A Great Ambition
Augusta introduces the AB-35RS fifth-wheel trailer with a number of unexpected features earmarked for full-timers and extended travelers
There’s no question that when people embark on a path to extended or full-time RV living, the most difficult part of the journey is choosing the right rig. For this type of RV travel, the fifth-wheel is a popular choice. Finding a fifth-wheel that will meet all expectations takes some study and time in the field. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the visual “gingerbread” and try to keep costs low, but the reality of spending a great amount of time in a fifth-wheel can be fulfilled only by a product that will hold up well under hard use. It’s tempting to take the best deal, but read the fine print.
Many manufacturers warn against full-time living. Augusta RV, a company with only a few years under its belt, promotes the opposite. The company builds fifth-wheels that are designed to spend more time on the road than in storage, and its Ambition AB-35RS is just one example of a unit intended for full-time use but with a price tag well below what one would expect for such a well-equipped rig. And, since its fifth-wheels are sold directly from the manufacturer, buyers get a lot of bang for their bucks.
The Ambition AB-35RS is new for model year 2017, and the triple-slide format makes it fit for full-timing use right out of the box. Knowing that it’s a fifth-wheel that will spend great amounts of time on the road, Augusta concentrates on building a robust chassis and suspension. The company starts with stout 12-inch I-beam main rails and completes the chassis using Dexter axles rated at 8,000 pounds and fitted with multi-piston automotive-style disc brakes. Attached to the axles is the MORryde SRE4000 suspension system, allowing for a full 4 inches of suspension travel and greatly improving overall ride smoothness while helping to reduce unnecessary frame stress or highway-impact damage to the body and its contents.
Top-notch Goodyear 215/75R17.5 H-rated tires are mounted on good-looking eight-spoke aluminum wheels. A six-point Equalizer hydraulic leveling system, which has been backlit by the glow of blue LED accent lights at all legs, rounds out the attachments to the chassis.
It’s clear that the company has cut no corners in building a chassis that should ultimately provide long life and a pleasant towing experience.
Inside, the floorplan is not unique, but additional touches added to conventional segments bring out a lot of personality. The rear section is devoted to the living room with theater seating and an opposing entertainment center, connected to the kitchen. A large island counter is the focal point of the roomy galley, and opposing slides open up the area tremendously. Up the stairs takes you to the side bath and front bedroom that’s big enough to handle the king mattress and gigantic front closet.
Once aboard the very inviting, comfortable and super homey-feeling interior, it’s easy to appreciate the design elements and nice touches that rival a high-end house. Here you’ll find an abundant use of lightly shaded natural solid cherry-wood doors and drawers that lead to large storage areas. All the cabinetry is built solidly using dovetail drawers for more strength, and standard self-closing guides.
The heavy use of the golden-toned woodwork directs your attention immediately to the theater seating resting in the streetside living-room slideout. The dual reclining theater seats appear to be perfect for the environment from first glance, offering roominess, access to entertainment, cupholders and a plush feel; however, almost all of that goes to the wayside once attempting to maintain a reclined position. The seats are comfy, but unless you’re a body builder with the ability to hold the seats open, they simply won’t stay in the desired position. We would opt for the company’s upgraded furniture when ordering the fifth-wheel.
There’s no doubt the theater seating provides an amazing view and an ideal distance to the huge 50-inch LED HDTV, which also doubles as a door, giving access to a number of shelves and the Bluetooth-enabled entertainment system behind it. The rear wall of the fifth-wheel is occupied mostly by the 85-inch hide-a-bed sofa, which we found to easily promote midday napping.
Resting just above the rock-solid foundation is the flooring, which blends nicely with the overall decor package. Here you’ll see materials commonly found in custom homes, which sets this fifth-wheel apart from many others on the market. While the hard-surface flooring may have a slightly strange feel to bare feet, there’s no question about the quality, serious durability and originality of installing individual hand-laid tiles in a pleasant-looking pattern. Ultimately, this allows for a one-of-a-kind custom-home feel.
Taking up a large portion of the lower section of the fifth-wheel is the extra-functional and user-friendly kitchen. A lot of real estate is devoted to the island with a one-piece solid-surface counter, stainless-steel sinks and a high-rise faucet. Integrated into the impressive island is just the right mix of modern technology, strategically located. The tech-top, for lack of a better description, has an undercounter charging station, essentially making this a “smart island.”
Directly across from the island lies another solid-surface prep area to the left of a stainless-steel-trimmed residential range. This is an interesting addition and one that is not yet that common. With the use of residential refrigerators, like the stainless-steel-clad LG in the Ambition, it makes sense that some manufacturers will look for compact residential stoves and ovens, suitably code-approved for use in an RV, and might even set a new trend.
Stationed above the stove is a large stainless convection microwave. Below the small strip of counter next to the stove is a pullout counter extension and a matching solid-surface cutting board with a square hole in the end for sliding scraps directly into the included and aligned trash can. This is a valuable feature for any cook, but the mechanism could use a few more screws and a little glue to function as designed.
Close to the refrigerator is an easy-to-reach, lighted, almost-walk-in pantry. The galley storage in the Ambition was hands-down one of our all-time favorites. Not only is there ample space everywhere for everything, but the layout is second to none. Within no more than two steps, the entire kitchen can be reached and manipulated. We loved this kitchen! Oh, did we mention just how much cabinet space there is, too?
No need to worry about seeing clearly in the kitchen or anywhere else inside, as the Ambition is guaranteed by the manufacturer to be outfitted with the most lighting of any fifth-wheel currently on the market, and we don’t think it’s a false claim. The Ambition is absolutely loaded from top to bottom, front to back, inside and out with lights of all kinds, sizes and colors. Inside, the massive number of recessed LED lights ranges from dim-white to bright lights, mood lighting to blue lighting and nearly all that fits between — there’s even a selection of dimmer switches throughout.
Since the Ambition is apparently aiming to be a fully loaded fifth-wheel with innovations exclusive to the market segment, utilizing the right balance of classic RV features with an appropriate touch of tech, there’s no way the bathroom would be overlooked, and it wasn’t. Augusta opted to mix a little old with new, taking a different approach to how a lavatory sink and faucet should look. Kudos to the company for its bathroom design and component selection with the use of a cultured marble-like one-piece counter and sink, borrowed directly from the residential market, and a waterfall faucet protruding out of a frosted-glass backsplash. The surprisingly roomy sink setup nestles into the wall right below a mirrored double-door medicine cabinet.
Aside from the updated look, the bathroom houses a high-quality Dometic 320 porcelain toilet and a relatively common fiberglass shower enclosure, supported by glass sliding doors, a molded shower seat and a shower wand that left much to be desired. On the plus side, the shower is exceptionally roomy.
It’s only a short trip down the hallway to the master bedroom, but keep your eyes open. In those few feet, if not paying attention to the hallway window covering while walking around or having your back turned, it’ll bite you hard. Perhaps leaving out the window covering would be more appropriate, or even a smaller window placed farther up the wall and out of the way. Aside from that small observation, the unparalleled slumber quality provided by the residential I-Rest Cool-Gel king mattress is literally a step away. Take it from someone with sleep-related issues, this mattress is wonderful and promoted restful nights.
While the mattress takes up the majority of the front section, which is expanded by the streetside slideout, there is plenty of space allocated for the wardrobe and related cabinetry. The wardrobe is huge, and shelves and cubbyholes placed throughout swallow up a lot of clothing and personal items. Lighting with a blue-purple hue adds a touch of class. Inside the front closet area are provisions for a washer and dryer, which can be used as a large dresser if the laundry facilities are not needed. Another dresser is in front of the bed, and here a 32-inch LED HDTV is mounted, with provisions for a satellite receiver.
While staying in the AB-35RS during rapidly changing inclement weather, it was obvious just how well the insulation was done, leading to true four-season protection. The Ambition utilizes combined fiberglass and thermal-wrap insulation throughout the underbelly, tucking them into all the floor and side-wall crevices.
To keep up with creature comforts, one more area claimed to be unique to Augusta RV and its Ambition is the super-adjustable and powerful, quick-reacting interior climate system, complete with multiple zones, furnaces and air conditioners. Combining Atwood’s intelligent multi-location digital thermostat with the two 20,000-Btu furnaces and two15,000-Btu air conditioners ensures there’s never a shortage or a long wait for a cool, soothing breeze or heated air.
The heating system also utilizes a portion of one of the two furnaces to supply warm air down to the holding tanks, aiding the already well-equipped four-season prepping. Finalizing the four-season foundation are heat pads for all tanks, topped off by a single piece of polypropylene plastic that seals the entire underbelly.
Another area where the Ambition stands out is its wall-construction methods. Augusta hangs the side walls on a 2.25-inch-thick welded-aluminum superstructure that uses 16-inch on-center stud framing. The aforementioned fiberglass insulation is paired with Thermopane windows to improve the trailer’s four-season capability.
Closely mimicking the general building process, the three slideouts are crafted using the same construction techniques as the side walls, maintaining high strength and rigidity. To assure proper alignment between the side walls and corresponding slideouts, special bracing is added and kept in place until the marriage of the slideout to the side wall. Smooth gelcoat fiberglass skin graces the exterior that’s treated to a rather conservative graphics package that exudes more class than flash. Storage-wise, the main forward exterior-access storage compartment is huge with nicely concealed access to the central vacuum and other service items. Up front, part of the compartment is used for the batteries and power inverter.
In a relatively short time, Augusta has figured out how to build fifth-wheels that appeal to people whose desire is to spend a lot of time on the road and in RV parks. The Ambition gets it right and should provide many years of service for those who want comfort and quality plus all the bells and whistles at a reasonable price.
Augusta RV | 844-848-0200 | www.augusta-rv.com/ambition