Both our current 2006 Itasca Suncruiser and our older 1998 Suncruiser were on the F53 Ford V-10 chassis. At the time that we purchased our new Suncruiser, the newer Ford 362 hp V-10 engine and new 5-speed electronic transmission were fairly new items on the RV market, and there were many RVers who were wondering about the differences. (The Workhorse chassis and V-8 engine were the preferred candidates, but the cost was almost $6,000 more than the Ford chassis.)
Since we had had the oportunity to drive the older Ford chassis for eight years, and had driven the newer Ford chassis for a bit more than a month, we thought that it might be beneficial to other RVers to share our observations/comparisons of the two different engine/transmission combinations with the RV community.
After developing what was deemed as accurate a comparison as we could manage, we posted our "Observations" on two of the popular RV network bulletin boards.
Here, for your edification, is the text of that BBS post (from February 2006).
I’m not exactly comparing apples to apples, but I think it is close enough. My old rig had the original Ford V-10 engine (275 HP and tall doghouse) with the four-speed overdrive tranny (which in my case turned out to be about half of the older E4OD tranny and about half of the newer 4R100 tranny (guess Ford had to use up old parts). I had a 32-ft. coach (no slides) on the 18000 GWVR chassis with 19.5” rims, the usual 26000 GCVWR for towing, and a CCC of 3543 (yeah, that was great)!
My new rig has the new Ford V-10 engine (362 HP and low doghouse) with the new Ford (L1000 work-alike) 5-speed electronic tranny. The new rig is 33 ft. with two slides on the new Ford 22000 GVWR chassis with 22.5” rims, but the GCVWR is still the same 26000 (yuck), with a CCC of 2060.
Ok, so much for setting the stage—fairly similar coaches but yet different. My old rig had plenty of power for me, and I didn’t feel the need to add a Banks system to pull the hills. The rig cruised at 60mph at about 2600 rpm (while in Overdrive). When I was pulling a fairly good grade, down in second gear at about 4500 rpm, the engine was screaming so loud that I couldn’t talk to (or even hear) my navigator sitting in the passenger seat. When using the tranny for deceleration, I could shift down to 3rd at any speed, into second gear if I was below 50 mph, and into first if I was below 30 (and preferably 25 mph). The ride was OK and I didn’t seem to be bothered by the side-to-side wander of the coach—due to the longer front leaf springs.
My new coach seems very different to drive—and I am really enjoying it. The five-speed tranny in the new rig is much better than the older one. There is no overdrive mode anymore, but the button on the end of the shift lever puts the tranny in or out of Tow/Haul mode. The tranny does all the work of up shifting and even downshifting (when in Tow/Haul mode). In Tow/Haul mode the shift points are delayed (speed wise) but otherwise everything is the same.
The new rig cruises at about 2000 rpm at 60 mph, shifting down to 2600 rpm in fourth, then 3300 rpm in 3rd, before finally shifting into 2nd gear at about 4500 rpm trying to keep the rig at 60 mph. (I found it a bit of an annoyance to have the tranny shift all the way into 2nd gear trying to maintain speed.) However, the sound proofing on the doghouse is a magnitude improvement over the old rig! When the rig is turning 4500 rpm in second gear, I can actually converse with my navigator in a normal tone of voice (and I am the deaf one).
I was quite surprised the first time I descended a rather long and steep grade in the new rig. The cruise control was on and set for 60 mph (my preferred towing speed), and I was surprised to find the tranny shifting down on its own trying to maintain the cruise control speed. The tranny actually shifted down two gears trying to slow down.
The other thing that I like about the new tranny is its ability to shift down when I start to slow down and hit the brakes. When rolling up to a stop, it will usually shift down first one gear when I tap the brakes, and then another gear—without me having to change the shift lever. I think I am getting spoiled.
I usually pull a 4500 lb. toad, and I can sure feel the different with the extra HP in the new engine. The rigs gets out on the road and gets up to speed quite nicely and without me feeling that I am pulling high revs. I can easily pull the 17-mile Chiriaco summit grade on I-10 East of Indio with much less shifting down and at a greater speed. (For the weight police out there, yes, I derate my GVWR so as to not be overweight when I am pulling my toad.)
It looks like Ford has also gotten a wee bit smarter and put a decent sized tranny cooler in front of the radiator.
The old V-10 instrument cluster had the usual four gauges—fuel, water temp, oil pressure, and voltmeter. On the new rig, the instrument cluster has changed slightly (and for the better). Instead of a voltmeter, there is now a tranny temp gauge (about time). Sadly, though, the temp gauges in both the old rig and the new rig are damped—and only move out of the normal range when something is VERY wrong temperature wise. I sure wish Ford would put non-damped temp gauges in the instrument cluster so that I could see when the temps are starting to rise (and be able to take action to change the situation).
I’m not sure if the bigger tires make the difference or not, but the new rig seems to ride much more smoothly than the old one—although in retrospect, I didn’t find anything wrong with the old rig.
The amount of “wander” seems to be about the same, even though the new rig is 6” taller than the old one. (Kinda strange, but when the two rigs are parked side-by-side, the old rig seems to look longer, and the new rig seems to look stubby. Its an interesting optical perception because of the higher roofline.)
Well, guys and gals, guess that is enough of my drivel for the moment, and, no, I am not trying to start an argument between the Ford and Workhorse guys—just trying to let you know what the new Ford is like.
Most airplane owners use this figure as a key maintenance guideline, but I don't know of many RVers who really pay much attention to accumulated engine hours.