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Old 02-08-2014, 01:12 AM   #1
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Default 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

Saw an Axis today at the MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI. Very nice unit. No pictures sadly, as I forgot the camera, in our haste to get there before the crowds, but that didn't work out well either.
The large forward electric loft bed over the cockpit was a noteworthy and amazing feature, and an added perk is that it can be used to store valuables, when in the raised position, because it requires a key to operate the raise/lower controls. The dry bathroom is kind of funky with the folding door, sort of larger than a typical dry bath, as it adds part of the aisle to the mix. It can be locked into the open position in the aisle like a divider, to separate the forward and aft sleeping/living areas. Lots (63.5cuft) of external and internal storage compartments, with the biggest one at the rear under the bed. Overall, it was pretty nice. MSRP around US$94,900 and "on sale" price at the show was US$65,900. I didn't buy it. Yet.
Also saw a Winnie Trend. The 23B model with the rear dry bathroom, which was huge, and also had an electric loft drop down bed which was also huge. Sacrificing the always made up bed for the huge bathroom isn't a problem, because you can lower the loft bed into sleeping position in less than a minute. Lots of features, too, and the MSRP on it was US$92,247 and the "on sale" price was US$76,995. My only problem with it is the performance of the Ducato chassis/drive train. According to the Winnebago guy on site who I spoke with, it truly is a Fiat Ducato that has been rebadged as the ProMaster. According to him, very few features were modified by Dodge (probably mostly EPA/NHTSA stuff) from the original Fiat engineered product. I'll have to wait and see on that one after we get some real world performance reviews on them. Estimated fuel economy is 14-18 mpg on the Trend.

DW liked both the Trend (bathroom), and the Axis (loft bed/bathroom/storage), but the height was an issue for her, she thought it made the overall coach look massive. I think it makes it look bigger, but it's only a foot longer (25') than the Trend (24'). I loved the Axis, and particularly the price. A lot of coach for the money, and only 7'10" wide.
I asked about the Travato. They didn't have one there today, and the W rep said they had one in transit that may or may not show up in time, due to the snow storms.
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Old 02-08-2014, 02:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

The Minneapolis RV show has an Axis on the floor but I didn't go inside it. They also had the Travato there but no Trend. All in all, echoing my wife's comments about this year's RVs. . .boring. She didn't like a single B she saw.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

We did go inside the Axis at the Minneapolis show and have to agree that it is a lot RV for the money, especially when compared to the very costly class b's. As we discussed in another discussion, I think this kind of construction could be very serious class b and class c competitor, if the adjusted the height and width a little, getting the size more like b. I haven't pulled out all the dimensions, but how do the height and width compare to the "b+" type units? The Axis looks taller and wider, but it could just be an illusion because of the flat front on the Axis.

I think the Travato was on sale for about $66-67K. We don't care for the floorplan, and the fit and finish weren't great, but at $40k or more less than other rigs, it should put some price pressure on the other manufacturers. Maybe it will slow down the relentless "race to the top" on price that is ruining the market for all the less than rich actual travelers.

As far as what we would get if we had to chose from what was there. We didn't find anything that we would prefer over our Roadtrek C190P. First choice of Sprinters would be, far and away, the Roadtrek Adventurous CS. Nicest little things were on the Great West Sprinters with the sidling, folding, clear underneath couch and siding screen door.

Things we noticed that we hadn't before. The Pleasure-way on the Chevy doesn't have a drop floor, and even though we are short, we noticed the extra stooping needed to get into it. We tried a lot of the sliding doors on various units, and found out we really like the plain old hinged door better. The sliders require considerable force ( and these were all level), and they have to be moving pretty fast to latch. DW had a lot of trouble getting the doors shut consistently, if at all, on some models. She is under 5' tall, and could not reach over a counter and get enough force on the door to get it to slide. On the units where they limit the travel because of things totally in the way of 1/2 the door, there wasn't enough distance for her to get the door going fast enough to latch.

Not the most efficient layout because of the engine out front, but the Jayco Seneca was impressive. Techinically a class C, I guess, but it is built on a real live Freightliner truck chassis, with a Cummins M2 diesel. This one is a real truck, in all senses of the word. Truck wheels and tires, 6 steps up into the RV section, Freightliner truck cab, engine you can get to under a regular old hood. We thought it was a good offering at just a bit under $170K. If the RV section held up, this would be a rig you could drive anywhere for lots and lots of miles.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

I thought the Axis was a comfortable size throughout, and I can't see where you could reduce it's size much without sacrificing something somewhere, like storage or just plain elbow room. It's got just enough room and features that it seemed far more comfortable than our Roadtrek with it's extra 5.5' of length, and maybe an extra foot of width. Maybe they could reduce the height to make it more versatile in height restricted situations and to reduce drag a bit. That said, the size was just about perfect for me to use it as a longer term getaway, so a bit bigger is better. It's got around 5500-6000lbs of GCWR available for cargo and/or a towable, and it's apparently got loads of power, both vehicular and electrical. If we wanted to use our Cavalier as a toad, it would be possible. There wasn't much we didn't like about it, except the fuel economy which will be worse than the Roadtrek. I liked the way the folding bathroom door acted as a divider between the rear bath/bed area and the forward bed/living/cab area.
The down side was the RV show crowd crush made it impossible to really get a useful demo or any good Q&A from the dealership sales guy I spoke (yelled?) with. Just too many interruptions while I was trying to ask my questions. I have to find one at a dealership nearby, and finish the recon mission in less chaotic conditions.
I asked about non-show pricing and got the expected "buy now or the price goes up" song and dance, and he suggested it would be closer to the MSRP at one of their (General RV) locations. I was going to tell him I'd seen them online at Canadian dealers for what he suggested they would go for on their lots after the show, but it was too noisy, and I wasn't going to haggle over something that I wasn't going to buy then anyway. I'm pretty sure I've seen them online in the US for between US$65,000-US$69,000. In Canada online for around C$79,000, which is basically the same price as in the US now with the exchange rate. The $ difference might drive the Canadian price up, as their cost to import rises.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

The Axis is not small. To me it is definitely pull a toad and park it on the lot perimeter, and get there and leave it category. In other words, I'd be interested if I were going to be a stay put snow birder for a few months rather than a tourer. I'm not there. But then if I decided to snow bird, I think a trailer would be a better deal.

Exterior Length 25' 6"
Exterior Height 11' 3"
Exterior Width 7' 10"

In looking over the existing chassis offered by manufacturers I can't see how anyone can offer a B size Class A. They just don't make chassis that small. The old 70s Winnebago's were actually smaller and even the old 70s GMC Class As were smaller. No one makes a chassis today as small as those two were. The cab/chassis Class Cs fill that void now so I doubt manufacturers would bother considering such a small potential market. There were a lot of those small Class Cs this year. Lake Region RVs has gone from being a primarily Class B dealer to mostly Class C it seems. Class B is being treated more and more as a boutique offering.
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Old 02-08-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

They had a Freelander 21QB class C there for a show price of US$49,900, but we didn't like the typical boxy shape and cab over forehead. There was a significant step down from the bed platform that would surely be an ankle breaker, if forgotten for a split second. There were other little items that we didn't like either, but for that price, it was a lot of coach for the money. On a GM 4500 chassis with their 6L (Vortec?) engine option.
I believe that the Axis can be a tourer, if you want/choose to tour in one. For the most part it should be able to handle (spec-wise) most of the same roadways that a long wheelbase Sprinter class B can do, but not all of them, of course. However, it is definitely a more comfortable and roomier option, if you choose to park it somewhere for a longer stay, than just a few days, and it has enough storage and power that the toad or bicycle options are both viable, if you do use it as a mother ship at a preferred campsite.
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Old 02-08-2014, 04:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davydd
In looking over the existing chassis offered by manufacturers I can't see how anyone can offer a B size Class A. They just don't make chassis that small.
How about one of these?

http://www.brownhills.co.uk/16850-fi...0bhp-2014.html
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Quote:
Originally Posted by Davydd
In looking over the existing chassis offered by manufacturers I can't see how anyone can offer a B size Class A. They just don't make chassis that small.
How about one of these?

http://www.brownhills.co.uk/16850-fi...0bhp-2014.html
That is small. It is about the size of a Travato, RT Agile and P-W Ascent. But it is also not an American offering.

Length: 19'-8"
Width: 7'-8"
Height: 9'-4"



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Old 02-08-2014, 05:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

Looks like a shorter Axis, with less inside room.
However, it isn't the shoe box on a chassis shape of a more typical class C.
I don't think the class A,B,C matters as much as what works for you.
A GWV Legend works for Davydd, a 2007-8 (heavily modified?) Roadtrek 190P works for booster, and so on. I'm seriously thinking an Axis would work for us.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2014 MARVAC RV Show in Novi, MI - saw the Thor Axis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davydd


http://www.brownhills.co.uk/16850-fi...0bhp-2014.html

That is small. It is about the size of a Travato, RT Agile and P-W Ascent. But it is also not an American offering.

Length: 19'-8"
Width: 7'-8"
Height: 9'-4"



It is not here now, but the Travato wasn't either, and this is also a Fiat. Sprinters and Transits are also European. The chassis already exists and is being used for motorhomes, so bringing it here would not be any tougher than the Travato, I would think.
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