Fleetwood’s top line LXE 44H diesel pusher features residential-style living with luxury amenities and lots of space to move about
Like many RVers, I suspect, I am “solar-powered” and seek out sunshine whenever I can get away for a spell. Even though I live where there already is lots of sunshine, when Fleetwood offered us the Discovery LXE 44H for testing this past spring, off we went to Palm Springs, California, which boasts “360 days of sun-kissed weather,” according to one website. For this trip we luxuriated in the LXE 44H, Fleetwood’s top-of-the-line Class A diesel pusher, built on a Freightliner XCM Series Power Bridge chassis and powered by a 450-hp Cummins ISL9 diesel engine.
There’s little doubt that the quad-slide LXE 44H, pictured in Champagne with deluxe exterior graphics, is set up for the good life with an abundance of luxury features that include remote keyless entry, four-point automatic leveling system, four TVs (including a 48-inch Sony in the exterior entertainment center), frameless dual-pane windows and an Aqua-Hot hydronic heating system. A lateral-arm 20-foot Girard power awning with LED lights and wind sensor is integrated into the exterior’s sleek design.
Outside storage is plentiful – and with more than 7,000 pounds of realistic occupant and cargo carrying capacity (ROCCC), the three pass-through storage compartments can be packed with virtual abandon. Two of the pass-throughs incorporate MORryde sliding trays, each with an 800-pound capacity. All exterior compartments have large side-opening baggage doors with gas struts, though with the slides extended, you’ll have to crouch (the slideout undersides are about 41 inches up from the ground) to access much of the storage.
On the driver’s side, access to the 50-amp power cord reel is under a slide, but water and waste hookups are conveniently located between the two driver’s-side room extensions. A power hose reel, KING Jack OTA antenna, Winegard satellite dish and 100-watt solar panel add to the Discovery’s upscale features. And our favorites: the blue undercarriage lights that added just enough illumination to guide us when coming back to our site at night, and the entry-door awning that shaded the door from the hot desert sun.
When the vehicle isn’t in driving mode, the swiveling captain’s chairs with two temperature settings make excellent recliners, though the armrests were set a tad high for our taste. While underway, we appreciated the large 10-inch touch screen display, Magnadyne DVD multimedia internet receiver with built-in navigation and Bluetooth and, of course, the panoramic view you get through the expansive glass windows. An electric solar screen and privacy shade for the windshield are just a button away. There’s limited space for the passenger to keep items within reach; a handy cup-holder is set in the narrow shelf, but a cellphone, for instance, could slide off during hard braking. The storage pockets behind the seats work for stowing magazines and larger items.
The spacious living area, with its opposing slides, is warm and inviting. Beautiful polished solid-surface radius-edge countertops blend nicely with the hardwood Nottingham Cherry High Gloss cabinetry. Matching hardwood crown molding is used on the ceiling in the living area and for framing numerous vents. The heavy, ornate wood framing the slideouts, decorative backsplash in brown shades and the tan-colored faux leather seating lead to a relaxed atmosphere.
Lightening up the space is cream-and-tan swirled polished tile flooring throughout. The tile is beautiful and easy to clean, though it is slick when wet, which we discovered when a friend came in with a dripping bathing suit. If this were our coach, the first investment would be a nonskid rug which, depending on the size, may have to be put away when retracting the slides for travel.
During the days, with temperatures in the mid-90s and up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, the three air conditioners worked harmoniously, keeping the 44H at a comfy temperature. When it cooled off in the evenings, however, we opened the dual-pane windows that crank outward 3½ to 8½ inches (varies by window) and switched to the three powered Fan-Tastic Vent fans, which did a good job circulating air.
The three air conditioners are programmed via the 44H’s Firefly Integrations electronic systems monitoring panel with LCD touch screen, centrally located in the galley. Tap on what you want (Climate, for instance) to adjust the settings in each zone. The Firefly system also controls the holding-tank levels, battery voltage, interior lighting and the aforementioned Fan-Tastic Vent fans. There’s also a Dirt Devil Maxumizer Deluxe central vacuum with a 7-foot hose that stretches to 35 feet.
The 75-inch-long-by-22-inch-wide sofa bed (with three belted positions) in the living area is outfitted with an air mattress and provides comfortable seating and sleeping. Across from the sofa, an entertainment center with a 48-inch LED HDTV, Bose sound bar and a 23-inch curved electric fireplace with two heat settings – which was not necessary in Palm Springs – can all be operated via remote control. Completing the system are a Blu-ray DVD player and DVD multimedia internet receiver. The curved countertop below the TV was a good place to keep remotes handy, and to charge cellphones with the nearby 120-volt AC outlet and USB port.
For the ultimate in comfort, the freestanding Euro chair allows you to put your feet up, recline and settle in for a comfortable stay, though it does need to be moved away from the wall when in relaxation mode (which takes some strength), and it occupies quite a bit of floor space. Not that there isn’t enough space to scoot around, but the tendency was for someone walking past to either put their hand on the back of the chair, thereby tilting it back, or wanting to spin it … just when you’re ready to doze off. The second issue with the Euro chair was that there was one of it and two of us.
A cute and useful 14½-by-20-inch pullout desk on glides and set at 24 inches high is next to the two-seat, fixed-table dinette. Sitting at the desk, you’re facing the windows for an outside view, and there’s a 120-volt AC outlet placed under the cabinet as well as inside where the desk pulls out. Two additional folding chairs, housed in the large closet with the stackable washer and dryer in back, extend the dinette seating to four people, albeit elbow-to-elbow at the two-person table. There’s additional counterspace around the dinette as well as adjustable shelves and abundant cabinets, with a few not-so-conveniently located under the table.
A pullout galley extension, which houses three drawers, subtly separates the kitchen from the living area and adds a convenient place to keep drinks and snacks handy, while at the same time giving the cook more elbowroom. The counter cutout around the two-burner induction cooktop adds to the kitchen’s classy look, plus it’s cleverly engineered to add more walk-by space around the table when the slides are retracted.
While standing at the double-basin solid-surface sink and cooktop, my feet were half-on and half-off the carpet that covers the slideout floor. A throw rug would be good here, if only to keep the carpet from getting soiled from cooking splatters. With the sink covers in place there’s plenty of chopping and prep space. The deep countertop provides lots of room behind the range and sink for stowing items you need handy – paper towels, olive oil and a bowl of fruit, in our case. Above the cooktop is a 1.5-cubic-foot stainless High Pointe microwave/convection oven, and a deep cabinet on the left. Below the induction cooktop is a top-loading Fisher & Paykel dishwasher, and the 44H has a whole-house water filtration system.
A small food pantry lives in the wall space separating the galley from the half-bath and has four spice racks and a couple of 2-foot-long by 4-inch-wide sturdy drawers that pull out on glides. Since the top drawer was set high at just under 6 feet, we stored tall items, like cereal boxes here where we could read the labels; with canned goods, only the top portions were visible so it was a guess as to what was in some of the cans. The 22-cubic-foot residential double-door stainless-steel refrigerator with bottom freezer has simple-to-use travel locks.
A half-bath, fitted with a porcelain macerator toilet, a corner cabinet and sink housed in the solid-surface counter, is handily located in the living area so guests won’t need to tromp through the bedroom. Creating more privacy, sliding wood pocket doors section off the bedroom from the galley and the bedroom from the master bathroom.
The master bedroom boasts a 72-by-80-inch king-sized bed with an 11-inch-thick Dream Easy Series mattress, which I was reluctant to give up after the need to return the coach. Framed in Cherry High Gloss wood, the luxurious bed is outfitted with a black-and-gold bedspread and throw pillows, and offers a cozy 9½ inches of walk-around space. There’s under-bed storage via gas struts, and small nightstands – perfectly sized to hold a cellphone and a bottle of water – bookend the bed and feature 120-volt AC outlets and USB ports. It was lovely leaning up against the padded headboard before lights out, reading and enjoying a nice cross-breeze that came through the opposing windows situated in the sides of the slideout.
A 43-inch LED HDTV is mounted in the top portion of a large three-drawer dresser with tinted-glass doors concealing shelves. We barely made a dent in all the space available for clothing that includes an additional six-drawer dresser next to the tall one, plus overhead cabinets on each side of the bedroom. The dressers are housed in a slideout with a 2-inch step up where the carpet meets tile, which took some toe-stubs to get used to when accessing the drawers. Located under the overhead cabinetry above the bed are switches for lighting and the coach’s Safe-T-Vision monitoring system. With the Safe-T-Vision, if you hear a noise outside, you can view the goings-on via the 44H’s side-mirror cameras and rear-facing camera from the bedroom and living room TVs.
The master bathroom at the rear of the 44H is open and spacious, clearly set up for the RVer who wants a residential-style experience. The glass-enclosed shower, full-length mirror and an additional mirror over the vanity that’s framed in cherry wood add to the airy feel; a porcelain macerator toilet is around the corner. The large, ornate vanity is the centerpiece, accented with a radius-edge counter, LED lighting and a wide shelf incorporated over the backsplash that coordinates beautifully with the wood. If that’s not enough space to stow things, take a step up to reach the large rear closet, which houses a wardrobe, organizer cubes, a hanging rod and shelving. Also here is a compact Whirlpool stackable washer and dryer, and the closet can be closed off with sliding pocket doors.
The uncluttered feel extends to the 28-by-52-inch Granicoat shower enclosure, framed on two sides with glass, with 6 feet 3 inches of headroom, plus an additional 5 inches at the peak of the sloped skylight. There’s a soap dish, but no shelves for shampoo bottles, so we kept those on the floor where there was plenty of room. The showerhead did not have a shut-off valve, which would have been appreciated had we not been connected to city water. The previously mentioned large mirror in the vanity happens to be across from the shower, and the bathroom lighting is fabulous … so, umm, the naked truth is that, when you’re standing in the glass-enclosed shower, there’s no avoiding seeing yourself, unless you hang a large towel from the top of the enclosure. A nonskid bath rug would be a wise investment since the floor is slick when it’s wet and when stepping out of the shower there’s an 11-inch drop.
While on the road, the slides come together in the living area to allow enough walk space to visit the half-bath and refrigerator without stepping on the carpet, which covers the hardware for the slideouts. Neither the refrigerator nor the bathroom door open fully, but there’s room to access both with the bathroom door opening about 16 inches before bumping into the fridge. The bedroom slides close off walk space, but you can crawl over the bed to get to the rear of the coach if needed. Slideout controls are easy to access, but the driver’s-side front room needed adjusting to avoid rubbing against the wood ceiling molding and scratching the finish while underway.
During travel, under the category of “How in the world?!” the wall-mounted, brushed-nickel C-shaped toilet paper holder in the master bath somehow left its post, took a left at the shower, traveled through the bathroom, through the bedroom, presumably under the bed, and then wedged itself under the slide below the refrigerator. Thankfully, we noticed this before opening the slide. Crazily, it happened a second time, traveling not quite as far – but after that, the TP and holder were stored in the drawer behind the toilet for travel.
The 44H is luxurious and inviting, and the dark wood dÃ©cor lends itself to a soothing and calming ambiance, especially when we stepped inside to escape the midday heat. We were impressed with the amount of storage, inside and out, and the comfortable seating and sleeping arrangements. Scoring extra points are the oversized master bathroom – no traffic jams here – and the gorgeous kitchen, which was a joy to cook in with its smart design and appliances intuitively located, efficient induction cooktop and deep countertops.
For long-term stays or full-timing, the Fleetwood Discovery LXE 44H makes for comfortable travel and luxurious accommodations.
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