It’s often said there are two types of travelers: those who are focused on the destination and those who enjoy the journey. The Itasca Navion iQ will be most appreciated by the latter. This go-anywhere motorhome can handle tough grades, rough asphalt and one-lane roads with ease, and because it’s less than 25 feet long, the compact coach easily fits into tight spaces. With sleek and smooth exterior lines and standard full-body paint, this motorhome has a fresh and contemporary appeal.
Offered in two floor-plans – the 24CL and our test rig, the 24DL – the coach rides on the Dodge Sprinter chassis with a 154-hp Mercedes-Benz CDI, 3.0-l V-6 turbodiesel engine. Not only does the Sprinter produce plenty of diesel power and good fuel mileage (in the 17.7 mpg range), its smooth, responsive acceleration and braking make the ride and handling more like a passenger vehicle than a traditional Class C.
On the Road
We put the Navion iQ through its paces on a 390-mile loop north from Ventura along California’s Highway 1. Entering the freeway, the coach easily reached cruising speed and settled into its sweet spot at 2,500 rpm, which, on relatively flat ground, gave us 65-70 mph.
Typical on-the-road rattles and squeaks are almost nonexistent in this well-crafted coach, though we occasionally picked up a wind-buffeting sound between the cab and body. The lack of cabin and road noise made for easy pilot/copilot conversation.
Our first uphill test was the Gaviota Pass with a 6-percent grade. We were anxious to see how well the V-6 turbodiesel engine and its five-speed tip shift automatic transmission were matched. We started the first part of the grade at 65 mph at 2,700 rpm, and then used the tip shifter to drop down into fourth gear at 58 mph turning 3,650 rpm as we crested the grade. A downhill shift into fourth gear kept us at 60 mph with no need to brake other than a tap to keep us at the posted speed limit.
We over-nighted at Flying Flags RV Resort and Campground in Buellton, and because we arrived after dark the optional ($875) color rear-view monitor with lighting and microphone was used and appreciated.
In-camp setup was a breeze. The electrical and cable TV lines are stored in a street-side compartment behind the driver’s door, and the water hose is a straightforward attachment to the aft street-side compartment inlet that shares space with the outside shower. A lever determines if you are filling the tank or using city water pressure.
The curbside galley sticks to the traditional triangular kitchen layout with a Norcold 5.5 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer opposite the stainless-steel single sink and Dometic two-burner stove. Above the stove are an easy-to-reach built-in Sylvania microwave and a moderately sized pantry storage cabinet, which could also be used to store pots and pans.
We found the traditional booth dinette to have more than enough room for two to spread out and eat, but if additional space is needed, the table can be unlatched and a small, wall-mounted extension table flipped up.
Two outlets for 120-volt AC and one for 12-volt DC are conveniently located on the wall next to the dinette, which made it easy to power-up the laptop and recharge cameras while in camp.
The living area, which is married to the cab by design and necessity, is made roomier by a cutout cab-over. In addition, the open cab area is enhanced by the use of a large, well-placed skylight with a privacy shade.
We found the rear slide bedroom to be a haven. With the rear slide extended there’s an additional 30 inches of bedroom space created that accommodates one part of the two-piece memory-foam mattress. The queen-size bed was surprisingly comfortable. Even with its horizontal split no hint of seaming was detected and we enjoyed a restful night’s sleep.
Though there is no door separating the bedroom area from the rest of the coach, a heavyweight curtain is provided for privacy. In the hallway, adjacent to the bedroom, is a lighted hanging locker, where we fit a dozen shirts, a couple of jackets and more. Additional wardrobe space is found underneath the locker in a pair of pullout drawers.
Across the galley on the driver’s side is the amidships bathroom, which is quite comfortable for a motorhome of this size. The Thetford toilet sits on a raised platform, which provides plenty of legroom. But while there’s plenty of headroom in the shower, elbowroom is limited. Showering in the small, rectangular-shaped stall is a bit of a challenge, but the feature is well worth any shortcomings.
Drivin’ the Dunes
Breaking camp the next morning was quick and easy as we headed north on the highway through rolling hills and vineyards to the town of Lompoc, famous for its flower fields, and then on to Guadalupe. Five miles off the main highway is the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, where we were treated to a spectacular expanse of the highest beach dunes in the western U.S. – some reaching 450 feet tall. The preserve is a day-use area virtually on the beach overlooking the Pacific.
Itasca has produced a well-designed, quiet, easy and fun-to-drive motorhome. The rear slide is a good answer to more livability in a smaller footprint coach and the Sprinter provided economical performance while handling road surfaces with grace and precision. The Navion certainly earned high grades with us during this “iQ test.”
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