Editor’s Note: The following story, authored by Mark Kahler for About.com, is yet another result of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) vehicle loan program using a Winnebago Via, RVIA reports. The Reston, Va.-based trade association also arranged to have three vehicles in New York City Saturday morning, a Roadtrek N6-Active Class B, a Fleetwood Tioga Class C (from El Monte) and the Winnebago Via, for tours and highlights on Fox News in segments that promoted the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally in Indianapolis.
It’s not often that someone offers me a test drive. When they do, it’s usually because they want me to buy a new car.
So I was intrigued when the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association asked if I would be willing to test drive an RV for a week, and then write about the experience. I was allowed to choose a route anywhere in the U.S., and it did not have to begin and end in the same place. Although the vehicle was supplied, I paid all the other expenses: fuel, camping fees, propane refills, park admissions, groceries, etc.
Despite a challenging economy in recent years, RVIA reports wholesale RV shipments in the first half of 2012 were up 7.6%t over the same period in 2011. That might suggest many travelers see RVs as a way to hit the road with efficiency and comfort while bypassing expensive hotels and restaurants.
I knew just enough about that approach to be interested in the offer. As a child, our family owned a travel trailer for a few years. By the time I was age 10, I had seen both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Rockies, the Redwoods and major cities like Boston, Toronto, Seattle and San Francisco. Those trips were a lot of work for my parents, but they kindled a lifelong love of travel in me.
As an adult, I had no experience driving an RV. Nonetheless, I accepted the offer to maneuver a 25-foot Winnebago Via 25Q. I chose a punishing but scenic route through the mountains and canyon lands of Colorado and Utah, with a final stop in Las Vegas.
To read Kahler’s full review click here.
The following article chronicles a lengthy road test performed by Mark Williams of Motor Trend Magazine with a Via Class C motorhome from Winnebago Industries Inc., built on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The story appears in the August issue of Truck Trend.
Over the last several years, the RV industry has been hammered. Big players like Fleetwood, Winnebago, Lance, and Coleman have taken gigantic hits, and in some cases have had to reorganize completely, cutting production and staff by half. And with the economy just beginning to pull out of a long nosedive, fuel prices continuing their creep ever upward, and lending institutions still being very careful about “leisure” loans, the future doesn’t look like it’ll get too bright any time soon. Still, there are signs that the industry can and will respond to this new playing field, the most obvious change being the size of motorhomes.
Traditional Class A motorhomes (the largest, typically shoebox-shaped motorhomes) use a commercial-grade frame, usually running a big-block gas engine that can average anywhere from 4 to 8 mpg. Naturally, motorhomes with Cummins, Power Stroke, or Duramax diesel engines get better mileage, but also run at a premium, depending on the packaging, and become quite pricey. As a result, smaller, more efficient motorhomes have become more popular over the past several years. As you might expect, the smaller van-chassis Class C motorhomes, typically based off an elongated van frame, also were on an upswing, but very few were equipped with a turbodiesel.
In 2004 Mercedes-Benz introduced its new Sprinter van chassis, originally designed to take the place of the aging full-size Dodge Ram vans (Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler were still together back then), equipped with a powerful, sophisticated 3.0-liter V-6 Mercedes turbodiesel, now rated at 188 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. And in the five years since its intro, just about every major RV maker has developed a new product for it.
We recently had a chance to take one of the more popular F50 (the 1-ton chassis) Winnebago models out on the road. We put the Via 25Q through cold-weather testing, and what we found was surprising. From behind the wheel, it’s almost unnerving how small the vehicle drives, making it feel more like a Suburban or Expedition EL.
To view the entire article, click here.
“RV Buddies Online” named four RVs from the recent Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA) show in Hershey, Pa., “Best of Show.”
The show, which always creates a lot of expectation as people flock to see the new models, didn’t disappoint this year as a record crowd of 31,700 was on hand to check out the brand new 2010 models from 59 manufacturers at the 41st annual event, according to a news release.
“The manufacturers delivered some exciting products for the 2010 model year,” said Mark Summers, “RV Buddies” host and producer. “After walking the show and filming for nearly a week, several coaches simply stood out to us.”
Winnebago has delivered a great coach that will be a standard-setter for the next decade. It is for this generation what the View was for the last. It offers a sleek package and good mileage. On our test drive, the coach impressed with a stable, secure ride.
Four Winds Serrano
Four Winds is associated with value. The Serrano offers great styling, storage, floor plans and diesel at a great price. It’s a great combination in a nicely sized package.
This “Best of Show” is for the entire Tour line-up, as well as the sister-coach, the Itasca Ellipse. Winnebago re-invented their top-of-the-line Class A diesel pusher with some truly innovative layouts. They have even jumped into the fray with a 42-foot tag axle model.
The all-new Galileo is a 21-foot trailer. The custom-molded front cap is aerodynamic. Inside, the fit, finish, materials and equipment are without compromise. If you are looking for an efficient-sized, high end towable, the Galileo should be on your short list.
Following the success of the PRVCA show, “RV Buddies” will continue to film next month at the California RV Show in Pomona, Calif., with plans to shoot at the Florida RV Super Show in January. After attending these major debut shows, “RV Buddies” plans to name its “RV(s) of the Year.”
“RV Buddies” films and produces tailored videos for RV manufacturers and suppliers, as well as providing internet marketing and consulting services to the RV industry. For more information contact Mark Summers at: Mark@RVBuddiesOnline.com.
Editor’s Note: This is a review written by Jeff Johnston. His Motor Matter column runs in the Washington Times and other newspapers. He also is a contributor to RVBusiness.
More fuel-efficient is definitely “in” these days when it comes to RV products. Manufacturers are coming up with interesting, new, smaller motorized and towable options for those looking for something a bit different to fit today’s economic sensibilities.
Motorhomes based on the Dodge Sprinter van, both the full van and cutaway chassis, are popular and commonplace today. Winnebago Industries Inc. has gone one step further with the introduction of its all-new 2010 Via Class A motorhome.
The Via and its Itasca equivalent, the Reyo, are based on the Sprinter “cowl” chassis that’s currently being imported exclusively by Winnebago. This chassis allows the company to design its entire coach from the ground up, as is typical for any Class A motorhome, instead of working with the Sprinter cab or body features used on the earlier models.
At 25 feet long, the Via is a compact vehicle, yet it offers full-featured livability and comfort. At the same time, its 154-hp Mercedes-Benz 3.0-L turbo-diesel 6-cylinder engine delivers fuel economy numbers considerably higher than the average gas-powered Class A and better than various front- or rear-engine diesel-powered rigs on the market.
Sprinter-van-based Class B motorhomes are reported to achieve as much as 20-plus mpg. Winnebago hasn’t released any fuel economy figures yet, but it’s reasonable to presume that the Via will achieve lower numbers than the smaller van-based rigs, but still better than a V-8-powered coach.
Contemporary body styling and graphics give the coach visual appeal, and the interior abounds with smooth, rounded surfaces and next-generation-looking cabinets. It’s a rig that likely would please the most persnickety type who doesn’t want just another box on wheels.
The Via starts at $135,132 base MSRP. That’s not cheap, but long-term fuel savings make it a viable investment option.
True North Freelance OSV
The interest in downsized trailers means more RV manufacturers are treading the fine line between an RV and a simple enclosed place to sleep on wheels. Northwood Manufacturing Inc., a company long known for building functional and high-quality RVs designed by outdoors enthusiasts, has developed a new small trailer that fits a variety of recreation product niches.
The new Freelance Outdoor Support Vehicle (OSV) by Northwood’s True North division is an exciting addition to the smaller-RV market. It resembles one of the classic teardrop-style trailers on steroids and offers a wide variety of equipment and function options.
In essence, it’s a 1,535-pound trailer with a sofa that folds down to a bed, a rear lift hatch that covers a kitchenette unit and several exterior-access storage compartments. Its rounded front and sloped aft end help with aerodynamics, and the unit’s 16-foot, 4-inch length means it can be stored in many garages.
As with a teardrop, users need to bend over inside as the entire rig is just 6 feet 9 inches tall overall from ground to roofline. Inside, it’s just the sofa/bed that folds down to 48 x 77 inches, some mesh storage pockets, and extra open storage space. A lower-level access hatch provides pass-through long-item storage capability.
And that’s still a lot more luxurious than the average tent. The Freelance OSV is aimed at those who want to make the leap from a tent into an RV without a lot of complications or cost. This rig retails for about $8,250 base MSRP, and heads up to closer to $13,100 fully equipped.
Users can opt for the base package or equip the Freelance OSV with a wide variety of options including a complete array of Thule rack-mount storage and sporting-toy-mount or camping accessories.
The Freelance OSV is an interesting and versatile new option for first-time RVers or those wishing to expand the flexibility of their leisure time activities.
Chalet RV: Moving and Shaking
The product designers at Chalet RV Inc. have been busy with a new model aimed at the lightweight towable market. A company spokesman said the product would be ready for introduction very soon, pending some final detail touches on the first model.
While it’s no big news to build a lightweight RV these days, the big difference lies in how your lightweight compares to the other guy’s product.
The new Chalet model is said to break new ground in that regard and will offer full livability features, including a dry bath, in a very compact size. It’s not a fold-down, like another popular Chalet product line, and it’s not a teardrop, although it blends elements of each.
It also uses wide-body design to help achieve extra interior space.