These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
By Tony Barthel
Ford’s motorhome chassis has been massaged for 2021 with a 7.3 liter V8 and six-speed automatic and, since that’s the frame on which Holiday Rambler builds the Admiral line, it gets an upgrade as well.
Fleetwood’s Holiday Rambler Admiral is a line of motorhomes that have found a lot of owners thanks to a combination of features and price. The Admiral series still uses Holiday Rambler’s welded aluminum cage construction, frameless windows and other quality nods while being at a price motorhome buyers like. For example, this Class A motorhome is similarly priced to the Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RL I reviewed recently, but is significantly larger in size. It also offers the benefits that people look for in a Class A coach like larger under-floor storage and a spacious interior.
That size also makes way for other advantages that might be important to some buyers, including good-sized holding tanks with 50 gallons of fresh water storage. A Cummins-Onan 4kW generator comes standard too. But what might be the signature feature of this particular model is the full-wall slide on the driver side.
While some RVs feature slides and others feature super slides, this is the mother of all slides and extends almost the full length of the coach. In that slide are the couch, kitchen and wardrobe.
One of the keynote features of this is that the 29M features a king bed in the rear of the coach, but the bed does not need to be folded up to bring the slide room in so you could theoretically use it while traveling, depending on local seat belt laws … and whether or not you care about those.
But on the subject of seat belts, there are three on the couch, so when the slide’s in you can legally have three passengers facing sideways and all belted in place. Be forewarned, however – here in California, to my knowledge, those of certain ages cannot legally ride sideways.
It does appear that you can access that back bedroom and the bathroom and refrigerator to some degree when the slide room is in, so grabbing a soda along the way is possible. Of course, you won’t want to do this if you’re the driver, right?
Speaking of the refrigerator, it’s a 110vac compressor-based refrigerator that Holiday Rambler describes as residential-grade. However, this isn’t the big stainless steel fridge you see in some units. Instead, this is a smaller model that I would describe as one step above a dorm room fridge. Note: It is possible to order this motorhome with a more traditional gas/electric RV fridge. This rig does come with a 1,000-watt inverter to run some of the AC items including that refrigerator and also some of the plugs. Two house batteries are standard.
As for air conditioning, a single 15,000 BTU air conditioner is standard, or you can get two 13,500 BTU units instead. I wonder if a single 15,000 BTU air conditioner will really do a great job in warmer weather. But then, I guess if you know that you’re going to be spending time where the thermometer stays on the high side, you might want to consider those two AC units if this rig is what you’re looking for.
This may be the rig for you if you’re someone who appreciates tailgating, as there is an available outdoor kitchen area that has a TV, microwave, mini-fridge and sink. Additionally, there’s a propane fitting at the back of the rig away from the awning for something like a grill or an outdoor propane fire pit. And oh, that awning – it’s so long that it needs a support in the middle when stowed. This awning is to awnings what that slide is to slide rooms – super-sized.
Friends of mine who have something like this actually bring a Traeger pellet grill and use the built-in inverter on their rig to make sure that thing keeps going all day. There’s nothing like smelling that smoker all day to give you an appetite.
If you’re bringing a bunch of folks with you there is also an optional loft bed above the driver cockpit that allows for up to 600 lbs. of capacity. That brings the sleeping capacity of the rig to eight campers.
Oh, and on the subject of the cockpit, the 2021 Ford instrumentation is a much-improved digital gauge cluster. The 7.3L V8 is more powerful than its ten-cylinder predecessor but also more compact. Additionally, a V8 is better balanced than a ten-cylinder engine so it’s likely that that engine is quieter. And, the smaller engine size means a smaller doghouse inside.
While I haven’t driven this motorhome, those who have say that Ford has done a much better job with vehicle stability and control with this new chassis than the previous generation.
I wonder how many people who have avoided a gasoline-powered Class A motorhome have done so after driving the previous generation Ford chassis with that ten-cylinder engine? For those who didn’t enjoy the driving experience, I wonder if Ford’s new chassis will be different enough to affect their decision?
A few things that didn’t float my boat on this model – which should come as no surprise – were the swooshy stickers on the outside. While some motorhomes at least use paint to do this, these are stickers and they’ll be faded and cracked long before the rest of the finish on this rig is done.
Also, the interior of this doesn’t give me that “luxurious Class A” feel. This is, of course, Holiday Rambler’s most affordable coach, but it also feels more like a travel trailer in materials used than a fancy Class A. Again, that’s my perception.
For a lot of motorhome buyers, especially those who don’t log a whole lot of miles, a gasoline-powered rig makes a tremendous amount of sense. Ford has really stepped up their chassis for 2021 and so those who didn’t like driving the previous generation might want to give this a second look. And here’s a tip: Most RV manufacturers will build a version without swooshy stripes if you share my disdain for those. Just ask.
When are RV manufacturers going to learn that people do not like sitting at an angle or crooking their necks sideways to watch the TV? The best viewing angle is straight across.
Until Ford addresses their ignition coil/spark plug wire issue on the “Godzilla” (if that engine is the Godzilla, what was Chevys 454 and 496 and Ford’s 460?) the coil/spark plug wire issue needs to be taken care of before thousands of customers are left sitting on the side of the road. There are 8 possibilities that you will be stranded by this defect, and do you think Ford would use parts off their assembly line to take care of these customers, No! You can sit their and wait for the supplier to fix a problem and get the fix into the supply chain to the dealers, a FORD BETTER IDEA!
Just call the engine the “Godzilla”, and everyone will know it’s the new 7.3 liter V8 to which you are referring. It buries the V10 in HP, torque (the most important number to any RVer), performance and NVH. The 29M makes the Wonder RL look overpriced, especially when you consider Leisures small holding tanks, and the not inexpensive, extra cost option of a generator. A couple of updates and it will be near perfect.
I will say the interior on the Leisure van is much, much nicer but, yeah, given the choice I think I’d pick this. Not only are the holding tanks significantly larger but there is a huge amount of storage under the floor and the Godzilla engine instead of a very complicated twin-turbo V6. And imagine the differences in NVH between a balanced V8 and a V6 which requires additional balancing tricks to not be so harsh?
Conflicting specs on engine and tranny. 1st says it is a 6.7 liter v-8 then later mentions a7.3 liter v-8?
Also the tranny is either 6 speed or 10 speed? Which of these are correct? It has the same conveniences as my 2017 Coachmen Pursuit 30FW! Insluding the massive total driver side slideout! Is price quoted the dealer price?
Dag nabbit, the graphic didn’t update. I just fixed that and the line in the opening paragraph. It is a 7.3 liter V8 with a six-speed automatic. Apologies for the confusion.
Prices quoted are Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the base model at the factory – so they exclude shipping to the dealer which varies based on distance from the factory.
Dealers also tend to discount all RVs and there’s really no accounting for that, so the MSRP is a constant so you can compare this to others we have and will write about.
Funny in the same newsletter RVtravel talks about educating the new Rv’er, this review says nothing about the realistic cargo capacity with any specs or a possible warning.
Wait…there’s a specifications chart along with the article. That specification details both the unladen vehicle weight and gross vehicle weight rating for this specific vehicle.