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2021 Preview: Coachmen Class A’s, B’s and C’s

The Beyond now features a new lithium battery system.

COVID-19 cancelled this year’s Elkhart Open House Week, but RV PRO still wants to give readers a sense of what to expect in the new model year. Be sure to check out RV PRO’s entire 2021 Model Year Preview in the September 2020 issue.

What’s new for Coachmen in 2021?

In a word, plenty.

Forest River’s largest division is making notable changes across its large motorized and towables lines, including many new floorplans and product updates and upgrades.

Coachmen Class A’s

This year’s Coachmen Class A models have all-new color schemes for a higher-end look.

“We’re leaning more toward some steel blues and gray combinations,” says Mike Kaiser, general manager for Coachmen Class A’s.

New features include more storage and natural light, with the addition of a skylight on limited models.

“We’re able to put a skylight on limited models because of how much room we have in the ceiling,” says Kaiser. “It will have an electric power shade that extends and retracts from side to side. The first thing people get concerned with is if it’s going to leak or not. We invented a gutter system that if it were ever to leak it would drain right down into the gray tank.”

Another big hit for the brands is the new under-the-bed storage.

“When you walk into the bedroom, at the back the bed actually folds up and there’s a mirror. You can place shoes on one side of the base and have drawers on the other side. There are cushions to sit on underneath and get ready in front of the mirror,” says Kaiser.

Kaiser says a big move for gas units in the industry is the rollout of the new 2024 Ford chassis, moving from a V10 to a V8 engine.

“They’ve reinvented the rails for Class A’s and added more power. It has a different suspension system that makes for a smoother ride,” he says.

The 2021 Encore features a Ford V8 engine, offering more power and torque that the V10 engine in previous models.

Kaiser says a relatively new product, the Encore, is a unique build with three floorplans.

“We’ve developed a diesel product, as far as look and feel, but on a gas chassis. It really hits that $120,000 retail price point,” says Kaiser. “We did the opposite with entry-level diesels. I was able to put some of the gas stuff we do on a diesel and bring the price point down. We can offer diesels at $149,900 at a high-end gas price as well.”

Coachmen Class B’S

Since March 2019, when Ford announced its new all-wheel-drive chassis, demand for the chassis in the Class B market has been through the roof, according to Nick Recchio, general manager of Coachmen Class B products.

Recchio says Coachmen began receiving the new chassis in January 2020 and is just now starting to ship products.

“There are modifications and safety features Ford has added to the new chassis, including much safer driving on wet pavement and in different climates,” he says. “The all-wheel-drive chassis will be constantly on, instead of four-wheel drive, which is either on or off.”

Across the product lines, Recchio says Coachmen’s Class B group is upping its TV sizes to 24-inch smart TVs with a sound bar. Meanwhile, water consumption is being addressed with a switch to the Oxygenics shower head, which provides better water pressure and allows the head to be switched on and off. The Shower Miser is another solution for water conservation that will be added to the Beyond and Nova product lines.

Updates to the Beyond include an L13 Xantrex lithium battery system.

“We’re two-and-a-half years into the LI3 system, which is a 600AMP/hour Xantrex lithium battery system. It’s just been amazing,” says Recchio. “It’s still tried and true and we’ve had no failures. It’s the most reliable, simple and assafe lithium system in the business today,”

The system uses an iron-phosphate-based battery, as opposed to a nickel-based battery, which has been proven to be safer for lithium batteries, according to Recchio. He notes that even Tesla is seeing the advantage of iron phosphate over nickel with the recent announcement the carmaker made regarding the switch to iron-phosphate batteries.

Meanwhile, the Nova 20RB on the Dodge ProMaster chassis debuted at last year’s Open House event and started shipping earlier this year. Recchio says it’s retailing very strong thanks to some important features, such as dual-pane acrylic windows imported from Europe.

Attention to insulation and sound deadening is of the upmost importance, according to Recchio.

“Quality is important. For example, the cabinetry in the Nova, I would put up against any other product in the industry as far as quality,” he says. “As customers go down the road they don’t want to hear rattles and squeaks. We use R14 insulation and hush mats over the wheel wells to prevent sound entering the van from the road. It’s taken off tremendously.”

The newest floorplan for this year is the Nova 20C, which features a couch and rear-powered sofa with jump seats that power down into a fixed bed.

“What makes our products so great are three things: No. 1, we have the most unique group of people in our plant; they’re craftsman and focused on quality. No. 2 is quality. Quality is a couple of different things. When it comes to Class B’s, the quality level of components you put in matter. No. 3 goes back to quality, especially when it comes to some of the sound-deadening components,” says Recchio. “You spend a lot of time behind the wheel in a Class B. We pay a lot of attention to making sure our vans are very quiet on the inside.”

Coachmen Class C’S

In the Freelander and Leprechaun lines, there is a straighter, sportier look, abandoning the Elkhart swirl that’s been a long-time staple on many RVs.

“We’ve redesigned exteriors to give a modern look and re-bundled some option packaging to make it easier for dealers and customers to order product,” says Luke Handyside, Freelander and Leprechaun sales manager. “Freelander will highlight blues and Leprechaun will have burgundy highlights. We’re also introducing a partial paint for Freelander premier units.”

Other changes include a move to a 10-cubic-foot refrigerator, other than units that already have residential fridges. That’s an increase from 6 cubic feet.

“From a Class C, we can’t really change the physical definition of what it is. We have a new front wrap, new graphics, we’re giving it a fresh new look all the way around the coach,” says Mike Bear, general manager for Coachmen Class C’s.

Leprechaun received an overhaul with new cabinets, flooring, countertops and fabrics.

One of the most notable changes is a new ride system with an air bag suspension in the rear and the chassis equipped with stability control. CRV comfort ride eliminates and reduces a lot of vibration to make for a plush ride, and the ability to adjust for preferences.

“We’re excited about Bilstein shocks. The Bilstein mono-shock design improves handling considerably,” says Handyside.

Another major move is the rollout of the new Concord product featuring full rear-air suspension, full compressor air tank, LED lighting and plenty of upgrades to provide the closest thing to a diesel pusher RVers will find in a Class C, according to Bear. “This is geared toward the diesel pusher owner. When they walk into the coach they’ll think they’re walking into a Class A with a big panoramic window that feels really open. In the kitchen, we’ve done some cool things like wine chillers and dishwashers. In the bedroom, we have good wardrobe storage and a king bed. In the B+ market, you get a smaller coach but a lot less storage then you would in a diesel pusher. We have more than 100 cubic feet of storage. They’re not sacrificing nearly what they had to, to be in that B+ type of RV.”

The Concord has the same characteristics and looks of a Class A product but retains the serviceability of an E450 chassis. Product Manager Nate Saunders describes the Prism product as undergoing a metamorphosis. Available in the Prism Select or Prism Elite, both lines feature a new front cap with injected molded parts in the interior, large windows for lots of light and option bundles.

“Our Prism Select will, retail-wise, be about $25,000 less than a similar product,” says Saunders. “The changes are everywhere, from width and height to interior changes including front windows with electric shades.”

The Prism Elite has new window trimmings with quiet day and night shades that makes zero noise. A Truma On-Demand water heater and multiplex wiring from Firefly electronics round out the offerings. Other standards include full-body paint, soft- touch ceiling, upgraded upholstery in the coach area and solid-surface countertops.

The new Crosstrek utilizes solar power and inverters to go off-grid without a generator, leaving no carbon footprint. It will also have rear garage storage to bring along bikes, small kayaks and other gear.

“Whether it’s the Transit or E-series, there’s more storage and it’s adventure driven,” says Saunders. “One of the main drivers has been to be generator-free. These customers are fine with that. … We’re really excited to offer something new and exciting in the market. A lot of these customers are first-time buyers. We’re seeing an explosion of self-made adventure vans. We’re making it easier so they don’t have to do it on their own.”

To see the previews for Coachmen’s Class A’s, B’s and C’s in RV PRO online, start here.

Previously:

Coachmen’s Spirit | Apex, Clipper | Viking, Catalina, and Fifth Wheels previews here 

Renegade RV and REV RV Group previews here

Lance Camper and Midwest Automotive Designs previews here

Winnebago’s Travato, Revel and Solis previews here

Grand Design preview here

Newmar and Winnebago Towables preview here 

inTech RV and Riverside RV previews here

Chinook RV and Gulf Stream Coach previews here 

Roadtrek and Xtreme Outdoors previews here

TAXA Outdoors and the Vanleigh previews here

Alliance RV and Nexus previews here

nuCamp and Leisure Travel Vans previews here

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