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The Coachmen Orion has been around for a while now, but when we saw this one at the Pomona RV show last fall, we had to take a closer look. You see, if you search the internet for “Coachmen Orion”, you’ll find hundreds of pictures and RVs for sale. But this small Class C (or call it a B+ if you want to) has previously been built on the Ram ProMaster chassis, and that’s all you’ll find online – even on Coachmen’s own website!
So to see one built on a Ford Transit was a bit unusual. I actually called Coachmen before putting this footage together, and they assured me that the Ford Transit build was no fluke. In fact, that’s all they’re building any more. So, what you see here represents the future of the Orion model. The model we looked at was the T24RB.
It was too miserably hot to go into a really detailed review. At 110 degrees, I had no interest in crawling on asphalt underneath RVs! But from what we saw, the Orion looked like a decent option for those looking to get into a small Class C RV with good gas mileage at a lower price. At the prices they’re asking for the Orion, you won’t find lithium batteries, tankless water heaters, and china toilets, but you will find proven RV systems and appliances, and plenty of space to spread out without resorting to slides.
One final thought on the Orion, and it has to do with towing. Basically, you can’t. But what’s unique about the Orion is that Coachmen doesn’t try to hide that from you. Their rear receiver is clearly labeled for bikes and luggage racks only. Some might consider that a negative, but I don’t. I’ve seen many RVs out there where they put a 5000 pound hitch on a vehicle that is already close to chassis weight limits from the factory. The hitch gives the impression that you can tow up to 5000 pounds – but you really shouldn’t if you want to be safe. So, in this case, I think it’s a good thing that Coachmen has only given the capability to tow what the chassis can safely handle.
Would a 2020 Orion 20CB tow a band trailer (about 2000 lbs) or a small vehicle? I have a Honda Civic which is about 2700 lbs.
How much can you tow with a small motor home?
Oddly the turbo six chassis tows substantially (well significantly) more that the NA 6 according to Ford’s chassis web page. If the various Transit coaches weigh the same, then the turbo should tow a small (<3500#) vehicle even if the coach is at max GVWR.
Hi. This is a great review. I just finished a week driving a 2016 Coachmen Freelander Micro, which is the same rig as the Orion with slightly less expensive finishes. I want to warn people of two things: 1) the grey tank levers (there are two grey tanks) are extremely difficult to reach. I had to get down in child’s pose, lay my head on the ground under the sewer hose and hose connection (yuck) and then reach my arms far and try to somehow achieve enough torque to pull the handles, one straight down, the other toward the *interior* of the coach. I’m petite and not particularly strong; the design of the tanks did nothing to add to my trip, to put it mildly. 2) There is no way to keep the cupboard doors open (up)! It’s crazy. I was standing on the dining banquette with a pile of clothes balanced in one hand while I was holding the door open with the other. I’d them have to somehow maneuver the clothes or other items into the compartment with that one hand. It was a big fail. All of this taught me to create a checklist and look at *everything* before selecting my new motorhome.
Interesting observations and I hope they help someone out in the future.
Thanks for sharing!
So with the 20CB the towing… would a 900 lb boat, including trailer, be acceptable? Thinking of getting a small flat bottom aluminum boat to take to the lake.. and this is the RV we wanted
You’d have to load up the RV and you could make a determination then. I have examples of how to go through the calculations in this post: How much can you tow with a small motorhome.
No one seems to talk about headroom under the overhead bed. Is it acceptable 6′ or so?
I am 5’2 and just fit, no banging head for me –
SO at 5′ 6″ would we be bumping our head?
I’m 5′ 9″ and I can just fit my little finger between my head and that bed with my shoes on. Anyone taller than me would find it a problem.
The over head bed was a nightmare. Then it fell off the ceiling completely. So now we make up a bed using the jack knife bed. Wishing we would have bought the corner bed model
What MPG have owners been getting with the gas ford transit rv?
I just bought one, first thing, the tires are too small and trying to go with taller ones, mpg, I am getting 15 -16 and up on freeway.
also had issues with the exhaust hanging lower then skid plates in back, other then that, it drives like a dream, and I’ve drove for a living 12 years in San Francisco, CA
How much load do you have in that Orion? I am big on not overloading heaving items or too much stuff in RV’s.
What size tires are you recommending if the stock tires are too small?
Also, is that exhaust too low to go off road? What have you done with it?
Lastly, how does this engine handle going up mountains?
Between 12.5 to 14 mpg If you stay around 2200 rpm or 60mph mileage will be slightly improved.
Would love to get your opinion(s)! Dynamax REV 24RB on the Promaster or the Coachmen Orion T24RB on the Ford transit? I favor the REV but my biggest concern is the single rear wheels. And, do you think it’s possible to put in larger holding tanks? Thanks for all the great videos! 🙂
Well, bear in mind that we’ve never driven either of these rigs…
But having said that, we really like our ProMaster chassis. The front-wheel-drive-in-an-RV thing is something you just need to experience. I wouldn’t worry too much about the single rear wheels (though it does look funny when they sit way underneath).
I’d have to drive them one-after-the-other to give you a real opinion though.
Hi Lisa! I wouldn’t count on changing out the holding tanks to larger ones. That would be a huge costly undertaking. And James is right, the driving experience is everything when deciding on an RV! If you can, do a good long thorough test-drive of each. I bet after you do that, you’ll know which one is right for you. Best of luck in your RV hunt! Keep us posted! xoxo
Do you think one could tow a drift boat? Total lbs 15,000
I sincerely doubt it. 15k pounds is way too much.
So glad I found you. My husband and I are now retired and selling the house to go full time rv’g. Just saw a Leisure van today on the road and was glad to read your review on it. We will have to live whatever comes with the van since we are not as talented as you with how you changed the Winnabago. We are getting very excited about traveling but are now very confused in what to purchase. It will be a class b plus or a small C. My husband would never be able to drive the big rigs. I will keep reading your blogs with hopes we pick what us right for us. Thanks
Hey guys – keep looking – the right rig for you is out there!
Have you read my 8 Step Program for Choosing Your First RV? There may be some inspiration in there that will help you.
Glad you found us. Welcome aboard!
James, do you think Coachmen Orion RB with drop down bed will be built soon on diesel Ford Transit with dual rear wheels? I like the interior space on this floor plan without the need for a slide. Since Compass and Fuse models came out, I expected more floor plans with the diesel dually Ford Tramsit from various manufacturers. Finally, does diesel Trnasit have more than 2000# hitch? Thanks.
I can’t speak for Coachmen’s future product plans, but here are some things to think about:
The video already shows the dually chassis with the RB floor plan. So you’re probably just interested in the diesel.
The GVWR is the same for all the engine varieties of the Transit (http://www.ford.com/commercial-trucks/transitcommercial/specifications/).
So changing from gas to diesel won’t affect the towing capacity.
The Transit has less GVWR than Sprinter chassis – and I don’t think that’s going to change.
I appreciate Coachmen ‘s honesty in not putting a huge hitch on the Orion to make you think you can tow more than is safe.
I’ve heard that there are a few reasons that the Transit chassis hasn’t taken off.
The lack of factory swivel seats is one. That annoying doghouse that makes it so you can’t get up and go to the back is another.
Ford knows these are issues for RV upfitters. They may choose to address these in future years of the Transit, and maybe you’ll see it take off then.
Stove vent hood with outside exhaust! That should be a standard on RV’s! Hope we see more of those, especially on Class B’s where space is tight anyway and it would be nice to exhaust cooking odors for better air quality. I know they have a ceiling vent, but venting at the source just works better. IMO
I know, right??!
So James, maybe next project for Lance? New vent hood with outside exhaust? Dometic now has one for US market http://www.dometic.com/USA/New-Products/New-RV-Products/ck-500-range-hood/
Nice, they have implemented some interesting ideas into the Orion! The transit chassis is gas powered, is it? At that price (wow) I assume it is.
I actually didn’t check, but you’re right, at that price, I would assume yes. Ford seems to want an extra $5k or so for the diesel.
Was wondering if you had a chance to look at the “underbelly” of the Hymer when you did the review
My question was whether any part was hanging lower then chassis like the Travato
Actually no, we didn’t. If we get to do a detailed review of the Hymer, we will certainly hit those kinds of details.