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"Pass the Geritol, Mother." The sun catches a hint of blue highlight in thinning white hair as the couple, comfortable in their folding chairs planted beneath a broad awning, gaze out over the Grand Canyon. "Looks just like the tourist brochure said it would." Behind them, the side of their huge motorhome reflects the sinking sun. It's an idyllic scene, peaceful and solitary. And you wouldn't be caught dead in it.
Motorhome? That's just a big box for retired people. You're Mister HyperExtreme living at the redline—Zoom, Vroom, Boom! If there were a way to mountain bike, snowboard and tractor pull all at the same time, you'd be the one to figure it out. You drive an SUV and you keep all four tires spinning all the time. It'll be a cold day in Hades before anyone gets you into one of those motorhome RVs.
Well, grab your coat, Bunky, because here comes the RV for folks who hate RVs. It's called NexGen, and it's aimed squarely at the 35- to 40-year-old with a hyperactive lifestyle. NexGen is a radically different motorhome design-sort of like an RV on Dilithium crystals.
Check out that roofline. It looks like it was lifted off a Nissan Xterra. You can pack all kinds of action toys up there on the anodized aluminum rack-skis, canoes, windsurfers or your experimental jet-powered skateboard. That tough tubular look is carried to the integrated rear bumper and front brush guards to make NexGen the bully of the RV set.
But NexGen goes beyond mere motorhome megamacho. It's designed inside and out to be a support hub for outdoor activities that include, but extend far beyond, camping. If you hike, bike, board, boat, or just view NASCAR competition from the infield, NexGen's features support these sports. Call it the ultimate athletic supporter, if you will.
Tow, Tow, Tow Your Boat
Let's take a closer look. NexGen measures in at 29 ft. overall and comes on a choice of two workhorse chassis—340-hp 450-ft.-lb. 8.1-liter Chevy V8 or 310-hp 425-ft.-lb. 6.8-liter Ford V10. The Chevy package can tow 5000 pounds while the Ford doubles that so you can haul around some really big toys such as a 28-ft. boat or an enclosed, trailered race car. It's the only gas-powered motorhome that can tow 5 tons. Riding low and wide on its chassis, the coach is nimble for its size and maneuvers easily. It's no Miata, but NexGen should be at the head of the pack in the motorhome slalom wars.
Getting back to that roof, instead of the usual wimpy ladder, you'll find an industrial strength unit that looks like it could support the Brooklyn Bridge. The rear roof area serves as an observation deck, thanks to waist-high railings that fold down when not in use.
Inside, instead of plush carpet that you spend half your life cleaning, you'll find rubberized flooring and throw mats. You can track in half the Okefenokee Swamp or stomp around in your ski boots, and the flooring just shrugs it off. If you're into floral patterns and fake gold trim on the cabinetry, you'd best look elsewhere. NexGen is about brushed aluminum and functionality. The Peg-Board in the galley, and the industrial-look design of the front dash with exposed hoses and vents, similar to the vents and pipes you'd likely see in an open-ceiling restaurant, literally scream functionality.
Can't hear the scream, eh? Well, try watching it on the 20-in. TV mounted over the fridge, and crank up the volume on the Panasonic DVD/VHS surround-sound player with subwoofer under the sofa. That'll loosen the old earwax.
Instead of the conventional bedroom at the rear of the coach that's used only at night, you'll find a great room—great for hanging out. This second living area is surrounded on three sides with windows and features a U-shaped dinette. The table drops down into a full bed so the room is functional 24/7.
Hyperactive lifestylers have to be ready for action at a moment's notice, so the driver and passenger seats have brackets on which to clip your backpacks. The overhead cabinets in the front and rear use netting instead of doors for true grab-and-go convenience. Don't forget to take a two-way radio from the built-in recharging station. If in your haste you and your good buddy inadvertently charge off in different directions you'll be able to communicate, 10-4?
Speaking of getting lost, the Visteon GPS in the electronic pod up front that pivots for driver and passenger will keep head scratching to a minimum.
Other cool stuff includes a docking station for a portable cooler to the right as you walk in the door. It sure beats tripping over the darn thing or trying to shove it underneath the couch. Next to that is an emergency supply depot that puts a first-aid kit, flashlight and fire extinguisher within easy reach from inside or outside the RV.
Add to this tons of other neat features such as an exterior barbecue grill that folds down and fits into a rear storage compartment as well as a basement area under the living space that's so roomy you could probably rent it out as a small studio. There are also seatbelts for the rear sofa so the kiddies can safely ride down the road engrossed in their video games instead of in your face.
NexGen, built by Fleetwood RV (800-322-8216; www.fleetwoodrv.com), starts at about $80,000 and will be out in the late fall. It can be as hyper as you are or it can carry you to the beauty and solitude of the Grand Canyon. And it will look just like the tourist brochure said it would.