The Allied Recreation Group (ARG) this morning (Jan. 14) held a press conference at the Florida RV SuperShow to unveil a complete reinvention of ARG’s upscale American Eagle Class A motorhome — a triple-slide, 45-footer featuring seamless, fully integrated front and rear caps, heated holding tanks, high-tech cockpit instrumentation and chic new interiors that the Decatur, Ind.-based motorized RV builder considers a forerunner of things to come for ARG’s American Coach (AC) brand.
The “rebelliously revolutionary” 2016 American Eagle 45A floorplan shown in Tampa, a $690,000 (retail) coach featuring a driver’s side, full-wall slideout, is the natural successor to the high-end American Coach brand purchased in 2009 by ARG’s parent, Allied Specialty Vehicles Inc., from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., once an industry-leading, California-based RV builder.
The all-new AC Eagle drew rave reviews as a “game changer” at a recent private dealer showing in Fort Wayne, Ind., reports American Coach Director Lenny Razo.
“The real thing that we’ve been working on is relaunching the American Coach brand,” said Razo, who debuted a lower priced American Allegiance Class A only a few weeks prior at December’s Louisville Show. “So, part of that is finding our identity again and taking the DNA of what American Coach was built on and actually redesigning it and taking it to another level. This is the beginning of it. You’ll see more down the road from American Coach. This is our first launch point.”
The new-look Eagle debuting at Tampa is a tall (12-foot, 11-inch exterior) motorhome that generally sports the kind of upscale amenities one would expect from a coach retailing in its price range — from its gel coat fiberglass sidewalls to its interlocking aluminum construction, central vacuum system and heated holding tanks as well as its quartz-like solid surface countertops, polished porcelain tile and Aqua-Hot 450D multi-zone hydronic heating system.
In Razo’s view, however, there’s a lot more to it. “This actually is a project that started 18 months to two years ago when we hired an outside design firm and did some research not only with customers, but also dealers’ sales people — everybody,” reported Razo, standing in front of the 45A bath-and-a-half model that ARG is building on a proprietary 51,000-pound GVWR Liberty 600 chassis, which is based on a Freightliner diesel platform equipped with an UltraSteer independent tag-axle and 600-hp Cummins ISX engine engine mated to an Allison 4000 MH, six-speed transmission.
“In the process,” he added, “we really tried to get an interest level with the different design aspects and get some ideas from customers and dealers, whether they carry American Coach products today or carry another brand, and that’s really where all the progress started. And then, as things developed, we took it even a couple more steps and just kept redesigning it. It’s been a long project, but we’re extremely excited to get this into the retail market.”
What will the typical consumer at the Florida RV Trade Association’s (FRVTA) annual SuperShow at the Florida State Fairgrounds – one of the nation’s largest RV retail venues — notice most about the new Eagle, a coach that places a high priority on safety and technology?
Razo and ARG Marketing Director Steve Hileman would quickly tell them about the Eagle’s unique ergonomic dashboard design with its stitched décor and rear monitoring system enabling the driver to choose different exterior camera angles. “We have an integrated spot in the very middle of our front dash where we have an iPad that actually has full control over lights, your blinds, exterior TV,” noted Razo. “You can run your DVD player and everything through the integrated iPad system that basically runs 80% of the coach.”
Additional features in the Eagle, positioned in a lineup running from the least expensive ($325,000) American Revolution up through the American Tradition, American Eagle and ($865,000) American Heritage:
• Optional heated and cooled front seats. “No one else in the industry offers cooled seats yet, just heated, along with vibration technology, lumbar support and massage control — all while traveling down the road,” said Razo.
• Along with a plush residential TLS passenger-side sofa with a high back and adjustable headrest, the AC Eagle’s interior boasts plenty of ambient lighting, LED, “soft close” drawers and USB ports conveniently located throughout the coach. Ceiling vents for the HVAC system, including heat pumps fore and aft, are masked behind decorative fronts. The radius wood trim on the 45A debuting in Tampa is a dark hardwood cherry with a “Rich Carmel” stain.
• Multiple Sony HD Televisions, including a 48-inch TV on a “popup” interior lift in the main living area and another on the exterior. The Eagle also includes Bose Acoustimass theater speakers plus an optional JBL premium cockpit audio package and Samsung Curved OLED TV in the living area.
• A galley including a flush-top pull-out cabinet extension, recessed induction cooktop, apron-front stainless steel sink, quartz-like solid-surface countertops, a French-door fridge and GE Advantium oven.
• A “full fade” exterior paint job that “lifts” from the ground up.
• Rear exterior LED lights positioned wide and high — plus a center, high-mounted stop light — so that stops and turn signals are visible around a tow vehicle.
• A rear bedroom that, along with a cedar-lined wardrobe, contains a Serenity Max Series bed with adjustable his-and-her sections through which both the head or foot end of the bed can be independently raised with full massage capabilities.
• What Razo claims is the largest shower, a residential walk-in shower with teak flooring and a fold-down seat, available in the industry today.
• An optional emergency exit door on the rear driver’s side gracefully integrated into the rear roadside bathroom wall as a bookcase with shelves functioning as steps when the hatch is opened and the hinged, cable-equipped door swings down like an aircraft’s.
“When we started with this product, we didn’t want it to be another ‘me too’ product,” said Razo, noting that the first 2016 Eagles are to be shipped in February. “We didn’t want to design this and make it look like everybody else. We wanted to be completely different. Our customers and our dealers have been asking us to give them a reason to trade for another American Eagle. So that was really the impetus – not only for safety and innovation, but also to give the customer something different that they’ve never seen before. So, there’s been from a 2015 Eagle to a 2016 Eagle more than 200-some items that have been changed – from the cabinet hardware to the Liberty chassis with the steerable axle.”