When camping fever hits there’s no getting away from it. As soon as we laid eyes on our road test assignment, the 2010 Winnebago Adventurer 37F coach, we knew we needed to hit the road ASAP. Nothing short of a few miles of open highway and a campfire or two takes care of the lust for RV adventure.
We boarded, quickly stowed our minimal gear, and reveled in the rig’s wide-open interior. Its street-side full-wall slide-out that houses the entertainment center/buffet/dining table unit ($2,030), galley, storage and a bedroom wardrobe unit is a fine example of the RV interior designer’s art. Curbside, up front, a smaller slide-out includes the optional Ultraleather dual control Rest Easy sofa/recliner/bed ($1,190) and easy chair with ottoman. Mid-coach there’s an enclosed half-bath with toilet and vanity sink, the queen master bed moves out via a traditional slide-out, and aft, the master bath encompasses the coach interior wall-to-wall.
After admiring the beautiful “coffee glazed” Sierra Maple cabinet finish and correspondingly tasteful fabric and floor coverings, we stowed the slideouts for travel. The controls are sensibly placed high up in the company’s OnePlace systems center, away from curious young fingers, and an integral key-lock feature means the slide-outs are virtually impossible to operate accidentally. Winnebago also includes manually switched mechanical slide-out lock mechanisms for secure travel time.
As open as it is in camp mode, the coach has tight quarters with slide-outs stowed. The L-shaped kitchen counter is close to the lounge chair so you need to squeeze by, and unless you want to climb over the bed, the half-bath is easiest to use in travel mode. Users shouldn’t be moving around on the road anyway so the clearances are inconvenient but not a deal-breaker.
On the road
We took our positions and hit the pavement. A simple yet complete instrument cluster informs the driver and all vehicle controls are fairly close at hand and logically placed. Forward visibility, along with rear-mirror viewing, is fine.
My wife, Pam, enjoyed the pullout dashboard workstation while tackling her crosswords, and the optional side-view cameras ($434), activated by the turn signal lever, provided that extra measure of lane-changing peace of mind.
The optional powered front shade ($350) makes for squint-free driving when it is lowered somewhat to block the sun – definitely a good investment.
Despite heavy winds on our departure day the base-model Workhorse W22 chassis – more on that, and other chassis options, later — under our high-profile coach performed superbly. We didn’t need to wrestle with the steering wheel; we simply guided it, and enjoyed the confidence that the motorhome would move as directed.
The rig’s 8.1-l GM big-block engine runs quiet and smooth, thanks in part to excellent sound insulation, and it propels the coach as it should. The transmission would drop a gear or two on the freeway grades but we maintained traffic speed, usually around 65 mph, with little effort.
A necessary stop for groceries can seem agonizingly slow when you’re on the road to camp. Yet, we were pleased with the big rig’s steering maneuverability in the non-RV-friendly parking lot. Our perishables and general kitchen cargo were quickly stashed in appropriate spots with more than enough room left over.
Our longest side trip was a five-mile dirt road jaunt to explore Trona Pinnacles, in the Ridgecrest, Calif., vicinity, a site of many film and video shoots for movies and TV. The casually maintained road and its partial washboard surface challenged the Workhorse leaf-spring suspension and Bilstein shock absorbers, but we managed the trip with nothing shaken loose or dislodged.
The downhill into Panamint Valley (on the west side of Death Valley National Park) included some 4-percent grade (not that bad a hill), and the chassis’ grade brake transmission shift-down feature helped hold us back to 60 mph in direct gear. A 6-percent section required some occasional brake pedal to hold speed and avoid engine over-revving.
As the sun dropped behind the Argus Range mountains fronting the west side of Panamint Valley, we pulled into our all-time favorite campground in the area – Panamint Springs Resort (www.deathvalley.com/psr, 775-482-7680). A short drive to our easy-access spot with a 50-amp hookup and wide-open space for the slide-outs made our day’s-end chores more agreeable. The mostly level pad meant we could skip the hydraulic leveling jacks because we enjoy the feel of the coach rocking in the desert wind.
The microwave made fast work of our casual dinner, which we consumed while sitting by the campfire in the gloaming. The extra-convenient side-hinged storage compartment doors ensured we had painless access to our firewood supply, camp chairs and the like, and we had more roomy compartments we didn’t even use on the trip.
There’s nothing quite like the view from a Panamint Springs campsite. Even in the fading daylight the entire north end of the valley with its sand dunes and rugged far-side cliffs entrances a visitor. When our fire died down and the brisk desert wind started, we ducked inside to enjoy Winnebago’s best.
From the sleek fiberglass exterior with full-body paint and graphics – ours was the Amber Fire color scheme – to the well-chosen interior components, this coach looks higher-end than its $166,079 msrp.
There’s no doubt the lounge is the heart and soul of this rig. In socializing mode, its sofa, two dinette chairs, two extra folding dinette-type chairs, padded lounge chair with ottoman and forward seats that turn partway around provide comfort for a small group.
In entertainment mode the Rest Easy sofa comes into its own. Extend the footrests, use the power switch to angle the backrest to taste and you have a pair of adjustable and very welcome recliners for viewing the optional 40-inch LCD TV that majestically rises from the street-side dining table/buffet unit. We didn’t use either that TV or the standard 32-inch unit in the cabover cabinet, which is a bit redundant along with the 40-incher nearby, as we prefer socializing or relaxing with good reading material in a road test camp.
After-hours, the master suite and rear bath served us well. The optional king-size bed ($252) is on a powered base, in addition to the slide-out, that helps the bed fold upward to fit the interior room with the slide-out stored. In sleep mode there’s a lot of floor space between bed and wardrobes for interference-free maneuvering.
The aft bath is superb. A roomy corner shower, a vanity sink and counter with extra space, plentiful storage and a non-cramped toilet fitment create a no-compromise functional area.
Way too early the second morning a knock on the door revealed our fellow MotorHome contributor Fred Pausch had tracked us down and joined us at Panamint Springs. The early hour was forgiven when we spied the tray of hot coffee cups he held. “Well, that’s different, then; come on in!”
Pausch parked his sleeping bag on the Rest Easy sofa and found it more than accommodating for overnight guests.
With company aboard, the dual-bath floor-plan proved its value. Pausch employed the mid-coach half-bath and, with privacy ensured by the sliding opaque doors separating the master bedroom from the forward area, we experienced firsthand how well the dual-zone living plan worked.
Our Adventurer time was not fully without its challenges. We had learned the LP-gas furnace was malfunctioning, due to a bad gas valve, before we started the trip. No problem; we opted to use the TrueAir heat pump, which also has an electric heating component. The system is not designed as a primary heat source, but for moderate secondary use we thought it should do OK.
The first night of 50-degree-Fahrenheit weather was fine; the interior stayed comfy when wearing long-sleeve shirts. The second night, when temps dropped to 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat exchanger shut down because there was no heat for it to exchange. A company spokesman said the heat pump component is only good down to about 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, below which it stops functioning as a heater, and at which time the gas furnace is supposed to be doing its job.
A Winnebago spokesman explained this coach is generally sold to users who head to warmer climates in cold weather, and we’d have to agree. With just one gas furnace and no second furnace option, this coach might be a bit chilly for wintertime fun. One of Winnebago’s other products with an optional second furnace would be a better choice for that kind of use.
The next morning we woke up, made some tea and oatmeal, and broke camp. Once we hit the road we fired up the dash heater. The motorhome’s rear-coach auxiliary heater, which works off engine coolant heat just as the dash heater does, warmed the coach’s aft-end while we drove.
Some of those blind corners on the climb west out of Panamint Valley can make even an experienced Class A driver a little nervous, so we took it easy and kept well to our side of the pavement. Thankfully, we met no large opposing traffic on this part of the ride.
While our chassis’ 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) handled the coach well, it only allowed an 860-pound occupant and cargo-carrying capacity (occc) on top of the rig’s 21,140-pound wet-but-empty weight. Those who want to load this model down with cargo should consider the optional Ford or Workhorse chassis with a 24,000-pound gvwr or the Freightliner Fred front-engine diesel model with a 27,000-pound gvwr. Not including chassis weight variations, any of those alternates should provide somewhat more occc.
The balance of the run home was uneventful. We even enjoyed some tailwind, amazingly enough, and the Adventurer ran steady and true from the two-lane back roads to the morass of Interstate 5. Guess which one we enjoyed more.
Apart from the little heat problem, we enjoyed our time with the Adventurer 37F. Good driving, great looks, fine livability and all the features we expect in a top-notch Class A motorhome presented a package that was fun to use and flexible in operation. When that camping itch strikes, this is a great rig to cure it.
WHAT’S HOT Sensibly placed controls; safety key-lock feature for slide-outs; dual bathrooms; convenient side-hinged storage compartment doors; comfortable lounge area.
Tight quarters when slide-outs are stowed; one gas furnace with no second furnace option; 860-pound occupant and cargo carrying capacity (occc).
FUEL ECONOMY: 7.5
MPG ACCELERATION: 0-60: 23.57
SEC 40-60: 13.27 SEC
MODEL: WORKHORSE W22
ENGINE: GM VORTEC 8.1-L
V-8 SAE HP: 340 @ 4,200 RPM
TORQUE: 455 LB-FT @ 3,200 RPM
TRANSMISSION: ALLISON 1000MH 6-SPD W/OD
AXLE RATIO: 5.86:1
FRONT TIRES: 235/80R22.5
REAR TIRES: 235/80R22.5
BRAKES: POWER DISC
SUSPENSION: LEAF SPRING
FUEL CAP: 75 GAL
WARRANTY: 3 YRs/36,000 MILES
EXT LENGTH: 37′ 4″
EXT WIDTH: 8′ 5″
EXT HEIGHT: 12′ 3″
INT WIDTH: 8′
INT HEIGHT: 7′ 2″
CONSTRUCTION: STEEL AND ALUMINUM FRAMING, STEEL CAB STRUCTURE, POLYSTYRENE INSULATION, FIBERGLASS SKIN AND ROOF
FRESHWATER CAP: 97 GAL
BLACK-WATER CAP: 52 GAL
GRAY-WATER CAP: 71 GAL
WATER-HEATER CAP: 10 GAL
LP-GAS CAP: 28 GAL
AIR CONDITIONER (1): 27,000 BTU TRUEAIR FURNACE: 40,000 BTU
REFRIGERATOR: 8 CU-FT
INVERTER/CHARGER: 600 WATTS/55 AMPS
BATTERY: (1) 12-VOLT CHASSIS, (2) 12-VOLT coach
AC GENERATOR: 5.5 KW
base MSRP: $154,032
MSRP AS TESTED: $166,079
WARRANTY: 1 YR/15,000 MILES
(WATER & HEATER, FUEL, LP-GAS TANKS FULL; NO SUPPLIES OR PASSENGERS)
FRONT AXLE: 7,020 LBS
REAR AXLE: 14,120 LBS
TOTAL: 21,140 LBS
GAWR, F/R: 8,500/15,000 LBS
GVWR/GCWR: 22,000/26,000 LBS
OCCC: 860 LBS
GAWR: GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING
GVWR: GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING
GCWR: GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING
OCCC: OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY RATING
WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES (641) 585-3535, WWW.WINNEBAGOIND.COM.