The Successful Marriage Between Fiat and Chrysler Results in a Stylish Class B That’s Fun, Practical and Easy to Park
When considering the purchase of a motorhome, it’s always a good idea to think about how you plan to use it, where you plan to store it and if the end justifies the means. However, many potential buyers take all this into consideration and end up talking themselves out of a new coach, simply because they don’t think it makes sense in the long run. But what if you could have a motorhome that could be used every day, could be parked in your driveway and didn’t cost more than a typical luxury car?
Winnebago’s Travato is the first Class B motorhome in the United States to be offered on Fiat’s Ducato chassis, which has been in production in Europe since 1981, and is the most common platform there. The Italian-sourced chassis is badged as the Ram ProMaster in the U.S. market, and is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that boasts 280 horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque. Now that plans for this chassis have winged their way across the pond to the North American market, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on this Class B.
To test Winnebago’s newest motorhome from the company’s Touring Coach lineup, we filled the cabinets’ nooks and crannies with food and Chianti (the obvious choice), sleeping gear and all the necessary kitchen caboodle, and motored up the California coast to Morro Dunes RV Park in Morro Bay. Wherever we stopped with the Travato, the name alone was a people-magnet. The most common observation was – using their hands for emphasis – “Itsa Italian, no?!” Then, once peering inside, they were impressed with all the amenities.
The Travato has a surprising amount of indoor storage space, plus the cabinets have nifty push-in/pull-out knobs that tell you in a glance if the cabinets are locked and ready for travel. Our test Travato was outfitted with European-style Marbella Cherry Wood Finish cabinets ($203), which looked beautiful, but fingerprints stood out on the high-gloss finish. Alas, potential storage space over the cab was occupied by window-cover panels and an extra cushion to convert the dinette into a bed. Happily, there is plenty of floor space for bicycles, camp chairs and sporting equipment at the rear of the motorhome when the Flex Bed System (which folds down from the streetside wall) is stowed, and it’s all handily accessible through the double doors.
There’s no outside storage (except to stow the sewer hose), although inside the back door a cubby houses a water hose, quick-disconnect and sprayer-head wash station, plus there’s storage for electrical cords and such in a cabinet under the Flex Bed. Because space is at a premium, a pump that delivers air and tire sealant simultaneously is provided in lieu of a spare tire. Underneath the motorhome is the 2.8 kW generator, which is just 61/4 inches off the ground – so take care when traveling off-road.
We liked the Travato’s easy-grip door handles and smooth-sliding side door for uncomplicated entry. Once inside the cockpit, we settled into cushy cloth-covered captain’s seats with manually adjustable lumbar support and height adjustment. These dial-type lumbar controls could use a bit more area to grip for easier adjustment. A well-laid-out instrument panel is right in view and an Electronic Vehicle Information Center keeps you in the loop about everything from a door being ajar to windshield washer fluid being low. Chrysler’s U-Connect 5.0 Infotainment Center above the temperature controls offers a wealth of information on a 5-inch color touch screen, including a Rearview Monitor System, GPS navigation and Bluetooth hands-free phone functionality, in addition to the stereo with SiriusXM services. Three deep cup holders kept large-sized fountain drinks securely parked.
Traveling down a smooth highway, handling was excellent, noise inside the cab was minimal and it was easy to have normal-decibel conversations. Several times when hitting patches of nasty pavement, especially with the suspension designed for heavy use, components and gear rattled around in the back and the noise level increased to the point where we took a break in conversation. With 280 hp, the Travato had no problem taking on steep hills; but at higher engine rpm, engine roar was prominent. Also, during travel, the window on the sliding door worked its way open time and again. Visibility overall was good, and the side mirrors with a power-folding feature provided a wide rear view.
A forward-facing convertible dinette seats two and has three-point seat belts – there’s even a child-seat anchor. The Ultraleather seats were comfortable enough – although, while underway, the smooth upholstery, in conjunction with the bench structure’s slick finish, created a slippery surface where the bottom cushion would scoot out during travel. When we investigated why the bench seat’s backrest was askew, we found that one of the screws designed to secure it had become dislodged, and the screw head was not accessible. Hook-and-loop fastener would probably be a better method here.
Likewise, the convertible dinette left a lot to be desired. In fairness, it’s a challenge to create a multiuse space in a motorhome of this size, but we found that the table was unstable and awkward to use. The hinges, which are used to fold the dinette table down to make a bed, work smoothly, but the table extension isn’t easy to deploy either while sitting or standing. Pushing the table forward as far as it could go allowed 15½ inches from the seat back to the table, so it was a tight squeeze. Plus, when getting in, we needed to take care not to crash into the table leg.
Once seated, we found other problems. Our thighs almost touched the bottom of the teetering table, and the cabinet above to the streetside window, which houses light switches and
the TV, got in the way of tall people who constantly banged their heads on it. We recommend reserving the window seat for smaller people. For the best seat in the house, release two levers, and the driver’s seat swivels around to face the dinette. The passenger’s seat swivels as well to angle in toward the table, but has to be moved forward first in order to clear the fire extinguisher mounted just behind it.
Stepping into the Travato from the sliding door via an electric step, you’ll find a nicely disguised freshwater tank covered in Ultraleather to match the dinette’s cushions. It’s an unusual arrangement to have the tank in the doorway, but there’s more to it than meets the eye: The seat box can slide forward to meet the dining table or become part of the dinette’s transformation into a bed. An included cushion completes the bed or doubles as a backrest for the seat when the sliding door is closed but, here again, there were problems with the execution. The sliding door was designed with an inside handle that’s not flush-mounted, so the seat-back cushion always looks crooked when resting against it. Fortunately, the cushion is thick enough that it lessens the impact of the door handle in your back.
When it came time to rest our weary – yet thoroughly content – heads, we set about blocking out light with the blackout roller shades and privacy panels. In the cab, magnetic panels “stick” on in seconds, while snap-on panels are provided for the side and rear windows. Once we got the panels matched up with the correct windows, they went on quickly. The doors need to be open to snap on the panels because cabinetry gets in the way.
Within seconds, we had the 46-by-77-inch Flex Bed System with a 31/2-inch-thick mattress set up. For optimum comfort for two, and so one doesn’t disturb the other during the night to use the loo, the Flex Bed is set up for your heads to be at the back doors – there are even reading lamps attached to the right door at the top. When the bed is folded up against the wall, there’s space behind it for storing a couple of pillows and blankets so bedding is out of the way.
In contrast to the flip-down bed’s easy setup, converting the dinette into a bed takes effort, mainly due to having to wrestle the table away from its wall slider in a compact area. Once the table is lowered, the bench top in place and the comfortable cushions tossed on, you’d never suspect the wobbly table that lurks beneath. Someone a few inches shorter than 6 feet can stretch out.
A what-a-fantastic-idea sliding screen in the side door allows you to bring in the outdoors and fresh air without inviting in the bugs. We enjoyed this setup while relaxing inside, plus it kept unnecessary protein out of our food when cooking. When we moved outdoors, the hassle-free electric awning with LED lights was set up in fewer than two minutes.
The efficient two-burner stove with dime-sized controls and sink with a fold-down faucet are stored under glass covers. There’s not much room here for prepping, so when we needed space for chopping, we moved to the dinette table. Standing at the stove, the cabinets, drawers and a good-sized 4.94-cubic-foot refrigerator were within easy reach. A wardrobe next to the refrigerator has a rod for hanging clothes.
The Travato’s wet bath is large for a Class B, measuring 25½ inches in width and 50½ inches in length at the longest point – as it curves for the door, and has everything needed, including storage cubbies. A curtain separated the toilet from the sink and shower area. We removed the snap-on curtain, which gave us room to stand lengthwise for more elbowroom when showering and access to the wall-mounted shampoo/soap dispenser over the toilet without having to fight our way around a shower curtain. The Travato has on-demand hot water – so it was not necessary to turn on a hot-water heater and wait 30 minutes before showering.
With a ceiling height of 6 feet 3 inches, most people can walk through the motorhome without ducking (except at the air conditioner). We had no complaints about temperature in the Travato as the low-profile 13,500-Btu air conditioner (which pairs nicely with the generator), ceiling vent fan and furnace all worked efficiently in the compact space.
At almost 21 feet long, the Travato is about the length of a full-size pickup, and we had no problems with around-town driving and parking. Several times, we didn’t realize that the parking brake lever hadn’t been released all the way – and were notified quite loudly as we drove off. Also, because of the lever’s location to the left of the driver, as one tester was climbing out of the cab, his loose-fitting shorts snagged on the engaged brake lever. Luckily, he grabbed the hand grip over the driver’s seat.
A 22-inch HDTV and stereo that includes a CD/DVD player is housed above the dinette. The TV pivots out to the right only, making the swiveling chairs and seat box the places to settle for viewing. In the cabinet behind the TV are hookups for HDMI and antenna, and room for storing the remotes.
There aren’t many available options – the side sliding screen ($280) and cab carpet ($168) are what Winnebago calls mandatory options. Extras include a detachable rear fly screen ($168) and the European-style cabinetry.
The Travato is an ideal motorhome for two who want to travel in comfort and love the outdoors. With space to take along your toys, we picture packing up a couple of bicycles and a small kayak and taking a leisurely cross-country trip where we can spend days outside and then head indoors to prepare meals and sleep in style. At an as-tested price of $85,873, it has more sleeping capacity than most other Class B’s in its price range, and it got an average of 17.7 mpg, with a low of 16.59 mpg.
This Touring Coach is also good for RVers who want to downsize without giving up amenities. After camping with the Travato, we’d say it is a darn good choice. And, it gets a thumbs’ up because itsa Italian.
FUEL ECONOMY: 17.7 MPG
0-60 mph: 14.1 SEC
40-60 mph: 7.3 SEC
MODEL: Ram ProMaster
ENGINE: 3.6-L V-6
SAE HP: 280 HP @ 6,400 RPM
TORQUE: 260 LB-FT @ 4,175 RPM
TRANSMISSION: 6-SPEED AUTOMATIC
AXLE RATIO: 3.86:1
FRONT TIRES: 225/75R16C
REAR TIRES: 225/75R16C
BRAKES: 4-WHEEL DISC WITH ABS
SUSPENSION, F/R: MCPHERSON WITH STABILIZER BAR/SOLID AXLE WITH LEAF SPRINGS
FUEL CAP: 24 GAL
WARRANTY: 3 YEARS/36,000 MILES
EXT LENGTH: 20′ 11″
EXT WIDTH: 6′ 11″
EXT HEIGHT: 9′
INT WIDTH: 6′ 2″
INT HEIGHT: 6′ 3″
CONSTRUCTION: steel van shell,
fiberglass batt insulation
FRESHWATER CAP: 22 GAL
BLACK-WATER CAP: 11 GAL
GRAY-WATER CAP: 14 GAL
WATER HEATER CAP: 4 gal
LP-GAS CAP: 6 GAL
AIR CONDITIONER: 13,500 BTU
FURNACE: 16,000 BTU
REFRIGERATOR: 4.94 CU-FT
CONVERTER/CHARGER: 30 AMP
BATTERY: (1) 12-VOLT CHASSIS,
(1) 12-VOLT COACH
AC GENERATOR: 2.8 KW GAS
MSRP AS TESTED: $85,873
WARRANTY: 12 MONTHS/15,000 MILES
(WATER & HEATER, FUEL, LP-GAS TANKS FULL; NO SUPPLIES OR PASSENGERS)
FRONT AXLE: 3,640 LBS
REAR AXLE: 3,800 LBS
TOTAL: 7,440 LBS
GAWR, F/R: 4,630/5,291 LBS
GVWR/GCWR: 9,350/11,500 LBS
OCCC: 1,910 LBS
GAWR: GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING
GVWR: GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING
GCWR: GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING
OCCC: OCCUPANT AND CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY RATING
WINNEBAGO touring coach
641-585-3535 | www.winnebagotouring.com