They have been producing recreational vehicles in Australia for the past 37 years and Winnebago is 100 per cent Australian owned and operated. The range of motorhomes produced by Winnebago is quite staggering (more than 70 models) and includes models that can be driven on a standard licence as well as larger variants that require a suitable heavy vehicle driver's licence.
One of the latest additions to the Winnebago range uses the Chevrolet 'G Series' Express as the basis for the Winnebago conversion. The Chevrolet is powered by a 6.5 litre turbocharged diesel engine and mated to an automatic transmission. The engine's performance characteristics are well suited to coping with the additional weight associated with the motorhome conversion as it produces a whopping 580 Nm of torque at 1800 rpm.
The vehicle evaluated by NRMA for this report was the short wheelbase four berth Leisure Seeker model that has a tare mass of 3780kg. The motorhome may be driven by anyone with a passenger car licence, as the gross vehicle mass (GVM) of the vehicle is 4495kg. There are two longer wheelbase versions also available that require a light rigid vehicle licence to operate. The retail price of the model tested is $161,011 plus on road costs.
The Leisure Seeker range of motorhomes is based on commercial vehicles, using the existing cabin and a bare chassis. The motorhome body is constructed on the chassis and integrated with the front cabin section. Winnebago has developed a number of innovative and modern production techniques that include laminated walls, roof and floor for added strength and lightweight.
There are a number of different interior designs and layouts available within the Leisure Seeker range. Buyers have the option of selecting the floor plan that best suits their needs rather than making do with one standard design. The layout of the vehicle NRMA evaluated was called a 2124. The interior was both spacious and comprehensively equipped with a good range of creature comforts.
Some of the standard features of the Leisure Seeker include a three-burner stove with separate oven, 110 litre three-way fridge, stainless steel sink, rangehood, numerous drawers and cupboards for ample storage, one piece moulded shower recess, cassette toilet, 12 and 240 V power throughout, rollout awning and gas hot water system.
There is a good-sized table and seating for four that converts to a bed, a side lounge that folds to form another bed and a double bed above the cabin of the vehicle.
The Chevrolet "G Series" Express is a vehicle that is designed primarily for the American market. Imported to Australia in a left-hand-drive configuration, the Express is converted to right-hand drive in Australia prior to its delivery to Winnebago for the motorhome fitout. Unfortunately, the right-hand-drive configuration provides quite a compromised driving position as the engine cover inside the cabin is offset to the right of the vehicle leaving almost no room for the driver's left leg.
Aside from the limited leg room for the driver, the cabin of the Chevrolet is quite spacious. Remnants of the vehicle's origins include left-stalk-mounted indicators and a right-hand-column-mounted gearlever. The steering wheel is tilt adjustable but there is no reach adjustment. I found the fairly basic shape of the front bucket seats to be not particularly supportive although they did allow easy access into and out of the cabin.
The Chevrolet Winnebago is a relatively easy vehicle to drive considering its size and weight. The seating position is quite upright allowing excellent forward vision. Vision to the rear is limited to the two large external mirrors as there is no direct line of sight out the back of the motorhome.
The engine fires into life with a fair amount of mechanical clatter that instantly makes you aware that you are sitting on top of a large capacity diesel engine. The engine produces strong torque from very low rpm and allows the Winnebago to accelerate at a rate that is on par with most other traffic. Much of a motorhome's running is spent on the open road. The Chevrolet Winnebago is able to travel at the legal speed limit on the highway, although the engine is working quite hard and produces a lot of noise in the cabin.
The Chevrolet Winnebago has dual rear wheels and quite a wide track that help to give it good stability on the road. While the ride comfort was generally good, some stiffer front dampers are required to reduce its tendency to pogo. The vehicle's steering is very light, which assists low-speed manoeuvring, but fails to provide good road feel.
The Chevrolet 'G Series' Express is one of the latest additions to the Winnebago motorhome range. It features a 6.5 litre turbocharged diesel engine that delivers respectable performance and is fitted with Winnebago's Leisure Seeker motorhome conversion. The interior layout is a very practical design that is both spacious and well equipped for comfortable touring.
Test vehicle supplied by Winnebago Industries.
Practical interior layout,
Good level of equipment.
Compromised driving position,
Intrusive engine and road noise,