A few years ago, friends John and Kathy Huggins, whose Living the RV Dream podcast was a real inspiration for me, retold the story of visiting several RV factories. The couple were owners of a Class A diesel pusher and talked about how impressed they were after visiting the Newmar factory.
John, a veteran of quality control, was a recognized expert in his field, so what he said resonated with me. I bring this up because I had a reader write in asking my opinion of the Newmar New Aire 3543 so I went looking to see what I saw.
Class A diesel pushers
First, I have to get this off my chest. Knowing some people in various levels of government, I know that diesel engines are becoming increasingly regulated to the point where the old, reliable and durable diesel engine is becoming a technical challenge for some technicians.
I know quite a few people who have spent thousands on vehicles with diesel engines only to have them experience huge repair costs shortly after the warranty expires. While RV sales are skyrocketing, Diesel Class A motorhomes are just “up some.” So I am very, very hesitant to buy anything diesel in today’s market.
Writing this in the past has gotten a lot of angry responses. However, I believe it’s important to weigh this into the equation when spending half a million bucks. Have diesel engine companies overcome the reliability challenges of the emissions components? That would literally be my first point of research.
Class A’s need better fire escapes
I also know that fires tend to start in instrument panels and electrical systems. Yet Class A diesel pushers put the bed all the way at the back over the engine, essentially. I will not stop encouraging the industry to employ the kind of fire escape I’ve seen Tiffin put in their coaches until this becomes universal. I honestly believe it should be required by law. The kind of people who can afford this type of rig aren’t likely the same ones jumping out of a second story window in the middle of the night.
All those fancy cabinets don’t mean squat when you’re hoping to escape a burning coach in the middle of the night and the best way to get out is through the fire and out the front door. And, yes, I know of someone who died in a fire in a Class A, so this reality is forefront in my mind.
Newmar New Aire
The New Aire line is Newmar’s 35-foot Class A diesel pusher featuring a Cummins L diesel engine shifting through an Allison transmission. Interestingly, Newmar gives you a choice of either the Freightliner chassis as standard, or a Spartan chassis for an extra $7,630.
Like most modern vehicles, these large coaches come with all sorts of electronic nannies to help you stay safe on the road, which is a good thing. Furthermore they come with a mapping system that knows the size of the coach so you don’t end-up on the 11 foot 8 + 8 YouTube channel.
For this kind of scratch you do get an exterior of full paint rather than stickers, as we travel trailer owners have to endure. I’m not a fan of swishy swirls, but this is subjective. I can at least recognize the effort it takes to apply this paint – which extends onto the walls of the slide rooms.
The interior in the Newmar New Aire is exquisite
The interiors, too, are exquisite – as you might expect in a premium coach with a number of wood and upholstery choices available to suit one’s taste.
What I do love about Class A diesel pushers is that all the cabinetry and fittings really do have a high-quality feel. Also, the way these ride and drive and are put together carries a sense of longevity. That’s what happens when you can focus on materials and components and aren’t so concerned about weight.
You’ll never worry about the warranty on a rubber roof on this vehicle. That’s because the painted roof is a single piece of fiberglass with metal trusses underneath and insulation. The frameless windows are also dual-pane, and the insulation is terrific.
While I don’t know how many of these rigs are used for boondocking, they are the champions when it comes to that sort of thing. Huge water tanks, diesel generators and outstanding climate control systems make them a joy to spend time in way the heck off the beaten path.
Solar systems in the New Aire
There are solar systems available consisting of four 100-watt solar panels on the roof for $5,552. However, I wouldn’t get this as I’m no fan of flexible solar panels. They tend not to last as long as their rigid counterparts. I suspect that the reason is air circulation under the panels. You could do far better in the aftermarket with rigid panels if solar is a concern.
We plebeians get to upgrade our lousy AC systems with Air Conditioner Silencers. In this rig you just feel the air conditioner – you don’t really hear it. Oh, and if you want, you can have electric radiant heating installed beneath the tile floors for a mere $8,004.
I like that this is an all-electric coach, effectively. That means the cooking surface is a portable induction cook top, and you bake in a large convection microwave. Of course, the only fridge choice is a residential model at this time. There is a lot less vibration and shaking in a vehicle of this weight. Therefore, I don’t think the residential refrigerators are as troublesome as they would be in a towable.
Not having propane aboard means you don’t have to go hunting that down, ever. Nice.
I don’t mean to be harsh about diesel engines, and my family is in the U.S. because of them. My dad came from Germany (and dragged me with him) to work on developing the Garrett T3 turbo. But the regulation of diesel engines is just making some systems so complicated to the point that I hear a lot of complaints about failures and expensive repairs.
There is also potential relief in sight for owners of these rigs relating to the diesel engine failures leaving them stranded, as Russ and Tiña De Maris reported in this article.
Pushing again for a better fire escape
These big beautiful rigs have a lot to offer but, again, I’d like to see a better fire escape. One way to do that is to buy the Tiffin that has this feature, which would be the Phaeton. I honestly wouldn’t buy a Class A that didn’t address this critical issue. Demanding this will force the industry to address it, as Tiffin has.
I’ve written before that I tend to look past the nice cabinets and pretty upholstery of any RV and check out how they’re made and what will matter to an owner years down the line. I think any big Class A diesel pusher is going to be something that returns years of enjoyment to the owner if, and this is a big if, they don’t experience emissions system failures.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
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.
Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!