The words of RV and adventure are sometimes mistakenly seen as mutually exclusive. It’s true
that RV adventure takes many forms, from simply heading across a county line to wandering
the far-flung backwoods off the beaten track, and each person sees a different level of
adventure as great fun. The Baja edition four-wheel-drive (4×4) Chinook Class C is one of
those motorhomes that makes possible the wildest kinds of RV adventure imaginable.
Chinook RV division of Trail Wagons Inc., Yakima, Washington, has been building motorhomes
for more than 40 years. Top-quality assembly and first-class amenities are hallmarks of the
Chinook, which is referred to by the company as “the sports car of RVs.” Compact size and a
powerful drivetrain contribute to sports-car-like driving performance compared to a
full-size motorhome, but the Chinook is also laden with the typical sports car’s reduced
storage and human-space size constraints. Many sports cars aren’t cheap either, and a buyer
has to want exactly what the Chinook Baja offers.
Price aside, the Baja edition has a lot
to offer the adventure-seeking RV enthusiast with an eye on a smaller motorhome. This is
not a coach for sneaking around and keeping a low profile. Chinook motorhomes are stylish
and eye-catching in standard two-wheel drive (2WD), and the cosmetic and functional extras
that come with the Baja package make this a tough motorhome to miss as it trundles down the
pike. But it’s not all looks. Chinook has used the Baja edition to compete in the grueling
wintertime Alaska Highway rally with excellent results. The 4×4 conversion that includes a
solid front axle, leaf springs and a manual-shift transfer case with low range is added by
one of several Ford-approved aftermarket upfitters used by Chinook. Off pavement, the
Chinook handled like any serious 4×4 vehicle should. Our test drive included a California
state-maintained off-pavement vehicle recreation trail that’s fairly treacherous in spots.
We growled our way up several slopes with loose rocks and rutted surfaces, and the Baja
edition happily moved ahead over anything we were brave enough to tackle.
For details about the Chinook Baja 22′ test drive, pick up the September 2002 issue of
MotorHome on the newsstand. Then subscribe to MotorHome—
so you can stay informed on the latest motorhomes, products, technical information and
travel destinations. Photos: Jeff Johnston