This touring coach is small enough to maneuver easily, yet roomy enough for RVing.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
The BT Cruiser from Gulf Stream Coach is one of the original motorhomes designed for touring. In fact, the “T” in its name stands for Touring. The beauty of this model is that it handles like a large SUV and isn’t as imposing to drivers who may be uncomfortable behind the wheel of a larger motorhome. Its size also makes it easier to park, so you don’t have to leave your motorhome behind at the campground and travel with a towed vehicle. Take the BT Cruiser to the grocery store, center of town, sight-seeing attractions, or wherever you want to go.
Chassis And Exterior
Recently, I inspected the BT Cruiser 5291, one of five floor plans offered. They range from 22 feet to 32 feet in length. The 5291 measures 31 feet long and is built on the Ford E-450 chassis (the two smallest floor plans utilize the Ford E-350 chassis). A 6.8-liter V-10 gasoline engine puts out 305 horsepower at 4,250 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm, supplied by a 55-gallon fuel tank. A TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode delivers power to the rear wheels. Antilock disc brakes are fitted on every wheel position. This particular coach also came with an optional 5,000-pound-rated trailer hitch with a trailer light connector and a brake controller.
The exterior sports high-gloss fiberglass. The synthetic wall substrate reportedly will not mold, rot, mildew, or absorb moisture. Vacuum-laminated sidewalls encase a welded aluminum skeleton with rigid closed-cell foam insulation. Welded steel floor joists support a laminated subfloor that is fitted with a 26-gauge galvanized steel underbelly. Undercoat paint is applied. A one-piece fiberglass roof, fiberglass running boards, and one-piece fiberglass front and rear caps finish off the outside.
This motorhome is equipped with electric entry steps and an electric patio awning with LED lights and also speakers. All lighting, both exterior and interior, uses LED technology to minimize energy consumption, reduce heat, and increase longevity.
The 5291 is a three-slideout floor plan featuring a bedroom slideout, a dinette slideout, and a larger driver’s-side slideout containing the sofa and galley. But since the BT Cruiser is designed with touring in mind, the interior is laid out so that everything remains accessible when the slideouts are retracted.
The flooring material is a high-performance vinyl that resembles a wooden plank floor. The test coach featured an interior décor called Tornado Tan, one of three available choices, and Roanoke Light Cherry cabinets.
The cockpit area is a standard Ford design; this means that piloting a BT Cruiser isn’t much different from driving a pickup truck or similar vehicle. The in-dash entertainment system doubles as a monitor for the rearview camera. The cab-over area contains storage cabinets, which flank a 32-inch LED TV and DVD player in the center. The TV antenna and cable TV connections are also fed from here to the bedroom area, where an optional second 32-inch LED TV and DVD player can be located.
The living area is roomy in this 31-foot motorhome. The jackknife sofa in the front portion of the street-side slideout quickly converts to a bed. Cabinets are located overhead. This slideout also contains a three-burner range with oven, a range cover, an overhead microwave oven, a power vent hood with light, and additional cabinetry.
Immediately adjacent to the slideout, set perpendicular to it, is the galley sink. Dual stainless-steel basins are augmented by a single-lever faucet; a countertop extension flips up to the left of the sink. An overhead cabinet incorporates the motorhome’s control panel and switches to operate the BT Cruiser’s various systems.
On the opposite wall, next to the entry door, stands a 6-cubic-foot double-door propane/electric refrigerator with a top freezer. As with the other appliances in the BT Cruiser, the fridge is a stainless-steel model.
The booth-style dinette occupies a second slideout on the curb side of the coach. Each bench seat conceals storage made accessible by lifting up the seat cushions or via large drawers that pull out into the aisle. The legless table can collapse down to transform the dinette into another sleeping berth.
The walk-through bath area can be separated from the rest of the coach, front and aft, via privacy doors. A fiberglass shower stall stands on the curb side; the shower is equipped with a handheld shower sprayer and an overhead “skydome.” The toilet, vanity, sink, and mirrored medicine cabinet are located in an enclosed room on the street side, which also contains a power vent hood with light.
Immediately aft of the bath is the rear bedroom. The head of the 60-inch-by-74-inch queen-size bed rests in a driver’s-side slideout. A mirrored wardrobe ensemble, complete with a stack of drawers and a prewired location for the second 32-inch LED TV mentioned earlier, stands opposite the bed. Large windows on the rear of the coach and behind the bed provide plenty of light, and the rear window doubles as an emergency exit.
A 30-foot detachable power cord is used to connect to a 30-amp campground receptacle; a Cummins Onan 4.0-kw generator can be called into action when shore power is not available.
Heating and ventilation needs are met by a 35,000-Btu propane furnace and a 13,500-Btu ducted rooftop air conditioner; a 15,000-Btu roof air conditioner is offered as an option.
The 40-gallon fresh-water tank, 35-gallon gray-water tank, and 35-gallon black-water tank are accessible via a convenient basement compartment. On our test coach, a small hatch cover opened to reveal a handy outside hot and cold water faucet with a quick-disconnect fitting that accepts a coiled water hose and sprayer — an option that is perfect for cleaning up muddy gear, rinsing sewer hoses, or giving the dog a bath. A 42-pound propane tank is mounted in a vented compartment on the driver’s side of the coach.
If you’re looking for a motorhome you can take anywhere, the BT Cruiser is a great choice. Even though my test coach was one of the largest in the model line, the 31-foot-long, 96-inch-wide unit was easy to drive and maneuver, and it offered a reasonable amount of living area. The coach responded like a large SUV, and it was easy to pull into places not accessible to a larger Type A motorhome. As noted, the BT Cruiser’s versatility on the road eliminates the need to tow a second vehicle when traveling.
A big plus in my book is the ability to gain access to various areas of the coach when the slideouts are retracted. Occupants can comfortably make lunch, use the bathroom, or sleep in the bed when stopped in a truck stop, rest area, or city street parking where it’s not possible or practical to extend the slideouts.
The 2017 BT Cruiser 5291 comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $91,120. The unit I tested came to $96,225 with these options: 5,000-pound-rated hitch with seven-way connector and brake controller; heated holding tanks; rear window; black tank flush; Canadian instrument cluster; 32-inch LED TV with DVD player in bedroom; 30-inch convection-microwave oven; outside hot and cold shower; roof ladder; spare tire; digital satellite prewiring; stainless-steel wheel liners.
For people who are constantly on the move, the BT Cruiser is a good fit.
Gulf Stream Coach Inc., 503 S. Oakland Ave., Nappanee, IN 46550; (800) 289-8787; www.gulfstreamcoach.com
6.8-liter V-10; 305 horsepower at 4,250 rpm; 420 pound-feet torque at 3,250 rpm
TorqShift 6-speed automatic with tow/haul mode
antilock hydraulic disc
front — twin IFS with coil;
rear — full floating Dana 10.75 HD, multileaf, single stage
120 amps, 1,620 watts
chassis — maintenance-free, 72 amp-hours, 650 cca;
house — Group 27 – 175
4.0-kw Cummins Onan
10 feet 6 inches (with A/C)
6 feet 5 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 5,000 pounds;
rear — 9,600 pounds
(weighed with full fuel, water, and propane)
front axle — 3,840 pounds
rear axle — 8,800 pounds
total — 12,640 pounds
OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY (OCCC)
net carrying capacity — 2,110 pounds;
reserve capacity with water, fuel, and 4 occupants — 1,112 pounds
closed-cell foam, R-12.3 roof, R-8 sidewalls
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 35 gallons;
black water — 35 gallons
6-gallon gas/electric, electronic ignition, with bypass valve
(1) 35,000 Btu, propane
(1) 13,500 Btu, ducted, standard; 15,000 Btu optional
6-cubic-foot 2-way (propane/electric), two-door refrigerator/freezer
coach — 1 year/12,000 miles;
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles;
engine — 5 years /60,000 miles
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
PRICE AS TESTED