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Our 2017 Monaco Diplomat 43G

 
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2017 Diplomat Brochure

 

 

In November of 2016 we traded in our 2007 Diplomat, which we had owned for ten years, for a new 2017 Diplomat now made by REV Group.  REV bought Monaco from Navistar in 2013, and also owns the Fleetwood and American Coach brands.  The new Diplomat displays many of the technological improvements that have taken place in the motorhome industry over the past decade.  It's also almost three feet longer, giving us a bit more flexibility with the floor plan to include some upgrades we were looking for like the king size bed and separate mid and rear lavatories.   The Diplomat is now an all-electric coach (no propane on board).  Accordingly, it comes standard with a bank of six 6-volt deep cycle batteries, and a 2800 watt pure sine wave inverter which feeds every 120v outlet (no more dead outlets when using the inverter).  There are many amenities on this coach that we never dreamed about when we bought our first Diplomat 10 years ago - the duel-zone heated floors and the "Firefly" keypad network house control system, just to mention two of them. 

 
     
 
     
 
Shown above are some exterior and interior pictures of our coach.  On the road-side there is a full wall slide, while on the curb-side are two slides for the living room/galley and the bedroom, which together allow for an enormously spacious interior.  We opted for a full upholstered dinette, rather than the pull-out table with chairs.  Hot water and heat are provided by an Aqua Hot that runs on diesel fuel and/or electric.  The appliances include a full size Whirlpool residential refrigerator, a stacked washer and dryer, an induction cook-top, an oversized 30" microwave/convection oven, and a dishwasher.  The king size bed is adjustable with an electric motor raising and lowering the head to any position   It is shown here in it's full upright position.  Behind the bedroom you can see the full rear bath.  There is another half bath in the front of the coach between the galley and the bedroom.  The flooring consists of high-gloss heated ceramic tile throughout the coach (two heating zones), except for the carpet on the full-wall slide.  Under the 50" living room TV is an attractive electric fireplace that actually throws out a good amount of heat.  If you look closely at the roadside exterior picture above, you can see the outline of an emergency egress exit behind the full-wall slide that can be accessed from the rear bathroom.  It is a full exit door that consists of a ramp and staircase to the ground.  (See inside picture here.)  That is an option I'd never seen before on any coach.  All lighting, both interior and exterior, utilizes LED fixtures - no more florescent or incandescent bulbs to burn out.  Interior LED lights throughout the coach are also dimmable. 
 
The 2017 Diplomat comes in five different floor plans.  We chose the "43G" plan that features a full rear bath, kitchen pantry, large pull-out "L sofa" (with hide-a-bed), European recliner, and full king size inclinable bed.  We replaced the pull-out table and chairs with a full leather dinette option with storage below.  It's a "wide open look" with sliding wooden pocket doors which isolate the bedroom and bath when closed. 

Click on the floor plan image to see an animated version. 

Here is our complete photo album with a lot more pictures, each of which can be enlarged for detailed viewing.  Many have explanatory comments included, which you can read by clicking on the "quotation box" shown on the picture.  You can also view the 2017 Diplomat brochure HERE.  Of course, a motorhome is never really yours until you've drilled some holes in it and changed some things around to suite yourself.  See our Mods Page to review the holes we've drilled.

The Chassis

The new and innovative chassis is one of the best features of our new coach.  The 2017 Diplomat is built on the Freightliner Custom XCM Chassis - the "M" referring to "modular rail" (as opposed to lowered rail or raised rail).  As you can see it in the picture here, the rails are bridged straight across (front to back), with a lowered engine position.  The chassis are actually shipped with a simple "transit bridge" which REV removes and replaces with their own bridge (also called the foundation) which is customized to the coach.  This is more economical and also gives the coach builder a lot of flexibility for space utilization.  The two center bridge rails are always full I-beams.

The power plant is a Cummins ISL9 Engine rated at 450 HP.  FCCC makes two classes of motorhome chassis which they customize for the various coach manufacturers they supply - the XC Series, which is generally used with power plants up to 450 HP, and the SL Series, which is for the largest motorhomes, usually in excess of 450 HP.  We had an FCCC XC chassis on our first coach, a 1999 Fleetwood Discovery, and I have always admired that chassis for its performance, integrity, and maneuverability for this class of motorhome.  They have also offered excellent customer support to their end-user customers over the years, which they continue to do.  The chassis just seems to get better year after year, and this latest XCM chassis under out new Diplomat is no exception.  Here is a list of specs for the XCM chassis, and here is some interesting information from Monaco's web site.   

 

These are the features I like best about this chassis...

Maneuverability:  The 60 front wheel cut has always been an FCCC trademark, but the new UltraSteer B-Series Passive Steering Tag Axle actually steers the rear wheels to follow the front at speeds less than 20 mph, thereby significantly tightening the turning radius and avoiding tire skid.  FCCC claims this improves the curb-to-curb turning radius by 17% over conventional tag axles.  If you apply the math, that means that a 43' motorhome with UltraSteer will turn in approximately the same radius as a conventional 36' motorhome.  I cannot prove that, but I can definitely say that this coach turns tighter than our previous 40' 2007 Diplomat.  You can dump the air suspension on the tag axle anytime you need to, and it automatically dumps when the transmission is in reverse.

Here is a YouTube video which shows how the UltraSteer Axle works.

   
Performance & Comfort:  ZF Independent Front Air Suspension, combined with the V-Ride rear suspension, the integrated transverse beam at the rear end of the trailing arms, six huge Neway air bags and six outboard mounted Sachs shock absorbers all work together to provide the utmost in riding comfort and reduced sway when turning or changing lanes.  The improvement over the Roadmaster R8RR chassis under our 2007 Diplomat is absolutely remarkable.  This coach literally drives, and rides, like a luxury automobile.

Here is a YouTube video with information about the V-Ride Suspension.

   
Safety:  The Bendix front disk anti-lock brakes and rear drum anti-lock brakes are much more responsive than the brakes on our 2007 Dip were.  I have to admit that it took me a little while to learn not to hit the brakes as hard on the new coach.  

Also, the 2-stage Engine Compression Brake (you can select "High" or "Low" with the switch) performs significantly better than the butterfly-valve exhaust brake on our last coach. 

   
Convenience:  I really like the Air Deflation Suspension System that works with the updated PowerGear 4-point hydraulic leveling system to provide an auto-air-dump feature.  No more need to manually dump the air.  Also, the newer PowerGear 4-point system offers more support for the coach; and automatic leveling that works much more smoothly than our previous Roadmaster 3-point system did in "automatic mode".  (I was truly surprised and pleased to see the improvements to the PowerGear leveling system over the past 10 years.)

I also appreciate the 150 gallon fuel tank, which means I can go 50% further between fuel stops.   Of course you can fill it from either side of the coach.   Both of the front two storage bays are pass-through bays, with roll-out bed trays, that are open to either side of the coach.  This makes getting to things in storage much more convenient.  No more getting down on my knees to dig around the storage bays.  The Aqua Hot 400-D on this coach does not pre-heat the engine but the engine does contain a 1,500 watt electric block heater for cold weather starts. 

   
Integrity:  Finally, FCCC just seems to build a "tighter" chassis for the new Diplomats than the old Roadmaster chassis.  It's hard to explain, but I remember on our old Freightliner chassis (under our first coach) that we NEVER had a mouse problem.  Mice were a constant problem with the 2007 Dip, despite our many attempts to seal them out.  But so far, I have not seen a single sign of any such problem with this new coach.  Keeping my fingers crossed, that will continue.  Also REV builds the bridge module with full I-beam center rails attached fore and aft with an array of aero-space grade huck bolts.  The walls are fastened to the chassis via an inverted "V" interlock channel offering additional integrity. 
   

The "Big Top"

The Big Top is "home" for the Diplomat.  This galvanized steel framed shelter from Big Top Manufacturing keeps the motor home nice and clean (and dry) all year.  It contains a 30 amp RV hook-up to keep the batteries charged.  There is a small personnel door on the side, and the large door rolls up with a winch from inside.  The frame is well trussed, and anchored to the ground. The translucent PVC coated polyester vinyl membrane cover is then stretched over top, and secured to the frame with cables and ties.  It blocks UV rays, but lets in sunlight.

The garage is 42' long, so the new 43.5' coach no longer fits inside the door.  Unfortunately, the front 2.5 feet of the new Diplomat will not fit inside.  When I built this enclosure back in 1999, it was for a 36' Fleetwood Discovery.  I should have planned for larger motorhomes in the future. You can order these in any length and width you need.

 

The Toad

Our current "toad" is a 2013 GMC Acadia Denali.  The Acadia was completely re-styled for 2013.  It is quite attractive with its LED trimmed headlights and wrap-around rear windows.  At first glance it looks like a big SUV, but it is a mid-size cross-over with a 3.6L V-6 engine.  It is in the same class as the Ford Explorer, with similar amenities, but has more cargo room and leg room inside.  The AWD version is easy to tow with all wheels down.  The only special consideration for towing this vehicle is that you MUST pull a 50 amp main fuse when you tow.  I made this very easy by installing a high-current fuse bypass switch next to the fuse box under the hood. 

With a curb weight of 4850 lbs., we upgraded our 15-year-old Blue Ox Aladdin tow bar to the heavier Blue Ox Aventa for an additional mearsure of safety.  We also replaced the US Gear electronic Unified Tow Brake with the SMI AirForce One air brake system

 

Going with the flow...  RV Industry Marketing and Ownership Growth

When I originally built this website in 2007, RVIA (The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association) reportorted that 8 million US households owned an RV's.  That representsed 1 in every 12 vehicle owning households and represents a 58% increase since 1980, and a 15% increase just since 2001.  2006 was a peak year for the industry with 390,500 RV's manufactured, represting over 14.7 billion dollars in retail value.  Now, seven years later, I thought it would be interesting to look back and see the effects of the recent recession on RV lifestyle and purchases.  As expected, 2008 and 2009 reflected record reductions in in RV production with only 165,700 being produced in 2009.  Many RV companies went out of business during those years.  Long-time industry standard, Monaco Coach, filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and in 2009 when Navistar bought the Monaco assets there were only 20 employees left in the company that had been experiencing record highs just a few years before. 

Surprisingly, however, the industry seemed to recover overnight.  2010 brought a 46.2% growth in that year alone, and started a renewed growth trend that has continued to this day.  By 2012, production had increased another 17.3%, with an average of an additional 10% growth every year since then through 2015.  The RV Lifestyle is growing as well, as more people come to understand that RVing is a cost-effective way to enjoy travel and outdoor activities with family and friends, despite record fuel cost increases in recent years.  Today, RVIA reports that 9 million US households own RV's, up from the 8 million mentioned above for 2007.  More people every year are being attracted by the RV Lifestyle.  Check out the RVIA website for more information concerning industry trends.

Our own family started enjoying family camping back in the early 70's about the time our first son was born.  Our first RV was a 1968 VW bus camper.  The new Diplomat is the sixth RV for our family.  Actually people have been enjoying "motor homes" almost since the invention of the automobile.  Click here to see some pictures of old and unusual motorhomes I've found.  If you enjoy pictures and stories of vintage motorhomes, check out these three books.

 

    
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