Fleetwood Discovery Motorhome - Road Test

With our boat in tow, we have some Class A fun in the sun

David Hamilton
Dec 1, 2008
Photographers: David Hamilton, Stephanie Leister, Courtesy of Fleetwood
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First impressions are everything, and in that regard, the 2009 Fleetwood Discovery doesn't disappoint you. From its stylish new graphics to the classy interior decor and spacious floor plan, the 2009 Fleetwood Discovery 40G had a commanding appearance from the get-go. For 2009, Fleetwood had added three new floor plans to the Discovery line (36D, 40K and 40G). The 40G featured a full-wall slide-out, which when fully extended offered 380 square feet of additional living space.
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On the Road
From the driver's seat, the dash layout was easy to read, and the controls were all within reach. The large, one-piece, bonded-in windshield gave us a bird's-eye view of the open road without obstructions, vital to a rig this size.
Once under way, we noted how smooth and CVT-like the six-speed automatic transmission was under normal operation. And for a Class A, the powerful 350hp Cummins ISB 6.7-liter diesel had solid torque when needed. Any diesel chatter outside was silenced inside the coach thanks to insulation and sound-deadening materials between the chassis and living quarters.
New for 2009 was Fleetwood's patented Power Bridge chassis that was calibrated at the factory for less vibration. The Discovery lineup starts with a Freightliner chassis that mates the bridge beam to the chassis for improved ride and handling characteristics. The 10,000-pound tow rating on the Discovery helped to make the 1996 Correct Craft Air Nautique feel like it was as light as a feather.
We were surprised at how well the Discovery weaved a path, especially in tight places. But the true test was our first stop at a Costco parking lot, where we had planned to get supplies for the trip.
With a 55-degree wheel cut, the Discovery could be maneuvered effortlessly. The onboard rear- and side-vision cameras fed to a three-way monitor screen, and it served its purpose well. With six different viewing options, there wasn't a side of the coach we couldn't see.
Our favorite screen view was the three-split view (main screen rear-facing with left and right sides on the bottom half of the screen). If we engaged a turn signal, the camera showed us a full image of the next lane over. The left- and right-side cameras are strategically located in the rearview mirrors and provided for a panoramic view of the adjoining lane. Best of all, unlike my Jeep Wrangler, the Discovery had zero blind spots.
We tried our best to stuff the cavernous undercarriage storage to capacity after our visit to Costco, but we ended up with plenty of room to spare. In fact, the 40-foot Discovery has an impressive 242 cubic feet of storage space below deck level. The new Power Bridge chassis featured a midsection with pass-through compartments that enabled us to access our gear from either side of the coach, which was brilliant. The undercarriage doors are side-swinging and made for easy access.
Moabi Regional Park
Our destination was Moabi Regional Park on the banks of the Colorado River just 11 miles southeast of Needles, California. The weather forecast for this time of year called for temperatures to be between 108-117 degrees, with nighttime temps in the 90s. That meant we certainly would put the roof-mounted A/C units to the test.
Our route to the Colorado River took us from Riverside west on the 91, north on Interstate 15, then eastbound on Interstate 40. We were concerned that we would hit rush-hour traffic heading north on the I-15 into Victorville, but we rolled right through without a problem.
The Fleetwood camera system was extremely helpful and gave me a good view of any traffic next to the coach. The Cajon Pass, which tops out at 4,190 feet of elevation, loomed in the distance. But the Discovery powered up the steep grade at 60 mph, even pulling a boat. When towing in the state of California, we were legally obligated to the two right-hand "truck traffic" lanes, but seasoned truckers yielded to the mighty Discovery.
As we crested the summit, I-15 opened up to the Mojave Desert, so we put it in cruise control and comfortably piloted the Discovery through the expansive desert. In the high desert of California, the outside temperatures jumped from 85 to above 100, and so we used the 8.0-kilowatt Onan diesel generator the entire time to power the twin roof A/C units. They were quiet and very efficient. More importantly, our guests onboard the Discovery were comfortable.
The cockpit leather seats were designed for many miles of comfort and double as euro-recliners if you have the need. Meanwhile, our passengers in the galley were situated in the lap of luxury and enjoyed the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on the 32-inch Samsung flatscreen LCD HDTV (with Samsung Home Theater 5.1 Dolby surround sound).
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Mile Marker 88
The town of Barstow was now in our sights, and we were about to head east on I-40, which followed historic Route 66. We were tempted to stray off the beaten path, but we were on a mission to get to Moabi Regional Park by sunset. The I-40, between Barstow and Needles, is a succession of long, gradual grades. We kept the Discovery in cruise control and let the Cummins engine do most of the work. There were a few times that we did manually downshift the transmission to a lower gear to pass a convoy of slow-moving tractor trailers, but we mostly used cruise control. Cruising at 65 mph, the Discovery revs at 1750 rpm.
Mile Marker 229
The two-hour trip between Barstow and Needles had taken us through some of the most scenic landscape in the Mojave Desert; ancient volcano cinder cones and open views for miles. We stopped off in Needles to fuel up the coach and boat.
We had averaged 8 to 9 mpg over 229 miles and burned approx­imately a quarter tank of fuel. We had the generator powering the dual roof A/C units the entire trip, and that alone consumed a portion of the fuel. Not bad, though, considering we were also pulling a 21-foot boat. Back on I-40, we had only 11 miles to go to our final destination.
Mile Marker 240
Four and a half hours after leaving the city, we had arrived at Moabi Regional Park. We weren't fatigued from the drive at all and immediately got ready to launch the boat at the marina. We engaged the reverse gear on the Discovery, and the rear-vision camera guided us to where we needed to steer with a digital triangular path.
It took only a few moments to completely trust the camera while backing up and not relying on the sideview mirrors. Once the boat was in the water, we dropped the trailer off in a nearby lot and headed to our temporary address for the week, peninsula #22, where friends waited for our arrival.
Setting Up Camp
As we organized the cabin for a weeklong stay, we set the air suspension from auto to low and activated the push-button four-point leveling system. Then we extended the dual slides. The enormous passenger slide-out on the 40G offered a great deal more room. Literally every coach owner in our camp came over to check out the interior, and they all walked away envious.
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The driver's-side slide-out started behind the cockpit and spanned the entire length of the kitchen. The best part was the electric patio and door awnings, which included a wind sensor that automatically retracted if a breeze picked up unexpectedly.
The kitchen layout was user-friendly, too. The Norcold 12-cubic-foot, four-door refrigerator with ice maker and water dispenser was as nice as many residential models and kept our six days of food cold with room to spare. The freezer had so much room, we were able to keep two 20-pound bags of ice in it. We tested the GE convection microwave/oven and cooked a homemade breakfast casserole to perfection.
For outdoor cooking, there was the optional exterior kitchenette, which slid on roller bearings and opened to a complete gourmet-style outdoor kitchen with a propane BBQ grill, sink with hot and cold running water, extra counter space and a mini fridge. Even in the extreme desert heat, the mini fridge kept our ice cream frozen and beverages chilled.
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With the sides fully extended, the living area was enjoyable. The 40G had the ideal floor plan for families and can sleep eight comfortably. The bunk beds, located across from the bathroom, served as our luggage storage on this trip. If you have kids, they will be spoiled with a separate flip-down TV/DVD entertainment center with wireless headphones on the ceiling of each bunk.
The Cognac interior decor consisted of beautiful earth-tone shades with soft and supple leather seating surfaces throughout. The rich Plantation Cherry-finished cabinetry offered the feeling of being on an expensive luxury yacht. Solid-surface countertops, sinks and range covers were stately, durable and easy to clean. The kitchen and bathroom sinks feature high-end Moen faucets. The bathroom is centrally located and is conveniently accessible by the living room, bunk bed room and master suite. The marble-look shower is very roomy.
Two rollout counter extensions are located on either side of the kitchen sink and are a perfect place for food preparation, allowing you to chop up veggies and slide the unwanted bits straight into the trash bin. Once you are done cooking, simply push the counters back, and they disappear into the base cabinets.
The master suite had a queen-sized Sleep Number mattress and allowed you to adjust the firmness or softness of it. With the slides extended, we could walk around the master bed and access the rear dual sliding door closet and optional washer/dryer combination.
Opposite the master bed is a wall-mounted 26-inch Samsung flatscreen LCD HDTV with home theater system. There was also a six-drawer dresser ready to swallow up enough board shorts for a weeklong trip to the river.
If you're looking for a Class A with all the amenities and one of the largest slide-outs on the market, you can't go wrong by test-driving Fleetwood's new 2009 Discovery 40G.
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Likes
• Full-wall slide-out.
• Power Bridge chassis.
• Spacious floor plan.
• Ample storage.
• Comfortable leather seating.
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Dislikes
• No exterior kitchenette lighting.
• Cupholders needed in galley.
• Rear A/C unit too far from master bedroom.
• Vanity in bathroom too high for kids.
Specifications
Manufacturer: 2009 Fleetwood Discovery 40G
Price: Starting from $214,200 to $225,400
Chassis: Freightliner XCM
Wheelbase: 276 inches
GVWR (pounds): 31,000
Front GAWR (pounds): 12,000
Rear GAWR (pounds): 19,000
Tongue Weight (pounds): 1,000
Engine: Cummins ISBXT, 6.7 liters, 350hp
Torque: 750 lb-ft
Transmission: Allison 3000 MH six-speed
Alternator: 170-amp Leece-Neville
Hitch Rating (pounds): 10,000
Overall Length: 41'4"
Overall Height (with A/C): 12'10"
Overall Width (max): 102"
Interior Height (max): 84"
Interior Width (max): 96"
Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 105
Gray Water Tank (gallons): 75
Black Water Tank (gallons): 50
Propane Tank (gallons): 37.5
Water Heater Tank (gallons): 10
Fuel Capacity (gallons): 100
Did You Know?
History suggests that Needles is one of the oldest living communities on the Colorado River. Long before the white settlers arrived in 1883, the Mojave Indians inhabited the area. "The Needles" came from early settlers who took the name from the sharp mountain peaks nearby.
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Moabi Regional Park
Located 11 miles southeast of Needles, California, Moabi Regional Park has everything for the RV and boating crowd. There are 24 group campsites situated along 2.5 miles of Colorado River shoreline.
Each peninsula campsite has a sandy beach to which you can anchor your boat or personal watercraft. If you prefer full hookups, Moabi has 35 as well as two dump stations. The five-lane boat launch area is large enough to launch the Queen Mary.
Likes
• Full-wall slide-out.
• Power Bridge chassis.
• Spacious floor plan.
• Ample storage.
• Comfortable leather seating.

Sources

Fleetwood RV
Decatur, IN 46733
800-322-8216
fleetwoodrv.com

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