When you want to get away in style, the Winnebago Sightseer provides the space and features for families large and small
Finding a Class A motorhome that speaks to your emotional and practical sides isn’t always as easy as it seems. Often, a motorhome that seems large enough for everyone really only accommodates two, and may not even have room for overnight guests. The 2016 Winnebago Sightseer, however, is one of the nicest-looking gas coaches we’ve ever tested, with its handsome silver/gray Cloud full-body paint scheme. It’s also got plenty of room for family, and is an entertainer’s dream with abundant seating in the living area, and an amidships bath, in addition to a full bath aft of the bedroom.
We were eager to get behind the wheel of the Sightseer, so we stowed our belongings in the fully finished and lighted storage compartments (the main one allows pass-through storage for low-profile items like chairs and a table) and soon we were driving to our destination — Gilroy, California.
If you read this magazine often, you know that we’re not exactly raving fans of the Ford gas chassis. On smooth roads at moderate speeds, it’s acceptable, but on rough roads, and especially driving uphill, the noise inside is oppressive. That being said, the Sightseer 36Z was actually among the quieter of the Ford chassis motorhomes we’ve tested lately and the steering and brakes inexplicably felt better too, but there is still room for improvement.
The cab arrangement is pretty straightforward, with the standard Ford-issue instruments and a touch-screen radio in the center console. This is a popular way to integrate the audio/video/navigation features into one unit, but we don’t think the driver-centric angle works as intended. In a car, it’s great, but in a motorhome, you typically don’t want to take your eyes off the road to fiddle with the radio controls, so you rely on your co-pilot for assistance. The way this unit is angled, it’s very inconvenient for the co-pilot to use. Considering other Winnebago products we’ve tested make the controls more accessible to both front seat occupants, we can only assume that Winnebago was trying something new here.
To the left of the driver are the controls for the automatic leveling system, electric solar/blackout windshield shades, sideview mirror controls/heating, and headlight/fog light switches. Overall, the area works well, but the seats are on the firm side and could use more support, especially at the seat cushion. An extended cushion would be a welcome addition, or at least a seat extension that could be deployed if desired.
The passenger-side seat is equipped with an optional footrest ($210), which is a thoughtful touch and would most likely be used when the motorhome is parked and the seat turned toward the living area. Also on the passenger side is a workstation that differs from others we have seen in Winnebago coaches. Instead of sliding out, it pulls up and over, then flops into your lap. We prefer the pullout-type workstations we’ve seen in other Winnebago products.
Then there was the oddity of the passenger-side sight window. It’s designed to let you see traffic alongside, which is a nice idea, but it doesn’t really work. You can only see out of half of it when no one is seated next to you, and with a passenger alongside, you can’t see out of it at all. We did, however, appreciate the power windshield shade and the manually operated side window solar shades. They kept glare to a minimum when driving during the day, and at night they did an admirable job of keeping light out when combined with the side curtains and blackout shades throughout the rest of the coach.
Above the driver are cabinets, one of which houses the DVD player. In the test motorhome, there was also the optional StudioLoft powered bed ($2,233) above the cab seats, which works well for those who need extra sleeping capacity. Even more sleeping space can be found behind the driver’s-side seat in the streetside slide. Winnebago’s optional 60-by-75-inch Rest Easy sofa ($1,533) has a convenient power recline feature; press a button, and you go from the upright to supine position in seconds. Of course it also folds out into a bed, so you can recline it to take a quick nap during the day or deploy the full bed at night.
Aft of the couch on the same side is a 42-by-74-inch BenchMark four-place fixed dinette that is very comfortable, and has a convenient mechanism that allows you to quickly turn the table into a bed without having to hassle with any wobbly posts. So even if you don’t opt for the StudioLoft bed, you can sleep two on the sofa and two more on the converted dinette. There is plenty of overhead storage above both areas, and the cabinetry in the test coach seemed well-built and fit very nicely.
Directly across from the couch in the full-wall slide is an entertainment center with an electric fireplace and a 48-inch HDTV that rises from the surface with the touch of a switch. On either side of the fireplace are wine racks, which we think are an elegant and useful touch. We didn’t spend a lot of time watching TV, but one evening we popped in a DVD and were impressed with the TV’s picture and great sound created by the optional home theater system ($476).
Next to the entertainment center is the kitchen, which is cleverly arranged to form an L-shape when the slide is deployed. The “L” portion is actually fixed, and the slide moves in over it when it is closed. It’s a smart design, because it always allows access to at least one bowl of the sink, and yields plenty of room to move through the coach during travel — then supplies welcome extra prep space once you reach your destination. The materials here are first rate as well; the countertops are Corian, the sink is a double-bowl model made from stainless steel, and the faucet is made from real metal and features a pullout sprayer. We found that there was plenty of prep space on the countertop’s expanse. The stove is a standard-issue three-burner, but above it is a residential-size stainless-steel High Pointe convection microwave. The Sightseer was also equipped with a residential stainless-steel refrigerator with icemaker, supported by four deep-cycle batteries and an inverter. It cooled down very quickly, and had no problems staying cold. Underneath the countertop and stove are seven good-size drawers, and next to the refrigerator is a pantry with four pullout shelves, which we loved.
In the center of the coach on the curbside is the guest bath, which has enough room for most people. By angling the porcelain toilet toward the door, there is adequate legroom while still allowing plenty of counterspace, three drawers and a cabinet/mirror above the countertop. There’s also a towel ring, which is always appreciated, and above the toilet, more cabinet space.
The bedroom likewise makes great use of space. King beds are becoming an increasingly popular option, which is fine, but you’ve likely read our complaints on several occasions that many manufacturers don’t make the slide large enough to accommodate it, resulting in a bed that has effectively been wedged in place. In the Sightseer, there’s not a lot of room on either side of the optional king, but there is still enough for a glass of water, keys, wallet, book, etc. The optional king-size Ideal Rest Nouveau mattress ($1,050) features digital comfort control with dual remotes, so each sleeper can dial in their ideal firmness. We found it to be supremely comfortable, although the pump was noisy and the control seemed to have a mind of its own at times.
At the foot of the bed is a perfectly designed wardrobe with a 32-inch HDTV dead center, and room for hanging clothes on either side, plus large drawers underneath for folded clothes. And, underneath the TV is a cubby for your satellite box/DVD player, etc., with all the appropriate connections. Above the bed is the usual cabinet space, with LED lighting underneath for reading. Our only note here is that the lighting seemed actually too bright for our taste; we would like to see a dimmer of some sort. In fact, that would be a nice addition for the entire bedroom.
At the rear of the coach is the master bath, which is a good size and well-equipped with plenty of countertop space, a drawer and cabinet below, an oval sink with metal faucet, plus a mirror and towel holder. Above the counter are more cabinets, so there’s plenty of room for towels, washcloths, TP and the like in this space. Beneath the sink is another door that looks like a cabinet, but it’s actually a removable panel that allows access to the plumbing. It provides convenient access when needed, but we would prefer it if this was an actual door. The shower is a mixed bag; on one hand, it has enough room for most people, and it has a residential-style metal detachable showerhead with on/off valve. But the bifold shower door is clunky and is a little on the flimsy side.
As Sunday came to a close, we began breaking camp for the drive back home. The Sightseer’s utility center is clean and logically arranged, made from one piece of formed, white plastic for easy cleaning and efficient water drainage. However, because there are two baths, there are two compartments for dumping tanks, and a separate compartment for the freshwater connection, exterior shower, etc., which took some getting used to.
Really, the only thing we had an issue with on the test coach was the fuel filler, which is placed on a severe upward angle that simply won’t allow a California emission-controlled gas nozzle to fit. Hopefully this problem was limited to our unit, but if not, we hope Winnebago will rectify this.
Yes, there were a handful of things with this motorhome that could be improved, but all bugaboos aside, the Sightseer is one of the best gas Class A’s we’ve tested in recent memory.
Winnebago Industries Inc.
641-585-3535 | www.winnebagoind.com