Renegade’s Latest Floorplan Packs Upscale, Big Coach Features in a Sprinter-Based Class C
Living on the road, regardless of the size of the coach, always requires some degree of compromise. Whether it’s a trade off between power and fuel economy, features and price, or size and maneuverability, balancing what you want with what you need is the first step toward finding a coach that fits your lifestyle.
Of course, compromise becomes even more of a factor when choosing a small Class B or C motorhome. While there are a multitude of nice, well-equipped models to choose from, many fall short when it comes to providing a luxurious living experience. Indeed, it may have all the hallmarks of a luxury coach, such as leather furniture and solid surface countertops, but it usually ends up feeling like what it is: a nice small motorhome. If this works for you, as it does thousands of other motorhome owners, great. If not, you should take a look at the Villagio by Renegade RV.
Built on the Sprinter 3500 chassis, the Villagio follows Renegade’s philosophy of using commercial grade chassis, which allows designers to offer outstanding durability in addition to luxury features. In this case, the Sprinter 3500, with its dual rear wheels, has a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 11,030 pounds. Updated for 2014, the Sprinter features restyled headlights, grille and front fascia for an unmistakable Mercedes-Benz countenance. A 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel and seven-speed automatic transmission are now offered as the standard powertrain, but the test unit was equipped with the familiar (and more powerful) 3.0-liter diesel V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission.
Stepping into the Villagio’s cockpit reveals the commercial roots of the chassis. The controls are straightforward, although the European logic for placement and labeling will likely take some getting used to. Ditto the seats, which come with the chassis and are classic Sprinter: clunky, difficult to adjust, and generally unsupportive. However, basing a coach on this chassis also has some advantages, not the least of which are cruise control, load adaptive electronic stability control and power/heated exterior mirrors. This chassis also comes with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, although we found brake feel to be excessively spongy on this coach. This could be an isolated case, but it’s certainly something that warrants consideration should you decide on a test drive.
Once on the highway, we found the Villagio to be a pleasure to drive. As we made our way along U.S. highway 101, we noted that the coach was stable at highway speeds, and the ride quality was very good. Likewise, the chassis seemed to exhibit excellent stability, although we didn’t encounter any side winds that might have put its composure to the test. We traveled without drama along the coast, admiring the azure Pacific Ocean as the descending sun made its way toward the horizon.
Our destination was Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground in Buellton, Calif. – just a few minutes drive from the tourist mecca of Solvang, and close to Santa Barbara’s Central Coast wine country. Flying Flags offers more than 300 well-manicured sites to choose from, with full hookups (50 amp available), pool and well-equipped store. There are also super-premium sites located at the end of each row, featuring a large concrete pad, fire pit and gas barbecue. It’s a great place to spend a few days with friends and family.
Once set up with the optional power stabilizing jacks ($1062.10) down and the power awning deployed, we were able to admire the Villagio in its natural setting. There’s no question that this is a luxury coach; with its three-color full-body paint in Shadow Mist, aerodynamic front/rear fiberglass caps, frameless windows and chrome wheel simulators, it really is a handsome motorhome. There’s also plenty of storage in the top-hinge compartments, although these are better suited to long, slender items than large square ones. For example, if you want to bring along lounge chairs, you’re going to have to get creative.
Villagio comes in three floorplans: The 25RBS, the 25TBS and the new 25QBS, which we tested. This is one of the best floorplans we’ve encountered in a Sprinter-based coach, because it uses space efficiently and creates a distinct living/bedroom area in a way that is both roomy and cozy. The single streetside slideout is wide and deep, and really transforms the living area once it is deployed. The area contains a 7-cubic-foot refrigerator and a 1-cubic-foot convection microwave, plus a stainless-steel sink and a two-burner cooktop, both of which have glass covers. Countertop space isn’t what we’d call abundant, but it did have enough room to prepare simple meals.
Across from the slideout is a jackknife sofa that folds out to accommodate guests, and contains a bottom drawer in which to store the dining table. It’s a good use of space, but we found that the drawer constantly opened and closed around corners, which was distracting. Some stronger detents, or some other retention device would be welcome. There’s plenty of cabinet storage in the galley, and even more above the cab behind the 26-inch LED TV – although we wish this space had been used to stow a residential-style Blu-ray player and receiver rather than make due with the dash-mounted, automotive-grade DVD player that also serves as the radio (and optional navigation unit in our test coach, $583.70). To the right of the TV, behind a cabinet door, there is a command center that includes tank levels, generator start/stop, power cut-off switch and other necessities. It is logically located and easy to reach.
After watching some evening programming on the standard 26-inch LED TV above the cab, it was time to hit the hay in the well-appointed rear bedroom. Where most Sprinter-based coaches we’ve tested make due with a full bed in the corner (many of which have one corner shaved off for walk-around room) the Villagio offers a miniature version of a master bedroom you would find in a much larger coach. The 60-by-75-inch queen bed is horizontally opposed, and although there is no slideout, the area still feels roomy enough. There is plenty of overhead cabinet space, and one good-size wardrobe that should be adequate for two people on a weeklong excursion. The test coach was also equipped with a 26-inch LED TV in the bedroom, mounted on the side of the wardrobe wall – the perfect location for viewing while laying on the very comfortable mattress.
Another big surprise in this little motorhome was the bath area, and the thoughtful way in which it was designed. Instead of a curtain or an accordion door between the bedroom/living area, the elegant-looking bathroom door with its frosted glass inserts (part of the DÃ©cor Upgrade package, $1,168) serves this purpose. When you’re ready to sleep (or don’t want guests to see into your bedroom), simply open the bathroom door all the way, and it latches between the two areas. Of course, this leaves the toilet/lav without a door, but it can always be pulled shut again if you need bathroom privacy.
As you should expect, the bathroom is small, but again, is well executed and has a high-end feel. For example, there’s a glass vessel sink with brushed-nickel faucet, overhead medicine cabinet, and enough cabinet/counter space for your necessities. There’s even a vitreous porcelain toilet with a power flush system that automatically fills the bowl with a predetermined amount of water, then flushes with just one touch. It definitely ups the wow factor – but we wonder if this coach, with only 29 gallons of black-tank capacity, is the best application for a toilet that doesn’t allow you to control how much water is used with each flush. We could see that, if we weren’t hooked up, the black tank would be full within a couple of days.
The corner shower, with its glass door, is as large as many we’ve found in full-size motorhomes, and is roomy enough for most average-size people to get the job done. Overall, the master bedroom/bath area is very comfortable and surprisingly spacious, and only has room for improvement in a couple of areas. One, it would be nice if the reading lights above the bed could be controlled individually, instead of all coming on when the switch is activated; and two, we’d prefer to have the furnace located somewhere else besides right next to the bed. Not only is it noisy (granted, you get used to it over time) but we found that, since the thermostat is in the bedroom too, it made the bedroom warm, while the living area stayed cold. This made for a chilly transition in the morning when we went into the galley to make coffee. Leaving the bedroom door open all night solved this problem the next morning, but we think there should be a better solution.
No coach is perfect, however, and we really enjoyed our time in the Villagio. It is a very well-equipped coach in base form; aside from the options mentioned, the only other equipment added to the test unit was an 3.6 kW LP-gas generator ($4,507) and a 6-gallon LP-gas/electric water heater ($65) bringing the total as-tested price to $133,634.50. That’s a lot of money for a Sprinter-based coach, but we found that the Villagio also has a lot more to offer than the average small Class C.