If you have any doubts that the Class B RV market is hot, here’s a way to squash those doubts. Tiffin, the manufacturer of Class A Motorhomes, is headed into the Class B (van) market and is stepping up to the plate with the new Tiffin Cahaba van.
As any sage can tell you, there are plenty of opinions whenever things happen that are newsworthy. But some folks looked at Thor’s acquisition of Tiffin as a way for Thor to take advantage of the tremendous manufacturing resources Tiffin had established in Red Bay, Alabama. To note, there is speculation that the resource pool of humans who will go work at an RV factory plus supply chain and other issues have made expansion in Indiana much more difficult. So moving to another area could work.
The Tiffin Cahaba is that brand’s entry into the Class B market. There are some things about this model that do get it to stand out, not the least of which is the fact that it comes from Tiffin.
As you might expect, the Cahaba is targeted at the upper end of the Class B market. But that’s a market that already has a tremendous number of entries as well as a few very established players who do a great job addressing what customers want. In other words, Tiffin had better step up to the plate and hit a home run or they’re not going to remain in the game.
First of all, take note of the fact that the Cahaba has no generator aboard, per se. Instead, there’s a Volta power system that uses a secondary alternator on the main engine of the rig along with three 100-watt flexible solar panels on the roof.
Details on this van are still a bit difficult to find, but in the video I’ve attached, Tiffin claims to have 12,100 watt hours of batteries aboard. If you take off your shoes and start figuring things out, this is 1,000 amp hours of batteries or the equivalent to 10 typical lithium batteries.
No wonder the company claims that you can run the air conditioner for 12 hours. That kind of math makes sense if there’s that much power aboard. In fact, in the video I’ve attached, Tiffin claims they have the largest Volta battery system in the industry.
Interestingly, the 300 watts of solar on the roof aren’t likely to compensate for demands such as the air conditioner, per se. But there is a 6,900-watt secondary Volta alternator. So, if you find yourself somewhere off the grid and want to run the AC, you can fire up the engine at high idle and charge the batteries that way, as well. Lastly, there’s a 3,200-watt inverter aboard. The entire system is monitored by a Volta control panel.
No propane in the Cahaba
There is no propane aboard this rig at all. Heating comes from a hydronic heating system that can either be operated through electricity or the diesel fuel that moves the vehicle. Obviously, if you’re not plugged in you’re using diesel; when you are plugged in, you use electricity.
Cooking, too, is all electric with a single portable induction cooktop nestled into the camp-side cabinet along with a sink. Corian covers keep everything concealed until ready to use.
The bed for the Cahaba is either two benches at the back forming two individual twin beds. Or there is a provision for a “bridge” between the beds and you can use the backrests from the sofas to make this one large sleeping area. Converting from the twins to the full surface is pretty quick and easy.
The bathroom is about what you’d expect in a Class B. But I was surprised to learn that the toilet was plastic in a rig from Tiffin.
Storage is about what you’d expect, with compartments below the beds along with a few above. There is surprisingly little storage in the kitchen area with just a single drawer. So you might want to leave most of your kitchen stuff at home.
There is a nifty desk-type surface behind the front driver’s seat. Both the front seats swivel around to face the rear of the van. This could make for a fancy place to get some work done.
In this same area, Tiffin has provided a door to gain access to the plumbing behind the shower – which is a very nice touch. Being able to maintain these systems easily is typical attention to detail you’d expect from Tiffin.
There’s a single Lagun table with mounts between the benches at the back and also on the outside of the kitchen pedestal. So you can really take advantage of the flexibility that is the Lagun table. Smart.
I was pretty impressed with how the Grech RV van handled the connectivity to shore functions, but this one is also well done. There’s a metal footer around almost the entire circumference of the van at the bottom. It’s in this that you’ll find your shore connections and sewer dump.
The electrical connection is at the back of the van and done via a smart plug. Also back here on the double doors is a metal plate with holes in it for attaching things that will be part of the adventure.
You can use a ladder on the side of the van to access the roof, where you’ll find a roof rack.
While the awning on the camp side of the van isn’t much of a surprise, the one at the back is. You can get quite a bit of shade with both of these opened up. Of course, there are screens over both the rear and side doors when opened. There is a magnetic closure for the screen on the side (sliding) door.
There are also additional lights at the front if you’re finding yourself on a dark path. That’s entirely possible, as this is based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter four-wheel-drive chassis.
The look of this vehicle with the four-wheel-drive, aggressive lighting and metal running boards gives it an appearance you wouldn’t normally expect from Tiffin. It’s clean and aggressive with literally zero stickers, swirls or anything like that.
While you may not think of Tiffin when it comes to Class B vans, they’ve absolutely established a beachhead with this and made a statement. Obviously, a $200,000 Class B isn’t for everybody. But for those interested in a Class B that can head off-grid and take advantage of one heck of a battery system, this is certainly a great choice.
I was disappointed in the storage inside, having seen others do a better job with a very similar floor plan. But I also am really happy that Tiffin elected to use padded “curtains” inside rather than power shades. The bed, too, is manually operated. All the things that make sense to do manually are done manually. All the things that benefit from power operation are done that way.
Tiffin makes a statement with the Cahaba
As with many RVs nowadays, the only way to manage lighting and climate systems and such is through a touch panel or your phone. Of course, I’d prefer there to be switches in addition to these systems. But, overall, for Tiffin’s first foray into the Class B field, they’ve certainly created something that makes a statement.
Unfortunately, there are very few images of the Cahaba and some details still awaiting finalization. But I do encourage you to check out this video walk-through if you’re interested in learning more.
I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.
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.
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