds to the ceiling when not in use.
A Winegard control panel and a Blu-ray/DVD player are nestled in black glass-fronted nooks spanning each side of the center-mounted television above the seats. Again, designers maximized every usable square inch. The entertainment spectrum also includes an HD antenna and an optional Bose soundbar.
Other quality features I liked about the Platinum II test unit were the stylish lamps throughout, most of which also included a nice dimmer function, and 120-volt AC receptacles placed right where they should be. Quality hardware was used for all drawer pulls, cabinet hinges, and door supports. Overall, the attention to detail was superb, even down to the rubber grommet around the propane piping under the coach. Every cabinet joint was pristine, as was the general fit and finish throughout.
Most of the features found in the Platinum II are standard equipment. They include the 15,000-Btu Dometic ducted air conditioner with heat pump; two thermostatically controlled Fan-Tastic roof vents with rain sensors; LP-gas generator; 6-cubic-foot three-way refrigerator; trailer hitch, 1,000-watt inverter; HDTV; Blu-ray player; navigation system with color backup camera; LED lighting; interior fresh-water system; convection oven with microwave; and many more.
Some of the options include a 160-watt solar panel; automatic in-motion satellite dish with receiver; 13-inch electric automatic awning; Bose surround sound; auto-start generator; cell and Wi-Fi boosters; Equalizer stabilizer system; heated holding tanks; and a variety of different paint and interior color choices.
It’s clear that after 30-plus years spent mastering the art of building a complete motorhome within the confines of 25 feet, considerable knowledge has been passed from father to sons at Coach House Inc. For those wishing to downsize to a smaller coach, yet retain diesel performance, or perhaps to move from a towable RV to a fully self-contained motorhome for the first time, the Platinum II won’t disappoint. I’d encourage potential owners to peruse the various floor plans and options thoroughly. Visit Coach House online at www.coachhouserv.com. Buyer incentives are abundant; be sure to ask about the company’s “fly and buy” program, called Passport to Savings.
And remember: RVing is more than a hobby; it’s a lifestyle!
Coach House Inc., 3480 Technology Drive, Nokomis, FL 34275; (800) 235-0984, (941) 485-0984; www.coachhouserv.com
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500
Mercedes-Benz 3.0-liter V-6 diesel with adaptive ESP; 188 horsepower at 3,800 rpm; 325 pound-feet torque at 1,600 to 2,400 rpm
5-speed electronically controlled
4.18 to 1
LT215 85R 16
4-wheel ABS disc
front — independent front suspension;
rear — reinforced leaf springs
chassis — (1) 100 amps;
house — (2) 6-volt Lifeline, 440 amps
3.6-kw Cummins Onan MicroQuiet, propane
25 feet 9 inches
10 feet 8 inches (with A/C)
6 feet 4 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 3,630 pounds;
rear — 6,400 pounds
OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 28 gallons;
black water — 25 gallons
(1) 15,000-Btu, ducted, with heat pump
6-cubic-foot 3-way Dometic 2-door
coach — 3 years/36,000 miles;
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles;
engine — 5 years /100,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED