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2010 Zephyr 45QBZ Review
Normally, I review motorhomes when I find them at King's Campers, my nearest Tiffin dealership. However, I've never been able to see a Zephyr. Meanwhile I had a trip to Red Bay planned for January of 2010 so while there I was fortunate enough to find a new Zephyr that just rolled off the assembly line and was in final fit and finish. I was able to check over this coach while in Tiffin's state of the art paint facility in Belmont, MS and take lots of photos. I was interested in seeing how the 2010 Zephyr compared to my Allegro Bus. The Zephyr that I was able to review was the popular 45QBZ rear bathroom floorplan.
The 45QBZ features the spacious rear bathroom that seems to be in demand on the higher end coaches as of late. The adjacent bedroom is equipped with a king sized bed and the center area of the coach contains a stackable washer-dryer cabinet as well as a guest bathroom. The salon can be outfitted in a number of ways. Dual 74" couches can be installed or one couch can be replaced with a pair of recliners or a single recliner with a computer desk. The dinette can be a freestanding legless dinette or a U-shaped booth dinette, or a freestanding dinette with a computer workstation. This coach is Tiffin's top of the line so you'll see features and amenities not found in the other Tiffin coaches.
The Zephyr is built upon Spartan's awesome K2 chassis. The K2 is a robust chassis, much stronger and heavier than the 400HP class chassis used by either Spartan, Freightliner, or the Powerglide. The extra heavy frame rails of Spartan's K2 chassis handle much more weight and a 10.8 liter Cummins ISM diesel engine that cranks out 500 HP and 1,550 ft-lbs of torque is mated to a larger Allison 4000 series transmission. This chassis has a rated towing capacity of 15,000 lbs. The K2 utilizes a serpentine belt to power a heavy duty mechanical drive mechanism that drive's the fan on the side radiator. This system includes a fan clutch to minimize drag when not needed and help fuel economy. This tag axle chassis is fitted with a 16,600 lb front axle with 55 degree of wheel cut and is fitted with 315/80 R22.5 tires. Stopping the coach with a 46,600 lb GVWR is easily handled by full air brakes on every axle as well as by the 2 speed "Jake" engine compression brake. The Zephyr features the Hadley automatic electronic air leveling system which will level the coach as it sits by adjusting the pressure in the air suspension when parked. For those cases where the ground surface is too far off to allow air bags enough travel, an HWH automatic leveling system is also included to deploy hydraulic leveling jacks when needed.
I was able to photograph this 45QBZ while visiting Tiffin's Paint Facility in Belmont, MS. It was inside the plant while raining outside so I shot the following photos to share with my fellow members of the TiffinRVNetwork forum. Actually, we did get a short ride in this coach, but it was only about 100' when moving from one area to another so I guess that really doesn't quality as a road test. But, I can attest that the 500 HP Cummins sounded real good. Current pricing on all new Tiffin products can be viewed on my Tiffin Motorhomes Pricing page.
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Mark Quasius - "Cruzer"
The above images show the general exterior of the Zephyr. The top image was taken outside of the Final Finish area at Tiffin's Red Bay assembly plant during an overcast day. The lower image was taken the following day inside the Belmont paint facility so the lighting was vastly different. Outwardly, the Zephyr looks similar to the Allegro Bus in overall design. The front and rear caps are changed and the body striping varies but overall it has that similar Tiffin look and feel to it.
The above images show the overall interior features. The recessed ceiling trim hides some of the air conditioning duct outlets. This particular Zephyr had the Glazed Honey cabinet finish, which gave it a nice upscale look. The 42" LCD TV is located in a midship location and connected to the Triple H component video and HDMI distribution system to enable viewing from a number of input sources, such as the DVD player with surround sound, satellite receiver, cable TV inputs, or the roof mounted digital off-air antenna. The refrigerator is a GE 21 cu ft residential fridge with a large pull-out freezer at the bottom, which is powered via the coach's true sine wave inverter and fed by 8 Optima AGM batteries. It is finished in stainless steel but because this coach was not yet shipped it was still covered with the protective cardboard wrapping. The front overhead cabinets are also fitted with an optional overhead TV for additional viewing options.
The cockpit area features burled wood dash panels fitted with the typical instrumentation found on a Spartan chassis. The Zephyr is equipped with the Smart Wheel, which controls the cruise control, windshield wipers and washers, and also the headlamp and marker lamp flash switches. Switches are also provided for adjusting the remote controlled 3 piece side mirrors.
The driver's side console contains the usual array of rocker switches and is also finished with a redwood burl finish. The Zephyr is equipped with Haldex automatic air leveling as well as HWH hydraulic leveling jacks and controls for these are placed at the rear of the side console. Directly above the side console is a cup holder and the controls for the MCD powered shades on the driver's side.
New this year is a JVC touch screen navigation and entertainment system. In addition to AM/FM radio and CD player it also features satellite radio and the ability to interface with an iPod. A GPS unit is also included which greatly eases navigation chores for the driver. This JVC system is an excellent improvement over the previous Panasonic system used in 2009.
In the side cabinet directly over the driver's seat are found the various controls required to operate the coach's various systems. Controls are found for the Magnum true sine wave inverter, the Precision Circuits Energy Management System, the Aqua-Hot heating system, the KingDome in-motion satellite receiver, the SeeLevel tank monitors, and the front slideout controls. The Energy Management System interfaces with the Magnum inverter and will monitor power usage in the coach. Whenever connected to a 30 amp shore power feed the system will engage the inverter or shed non-critical circuits whenever the RV's power consumption exceeds 30 amps in order to prevent tripping the breaker on the campground's pedestal. The SeeLevel system monitors tank levels utilizing external sensor that cannot foul and accurately give a digital reading of each tank's level in 2% increments.
The entryway into the coach interior is fitted with inside steps that are trimmed in solid surface material. Rubber non-slip pads are glued to the tops to prevent slipping. The exterior steps are not the typical swing out Kwikee steps but instead are a much nicer telescopic steps design. Lighted grab handles, both interior and exterior, are provided. Also seen in this photo are the keyless entry keypad and the copilot's slide-out workstation.
The 45QBZ features solid hardwood cabinets, which in this case were cherry with a glazed honey finish. A stainless steel trimmed convection/microwave oven is standard and there is a substantial amount of countertop work space. The Zephyr uses solid surface material throughout the coach and the backsplashes are inlaid ceramic tile. Raised panel doors are featured on the cabinets and also on the dishwasher front. Removable solid surface sink covers can be stored in a rack in the under-sink cabinet.
This view shows the electric cooktop. The electric cooktop features an easy to clean glass surface and is part of the all-electric coach option. The all-electric coaches also use residential refrigerators and Aqua-Hot for heating and domestic hot water. The propane tank is no longer needed and that basement area is converted to storage space.
The Zephyr comes with either a free-standing dinette, a computer desk/dinette, or a U-shaped dinette ensemble which further wraps around into the salon couch. This particular coach came with the free-standing dinette with legless table. Both the dinette and the residential refrigerator are located in the main slideout to allow plenty of room. The 42" LCD television in the hutch is hidden from view whenever the slideout is retracted but the front overhead TV is always available. The dinette is trimmed in solid surface material and the high backed chairs are a custom design unique to the Zephyr.
Guest Bath Area
The 45QBZ has a rear bathroom but also a guest bathroom which is located mid-coach. This bathroom features another solid surfaced vanity, a medicine cabinet, sink, and commode. Window valances are wood trimmed.
The master bedroom features a king bed with either a foam topped mattress or the optional Comfort-Air mattress. Wood cabinetry and valances surround the head end of the bed. A queen bed is not available in the Zephyr, which is unfortunate because the wider end tables that come with queen beds in the Allegro Bus would be nice to have available in the Zephyr.
The bedroom is separated from the rest of the coach via sliding doors with frosted glass inserts and hardwood overlays. Immediately behind these doors is a large vented closet that opens into the hall area and contains a stackable washer and dryer.
Directly opposite the bed is a 32" LCD TV. In addition to receiving it's signal from the same Triple H distribution system that supplies the rest of the coach, a second satellite receiver or DVR can be located in the cabinet directly underneath the TV. Solid surfaced vanity tops cover a series of storage drawers as well as a large laundry hamper. The frosted glass doors that are just barely on the right of the photo lead to the large rear bath area.
The bedroom of the Zephyr comes equipped with a ceiling fan. The sculptured ceiling treatment also conceals the air conditioning vent louvers.
The rear bathroom is the real centerpiece of the 45QBZ floorplan. The Zephyr has an ornate vanity utilizing solid surface tops and hardwood cabinetry in the honey glaze finish choice. The two raised bowl fixtures rest in front of a large full-width mirror. Plenty of cabinet storage is available beneath the vanity.
The Zephyr shower is a custom design that uses hand laid ceramic tile rather than a preformed molded stall. A circular enclosure prevents water from dripping on the floor once the door is opened. The enclosure uses clear glass to show off the tile work.
Normally commodes are located directly over the black holding tank to allow waste to drop into the tank. While this is true for the guest bathroom, it's not possible in a rear bath design so a marine style macerator toilet is utilized in the rear bathroom. It's pump and grinder wheels move waste from the toilet in the rear of the coach to the holding tank located farther forward. This toilet is located on the driver's side, next to the shower. A control panel on the wall operates the macerator as well as fans and lights.
At the very rear of the coach, in the rear bathroom, is a full width wardrobe closet. This closet features an overhead shelf as well as a clothes pole. The sliding wardrobe doors are covered with full length mirrors.
Tucked into the corner of the closet is an enclosure that holds the 120 volt AC Breaker panel as well as a 12 volt DC fuse panel for the 12 volt various house circuits.
Engine access on the Zephyr is gained by one very large hatch cover supported by gas struts. All service points for the 500 HP Cummins ISM are easily accessed from this location. The air filter, fuel filters, hydraulic filters, as well as the engine oil and transmission fluid dipsticks are well marked and easy to get to. The steel coolant surge tank is located off to the right, above the chassis batteries disconnect and diagnostic port.
The shore power bay houses a power cord reel with 30' of 50 amp power cord for connection to a campground pedestal. This bay also houses the VacMaster central vacuum cleaner and the controller panel and overflow reservoir for the Aqua Hot heating system. Burner service for the Aqua Hot is performed on the bay on the opposite side of the coach.
The eight Optima deep cell AGM batteries are located in a forward roadside bay. The 300 amp master fuse and chassis batteries disconnect switch are also located in this bay. With eight AGM batteries, a 12,500 watt Onan quiet diesel generator, 50 amp shore power, two 125 watt solar panels, a Magnum 2,800 watt true sine wave inverter, and the PCI energy management system running the various components of this coach's electrical systems will not be a problem.
Most coaches utilize the front most roadside bay for electrical components. The Zephyr is no different. The usual 12 volt fuse blocks will be found here to power the 12 volt coach accessories in the cockpit area. The windshield washer fluid reservoir is also located in this bay as is an auxiliary air supply connection for airing up tires or whatever else you might need it for. There is also an emergency air-up connection panel here that can be used to air up the suspension in the event that the Haldex automatic coach leveling system has failed. The 12,500 watt Onan generator is mounted on a powered slide rail for ease in service. The switch to operate the generator's power slide rails will also be found in this compartment.
The Zephyr uses a unique lighting control system that is not used in the other Tiffin coaches. Normally you fuse a circuit that supplies power to a switch, which then controls a bank of lights someplace in the coach. Various sized switch banks are located throughout the coach. If you want to control a given light via multiple switches it generally isn't done. However, the Zephyr uses Intellitec's Programmable Multiplex Controller system. In this system a number of pushbuttons send control codes to a relay bank located in the basement, which then operates the lights via relays. In this way a single data cable connects the switch panels to the relay modules. This gives the coach builder the flexibility to control a single bank of lights from multiple locations. It also can dim lights and memorize settings. The Zephyr we looked at had pushbuttons labeled "Scene 1" and "Scene 2". Simply pressing one of those buttons will turn on or off whichever lights you have programmed into that setting at whatever intensity you want. You can have a daylight scene for maximum illumination as well as a nighttime scene with subdued illumination just for watching television. It's also easy to add another switch to the panel or replace it with a larger switch panel because no additional wiring is required. Everything communicates via the same network data cable. The above photo shows one of the PMC Relay Modules located in a basement bay.
The Zephyr is a roomy coach and that extends to it's basement as well. The large pass through storage area has plenty of height for fitting in those bulky objects. This coach was fitted with two full extension basement slide trays to make it convenient to access cargo.
On the narrow curbside compartment access to the Aqua Hot burner is provided. In addition, both the water pump and water filter are located in this bay. A manifold system directs all hot and cold water to each particular plumbing fixture. Any individual fixture can be shut off at this manifold, making it possible to isolate any one area. It also allows the owner to winterize the coach, then restore water to just one or two fixtures for a quick trip and easily drain or winterize them when returning. Both the manifold and the low point drains are found in this area, which is much better protected against freezing than the water bay with the plastic tub in the floor.
The water service bay on the Zephyr is nice and roomy. The additional height of the Zephyr's basement affords the ability to relocate a few things to make it more convenient to access. The power hose reel and dump valves are there as is the usual soap dispenser, handheld shower, black tank flush attachment, tank fill/city water valve, and cable TV connection jacks. The water pump, water filter, and low point drains have been relocated to the compartment shown in the photo above this one. This frees up quite a bit of room and should make it easy for any owner to add an RO water filter, water softener, or macerator pump.
The 2010 Zephyr 45QBZ is an impressive coach. This is the first one that I have had the chance to really see in detail. I always knew it was an upscale coach as far as features and amenities go and of course that great Spartan K2 with the huge 500 HP Cummins was a no-brainer but I was quite surprised to see the attention to detail in the Zephyr that carried through from every little chassis fastener up through the multiplexed light control and including the inlaid ceramic tile on the slideout fascia cabinets. It really has a number of ideas that are well thought out that make it just that make operating and living in this coach just that much more enjoyable. This is a coach that I certainly wouldn't mind having.