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2007 Allegro Bus 42QRP

Road Test, Review and In-Depth Inspection
Article Date: July, 2006


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I recently inspected a 2007 Allegro Bus 42QRP at King's Campers in Wausau, WI. Because this is the model we were most interested in purchasing, I gave it a very thorough inspection and took the time to write up my findings here for the benefit of anyone interested in purchasing this particular coach. I should mention that we did order one about month after this review.

The 2007 model year brought 45 changes to the Allegro Bus. A complete listing of these changes as supplied by Tiffin Motorhomes, as well as a 2007 Retail Price List (east coast) can be accessed at This Link. While none of these changes were radical departures from the 2006 model year, they are significant and really do give added value to the 2007 Allegro Bus. The 2006 model year brought one very significant change to the Allegro Bus. The basement access was redone to provide easier accessibility and larger compartment door size that actually increased the basement storage hatch size by 10". In the past, whenever a triple or quad slide floorplan was used, the basement hatch covers were fairly short due to the mechanism required to operate the slide-out. In 2006 the slide-out mechanism was changed from a below-the-slide system to a new system where the slide operating mechanisms were now side mounted. This, coupled with the new side hinged hatch covers, yielded a 10" increase in height. This innovative design is carried over into the 2007 model year.

The 42QDP and 42QRP floor plans are not available with propane furnaces and conventional water heaters. Instead, the 42' coaches are only available with hydronic heating, which is standard equipment. Normally, whenever you add a tag axle you decrease the basement storage space by 4' because the extra axle eats up that much storage room. So, comparing a 40' non-tag axle coach to a 42' tag axle coach you should theoretically lose 2' because you gain 2' in overall length but you take away 4' for the tag so the net loss is 2'. However, Tiffin did an excellent job of designing this coach around the hydronic heating system. By eliminating the two propane furnaces and the electric/gas hot water heater they were able to gain some valuable room, which was incorporated into storage space. By situating the Hydro Hot unit in a key spot they have vastly improved basement storage space. I found that instead of losing space, there was a very slight gain in storage space compared to my Allegro Bus 40DP and there was much more space than the Country Coach Allure with the 42' Siskiyou Summit floor plan. Tiffin did an excellent job engineering that room.

Exterior

The 42QRP that I viewed at King's Campers was in the Sunlit Sand color scheme.

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The above images show some of the changes made this year. First, the front and rear caps have been redesigned. No really radical changes but a few slight tasteful changes have been incorporated. Both the headlights and driving lights have been upgraded and some slight recontouring of the front cap was done. The older Trailblazer taillights were replaced by a pair of taillights and the engine access doors were enlarged to provide better access for service. Again, minor recontouring was done to the rear cap. Also, the side profile shows the new awnings and slide covers that are new for 2007. The awning and slide toppers are no longer exposed but are now encased in black covers that hide an ugly awning material, help protect it, and really give a high end look to the coach.

Several new features have been upgraded in the 2007 exteriors. The old oval plastic docking lamps are replaced by custom high intensity docking lamps that are integrated into some new molded fiberglass. The keyless entry panel is now incorporated into the new illuminated grab handle this year rather than being a separate item.

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The turned exhaust pipe extension has been replaced by a straight extension that doesn't stick out as far and is less susceptible to damage. The front mirrors have been upgraded to a new taller design. This gives much better visibility. The arms are a new sleeker design and incorporate integral turn signals.

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The 42QRP comes with three 15,000 BTU low profile air conditioner/heat pump units. A departure from previous years is the replacement of the Dometic air conditioners with the RVComfort Polar Mach units. They are still low profile but they look more like a residential A/C unit with a top fan. At first glance this appears to be an upgrade over the Dometic units previously used.

The usual tinted Fantastic Fan vent covers can be seen in this photo but an optional 100 watt solar panel is also shown. I didn't see this in the printed Tiffin price list but it was listed on the Tiffin window sticker at $1,050 MSRP.

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The entry door awning has been extended this year. The awning now covers the passenger side window as well as the entry door for increased protection.

An amber porch light is located over the entry and is controlled by a switch inside the doorway. A second light is located midship on the driver's side and is controlled by a second switch.

In this picture you can also make out the black anodized awning hardware that replaces the brushed aluminum.

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The Chassis

This unit came with the Spartan Mountain Master GT tag axle chassis. Both Spartan and Freightliner both use the Cummins 400 ISL engine and Allison 3000 transmission. There are differences in the front suspension and steering component vendors but this isn't very significant. The adjustable steering wheel is controlled by a pedal on the Freightliner and by a lever on the Spartan. The wheelbase is identical between the two. The wheelbase from the drive axle to the steer axle is 283". The tag axle sits exactly 48" behind the drive axle. Some chassis builders rate the wheelbase from the front axle to the mid-point between the two rear axles. If this is the number you prefer to use, then 307" would be that number. The wheel rims on the tag axles do differ between the two. Both chassis builders utilize rear drum brakes but Freightliner uses air disc brakes on the front axle while Spartan uses drums. However, Spartan's 5" wide shoes are larger than the 4" wide shoes typically used so you probably won't notice much difference in stopping power.

Freightliner mounts the tag axle rims the same as the steer axle while Spartan mounts the tag axle rims the same as the drive axle. Either method works but the style is different. My personal preference is the 18 wheeler look of the Spartan.

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When you open the rear engine access covers you'll immediately notice the difference between the Freightliner and Spartan. The plastic coolant surge tank located dead center in the Freightliner is replaced by a steel surge tank with glass sight vial in the Spartan. This tank is located off to one side to enable better access to the engine for changing belts or other tasks. The fuel and coolant filters are conveniently located right at the rear of the coach so you won't have fuel running down your arm any more when changing the filter.

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The biggest difference between the two is in the cooling systems. Freightliner has a 39" x 22" radiator grill with a 1,050 sq in radiator. Unfortunately, the Charge Air Cooler, air conditioning, and transmission cooler are all stacked in series. This tends to transfer heat from one cooler to the next. Spartan uses a vertically stacked cooler design so that clean airflow is provided to each cooler. The radiator is much larger in the Spartan and at 1,326 sq in it should help alleviate some of the cooling issues common to Freightliner based Allegro Busses in the past. The grill area is increased to 46" x 27" to accommodate this increased cooling capability. In the picture below you can see the row of bolts behind the grill that separate the radiator from the CAC.

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While not shown in any of the above images. I noticed a distinct difference in the fuel fill hoses between a 2006 42QDP/FL and the 2007 QRP/Spartan. The Spartan fill hoses have a definite slope to them whereas the Freightliner hoses had a sag to them and had to run up to get to the fuel tanks. The clean pitched drop on the Spartan tank should eliminate some of the past issues with getting enough fuel into the tank and minimize foaming.


Interior - General

The 2007 Allegro Bus interior has a few significant decor changes for 2007. The ceramic tile has been upgraded and incorporates a black accent tile pattern. This particular coach had the Espresso interior which is very attractive and has a classy look without getting too garish. You can go mild or wild from this point by choosing the Oasis or Calypso interior decors.

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The coach is available with either a carpeted living area or a full tile living area. This coach had the full tile option.

The ceiling treatment has also been changed this year. Gone are the unattractive fluorescent lights of previous years. Instead, there are three rows of recessed quartz lights. These lights emit a nice glow that is a perfect balance between the stark white of a fluorescent light and the dim amber glow of an incandescent light. Each light is fitted with a frosted white glass lens. Each row in the main salon is controlled by a separate wall switch so that you can illuminate only the center row, either or both of the side rows, or all at once. Gone too are the air conditioner intake vents. The A/C intakes are now ducted, which makes for a very clean ceiling line. The easily cleanable vinyl ceiling material is retained from previous years.

Interior - Cockpit Area

The Allegro Bus comes standard with the 32" LCD TV. Located just behind the passenger's seat in an overhead compartment is the cabinet that holds your satellite receiver, DVR, VCR, or DVD player. To the left of the driver, an overhead cabinet holds the control panels for the Hydro Hot system, the front slide-out controls, the tank monitoring panel, the KingDome control, and the inverter control panels. This coach also featured an optional Onan Automatic Generator Start module.

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The pilot's seat is surrounded by a wrap around dash with conveniently placed controls. A side console handles various lighting and auxiliary switches as well as the park brake and transmission selector control panel. The Spartan gauges differ from Freightliner in that the white dials and individual auxiliary gauges are replaced by a three unit black faced cluster in the Spartan.

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The copilot's seat is equally comfy. A Tiffin Motorhomes logo is embossed into the Flexsteel captain's chairs.

A slide-out laptop computer desk is standard. This desk can be used for a laptop as well as non-electronic duties. The hinged solid surface top lifts to reveal plenty of storage space and the heavy duty ball bearing slides easily support the weight of the desk.

The interior grab handle is now illuminated, just like the exterior grab handle and a convenient toe space is provided to store small items. My personal preference would be to add a small black nylon cargo net in that space to help keep its contents from falling out during transit.

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Interior - Main Salon and Dinette

The main salon features a Flexsteel Ultra Leather DE sofa sleeper. The darker colors and texture of the DE Ultra Leather are a nice upgrade from the older off-white Ultra Leather and gives the furniture a very "like leather" look. Other options on the passenger side are a cloth sofa and a Flexsteel Ultra Leather Air Hide-A-Bed. With the relocation of the slideout mechanism to the sides, rather than underneath, Tiffin chose to incorporate small end caps with storage cabinets next to the sofa arms. While not huge, these cabinets are great for storing TV remotes, pocket books, and other small items. The actual slideout mechanism is hidden from view by an attractive vinyl cover that self-retracts when the slide is extended. The driver's side featured a cloth sofa on this model but a number of options are available, such as recliner with computer desk, dual Euro recliners, etc.

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The dinette is available in booth style or free standing table with built-in cabinets, which is the way this Bus was set up. The solid surfaced table extends by pulling out and easily stores for transit. The solid surface buffet counter really adds a lot of space to the table and can be used to place serving dishes, LCD computer screens, or decorations on. The extra cabinet space is very handy and can be used for dining related storage or computer supplies. The usual modem and power jacks are found beneath the table. The Espresso window treatment is classy looking and helps hide the dirt and smudges typical to a lighter color. The dinette chairs are very comfortable and an improvement over my 2004 era chairs. Two additional folding chairs are supplied and typically stored in the bedroom closet. Both overhead and sconce light fixtures are supplied in addition to the recessed quartz lights. Just in the corner of this picture you can also get a glimpse of the driver's side cloth couch and pillow fabric.

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Interior - Galley

The galley area is very spacious in the 42QRP. Like the 42QDP, the galley offers the slide-out galley workstation as standard equipment. This solid surface counter topped unit extends via some heavy duty slides and serves as a large and solid work surface as well as providing additional counter room when needed. The three drawers within this unit are very deep and have full extensions to allow easy access to their contents. The galley area features a full ceramic tile backsplash that wraps around the countertop. The dual tub stainless steel sink features a new brushed pewter finish Moen faucet this year that hides the water spots typical to chrome faucets. A handy matching soap dispenser is also included. It's reservoir bottle can be removed and filled from underneath the counter or filled from the top by pulling the hand pump element out of the holder. A funnel is included for this purpose. A Sharp convection-Microwave oven is mounted right over the 2 burner cook top. The cook top is not visible in the following picture because the solid surface hinged panel is covering it.

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This coach featured the optional Fischer-Paykel dishwasher. This unit is located underneath the two burner cook top and cannot be ordered if you opt for the full oven option.

While a 4 door 12 cu ft Norcold refrigerator is standard, this coach featured the optional residential refrigerator. This is an Amana 22 cu ft side by side refrigerator with ice and water in the door. A set of snap latches have been discretely located near the top of the doors to keep the doors from opening during transit. This unit is very roomy and the compressor based design used in residential units offers more accurate temperature control than an ammonia evaporative based RV unit. When ordering this option an upgraded 3,000 watt Xantrex RV3012 inverter is also included to give more wattage when traveling.

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Interior - Bath Area

This is where the 42QRP floorplan begins to seriously differ from the 42QDP. While the 42QDP has the second sink in the bedroom area, the 42QRP relocates it to the open bath area. It then flops the shower and toilet areas from side to side. Finally, the washer-dryer is relocated from the rear bedroom corner in the 42QDP to opposite the shower in the 42QRP.


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42QDP Floorplan


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42QRP Floorplan


The bathroom vanity features the same solid surface top and backsplash as used in the galley. The pewter finished faucet and soap dispenser also match although the bathroom faucet is not the single lever Moen as used in the kitchen. Instead it uses a French style dual handle design. The shower is located immediately next to the vanity and is covered in rain glass to hide any water spots. The angled design of the shower offers plenty of elbow room inside the shower.

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On the opposite side of the bath area is the toilet and laundry areas. The toilet room has a new fixture for 2007. The electric flush commode is now gone, replaced by a quality porcelain fixture with integral spray hose. The toilet room tapers out and is much wider than the 42QDP floor plan, which features a narrower rectangular toilet room. This gives the occupant plenty of elbow room but it also gives a much wider vanity top. The sink is offset to one side and there is plenty of vanity room. In the same manner as the vanity, the upper medicine cabinet is also much wider and offers greater storage space as well as more mirror surface. The window is now trimmed in cherry wood and the Venetian blinds are contained within the trim to eliminate banging when in transit.

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The 42QRP has a large full-height cabinet in the bath area that is accessible from the main aisle. This cabinet can be a storage area or can incorporate a washer-dryer setup. You have your choice of the Splendide 2100 combo washer-dryer with overhead storage or a stackable washer-dryer with no storage. The Splendide will run on 120 volt power but the Whirlpool stackable dryer requires 240 volts in order to operate. This means you can only use the dryer when plugged in to 50 amp shore power or when running the generator set, which is a 120/240 VAC unit. The Whirlpool washer is stackable but it is a top loader, not a front loader. Regardless of what your preferences are regarding washers-dryers and your own specific storage requirements, you should be able to configure this area to your liking.

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Interior - Bedroom Area

By relocating the washer-drier to a midship position, the entire back of the coach was opened up for a new design. The floorplan drawing shows a full width closet but in reality, this area is segmented. The sliding closet doors take up 2/3 of the back wall. To the left of the sliding doors is the remaining 1/3, which houses a shirt closet with a pair of very large drawers underneath. This shirt closet is necessary because when you open the sliding doors on the right side you will find the 120 volt breaker panels and 12 volt fuse panel. You can store things in cubbyholes behind them but that requires getting at them from the other side of the closet so it's not overly handy. Still, the shirt closet on the left side restores the space that would have been available had the breaker panels been somewhere else so it's not a loss of space, just a rearrangement of it.

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The curbside slide-out features a full length solid surface top. There are lots of drawers as well as a laundry hamper. The flat screen LCD TV has a compartment beneath it for an optional DVD player. It should be noted that this DVD compartment has now been eliminated. All future models will come with a combo TV with integral VCR and DVD players built into the TV. The existing cabinet has now been eliminated and there is more open space between the TV and the countertop.

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The driver's side slide-out comes standard with a queen bed but a King bed is optional as are Select Comfort mattresses for either size. This particular coach had the Select Comfort adjustable King Size air mattress. The area underneath the bed is shared between the slide-out mechanism/ Select Comfort pump and open storage area near the foot of the bed. The bed is supported in the open position by gas struts. Solid surfaced nightstands are included. The queen bed utilizes the same configuration but the nightstands are larger. There is no shirt closet alongside the bed as in the 42QDP so you do get two windows for flow through ventilation with either bed selection.

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Basement Storage and Utilities

The increased basement storage height really does add to the storage capabilities and accessibility. Shown below are the side hinged doors and the higher lower edge of the slide-out due to the relocation of the mechanism from the bottom of the slide to the sides. The pass through area is cavernous. You can see the 3,000 watt inverter that is mounted in the rearmost compartment in the first picture. The second picture shows a close-up of how it is suspended from the ceiling so as not to intrude upon and storage space.

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The batteries are located in the two rearmost compartments on the curbside. The rearmost compartment contains the four primary coach batteries as well as the main fuse, manual disconnects, and distribution points. The forward compartment has a baffle that covers the batteries underneath it. Freightliner typically uses this area for the chassis batteries but Spartan places their two chassis batteries in the rear engine compartment. On the Spartan chassis 42QRP Tiffin has placed 4 more coach batteries, giving a total of 8 to supply the house needs and the inverter.

Rather than the usual 6 volt flooded batteries, these are the Interstate Battery DCS-88BT series of batteries. These are 12 volt AGM batteries, with an 88 amp-hr rating. This will give you 704 amp-hrs versus the typical 440 amp-hrs of the typical four 6 volt battery setup. The AGMs charge faster, can be drawn down farther, and do not outgas hydrogen. They utilize electrolyte impregnated into fiberglass wraps so no water is used. These are truly maintenance free batteries so you can throw your battery hydrometer and water filling bottle away.

If you are looking at a 42QRP on a Freightliner chassis you will have to verify what battery setup is used. Traditionally Freightliner uses this area for their chassis batteries. If Tiffin has any plans to relocate them and add the extra coach batteries to this area you'll have to verify that with them. The facts as stated above only pertain to the Spartan chassis.

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The water service bay is very spacious and contains a water hose reel and water filter as well as the usual valves and fittings required. A paper towel holder and soap dispenser are also included. There are also two coax connections in this bay for a remote satellite dish and cable TV inputs.

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The electrical service bay is located ahead of the rear axle. This bay contains the 50 amp power cord on a power retractable cord reel. It also contains the central vacuum system and provides access to the Hydro Hot system controls. Additional access to the Hydro Hot system is available from the curbside if needed.

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The Road Test

After having previously driven a 2006 42QDP on a Freightliner chassis, I decided to compare this 2007 42QRP on a Spartan chassis by test driving it. The various mechanical differences were detailed earlier in this review but those were static tests. Naturally, the power and performance was identical. And it should be given that they both use the same Cummins 400 ISL and are of identical weights and GVW ratings. I found that they both rode well and handled well. Most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference and would be pleased with either chassis. While Freightliner advertises a 56 degree wheel cut and Spartan advertises a 55 degree wheel cut I found no difference in turning radius. Unless you want to get out and measure with a very accurate ruler, for all practical purposes they are identical and very maneuverable. I found them to turn sharper than my 40' 276" wheelbase Allegro Bus with 50 degree wheel cut.

One of my biggest questions was brakes. The Freightliner uses front disc brakes while the Spartan uses front drums. Spartan does use wider 5" wide brake shoes compared to the 4" used on Freightliner drum brake front axles though so the only way to tell the difference was to get out there and stomp on them. I found that the stopping power was identical when stopping from 45 MPH. Once I got the coach up to 77 MPH I did find that the Freightliner's front discs did have a slightly better stopping power. Not substantial, but definitely noticeable.

I also found the Spartan's Tuthill IFS and steering system to have a better feel than Freightliner's ZF system with TRW steering box. The Spartan just seemed to be "less numb" when feeling the road, yet it did an excellent job of not providing vibration and kick-back when on rough pavement. I was also able to test them both in some respectable side winds. While both coaches tracked nice and straight during side gusts, the Spartan didn't lean as far as the Freightliner and always gave a more solid feeling.

The few things I found that I didn't like on this road test were very minor. I noticed that the Jake brake rocker switch was a standard rocker switch on the side switch panel. While it is located to the far right in the last row, you'll either have to look at it or else feel around on the switches to get to that position. The 2006 42QDP on a Freightliner (as well as my own 2004 40DP) had a paddle type switch for the Jake brake. This keeps it from blending in with the other switches and it's real easy to find it in a hurry without taking your eyes off the road. If this were my coach I'd order a replacement Freightliner switch and put it in instead.

On the Tiffin end of things, the color rear view monitor was nice and sharp and the side mounted cameras automatically switched it when activated by the turn signals. I didn't particularly care for the monitor location though. In my 2004 it's located in the section of the dash over the center console. On the 2006/2007 models the monitor is moved closer to the driver. I found that when I was holding the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 O' clock positions my right hand would mask the left half of the monitor from view unless I lowered my hand down to a lower location of the wheel. I use the rear view monitor all the time when overtaking so that part didn't appeal to me. I also noticed that you have to lean forward to reach the switch to adjust the mirrors, then lean back to see what you just did. On our 2004 I can reach the mirror controls without leaning forward. This lets me make minor adjustments and instantly see the results without having to bob back and forth. My suggestion would be to place the controls on the spacious side console.

Also, it was hot when we drove. The temps were 103 degrees and the humidity was through the roof so it was not very comfortable. When the 10KW Onan generator was fired up, it didn't take long at all for the three 13,500 BTU air conditioners to cool the coach down and keep it there. These units had the vertical fans and I found them to be much better at cooling than my 15,000 BTU Dometic Penguins. The ducted air conditioners also removed the intake vents from the ceiling. This took away the sound normally associated with rooftop A/C units and was a serious improvement that resulted in a much quieter cooling system. Speaking of generators, most RV generators are "in-phase" meaning that you only get 120 volts. This is done to provide maximum power in any one area of the breaker panel. However, the larger 10KW Onan in the 42QRP has plenty of capacity. This generator is wired for 120/240 split phase. So, if you do order the optional stackable washer-dryer you can run the dryer (which requires 240 volts AC) from the generator as well as 50 amp shore power. You can also wire in a separate outlet to power your house in the event of a power failure at home.

I did love the Spartan's electronic warning and information display. The Freightliner display is impossible to see in sunlight. Sure, you can get a new white LCD display to replace it but they get pretty bright when driving at night. Plus, the information it displays is fairly useless. The Spartan had an excellent amber backlit display that could easily be seen. When scrolling through the menus I found all sorts of information that I never had before, such as turbo boost, turbo inlet air temperature, miles to empty, and a host of other customizable menus. This display is a real winner.

One last thing - regarding tire sizes. Spartan normally supplies the Mountain Master GT chassis with Michelin 295/80R22.5 tires. Because the Allegro Bus has been using 275/R8022.5 tires all these years, the wheel wells are not large enough to accommodate them. There has been a ton of misinformation floating around the web stating that these tires won't allow you to carry enough weight and your front axle rating needs to be reduced so you should buy another brand. Well, this is false. The tires that are on the Spartan chassis 42QRP are Michelin XZA3 275/R8022.5 load range H. Each tire is rated for 7,160 lbs at 120 PSI. Therefore, the tires can handle 14,320 lbs. The front axle weight rating is 14,300 lbs so the tires are not undersized. In fact they are 20 lbs oversized. It is true that a larger 295 series tire would have more load carrying capacity. This would allow you to carry the same load as the 275's but at a lower tire pressure. Supposedly this would give you a smoother ride but after this road test I have to say that these 275's pumped up give an excellent ride. I can "hear" the tar strips a bit more due to the higher pressure carried in them over the 12,000 lb front end and 105 PSI tires on my 2004 Bus but I couldn't "feel" them so it doesn't affect the ride.

Summary

The 2007 Allegro Bus line does offer quite a few improvements. With the exception of the Spartan chassis, there were no radical changes this year. But, a list of 45 changes all added up to make the 2007 Allegro Bus a very attractive coach. That, coupled with the new 42QRP floor plan availability should help keep the Allegro Bus at the top of the list of many prospective RV Buyers.

Source

Tiffin Motorhomes
(256) 356-8661
www.tiffinmotorhomes.com

King's Campers
(800) 818-5464
www.kingscampers.com


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