During the last year or so I've had the opportunity to take out several different brands and classes of motorhomes primarily for extended business travel. They've ranged from Class C's on Fords to a 42' Class A pusher with a 450HP Turbo Cummins and a 6 speed Allison. The cool part is we live out of them for at least a week at a time and will cover 2K - 3K miles in a single trip so you get to know the characteristics of each coach a little better than on a quick test drive.
IMHO... while the AS P30 is setup a whole lot better then any SOB P30's I've driven, it's still a little behind the ride quality, noise levels and general "balance and feel" of a high end DP. In fact some of the newer Workhorse pullers are getting very close in ride quality to the DP's. (This is why all of the major manufacturers are investing heavily in this category)
Having said this, I absolutely think that the setup of the AS on the P30; the supplemental airbags, wheelbase and weight distribution, give the AS a ride quality that is far better than most mid to late 90's coaches on the same chassis. In fact it is still far better than any of the low end Class A's made in 2003!
When I was initially interested in the AS MH's my one apprehension was the P30. This is primarily because of an experience with a SOB on a P30 on I-70 through Missouri in high winds. The experience left me vowing never to drive a P30 motorhome again! This coach was the same length as my 345, had tags and was roughly the same weight. Getting hit by a side wind or passed by a big rig was downright white knuckled scary! Iíve not been scared by the RV itself in the AS yet.
OK...so now onto the downside of the big DP's - they are very complex machines. While that big Cummins powered 42 was a pleasure to drive, here's what happened during a one week trip, after it was ďrun through the shopĒ for us: ducted heater stopped working, rear cap engine hatch opened up every 150 miles or so, electric steps stopped working, water heater started leaking, alternator threw a belt and the coach lost all 12V
(ever jump a Cummins off of a Mercedes in a driveway before?
). We got lucky and stopped at a dealer for repairs but it made me realize that there are not really many "shade tree repairs" done on one of these rigs.
I've not owned my AS for very long, but I honestly feel that being able to repair almost anything on that P30 myself with parts that are readily available at auto stores and Chevy dealerships that don't cost an arm and a leg, and a coach that after 17 years has all of its original major systems fully operational is well worth the 10% loss of ride quality and all the hill climbing power in the world! Plus, itís pretty cool when people give you thumbs up as they pass you. I can tell you that never happened in any big white box I've driven.
Honestly I think you could buy a low end DP and get just that or you can spend a $1,000,000 on a bus that will outshine anything, but dollar for dollar, the AS on the P30 has my vote.