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Old 01-20-2018, 12:43 PM   #1
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How Do You Describe The Ride?

Hi All, While I've lurked in the past, this is my first post. I currently own two busses (Prevost and Flxible), I attended the Super Show this week and am intrigued with the Airstream Sprinter models. Both the Interstate and Atlas models have piqued my interest. So, here's my first question:

What is the best way to describe the ride of Sprinter based motorhomes? I fully understand it will be quite different than a Prevost, but is it smooth and quiet like a car or is it more like a truck or van?

Also, how about the engine and road noise? What's it like behind the wheel or in the cabin/salon while at highway speeds?

Speaking of highway speeds, what do you feel is the safe driving speed? How do you handle 70mph speed limits?

And one more...Wind. do you feel it in these models?

Thanks in advance for your patience with this newbie!
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:15 PM   #2
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It is comfortable and smooth. I would call it "near luxury" class. Quite remarkable to get such a ride in a heavy vehicle with duallies and such. Not at all like a bus or truck.

But note that there are concerns about 2018 model year modifications which may have substantially increased noise level. See ScottP's thread.

As for speed, I can keep up with all traffic, easily into 70+ mph if needed. However I have the Renntech tune which adds another 100 or so horsepower and torque .

In a nutshell, it feels and drives like a very good car/SUV. Seating position is high which makes even a more comfortable drive due to high visibility in front.
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:28 PM   #3
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Not bad

I have a 2013 Airstream Interstate EXT Lounge. It has standard leaf springs in the rear. The ride up front, for the driver and 3 passengers is very comfortable. The ride in the rear can be terrible, depending on road conditions. Joked about giving helmets to rear passengers.

Newer models, and retrofits, with air-supension in rear are reputed to be very nice. May just be my next refit.....

Highway driving (70+) is much better than I expected. Driver fatigue is nearly a thing of the past, if you use common sense on rest periods.

My unit is "pre-crosswind assist" so others may have it even better. My wife and I both have not experienced unmanagable wind effects on the road. Sure a high profile vehicle will rock and roll sometimes, but it is not severe.
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:43 PM   #4
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Our Interstate is generally a delight to drive. Newness of tires makes a big difference, at 18k miles and 65% tread I put new tires on the front and noticed a big improvement (had a damaged tire). I consider it pretty quiet (we drive a 2006 Lexus SUV as a comparison) and it is very smooth.

With that said, we do get side to side sway driving in/out of parking lots and on uneven terrain. So I'm considering Sumo Springs and a stiffer sway bar if we keep ours much longer. And when we're on poor roads, the suspension does not soak up everything so it's not as much fun. Side winds or following anywhere near the rear end of a big rig decreases the fun factor.

But overall, I like driving it... feels like I'm in a manageable Class A (as if I'd know...). As others have pointed out, the side windows are quite tall and you can't move the visors to the side to shield the sun cause that would interfere with the side airbags, so the solar heat is significant from the side. Adding tinting makes a big difference there.

Keeping up at 70 is no problem and climbing long grades is easy even without the engine mods (though I'd love to have that too!), where you'll do better than a 4 cylinder Civic, but you're clearly not as athletic as a V6 Accord. In Utah with a speed limit of 80, I chose to keep it at 70-75 cause it just seemed to be less relaxing at those higher speeds.
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Old 01-20-2018, 01:50 PM   #5
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It is a silver bullet and drives smooth like a car (you still know/feel that you are driving a heavy vehicle).

Seats are very comfortable.

Very quiet but this is our first AI (2018). Others find the 2018 noisier, we find ours quiet.

Speeds in the 70mph range are easy to get to and you have to keep yourself under control to avoid going faster.

Love the leather wrapped steering wheel. Overall luxury feel.
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Old 01-20-2018, 04:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by GadgetGuru View Post
What is the best way to describe the ride of Sprinter based motorhomes? I fully understand it will be quite different than a Prevost, but is it smooth and quiet like a car or is it more like a truck or van?
It rides like a van because it IS a van. The older T1N Interstates with single rear wheels ride better than the newer NCV3 Interstates because they have less un-sprung weight in the rear. But no one will mistake the ride for a passenger car. Rear seat passengers all the way in the back will find the ride to be rough, because they're sitting behind the rear wheels and every bump is magnified by the lever effect (every inch of bounce up or down at the rear axle is more than an inch up or down at the seat).

There are improvements one can make to make the ride smoother; on mine I added Koni adjustable shocks years ago and Sumo Springs on all four corners just a couple of months ago.
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Also, how about the engine and road noise? What's it like behind the wheel or in the cabin/salon while at highway speeds?
The MB 3.0L v6 turbo-diesel is without a doubt the quietest diesel engine I've ever driven. Road noise is minor (but depends heavily on the road surface). You can easily hold a conversation with a front-seat passenger without raising your voice at all. Since normal speech is about 60dB, that puts the road noise somewhere around 55dB or less. At least for mine. Some newer Interstate owners (2017-2018 mostly) report more noise. But for comparison, it's much quieter than my 2013 Honda Fit subcompact and my former 2003 Dodge Durango.
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Speaking of highway speeds, what do you feel is the safe driving speed? How do you handle 70mph speed limits?
The Interstate easily handles 75mph speed limits on Interstate highways, though fuel economy drops quickly over 60mph.
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And one more...Wind. do you feel it in these models?
Newer models handle wind better than older models, due to an increased variety of stability control features. But even my 2012 Interstate is relatively tame with regard to crosswinds. I've only been forced partially out of my lane by wind once in six years— and that was in a howling thunderstorm on an elevated stretch of I-55 in Louisiana where there was absolutely nothing to block the wind coming off Lake Pontchartrain. In a crosswind, the van will try to weathervane, or point up into the wind, if you let it, because of the blocky rear end and cutaway nose; the crosswind acts more strongly on the rear than on the front. But I will admit, there will be times in high crosswinds when you don't dare take one hand off the wheel; I encountered this in the Texas panhandle near Amarillo, where the winds were so strong that the wind turbines in the wind farms near the highway were shutting down to prevent damage from over-speed on the propellers. But even then, I had no trouble staying in my lane, as long as I kept both hands on the wheel.

But whenever you see one of those yellow diamond "advisory" speeds on sharp turns or the like, you'll want to pay attention. Holding to those speeds will make driving your Interstate much more comfortable, and you can't push the advisory speed by more than 5mph without getting in trouble.
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Old 01-21-2018, 10:07 AM   #7
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Doing your homework regarding the air suspension should result in a quick “buy” decision.
If you are cruising at 80mph and approach an area of high winds or a long sweeping turn, slow down to 65mph.
Replace the 1975 Chevy Vega speakers with quality components. An amp will fit under the passenger seat. Road noise, what road noise?
3M Crystalline on side windows.
Stopping power is prodigious.
It climbs over the Rockies.
It’s the sports car of RV’s.
A 500 mile drive is long, but won’t wear you out.
You can go and park most anywhere.
If you start downsizing now and do so for 3 years, you might be able to get out of the Prevost, but I do admit to being jealous.
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:54 AM   #8
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I'd describe my experience with my 2014 EXT like Protagonist's. It is nowhere near driving a car, but on the open road I am happy with the noise, handling, and smoothness. It's what I would expect from such a vehicle. I do a fair amount of overnight driving with people sleeping on the bed in back, and I'll always have to wake them from sound sleep when I ultimately have to pull in to get fuel.
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Old 01-21-2018, 04:20 PM   #9
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Stopping power is prodigious.
I had to Google that!
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Old 01-21-2018, 04:30 PM   #10
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On anywhere like decent roads, the ride is great. Poor roads are a different story.

This last fall, I was hurrying south through eastern Oklahoma to get to a RV park before dark. The AI shook so bad that I thought the unit with the map lights was going to dislodge from the ceiling and end up in our laps. I periodically had to reach up and support it and it no longer seems as secure as before. The road was one long linear rumble strip.

Texas roads are generally quite good and the ride is fine.
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Old 01-21-2018, 08:04 PM   #11
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Having ridden with my parents in their Prevost over the years, you’ll definitely notice the rougher ride from the much shorter wheelbase and shocks. We have the AI GT 4x4, and the ride in the back over bumps nearly sends a back seat passenger airborne.

We do tow a Buick Envision AWD behind our GT, and over Colorado mountain passes, you certainly feel the extra weight with the reduced power/speeds.

The main benefit is the size and ability to boondock just about anywhere, but you will certainly notice a huge difference from where you’ve been in the comfort of the prevost on long bumpy roads. (New Mexico highways come to mind!)

Feel free to message me if you want more specifics! (& would love to know if you were part of the Prouds group!)
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:20 PM   #12
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I realize that much of this is subjective and dependent on road surfaces. Many thanks for the replies.

I'm still learning my way around this site and I'm sure there's existing links on using a tow vehicle and the limitations. I'll ask if there's any limitations on using a Jeep Wrangler with an Air Force One air braking system as a toad? Or, if there's an existing thread, a link would be greatly appreciated!

Again, Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:38 PM   #13
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I'm still learning my way around this site and I'm sure there's existing links on using a tow vehicle and the limitations. I'll ask if there's any limitations on using a Jeep Wrangler with an Air Force One air braking system as a toad? Or, if there's an existing thread, a link would be greatly appreciated!
There is at least one Interstate owner pulling a four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as a toad, but he's running very close to his allowable gross combined weight rating, if not slightly over. A two-door Wrangler should be well within your allowable weight limits.

Personally I routinely tow a 2013 Honda Fit hatchback, with a Roadmaster Invisibrake supplemental braking system permanently installed under the Honda's driver's seat (2700# curb weight, 3500# gross weight). Tows like it's not even there, and my Interstate only takes a 1mpg hit on fuel economy when towing it. I've racked up over 20,000 miles towing it so far, with no problems at all regarding handling or performance of the Interstate— and when the Invisibrake went out one time, the Interstate's own braking system was more than sufficient to stop both vehicles— with only a slight increase in stopping distance— until I could get the Invisibrake repaired.

As for your limits, there are at least two: (1) Gross Combined Weight Rating of 15,250 pounds, which requires you to know what your Interstate's normally-loaded weight is; and (2) Allowable Trailer Weight Rating, which is 5000 pounds for an EXT NCV3 Interstate or a T1N Interstate, and 7500 pounds for a non-EXT NCV3 Interstate. Whichever is less. In theory, if you loaded your Interstate to its full 11,030-pound gross weight, your trailer/toad capacity would be limited to a mere 4220 pounds.

So your allowable weight for a toad would be somewhere between 4220 pounds and 7500 pounds, depending on exactly how you've loaded your Interstate.

On the plus side, unlike a trailer, a toad pulled four-down has no tongue weight to speak of except for half the towbar's weight; the load on your hitch is a straight horizontal pull. So you don't need to include tongue weight in your Interstate's loaded weight.
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