Winnebago changes the palette inside its popular diesel pusher using European-style laminates and a fresh design
Given a clean canvas and a fresh palette, an artist can create a painting that portrays his or her individualism and style. Give that same autonomy to a motorhome design team and new concepts will be introduced that inspire the RV crowd and keep the industry contemporary. That’s exactly what Winnebago did when it went to work reconfiguring its Horizon, a motorhome that now leans more heavily toward the look of bus conversions than conventional diesel pushers — and stands out within the company’s Class A lineup.
The injection of European laminates is courtesy of Tecnoform, an Italian company that specializes in modern interiors found in European RVs. Winnebago was one of the early adopters of the firm’s clean-looking laminates, which play a critical role on how the newly transitioned Horizon rolls out of the former Country Coach factory in Junction City, Oregon.
Winnebago purchased the Country Coach assets a few years back and will eventually produce many of its diesel pushers out of the central Oregon facility, a place that once stood proudly as a thriving motorhome production mecca.
While the exterior of the Horizon model 40A retains much of the styling implemented by Winnebago in recent times, the interior takes on a whole new, bold approach that will appeal to those looking for an alternative to the quintessential woods and common décor packages. Rounded corners, smooth and shiny laminates, and huge windows transition the interior into modern times — and closer to the look that’s commonly preferred across the pond. If you’re looking for dark browns and heavy woods, look elsewhere.
The first impression when entering the Horizon is one of spaciousness and awe, which is nicely augmented by the usage of gray tones throughout and a noticeable lack of commonly mounted accouterments like ceiling lights and HVAC registers. The uncluttered look promotes visual acuity, and will likely be an instant hit among buyers who relish making fashion and décor statements.
Nothing breaches the continuity of the ceiling, except for the sculpted fixture that blends in beautifully with the motif. Registers are concealed behind the tasteful sculpted fixture and most of the lighting is diffused using LED ropes. The result is striking, and combined with the mood lighting, the interior can be set to satisfy personal tastes and influence attitudes in a very positive manner. It seems like Winnebago designers focused too intently on the diffused lighting; the coach could use a few more lights to brighten up the interior at night, and to make reading a little easier on the eyes.
During the day the story is quite different. The interior décor blends masterfully with the obviously missing exposed cabinet hardware and squared-off edges. Panoramic multi-pane windows bring in the outside in much the same way as an IMAX movie screen encapsulates the senses. Simply put, the wide-angle view is magnificent and unlike that of any other motorhome in this luxury level we’ve tested.
The floorplan arrangement uses many of the same elements found in similar coaches, but here, implementation makes all the difference. The classic front entryway leads occupants past the cockpit seats and into the living room, which feels big when the opposing slideouts are extended. On the left is the Winnebago-inspired Glide & Dine complex that’s combined with a cabinet that spans between the doorway and beginning of the galley. A 50-inch TV rises from below and immediately in front is the connected table and freestanding chairs. Concealed nicely into the structure is a mechanism that allows the table to slide toward the front or rear, presenting an unusual amount of versatility. Sliding the table to the front, for example, allows the area to be a quasi-extension of the galley counter and/or a great buffet area where food dishes can be lined up in potluck fashion (or to accommodate appetizers). Surely, over time, the owners will find great uses of the sliding table arrangement in ways that haven’t even been thought of yet. When it’s time to host a couple more guests, the dining table can be pulled out to accommodate two stored chairs, providing adequate room for the additional people.
The tie-down system for the chairs, while in transit, is somewhat clunky and could use some refinement, even though it does the job. Also, when retracted, the slides will restrict walkabout space, allowing just enough room to get to the galley and bathroom, and to partially open the refrigerator.
An ultraleather-clad couch is planted in the front slide, between the driver’s seat and partition (end table) adjacent to a reclining lounge chair. In true Winnebago fashion, the couch seat backs can be reclined and pop-out ottomans provide leg support for those who want to kick back and snooze or watch the opposing TV. The lucky person parked in the lounge chair has the option of kicking back or working at the pullout table that’s stored in the partition.
The test coach was fitted with an optional 50-inch TV mounted on the wall that divides the living room from the center bathroom. It’s really only viewable from the cockpit seats when swiveled toward the living area, or by a person sprawled out on the couch, so we would save the $900 for something else. Below the TV is a modern-looking fireplace that enhances the prescribed ambience nicely; the space above can be used for artwork or a custom touch when the owners take possession of the coach.
Hanging out in the living area is a wonderful experience. The panoramic view to the outside is stunning and the yacht-like window frames and solid valances are very classy. Three of the windows in the living area (and extending to the galley) do not open, but we didn’t miss that element. Part of the décor scheme is to provide open space, and the area above the overhead cabinets may seem wasteful to those looking for additional storage. Most owners, though, will be able to stash what they need in the cabinets, supplemented by the storage space below the dining table structure and above the cockpit seats, and learn to appreciate the open look.
“Modern” is also the buzzword for the galley, which visually can be considered an extension of the Glide & Dine table setup and continues into the hallway leading to the bedroom. A peninsula counter is exposed when the slideout is extended. Surprisingly, there is no storage below this structure, but it sure helps expand the counterspace for cooks who like to spread out during meal prep. Cut into the main galley counter is a farm-style stainless-steel sink with a riser faucet and soap dispenser. The divided sink has one big basin for handling larger dishes and pots/pans, while the smaller portion can be used for lighter duty. It’s a great arrangement that is well appreciated. Next to the sink is a two-burner induction stovetop. An induction stove heats up quick and is easy to keep clean; it does require the use of cookware with a bottom surface that is attracted by magnets in order to function.
There are plenty of drawers and cabinets for kitchen supplies and foodstuffs, especially when taking into consideration the unique enclosure that separates the galley counter from the residential refrigerator. Opening the two upper doors reveals the microwave convection oven and a counter that is perfect for a coffeepot, toaster or similar appliance. The doors can be pushed inside the cabinet to prevent them from interfering with access. Below are two additional doors that lead to the pull-out dishwasher, and a large drawer that’s perfect for storing bulky items. Rounding out the galley appointments and creating the right side of the hallway is the stainless-steel residential refrigerator (which could use a better latching system for the doors while traveling than the standard nylon straps).
Across from the refrigerator, the floorplan gets really interesting. A sliding door, guided by commercial-looking hardware, provides the hall-side access to the roomy bathroom. The jury is out on the type of hardware, since it’s quite bulky, but very hip. Sort of reminds one of trendy restaurants with open ceilings and exposed fixtures, which is a modern approach to unconventional décor. Right from the get-go we liked the approach and thought it worked well within the interior scheme. The latches to keep the door from closing when on the road and opening when someone is using the bathroom need some attention and better handholds. Also, when open, the door hides the controls for the bedroom slideout and HVAC systems, among other items.
Inside, the bathroom is glorious. There’s exceptional floor space, and plenty of room to use the Tecma toilet when the slideout is retracted. A big lavatory houses double sinks and waterfall faucets that are aesthetically pleasing and functional. Occupants will find plenty of room for toiletries needed during primping, and drawers and cabinets abound. Multiple mirrors open the visual spaciousness, and cleverly placed cubbyholes make it easy to stash items that are used frequently. A glass door leads to the big shower stall that is well-provisioned with a seat and ledges for soap and shampoo. A skylight brightens the space during the day while increasing headroom, which is already high enough for taller users. When the pocket door is open, the bathroom area becomes a suite-like extension of the rear bedroom.
Again, the smooth-flowing laminates and solid color schemes change the bedroom atmosphere when compared to conventional décor found in most motorhomes. The power king bed takes up the greater share of space, but the mechanism allows the mattress to fold up partially to allow the slideout to close. Although the primary reason for the folding mattress is utilitarian, it can also be used to open up the room outside of sleeping hours. Mattress firmness is controlled by compressed air and each side can be set independently, and there’s just enough room to tuck in sheets and a comforter. A padded headboard and windows in the slideout side walls are desirable features. As found throughout the coach, MCD roller diffusion and blackout shades control sunshine and keep the room dark at night. Lighting is good, supported by the big window across from the foot of the bed during the day, and a recessed ceiling fan inside the sculpted fixture provides just enough of a breeze to enjoy hanging out in the bedroom. In keeping with the mantra for unfettered visual continuity, the lighting and HVAC registers are also concealed behind the sculpted ceiling fixture in the bedroom.
A big array of storage facilities in the bedroom — including a large rear wardrobe with mirrored sliding doors — keeps clothing, shoes and other bulky items neatly tucked away. The adjacent stacked washer/dryer conforms seamlessly with the décor and can be accessed easily.
The wall opposite the bed is reserved for a well-arranged dresser with drawers and shallow cabinets, and a TV that extends from within. While there is no storage under the mattress platform, every nook and cranny is used for storing smaller items, including shelves that are revealed when the pocket door is used to close off the bedroom from the rest of the interior.
On the opposite end of the coach, the cockpit surrounds the driver with a curvaceous dashboard and ergonomically arranged gauges and instrumentation. A huge screen for the stereo, navigation, backup camera and other controls injects a high-tech persona, and can be used comfortably without distracting the driver. To make the passenger/navigator more comfortable, the seat is larger and super comfy, there’s a workstation built into the top portion of the dash and a second screen can be used for navigation programming and directions without driver input.
Drivers who relish rolling up the miles on the highway will enjoy spending time in this cockpit. Comfortable seating and a commanding view of the road are supported by the sprightly Cummins 400-hp diesel engine. The suspension, taking advantage of the front air and rear V-Ride componentry (Freightliner proprietary), is compliant and predictable, and there are few rattles emanating from the interior, even on rougher roads.
Once in an RV park, access to the outside compartments is excellent, especially the main locker where a slide-out tray provides the utmost in convenience. Slam-latch hardware is used on the compartment doors that open laterally, and overall storage space is generous. The locker for the 50-amp power cord is quite large, and maybe a little wasteful of space, but it makes it easier to reach in and pull the cord out to hook up. The cord is very flexible, which is even more important in cold weather.
While the coach is all-electric, Winnebago had the foresight to add a 5-gallon LP-gas cylinder in one of the compartments and to plumb the piping to the patio side, where a quick-connect fitting is behind a small door. This makes it convenient to hook up a barbecue without having to deal with throwaway LP-gas canisters. Also on the patio side is a TV behind a door, which is common for Class A motorhomes, but in this case, the articulating bracket provides viewing choices, especially when watching during the day.
Winnebago’s execution of the Horizon is a home run for those who like modern interiors and have a penchant for more chic appointments. The infusion of high-tech electronics and the use of highly desirable appliances like the Aqua-Hot heating and hot-water system, the triple array of rooftop air-conditioners with heat pumps and multiplex switching gives the Horizon a leg up when it comes to meeting the demands of future buyers looking for out-of-box thinking.
Just be prepared for a lot of oohs and ahhs, and visitors who will not be quick to leave.
Winnebago Industries | 641-585-3535 | www.winnebagoind.com