By Tony Barthel
At one point I made the mistake of mixing up Tiffin with another brand, saying that Tiffin was a Thor product. It was a simple mistake but you would think that I had said that space aliens were coming to take your pets away, based on the absolutely vitriolic response I got on that web forum. People were angry, saying, “Bob Tiffin would never sell out to Thor.”
Well, who’s laughing now? Or, perhaps, they’re crying with the announcement that Tiffin was bought-out by Thor, the world’s largest RV manufacturer.
In that forum, people had spoken with Bob Tiffin or met him at RV shows, and felt a kinship as much to him and the Tiffin family as they did to their very fancy motorhomes. This wasn’t just another motorhome company – if you bought one of their products you were in the Tiffin family. At least based on those posts.
One of the products that Tiffin is absolutely known for is the Tiffin Allegro Bus. Looking at these things, they’re just stunningly beautiful inside and out.
Tiffin builds their own chassis right there in Red Bay, Alabama and much of the rest of the coach is their doing as well. The upholstery, cabinetry, exterior detailing and features all reflect the fact that the company is focused on building a standout luxurious RV. They’re not simply repackaging the high-end stuff out of the Lippert catalog, but using whatever the best component or material they can get their hands on.
Lots of times I look at what is described as “luxury” vehicles and see a package of decent-looking cabinets surrounding the same RV parts you’ll find in everything from a low-end stick-and-tin trailer to a “luxury” fifth wheel. Let’s be honest: Airstreams are nice and all, but it’s still a silver package around a Dometic stove, refrigerator and AC unit – and that company uses plywood floors and had to copy their suspension sourcing from Rockwood.
Step into one of these Tiffin Allegro buses and there is absolutely no doubt that you’ve suddenly been surrounded by luxury. Everything reflects the feeling of premium components, from the polished tile flooring – which conceals an optional heating system so that you can walk barefoot on this polished surface in the winter – to cabinets available in seven finishes, all of which absolutely reflect an aura of quality.
And that’s what you’d expect in a vehicle that costs more than the average house in the U.S. Tiffin has clearly paid attention to a lot of details in these.
One example is that the company listened to owners and raised the height of the basement of the chassis in 2019 by 6”, thereby affording more storage space. And in the main bay, there is a power sliding tray that is capable of holding half a ton of your favorite stuff. If you want a second power sliding tray in the adjacent bay, that’s available. None of this moving the trays by hand business.
Down here in the business end of this machine it’s clear that someone at Tiffin also listened to the folks who keep these things running in over 300 authorized repair centers across this great land. Access to almost anything that needs maintenance is well thought out and simple. Again, more attention to detail on every level.
That goes into the functionality of the coach, as well. For example, you can get an emergency exit in the bedroom that includes a ladder. This makes sense when you consider that most of the folks who pony up the bucks for something like this aren’t likely acrobats who can jump from the bedroom window and land in the splits while doing the “ta-da” motion with their arms in the event of a fire or whatever.
One of the so-many things I love about the kitchen is the flat induction cooktop that is hidden beneath a folding section of the countertop. Induction cooking is an incredible way to heat up your grub. There’s a reason most RVs don’t feature this though – there isn’t a 10,000kW generator aboard most RVs.
It’s almost as if shore power, to a Tiffin owner, is that owner providing power TO the campground, not vice versa. Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration… but still.
If you’ve got the scratch for one of these you’re either going to buy one or you’re not. I can’t imagine something I tell you that will encourage or dissuade the decision to buy a Tiffin Allegro Bus. It is so much better than most RVs on so many levels that it really is in a class by itself. That’s not gushing at all – that’s just fact.
I was going to look to the future and see what the Thor acquisition of Tiffin means for the company, but the special window cleaner I use on the crystal ball I have is currently back ordered, so I can’t provide any guesses.
What I can say is that, to me as an observer, I do not like the increasing consolidation in the RV industry. While I understand and respect that these large RV manufacturers give their individual brands a great deal of autonomy, it’s still troublesome.
People complain about the RV industry and the quality of products continuously. I have to ascribe some of the legitimacy of those complaints to the fact that fewer and fewer companies are working to provide innovative and competitive products since they’re now part of a bigger company that also owns the people who used to be competitors.
People point to Airstream as an example of a company that has maintained its core values and they, too, are a Thor product. They have been since 1981. So maybe all will be well.
But I wonder how long those Tiffin aficionados will still be willing to stand up and defend the family behind the name when it’s no longer the name of one passionate individual and his family, but a name that builds everything from the Coleman campers sold only at Camping World to Airstreams.
With some of the cache of being in “Bob’s Family” gone, I wonder if soon some MBA is going to point out how Tiffin could be more profitable if they used the same this-or-that as Thor can buy at a big discount, thanks to that widget being in every other Thor product? I’m sure there will be at least one person who knows all the hip marketing words who will write and complain and insist that Tiffin will still be Tiffin. But I can tell you that Disneyland isn’t the same without Walt, and Apple isn’t the same without Steve.
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.