Celebrating its second year in business, start- up motorhome manufacturer Nexus RV and its cadre of 30 experienced craftspeople have hit the pavement running with several floorplans, lengths and features they believe define the best of Class B-plus and Class C motorhome living.
The factory-direct builder in Elkhart, Ind., is focusing on two distinct lines: the conventional 8-foot, 5-inch-wide cabover Class C Phantom, and its upscale, sporty 8-foot-wide brother, the streamlined Viper, which the company calls a Class B-plus. Regardless of class distinction, each line and plan caters to a specific audience, including those buyers who are looking to migrate to a smaller, more convenient and economical footprint.
The 29V is the largest Viper floorplan in the lineup and its three slides create even more room: The forward cabin has opposing slides and the rear bedroom features a streetside slide. In travel mode, the seat belt-equipped curbside dinette and streetside sofa bed nearly meet. This setup allows easy conversation among passengers, the driver and co-pilot. It also creates a 16-inch-wide, arrow-straight aisle running nearly the length of the motorhome. That means it’s easy to access the refrigerator or use the bathroom when the slides are retracted. In camp, when the slides are extended, a roomy 5-by-9-foot cabin floor is revealed and provides plenty of room for guests, food and entertaining.
The streamlined silhouette of the 29V trades the conventional cabover queen bed setup for a complete entertainment and media storage center fitted into an aerodynamic front cap. Nexus has enlarged the cabin-to-cockpit entry, which creates more ergonomically convenient access to the cab, and the optional ($300) swivel base copilot seat adds more cabin seating.
The 32-inch LCD HD TV centered above the cab access is visible from anywhere in the cabin and comes standard with an Xtreme Sound Bar theater sound system. Media and general storage cabinets – finished in the motorhome’s dark cherry tone and with smoked glass door inserts – flank the cabin TV and provide plenty of space for the standard DVD player plus a month’s worth of movies and more.
Additional cabinet storage is found above the forward-flip sofa bed, which is equipped with a queen-size pneumatic mattress, and above the Dream Dinette, which easily and quietly drops into place to form another bed. The dinette’s rear-facing bench seat hinges up for large item storage while the forward-facing seat base storage area is partially obstructed by a steel lattice seat belt frame. According to the company, this area has been recently redesigned to restore lost storage capacity.
Opening the streetside slide forms the diminutive but efficient L-shaped galley. As the slide extends, the cabinet and twin-basin sink (with residential style pull-out nickel finish faucet) are fully exposed. Pantry cabinets, with adjustable shelves, line the wall that divides the cabin and the bathroom. Three full-extension utensil drawers are also provided. An optional ($700) Frigidaire convection microwave oven over the stove augments or replaces the conventional gas oven. Handy storage for pots and pans is provided in place of the omitted gas oven. Some users might complain about the partial loss of convenient pantry and under-sink access when the slide is closed for travel, but the benefits of the L-shaped galley outweigh that minor inconvenience for us.
Corian countertops are used in the galley, along with matching flush covers for the sink and the Amana three-burner stovetop. These covers enlarge the work area, but if more countertop space is needed, a 12-by-16-inch swing-up countertop extension is provided. Even with the extension in place, there’s still easy access to the 6-cubic-foot two-way Norcold double-door refrigerator (located on the opposing wall) and 17 inches of needed aisle space for passage to the rear of the motorhome. Under-cabinet and ceiling fluorescent lighting provides proper general and task lighting.
Our only criticism of the galley was a pair of loose utility panel door catches, which failed while traveling and caused the oven access panel cover to fall. That has since been remedied in subsequent motorhomes by using a fixed hinge.
The bathroom is split across the aisle using a 69-inch-tall, quarter-round one-piece fiberglass shower stall with curved obscure glass and domed skylight, which adds a few inches of headroom. A hand-held showerhead, with vertically adjustable bar mount and extra-long hose, is included along with a useful bath product shelf that doesn’t need to be packed before travel. Opposite are the enclosed toilet room and a vanity with Corian countertop and a nickel-finish faucet. There’s also a handy corner shelf for small items. A large three-shelf mirrored medicine cabinet and under-sink cabinet will hold just about everything else.
Since the demo unit we tested rolled off the line, Nexus has been fine-tuning and improving a number of Viper features, including the bathroom design. Door-mounted towel bars are now included, and the diminished foot and knee room created by the commode placement (as shown in our photos) has been improved with a minor relocation and use of a redesigned black-water tank.
The carpeted bedroom employs wardrobe design cues from larger luxury coaches using the bedroom’s entire curbside wall to create a mirrored wardrobe module at the foot of the bed. The optional ($595) 19-inch LCD TV is centered between his-and-hers wardrobes. These closets provide 23-inch-long rods for hanging clothes and room for shoes. Below the TV is more adjustable shelf storage for clothing or shoes. The lower nine-drawer dresser base uses full-extension drawers and the same large door pulls found throughout the coach.
Contained in the 60-inch-wide-by-18-inch-deep bedroom slide is a 60-by-75-inch queen-size platform bed with 9-inch-thick innerspring mattress. Outlets for 120-volt AC power are provided on both sides of the bed platform. Eyeglass nightstands are now being installed on the slide’s side wall or fascia, thus eliminating the experience we had of having to hang our reading glasses from an overhead cabinet pull. For those using medical equipment, Nexus can provide a bedside floor rack that will conveniently move with the bed and slide.
An unexpected feature is the optional ($50) 6-by-48-inch non-opening window directly above the bed, which adds more natural light to the bedroom. Equipped with the same pull-down, night-only shade and trim used in the rest of the Viper, it adds a useful yet custom touch to the room. The bed’s platform provides a shallow storage tray space positioned above the freshwater tank. The standard Arctic Package provides a heat pad under each holding tank and a furnace duct routed into the enclosed air space.
The Viper’s standard cabin roof A/C unit is ducted to fully adjustable ceiling registers in the cabin, bath and bedroom. An optional ($980) bedroom roof A/C unit is also available for warmer climes. Opening the cabin’s adjustable ceiling chill grille allows maximum cold airflow to cool the cabin. Closing the grille restores airflow to the ducts and registers. Using the system this way allowed us to easily direct the available cooling to meet our needs. The large 40,000-Btu ducted furnace uses full-flow directional registers, but exhibits some of the age-old problem of uneven heat distribution. Dampered flow register replacements might improve velocity and balance.
Our trip destination was the beautiful Ocean Mesa RV Resort, north of Santa Barbara, Calif. The full-service campground is terraced into a hill, and campsites allow glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara Channel. With first-class accommodations, 80 RV sites and glamping (glamorous camping) opportunities at its El Capitan Canyon resort next door, it makes an ideal weekend getaway destination for RVers and their non-RVing guests.
Our scenic route to Ocean Mesa purposely included sea level to more than 2,000-foot elevations using 6 percent and 7 percent grades, an interstate and two-lane roads. The 8-foot-wide motorhome was unaffected by passing or overtaking big rig trucks and it was easy to enjoy navigating smaller country roads thanks to the motorhome’s controlled ride and excellent steering feedback. Crosswind sway at speed could be felt but it never required more than a mild steering correction to keep the Viper in its lane.
Comfortable two-tone cockpit seating with dark faux wood dash appliquÃ© dresses up the venerable Ford chassis. Breakaway heated exterior mirrors with lower fish eyes, a rearview monitor in the dashboard, rear cap all-LED signal and clearance lights, and the optional ($495) turn-signal-activated side cameras made lane changes and campground and service station maneuvers a simple and safe task.
The Triton V-10 develops maximum horsepower at more than 4,000 rpm. Coupled to the five-speed TorqShift transmission, cruising at 65 mph was effortless at 2,400 rpm with only 70-72 decibels in the cabin, which allowed for hands-free cell phone use and normal conversation levels.
Pointing the Viper onto a 6 percent grade released some of the motorhome’s audible venom using third gear and 3,000 rpm to maintain 50 mph over the crest. Engaging the transmission’s tow/haul mode for the downhill leg altered the shift points, reining in the coach at 64 mph in third gear at 3,500 rpm without the use of the service brakes.
Another useful feature of the tow/haul mode programming is the auto downshifting to supplement service brake applications with engine braking. Now that the gross combination weight rating (gcwr) of the chassis has been increased by 2,000 pounds, this will be a confidence building tool whenever towing.
Nexus continues to refine its vision of cutaway-chassis motorhome perfection. Using bonded high-gloss fiberglass side walls over a skeleton of high tensile, fully welded steel, and protected by a seamless tapered fiberglass roof, the company is building motorhomes to stand the test of time. It can offer custom menu touches requested by the buyer, and even engineer ADA accessibility. Perhaps most importantly, Nexus stresses the importance of working with buyers in all phases of selection and construction to ensure their satisfaction. If you ask, they might also let you watch your motorhome being built.
To find a Nexus Viper 29v for sale or other motorhomes, visit the online RV Buyer’s Guide!
Fuel Economy: 9.2 MPG
0-60: 17 sec
40-60: 11 sec
model: Ford E-450 Cutaway
engine: 6.8-L Triton V-10
sae hp: 305 @ 4,250 RPM
torque: 420 lb-ft @ 3,250 RPM
transmission: 5-speed auto
axle ratio: 4.56:1
brakes, f/r: 13.5″ ABS Disc
suspension, f/r: independent Twin
I-Beam with coil springs and stabilizer bar; non-independent live axle with
fuel cap: 55 gal
warranty: 3 yrs/36,000 miles
ext length: 30′ 6″
ext width: 8′
ext height (with A/C): 10′ 4″
int width: 7′ 8″
int height: 6′ 6″
construction: steel framing, fiberglass skin and roof, polystyrene insulation
freshwater cap: 38 gal
black-water cap: 27 gal
gray-water cap: 27 gal
water-heater cap: 6 gal
lp-gas cap: 12.2 gal
air conditioner: 13,500 btu
furnace: 40,000 btu
refrigerator: 6 cu ft
COnverter: 60 AMP
battery (2): 1 12-volt chassis, 1 12-volt coach
ac generator: 4 kW
base msrp: $78,999
msrp as tested: $110,598
warranty: 1 year bumper to bumper
(Water & Heater, Fuel, LP-gas Tanks Full; No Supplies or Passengers)
front axle: 3,720 lbs
rear axle: 9,240 lbs
total: 12,960 lbs
gawr, f/r: 5,000/9,600 lbs
gvwr/gcwr: 14,500/22,000 lbs
roccc: 1,540 lbs
(deduct weight of passengers for net cargo capacity)
gawr: gross axle weight rating
gvwr: gross vehicle weight rating
gcwr: gross combination weight rating
roccc: realistic occupant and cargo carrying capacity (full water, no passengers)
Nexus RV 855-786-3987, www.nexusrv.com.