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Winnebago View Class C Motorhome - View To A Thrill

Real-World Testing Winnebago's New View

Photography by Winnebago Industries Inc., Tim Gavern

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.

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.

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...

It isn't just about mileage with the View; it's the entire package. Let's continue on about the drivetrain. The power is there. The mileage is there. The 5-speed automatic transmission is nothing short of amazing. DaimlerChrysler's convenient AutoStick(r) technology allows you to choose between automatic and manual modes by simply tipping the conveniently placed control stick to the right or left for upshifts and downshifts. The option of being able to shift manually is nice, but we simply couldn't beat the automatic transmission's ability to pick the perfect gear. After several tries we gave up for good, put it in "D" and pushed the go pedal. Simple.

On to lighter things: From the second you open the side door and the automatic steps come out to greet you, quality abounds in the View. Its interior has woods and cloths that are actually nicer than in our house. There are two interior layouts, two fabric colors, two wood color choices, and, you guessed it, two tasteful exterior color-vinyl trims (red and yellow, and blue and yellow). The "23J" model we tested had the bed in the rear with a dinette slide-out that folds into a bed. Both models have an overhead sleeping compartment above the driver/passenger seats. A young family of six could travel comfortably with Mom and Dad sleeping in the rear bed area (with a convenient curtain), two teens sleeping in the dinette/bed, and two smaller children sleeping in the overhead. The "23H" model has a slide-out sofa that converts to a bed, as well as the dinette/bed and overhead bed.

Great engineering is the norm, not the exception, with the View. With the optional heat pump, the generator does not have to run to heat the coach at night. We simply set the digital heat control to 72 degrees and the heat would kick on, blowing nice warm air from the floor vents. With the generator running, the air conditioning works in the same manner, blowing cold air from the roof vents. The 6-gallon water heater brings scalding-hot water in a hurry for nice, hot showers any "real" camper would envy. The toilet works perfectly and even has a nice water sprayer to help clean it. (We also used the sprayer to wash out the shower floor.) Storage spaces are everywhere, including a HUGE outside/inside storage space that we used to haul a bicycle to the campgrounds. (Two adult bikes will fit.) There is even a cooler-style slide-out storage that can keep beverages cold and food iced without taking up refrigerator room. Speaking of which, a huge refrigerator and large separate freezer are part of the package. For cooking, a convection microwave and a three-burner stove easily handle any meal prep. A large stainless steel sink with chopping block cover makes a great space for food prep. Simply turn around to watch the flatscreen TV (with DVD-player) while preparing your meals. Nice.

At night, there are lights everywhere you could possibly need them-and more. It's actually light overkill, but it's great. Even the quality of the foam in the cushions (and throw pillows included) is high quality. It's soft but firm. You can literally place your coffee cup on the bed cushion and move around without it spilling. This kind of stuff takes years of practice and it shows. Thanks, Winnebago.

The View we tested had every option except aluminum wheels. Sticker price was $86,323 (base price is $79,687). This may sound expensive, but considering the value the View brings, it's truly a case of "You get what you pay for." Don't hesitate. Head to your local Winnebago dealer and test-drive a View today. You'll probably wind up taking it home with you.

SOURCES
Winnebago Industries Inc. Altman's Winnebago
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