After hearing rumors of a small diesel-powered Winnebago RV that could possibly achieve 20 miles per gallon, we had to investigate. Winnebago has a long history of engineering quality RVs. In fact, it released its first self-contained, motorized Recreational Vehicle (RV) in 1966! Forty years of experience really shows in its new Class-C model, the View. Combining Winnebago's exceptionally well designed and well engineered Superstructure(tm) with a bulletproof DaimlerChrysler Sprinter 3500-series cab and chassis results in an RV that is simply better than the sum of its two components. After spending a week camping in the View along the northern and southern California coastlines we can attest to its innovative design, solid engineering, and exceptional build quality throughout.
Powered by a Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter common rail, direct-injected (CDI), 5-cylinder inline turbodiesel coupled to a superb five-speed automatic transmission, the View is both powerful and economical. Its engine produces 155 hp at 3,800 rpm, and 243 lb-ft of torque is available from 1,600-2,400 rpm. All that low-end torque really gets the coach moving in a hurry. In real-world driving on level ground, at an indicated 70 mph, the engine is only turning 2,500 rpm, and at 80 mph, the engine is only spinning 3,000 rpm. The five-banger hardly seems to be working.
Can you spot at least four diesels in this photo?
Two adults can actually fit in the overhead above the driver's compartment.
The View has one of the most beautiful RV interiors on the planet. Period.
From the moment you take the first entry ramp onto the freeway, the View feels like no other Class-C RV. That horrible, underpowered feeling you used to get while trying to merge into traffic is gone. The turbo spools quickly, and power is available right now. We actually drove in the number two lane on most of our 1,000-mile trip and passed cars, trucks, and buses at will. On the first leg of our journey from Los Angeles to Morro Bay we cruised at an indicated 69 miles per hour (its "happy spot"). Of course, we don't advise speeding in an RV, but this speed is quite comfortable and required little effort for the View.
Knowing fuel along the beautiful but desolate California coastline north of Morro Bay is expensive, we filled up after using only 1/2 tank from Los Angeles. After some quick calculations, we found the View averaged 14.68 miles per gallon for the first leg of our trip. This is astounding for a vehicle that (a) had only 1,835 miles showing on the odometer and wasn't broken in yet; (b) was being driven much faster than normal (uphill most of the way at 69 mph); and (c) was fairly loaded down with two passengers, camping gear, a bicycle, and a week's worth of supplies.
Kirk Creek Campground, where the mountains meet the sea, is located just south of Big Sur,
Two adult-sized bicycles can fit in the View's trick outside/inside compartment.
Another thing quickly noticed when driving on the freeway is the old "box-on-wheels" getting windblown all over the road is virtually a thing of the past. The View's aerodynamics are exceptional and wind buffeting has nearly been eliminated-even when passing tractor-trailers. The View's excellent aerodynamics really help on long trips, as drivers don't get tired as quickly because they're not fighting the wind all day long.
When we reached Highway One, with all of its switchbacks and sudden up-and-down altitude changes, mileage suffered, but only slightly. The View was a champ under these driving conditions. Being only 23 feet in length, it felt no bigger than a large van. In fact, due to its short length, the View has an unbelievable turning radius of only 23-1/2-feet! Its huge antisway bars (front and rear), dual rear wheels, and optional air rear suspension on this particular View all worked to handle the sharp turns on Highway One. We lost only two to three miles per gallon on the winding uphill stretch from Hearst Castle (a must-see) to Carmel and Monterey. Again, if we were to spin the wheel of adjectives, we'd have to say this was P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L mileage for an RV. Oh, and by the way, think your fuel is expensive? We saw $4.45 per gallon at a small station in Big Sur. Yikes!
After driving over 1,000 miles in the View, we have to believe that under perfect conditions, such as heading down the 5 Freeway from northern California to southern California, with the wind at your back, at a constant 60 miles per hour, you just might see 20 miles per gallon. We'll have to try that one next time out...