The Latest Trend
Winnebago goes a different direction for 2017 by adding a slideout to its popular compact Class C motorhome
The destination kept changing but the motive didn’t. We wanted sun, water and hiking possibilities, all of which we have here in Southern California, but we wanted them somewhere else. A good vehicle to take us there — one that is not too big, not too small, but just right — is the latest Trend Class C by Winnebago. This floorplan, the 23D, has veered in a new direction for 2017 by adding a slideout, a first for this model. At 24 feet, the Trend is compact enough to go just about anywhere, yet it offers roominess and everything needed to keep up to four people content, if one or two of them are small, for lengthy getaways. Introduced in 2014, the Trend is built on the Ram ProMaster chassis with a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine and front-wheel drive.
We climbed into the cockpit to rest on the cloth-covered captain’s seats for our 300-plus-mile trip to Arizona. The dash-mounted shifter and easily discernable HVAC controls got two thumbs-up; ditto for the three functional cup holders within easy reach, and large folding powered side mirrors with integrated turn signals that provided a good side and rear view.
The Trend is equipped with Fiat Chrysler’s user-friendly Uconnect multimedia system, which includes a 5-inch LCD color touch screen for the AM/FM MP3 radio with CD player, navigation, USB port, Bluetooth hands-free phone functionality, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and voice texting and reply capability (not compatible with iPhones). In addition, Winnebago tosses in a complimentary one-year subscription to SiriusXM radio. The screen for the backup camera with a color rearview monitoring system is incorporated into the rearview mirror.
Safety features include air bags, traction and electronic stability control, hill-start assist, electronic roll mitigation, anti-lock brakes with panic brake assist and tire-pressure monitoring.
Visually, the Trend is somewhat of a contradiction in styling, contrasting an aerodynamic front and large cutting-edge angled skylight against a boxy-looking rear, which is reminiscent of a toy hauler. Two rows of LED taillights, a ladder and trendy (no pun intended) decals gussy up the rear. And the LT225/75R16 tires look funky aesthetically, specifically in the rear because it looks like the Trend should be outfitted with duallies rather than singles. This, in fact, was one of the things on which most onlookers commented.
We stopped near Palm Springs to walk a couple of miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. On this April day, the desolate trail was busy; we came across four different groups and one lone hiker, all of whom had been hiking for weeks or months, carrying their gear on their backs and living off freeze-dried food. The solo hiker looked longingly at the Trend as he passed by, which probably looked like a resort hotel to him … and it struck us that we were truly traveling in luxury.
While underway at freeway speeds, conversation in the Trend’s cockpit can be held at a normal level, though wind noise from the motorhome’s skylight is noticeable. The route we were traveling is popular with freight trucks, and the Trend’s suspension was bumpy over the punished pavement. Through the desert we hit high winds and the Trend plowed on through, feeling stable. When climbing grades, the roar of the engine was quite pronounced as it pulled the 8,420-pound vehicle steadily with little falter.
We crossed into Arizona from California and temperatures rose as gas prices dropped. Our destination was Lake Havasu City, but the Colorado River looked so inviting that we stopped 30 miles short to spend a night — which turned into two — in Parker at a county campground. After spending 10 hours on the road, with a few stops, we noted how comfortable the captain’s seats had been, but we were ready to set up camp.
Inside, with an interior height of 6 feet 7 inches, there was plenty of headroom, even with the ceiling-mounted Coleman-Mach air conditioner cutting off a couple of inches in the walkway between the beds. Opening the slide, which worked smoothly, added 19 inches of depth to the galley. The slide houses the 5.26-cubic-foot double-door refrigerator/freezer and High Pointe microwave convection oven above and sofa directly behind the driver’s seat. The thickly padded sofa, the only furniture in the RV, is extremely comfortable, and accommodates tall folks with 22 inches from the seat to the floor and a high back. We swiveled the captain’s chairs around and set up one of the two pedestal tables for a homey feel, and the galley was then transformed into a living room where four could sit and dine with enough elbowroom. There are also two places to anchor tables between the twin beds.
The Flexsteel sofa is what Winnebago calls a Fold N Tumble: It converts to a 44-by-72-inch bed and has seating and seatbelts for two. I spent two nights on that bed, and actually found it more comfortable than the rear twin beds. The width of it puts the bed somewhere between a twin and double, so it could accommodate two children. The three-way refrigerator with touch control was so quiet, the only time it was noticeable was when my head was next to it while sleeping on the sofa bed.
The refrigerator is situated 2 inches off the floor, leaving a gap that was wide enough to swallow up a sandal that we accidentally kicked underneath. This got us thinking that the gap could be a hazard because items could get trapped in the slide as it’s moved in and out. The gap extends around the left side of the refrigerator as well, so we rolled up towels to fill in the space; a simple fix, but something that Winnebago should address.
Since we wanted to watch the sunset, we moved the party outdoors to enjoy the view across the river to the California side of the border, and entertained ourselves by watching folks go back and forth for a two-minute boat ride into another state. Then, as bats came out and flitted about, catching their dinner, we moved back indoors to make our dinner.
As we pulled food, plates, cooking utensils and pans out of the cabinets, it struck us, as it did when packing up, that even though there’s no pantry, there’s an abundance of cupboard space in the galley with two overhead cabinets, a large cabinet below the sink and two deep drawers under the range. We nicknamed the cabinet over the range “Grand Slam” because when we opened, it slammed into the wall and sliding privacy divider to the right of it. A horizontal rail on the top shelf keeps spices and small items from rolling out when the door is opened, though shorter people may have trouble reaching into the back of the top shelf.
The cabinet below the stainless-steel sink houses a water-filtration system, and hot water is instant thanks to the Girard tankless on-demand water heater with wall-mounted control. The curvy two-burner range with a glass top not only looks good, but the clever design is a functional use of space, leaving a little island between the stainless-steel sink and range to set a pan or a coffee pot. A glass shield attached to the bottom of the cabinet over the range protects the cabinet from grease splatters, and a flip-up countertop extension adds needed food-prep space. The extension deploys in the doorway, yet there was still room for us to scoot around it when exiting and entering.
An attractive contoured acrylic backsplash protects the walls around the sink and range. Flip on the “mood lighting” switch and the backsplash lights up to look like waves, while a row of LEDs cast soft light above the cabinetry. Corner shelves at the head of the twin beds light up as well and have USB ports.
When it’s time for bed, there are a couple of options. The aforementioned twin beds on either side are equipped with individual Froli 3¾-by- 3¾-inch specialty springs under the foam mattresses. Each mattress is sectioned at the top to accommodate a wood-slatted headrest operated by a ratcheting system that allows for multiple height adjustments. Raise your head to the desired height — flat for sleeping, if you wish, or raised for watching TV or reading.
But, wait, there’s more: The 23D is equipped with a Flex Bed System that turns the two beds into one larger one with a cross-aisle sleeping arrangement. Each bed has a ledge anchored to the outside of the structure that holds the two tables. Lay the tables in place, use the two back cushions as the mattress and you’ve got a 52-by-87-inch bed.
Housed in a cabinet over the passenger-side bed are the systems monitor panel and a Jensen home-theater system with a DVD player, surround sound and connectivity to Bluetooth for smartphones and tablets. A 28-inch LED HDTV swivels out for viewing from anywhere in the motorhome. After pulling down the MCD blackout shades and climbing under the covers to watch a movie, the remote to shut off/turn on the MaxxAir roof fan became our favorite accessory since we were too lazy to get up.
Storage in the bathroom is plentiful, with a wardrobe, deep sliding drawers and a medicine cabinet. The shower is roomy and, with the skylight, there’s 6 feet 8 inches total height, which can accommodate tall people, but you’ll need to remove the drip rod. A retractable shower screen squeegees off the water while it’s being closed. A fiberglass sink is molded into the countertop, but we found that the fixed faucet was so close to the edge of the sink that water could drip down between the sink and shower when washing our hands. A powered fan worked well to pull steam out of the bathroom while showering.
The aforementioned sliding privacy divider that separates the galley from the bedroom was a nice touch when my early riser husband, Bill, lounged in the galley while I slept. But when he, in his 6 a.m. quest for coffee, pushed the igniter switch for the range, I was startled awake by the loud sound.
After two nights of dry camping and relying, in part, upon the optional 100-watt solar panel ($805) and 2,800-watt Cummins Onan LP-gas generator, we moved on to Lake Havasu City. The High-Gloss Marbella Cherry wood overhead cabinets have a press-to-release feature that keeps the cabinets tightly shut during travel. The two drawers in the galley were a different story, however, as they opened and closed during travel when turning. Fingerprints also showed up prominently on the gloss-finished cabinetry.
Driving over London Bridge brought us to an RV resort on the small island. London Bridge, which formerly spanned the River Thames in England, was falling down, or rather it was sinking, so the city of London put it up for auction and it ended up in Lake Havasu City, where it’s a popular attraction. The RV resort was packed with snowbirds, most of them in RVs larger than ours.
We ended up in a spacious lot facing the lake with the sunlight streaming into the Trend from the skylight. The skylight is over the cab and brightens the galley. It has a pleated shade that allows owners to roll it open or closed as much or little as they want. Dual-pane Euro acrylic windows (a $2,240 option) help with thermal efficiency in the motorhome.
Later, while relaxing under the powered 14-foot awning (with LED lighting) and enjoying music through the exterior speakers, we watched magnificent boats cruise by. The Trend has a barbecue grill hookup near the entry door, and an outside shower hookup on the opposite side. There’s lockable outside storage as well, good for stashing hoses and such, but with a 33-by-10-inch door to access the deep compartment, it wasn’t large enough to fit our camp chairs.
We left Arizona’s playground as the sun was setting. During our trip we spent time in a variety of camping situations, from dry camping at a county park to staying at a five-star RV resort with hookups. We were impressed with the Trend’s agility and tight turning radius. Fuel economy averaged 12.46 mpg, with a high of 13.33 and a low of 11.59.
The Trend 23D has a cheerful, inviting feel to it, with a well-appointed floorplan that is open and bright, and good interior storage space. With its big feel in a manageable size, we felt like we could take it almost anywhere. It was just right for the two of us who like to wander off in search of new places.
Winnebago Industries | 641-585-3535 | www.winnebagoind.com