OFFICIAL BUSRide Road Test:
The Van Hool TDX25
Improvements to the double-deck round out the 2015 Van Hool line
By David Hubbard
On any weekday, shiny Van Hool double-deck coaches are on the move in the San Francisco Bay area, transporting employees to and from their occupations along State Highway 101. Such high-end employee shuttle service on luxury coaches has become standard operating procedure for many of the respected corporations based along the peninsula in the area familiarly called “Silicon Valley.”
BUSRide met with ABC Companies at its facility in Redwood City, CA, for a first look and Official Road Test of the newest iteration of the popular, proven Van Hool TD925 double-deck coach, now rebranded the TDX25. The test vehicle was prepped and ready for delivery to one of these companies. This particular coach was custom outfitted with onboard Wi-Fi, worktables and Grand Luxe leather seats spaced for ample legroom, with USB ports and 110v at each seat. The spacious interior of both the lower and upper levels allows passengers to ride in utmost comfort and stay connected for working and socializing en route.
Since ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, and the Belgian family-owned coachbuilder Van Hool formed their partnership in 1987, the two companies have worked in tandem to continually enhance and refine the Van Hool coach products for the North American market. Two years ago, the two companies took major steps to upgrade and enhance the stalwart Van Hool T2100 and C2000 model coaches with the most current advancements in engineering and technology to ensure greater safety and passenger comfort, as well as up-to-date curb appeal. That initiative carried the slogan “Evolution of Excellence” for what was the most complex redesign of these coaches since their inception 25 years ago. It was significant enough to warrant rebranding with new names — the Van Hool TX and CX. The evolution continues. Don Jensen, ABC Companies senior account manager, Western Region, took the wheel to explain and demonstrate the newest features necessary to bring the popular Van Hool TDX25 in line with its siblings, the 2015 TX and CX models.
“The TDX25 upgrade essentially incorporates many of the same features and components as the TX, as well as additional modifications specific to the double deck platform,” Jensen says. “The headlight assemblies with integrated LED daytime running lights are one of the most defining similarities among the current Van Hool models.”
He adds that the tail-light panels on the rear cap are removable for repair or replacement. A bike rack is also offered as an option on this model.
For the test drive, Jensen essentially mapped a route through Silicon Valley similar to the area’s employee shuttles. The towering TDX25 easily maneuvered through narrow streets and tight parking lots, running smooth and especially quiet.
In the driver’s area, the redesigned control switches on the dashboard lend a refined look and easy touch. A cup holder has been added in the dashboard – a small but important detail for a driver. The ISRI adjustable driver’s seat features an integrated three-point belt.
The electronically controlled, vertically sliding driver-side window makes its way onto the TDX25 as a standard feature with the manual override located inside to the lower left of the driver.
“The vertical toll window is a tremendous convenience for the driver,” Jensen says. “It also improves the driver’s vision on the left side.”
The driver accesses multiple systems using buttons via the control knob module.
“The new control knob on the left side of the driver is a very helpful,” Jensen says. “A driver will have no trouble adapting to these controls. It is a clean and easy way to access information on multiple systems.”
The backup camera with a view of the rear roadway displayed on the Double DIN REI touchscreen player is now standard the TDX25, along with the pre-wiring for side view cameras.
The standard engine is an EPA 2013 Cummins ISX12.0L. The engine couples to a Generation 5 Allison WT B500 automatic transmission. In the engine compartment, mechanics will appreciate the addition of four more inches of workspace allowing easier access to components and fittings.
Improvements in the luggage compartment include door seals mounted to the luggage door, as opposed to the body structure. This change eliminates damage to the door seals by dragging luggage across them. The seal is mounted on the door, keeping it up and out of harms way. The electrical box shifted from the bulkhead wall to the roof of the left-side baggage compartment. In consideration of the shuttle services being provided, an interior luggage rack is now a convenient option.
OEM-fitted standard safety features include a second emergency roof-hatch, the Kidde fire suppression system, as well as a SmarTire temperature and pressure-monitoring system. Also included are Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) for their instant detection of a potential emergency and assisted recovery.
In the passenger cabin, the Grand Luxe reclining seats with three-point seatbelts are in accordance with 20 G legislation. The new passenger overhead multisets provide air and adjustable LED reading lights.
The multisets are now designed to slide easily to any position along the rack, allowing techs to readjust the paneling to fit new seat layouts.
An aluminum fuel tank now accepts the Emco Wheaton fast-fill system. The fuel filler neck is now stainless steel with a brass filler cap.
This spin through the peninsula affirmed that every improvement and new feature on the TDX25 is well engineered and refined. The ease of maneuverability and smooth handling, combined with added features and conveniences for the driver, along with a host of passenger amenities brings this TDX25 in line with the Van Hool CX and TX. The updated exterior adds to the curb appeal of this high-capacity, eco-friendly coach and completes its “Evolution of Excellence” Journey.