Are The Most Expensive MotorHomes The Best?

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March 25, 2010


When the most expensive and luxurious coaches and motorhomes are thought of, Prevost is the first one that will come up.  Prevost chassis and shell that is.  The actual final product is made by a number of conversion builders, Marathon, Millennium, Featherlite, Liberty, just to mention a few.  Typical list prices for these can range from one and a half million dollars or more.

Why are they so expensive?  Well, there are very few produced each year.  They are on arguably the best bus chassis in the world, Prevost Coach.  Each design is somewhat unique with interior touches tailored to the owner.  All of this makes it a very impressive motor coach without question. But, are they really the best choice for the motor home application, even if money was no barrier?  Maybe yes or perhaps no.  Prevost is without question the finest commercial bus builder.  But it is a commercial vehicle maker not a personal coach builder.  So let’s look at why the commercial design may not be as fitting in a modern motor home.

Well, first, the dash boards on most have the unchanged look of a bus from decades before.  While it is extremely functional, it lacks the modern feel and digital touches demanded by many high end buyers.  The driver seat is designed commercially with an air ride suspended frame.  This is great for a driver that is on the road day in day out, but unless you are going to run on logging roads it is not necessary for a motor home application.  The big drawback to the air supported seat is its inability to be able to rotate it for use on the an XL model.  Additionally, the controls for that seat are a near fluorescent yellow, again, reeking of a commercial vehicle functionality.

The small driver’s window is very commercial.  It is really just a toll ticket opening.  This mini sized opening does not meet some motor home owner’s needs, like going through customs at the border.  Passenger buses are boarded during border crossings, therefore do not have this particular requirement.  Park entrances often have a high and low mounted keypad.  This usually requires leaning out through the window to enter the code.  This is not even close to being able to accomplish through a commercial bus toll window.

Many motor coach owners like to have a choice of air level or the solid feel of hydraulic jacks.  High end coaches many times are equipped with both.  You can not get hydraulic jacks on a Prevost nor can you add them.  The frame will not accommodate these jacks.

The XL model often allows the passenger seat to rotate and become part of the sitting area, the driver seat can not.  The H3-45 can not use either of the front seats to be part of the sitting area due to the dropped driver level.  This results in a loss of over 4 feet of living space.  Why?  Because the chassis and shell is designed for a commercial bus application, not a motor home.

Motor coach owners enjoy scenic views through large panoramic one piece windshields.  Views are somewhat more restricted in a conversion because the windshields are the two piece type with added bulk to both the “A” pillars and center post. Why?  Because it’s designed as a commercial bus.

Prevost uses either a 435 HP Volvo or a Detroit 60 series 515 HP engine.  While these are adequate for their application, they do not deliver the horse power per pound that many motor home owners desire.  A loaded passenger bus is far lighter than a custom coach conversion with granite floors, counters and so on.  Also most motor home applications involve the towing of something, Hummers, two vehicle stackers, and more.  But, this may be a trade-off experience using a commercially designed chassis.  Bottom line, you are going to be the last one up the grade. 

Conversion units do not offer a screen door as they were not designed with one in mind.  There is little need for such a feature on a commercial bus.  No opening windows are used on many conversion units.  One must rely on the HVAC for air circulation. Nearly all high end non-conversion motor homes do have opening windows and screen door options.

Power door steps are not found on conversion chassis’s.  A short legged portable step is often used by bus drivers to assist passenger loading.  The same type of step is also used by the private coach owners.  It kind of like the old days when manual steps or stand had to be deployed.

Motor home manufacturers have been equipping their product with the highly desired “Smart Wheel” for about a decade.  Prevost has finally moved with the time and has installed the “Smart Wheel” on their 2010 motor coach shells.  Additionally, I noticed Prevost now includes tire monitors on every chassis.  I drove an ’08 a while ago.  It was not equipped with a tire monitor.  All that money and no tire monitor.  They appear to be way behind the curve as far as meeting the motor home needs, wants and application.

Memory driver seat, mirrors, pedals and steering wheel are a great feature for two driver coaches.  Don’t look for them on a commercially designed chassis.  There is no application to handle the many drivers engaged with operating a single bus.

This is not a slam against Prevost or any conversion chassis or builder.  It is just my observations.  Even given the somewhat negative view I project of Prevost and conversions in general, I may still buy one in the future.  The trade-offs may be worth it.  Prevost is the finest chassis available as far as drivability is concerned.  It should also be said, that Prevost’s slide out designs are excellent, surpassing all others in my opinion.  But, not all slides on a Prevost conversion are in fact theirs.  Converters add many themselves.

Well, these are just some of my observations and the way it looks to me.  What do you think?

Presenting My Observations    –    Lug_Nut     –     Peter Mercer

Leave a Reply


  1. Mike

    Own a H3-45 Marathon conversion. Use it nationwide. Would not trade it for anything else. Will drive it until I die.

  2. Gab

    This also a great site for owners selling their Motor-homes & RVs:

    Its free and it is a US national website, by States and Regions.

  3. Passenger Buses

    The wood floors really make this luxurious!

  4. Dean Stoops

    I am on my second Newell in 12 years, They are very well built. My friends coaches include Prevost and MCI. In my opinion the Newell has MANY advantages for motorhome use. They are built of light weight aluminum from the floor level up with a very strong steel frame from the floor level down. This helps reduce overall weight and keeps the C/G lower.
    Respond to earlier posts:
    Jerry, Because of the front entrance on a bus there is not room for a front genny.
    Paul, Bluebirds are very well built coaches. Disadvantages are all steel construction (heavy) and virtually NO factory support.
    When you buy a Newell (new or second hand) You become part of the family. I can call the factory and talk to the gentlemen who actually remember building my coach.!!

  5. Liz Bard

    What about Foretravel? They are manufactured here in East Texas. We bought a gas model for our 1st to learn on, but one day I would love to get a used Foretravel.

  6. Paul Hastings

    Anyone have any experience with Bluebird coaches? I’m looking at 2000 – 2003 vintage 40′ coaches. The seem to sell for about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of a 45′ Prevost and don’t have as much bling. Typical power is a 500hp ISM. Any suggestions / comments?

  7. Brett Murden

    Great info thanks. I have been researching luxury coaches for two years now and have considered Prevost through Marathon, Liberty, Featherlite, Outlaw etc. Also very attractive are: American Heritage, Monaco Signature, Newell and Newmar King Air. I live in Australia and there is nothing that comes close to these coaches downunder. My plan is to full time in the U.S. soon and i’m more than open for any opinions on the above mentioned units, or any suggestions of other luxury DP’s.

  8. Jim G

    Why not just Go Greyhound

  9. Barry N. Schmidt, D.D.S. (ret.)

    Lug Nut, you do not need to apologize. Hopefully Prevost will review this post. If I had the money, I certainly would not buy a Prevost at this time. No windows, no screen door, no power door steps or hydraulic jacks? Hey, our little cheapo Trek Pathfinder even has these features, and both front seats rotate, while the driver’s seat is full power. Prevost, are you listening?

  10. Manuel Enos

    Since I am not a HIGH END motor home user I will just stick with my NEWMAR DUTCHSTAR. That old Cummins gives 14mpg loaded or unloaded!! Now I would really love to own an ESSEX but then again couldn’t afford the fuel millage. I think highend coaches are great for those who can afford them but I wouldn’t feel right getting a little beach sand on the rugs!! ha ha ha

  11. We started out with high end Travel Supreme and now own a Liberty Prevost. No comparison!! The Liberty far exceeds the former in every way . Much quieter on the road , drives like no other, but yes, the gas milage isn’t as good with the Prevost. The fit and finish throughout is 2 leagues higher . I’ll put the Liberty ” family” up against any manufacturer! I hope the Newell fanatic doesn’t drive a Liberty some day or they won’t ever feel the same about their old ” coach”.

  12. I fail to understand why a coach that cost 2.2 mil. puts their generator in a compatment on the side. Every motor home builder has it up front in a pull-out for service, not Prevost? Then we have the 2 burner electric stove? As one sales person put it “people that buy these coaches don’t cook, they eat out.” So much for dry camping.

  13. Lug_Nut

    Bea Kay, Yes, and I will. The next coach I will try out will be the Newell. In the next few months I will take the test and drive a new Newell may be even with the ZF transmission. I’ve got to say, the ZF tranny has not impressed me. With a 10 second slower 0 to 60 than an Allison, it is questionable whether that set up is acceptable to me. But, the Allison is available, albeit with a turned down engine torque.
    Thank you for your valued input.

  14. Bea Kay

    Why don’t you acquaint yourself with a Newell? They have all the conveniences you mentioned lacking in Prevost & many more you never thought of.
    They are real innovators & build the coach as a motorhome from the ground up.

  15. Lug_Nut

    Interesting. A little ground swell building for the Newell Coach. Admittedly the Newell certainly meets the features and look desired by the high end purchaser. The only short fall is the toll window that they must have copied from their commercial competitors.
    The brakes on a Newell far exceed that of a Prevost conversion. This is perhaps due to it being built as a motor coach not a lighter version passenger bus.
    While we are on that subject, what’s with the phrase “Bus”. It is used with Tiffin and of course many conversions. Hello, bus is not very flattering. I would much rather have a unit that is referred to as a coach. Thanks for all your great comments on this topic.

  16. Bea Kay

    I was going to tell you to test a Newell-they have all the convemiences you mentioned that Prevost doesn’t have & some you never thought of.

  17. Nancy Linn

    Just to set the record straight. The Newell is the best!!! We have had 5 coaches and are on our second one.

  18. Nancy Linn

    You cannot even compare the Prevost to a Newell. They are designed with the person in mind. Service is supurb and the company is like a family. When you purchase your coach, you too become a member of the greatest family ever.

  19. Bill Zawadiuk

    You ever seen a bus chassis (ie Prevost) in a crash, total wipeout, writeoff..
    Bus chassis do not have any integral support from the floor up…
    Only one real luxury coach on the market worth its salt..NEWELL..

  20. Lug_Nut

    Kenneth Gluckman, I certainly agree, but that too comes with a commercial build, more liability. Thank you for bringing up that point and for your input on this topic.

  21. Kenneth Gluckman

    I don’t own a Prevost, but would like to some day. To me the best feature is safety — I think the Prevost body would be far superior in a crash to the flimsy boxes that even the most expensive RVs (other than Prevosts) use.