RV Review: Roadtrek SS-Ideal Class B Mini Motorhome
The Daimler Sprinter vehicle has become a new chapter in RV history, and judging by its enthusiastic reception of dealers and owners, it figures to remain a significant player in the Class-B arena. Roadtrek, not content to rest on its laurels as the class leader, revealed its latest and most ingenious Sprinter-based design incorporating a rear slide into its 144-inch wheelbase SS-Ideal, unveiling it at the Louisville, Kentucky, RV Trade Show in December 2009, and receiving runners-up honors in the “Best of Show” category from RV Business News. That’s no small feat in light of the competition from dozens of manufacturers of coaches, some over twice the size of the comparatively diminutive SS-Ideal.
In travel form, there’s no hint of Roadtrek’s latest innovation. All you see is the easily recognizable, tall aerodynamic shape of the Sprinter body, the large panoramic windows and signature fall-away hood.
It’s once you’re settled into a campsite, that the surprise comes. As soon as the rear doors swing open that’s when it all happens. With the flick of a switch, three extra feet of weather-tight compartment pop out right before your eyes. The pullout interior compartment houses a comfortable 54×74-inch bed and a large full-width exterior compartment for over-sized items. Unfortunately our SS-Ideal did not come equipped with the (must-have) optional ($416) Continental style fold-down spare tire mount, eliminating much of our compartment’s capacity to hauling the spare tire.
AN INSIDE TOUR
Opening the large sliding door on the curbside truly brings the outdoors in and reveals features that make this coach something special. Let’s begin with the newly enlarged bathroom. It is set up for comfort and ease of use and is the largest bathroom featured on any Roadtrek floorplan. One of our favorite things — it’s equipped with a macerator type holding tank discharge system. This rig is designed so that your dump station duties will go fast, easy and clean.
Additional shoulder and hip space has been provided when privacy is needed, and it allows for a stand-up or sit-down shower. A new fixed basin with countertop space replaces the Pullman style pullout basin setup found in the SS-Ideal’s brother, the SS-Agile. Watertight storage and plumbing access is provided under the sink and the handy molded shampoo and soap ledge can also provide some support while maneuvering in this wet bath. Drawing closed the exterior sliding door curtain as well as opening the double bath doors into the aisle creates a large private dressing area to step into after using the shower. A small but powerful exhaust fan draws out any wet air left behind to aid in drying the shower and curtain.
Opposite the bath is the galley module where Roadtrek has recently partnered with a Canadian company, Granite Transformations, to produce an easy maintenance solid-surface countertop product made of a polymer binder using natural stone, quartz and recycled glass that looks like granite but is lighter and less brittle than the real thing. It passed our unexpected strength test when the single basin sink cover accidentally slipped from wet hands and survived a fall to the floor without even a chip.
The galley base cabinet module is divided to conveniently store a pair of reclining lawn chairs on the sliding door side of the cabinet and pantry or general galley storage on the aisle side. A single but usefully sized drawer is provided for cooking and serving utensils, and there’s another under the fridge. What can’t be packed in the galley cabinets can be stowed in one of the overhead cabinets and cubbies that ring the interior. The construction and handsome finish of the cabinets has the appearance of what we’ve seen in some high-end coaches.
Excellent lighting is provided throughout the galley and especially over the counter. A double burner range is protected by a recessed glass cover, which when not in use providing additional countertop space. A multi-speed Fantastic Fan in the roof pulls double duty as range hood and general ventilator. The convection/microwave oven resides above a 5-cubic-foot, three-way-power fridge capable of handling a large shopping list of chilled and frozen items and completes a compact but very functional galley capable of allowing two to work side-by-side. It can be powered by the optional ($2860) propane-powered generator suspended behind the rear axle.
Roadtrek offers two different seating arrangements in the SS-Ideal. The optional ($611) manually adjusted, OptimaLeather cockpit captain’s chairs swivel to face the cabin with a floor socket provided to set up the single leg pole table while another floor socket in front of the rear couch creates meal or game seating for up to four people using a pair of fold down end seats using cushions from the bed.
You get one large rectangular table with the Roadtrek that is supposed to go back between the couch sides and it’s used for making a bed or a table in the rear of the coach, but it’s far too large to keep set up as a table up front by the chairs and would get in the way. However, you could make or buy another smaller table top table about 18-inches in size or so and it would be very useful up front by the two captain’s chairs.
Audio-visual entertainment comes in the form of an optional ($910) 19-inch flat screen TV connected to the (standard equipment) home theatre system with 5.1 surround sound, dual center speakers, DVD, CD, AM/FM stereo, and dual-use rear speakers that can be switched between the home theatre system or in-dash stereo system when traveling. The TV rests in an AV cabinet above the wardrobe that neatly arranges all AV switches and cable/antenna amp connections for easy access and DVD storage. The TV slides out on a swivel mount allowing viewing from either seating location and then stows protected and out of the way.
Preparing the bed is a simple matter of removing the seatback cushion, sliding the couch seat-bottom out, folding down the seatback, and then filling in the cushions to create a very comfortable 6-foot bed. The 38-inch deep by 55-inch wide slide is equipped with a pair of overhead reading lamps, and thanks to the 54-inch height and three windows and white walls, will eliminate any preconceived notions of sleeping in a cave. A pair of fold-down plastic drink holders are on each sidewall for couch use and can serve as a make-shift nightstand, but we hope that Roadtrek will add a more convenient and durable shelf for eyeglasses and such things.
Driving the Sprinter is a pleasure. Quiet and responsive, you might not believe you’re driving a diesel until you roll down the window, lean out and listen closely for the Mercedes-Benz rumble.
Its paddle-shift, 5-speed automatic transmission offers a spirited yet bridled performance, and the stability control delivers independent braking corrections whenever the system senses under- or oversteer that might negatively affect the vehicle’s safety and handling performance.
Using the paddle shifter to keep the turbo-diesel humming along in the right rpm range, we had no trouble handling grades of up to seven percent and maintaining posted maximum speeds. Using the vehicle’s excellent engine braking, we were also able to minimize our downhill brake applications.
Excellent visibility, heated mirrors, comfortable seats with optional ($871) in-dash navigation with a rear camera view ($234), iPod/MP3 connections with Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, and superb 22.5 mpg sure makes the journeys easy to enjoy. We couldn’t ask for a rig with better road manners, and we experienced minimal buffeting from passing commercial truck traffic.
The SS-Ideal has many of the features and conveniences of a larger rig, but it has the ability to travel small roads to destinations that you can’t reach in larger coaches. However, be watchful of your loads. Because the rig’s wet weight is so close to its GVWR, you’ll have to be cognizant of weight and strike a sensible and safe balance between cargo loading and water supply, the two items easiest to adjust. If you’re towing a trailer, tongue weight is something you’ll also have to be very careful with, as it also directly affects wet weight.
Will the new slide design morph to other Roadtrek models? Roadtrek isn’t talking. Whether it happens or not, the 2010 SS-Ideal will provide a premium outdoor experience without regard to its size and weight. With a feature-rich list of appointments, a novel slide, Daimler reliability and talented craftsman, Roadtrek has proven again you can leave a smaller travel footprint wherever you go without sacrificing creature comforts we’ve come to expect from RV technology.
Roadtrek SS-Ideal Specs
Ext. Length: 19’ 5”
Ext. Width: 6’ 8”
Ext. Height: 9’ 7”
Int. Width: 5’ 9”
Int. Height: 6 4”
Freshwater Capacity: 36 gals.
Black/Gray Water Capacity: 20 gals.
LPG: 10 gals.
Converter: 45 amps
Furnace: 16,000 BTU
GVWR: 8550 lbs.
MSRP as tested: $108,036
Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.