Since announcing that we’re getting a new, yellow Winnebago Travato , I’ve received a number of questions through comments and email. Most of them were wondering what would be different about our build, and how this would satisfy our requirements (which we’ve never been shy about sharing). We get it. You’re curious. So I’ll go over the big changes in this post.
These changes make it not exactly a 59G, but more like a “59GX”. (That’s totally my own name – not an official Winnebago designation. But I think the “X” makes it cool.) So as you read this, please keep in mind that this is a concept vehicle. Winnebago isn’t certain that any of these things will be offered as standard options in the future. So please don’t try to order them from your local dealer. Remember – this is an experiment… We just happen to be buying the end result.
For starters, it will be a 2016, with all the latest improvements that you can find in the 2016 Travato Specs. It will include the Truma Combi heat and water unit, the Froli Sleep System, the newer Jensen RV entertainment system, and two AGM house batteries. We’re also going all the way with options, and including the ladder and rack systems. (Stef is already shopping for kayaks to put on top.) And we’ve already mentioned the yellow. Without the racks, we’ve got this basic idea of how he’ll look.
We’ll start with the 59G floor plan. However, the bed will be raised enough so that we’re finally getting our dream garage underneath it! If you’ve followed us at all you’ve probably heard us whine and complain that garages are standard in many European models, but non-existent over here. All our complaining has finally paid off. Winnebago is giving it a go, probably just to shut us up.
Now, if you think about this for a moment, a raised bed is obviously not for everybody. First off, we’ll have quite a climb (over 40 inches) up to get into the bed! We’ll also be closer to the ceiling when we sleep, and the cabinets over the bed will have to go away. Windows will need to change, etc. But getting the bikes inside (even while we sleep) is pretty important to us, so this is happening.
We’re also having all the water lines brought inside to allow us to do some wintertime camping. This will require some surface “hat” channels for water in places, like across the back, and that might not be for everyone either. (If you don’t know what a “hat channel” is, imagine a long, skinny box along the floor with the water lines inside.) To complete the cold-weather package, we’re also getting heating pads on the tanks. For the type and amount of cold-weather camping we do, this should be enough, since it’s pretty much the same thing we have now.
Oh yeah. We’re going to squeeze as much solar on the roof as we can. We’re even going to the extent of deleting the roof mounted TV antenna to allow more space for solar. We’re thinking we’ll wind up with somewhere between 200 and 300 watts of solar capacity on the roof. But this is one of those things that until they see what the space looks like and see what panels they can get, we won’t know for sure.
There WILL still be a generator and a propane system. Propane is required for the Truma, so that stays; and since there’s propane, we’re leaving the rather large 3-way refrigerator. (Trust me, Stef is thrilled!) We thought about adding lots of lithium batteries and deleting the generator, adding an inverter, BMS, etc. etc. etc. But honestly, that’s a technology leap that’s better made with a “whole system” approach. The engineering to pull that off and rework the coach would have taken time… and we’re anxious to get rolling! The balance of the coach runs off 12v anyway, so the generator will only be needed for AC/Microwave/Hair dryer.
He’s a gas coach! You might have expected us to go with a diesel, but since I found out in my analysis you might not save as much as you think, that became a lot less important. The diesel ProMaster has that unusual transmission, and – at least in the US and Canada – servicing on the gas Pentastar engine should be easier to find and not leave us stranded in Oregon for a week (ahem, Mercedes). We really like the tight and nimble driving characteristics of the Travato, so we’re completely fine with the gas powertrain. Additionally – the gas Travato comes with a gas generator; which saves the propane for other purposes. That will extend our “away” time quite a bit. But not nearly as much as the next mod…
Here’s the one that will blow minds… we’re going with a composting toilet! Yes, you read that right. The main benefit of this is that it will allow us to use both tanks for grey water (26 gallons total – more than we have now), and will extend our time in the field a lot. No black tank to deal with or dump! Strangely, even though Das Bus has a 30 gallon black tank, this always seems to be our limiting factor in how long we can stay afield. I attribute this to my black tank experiments, which have led us to use PLENTY OF WATER in the black tank. Probably it’s too much water, but I’ve also never had any kind of clog or buildup issues…
Winnebago, for their part, is installing it for us in their standard wet bath, but will be installing it in a way that we can revert to a conventional system if we choose to later. Another benefit of this type of install is that current Travato owners could emulate our install if they want to go this way themselves.
Wait – Did He Say Wet Bath?
A dry bath with separate shower was one of our original “Must Have” criteria. The Travato has a wet bath. So, what changed? A little explanation is in order here, and I think it’s easiest to start off with a picture:
This is the shower in Das Bus, loaded for a trip. When we want to shower, all of those things in the shower stall have to be relocated to somewhere else in the RV. Remember that Das Bus is a true class B, and you’ll start to see the problem. Pretty much the whole van becomes temporary storage for our shower-stored items. This means that when one of us wants to take a shower, the other one has to go sit up in the cab, because there’s no place else to be. It’s sooooo inconvenient; we’ve sometimes passed on showers when we really wanted them. So, while the Travato may have a wet bath, we think the shower will actually be more useable. (Because let’s face it, we’re not crazy enough to block our access to the toilet…)
There are other things – about the Travato specifically – that make us OK with the wet bath. The first being that the Travato wet bath is HUGE! It is in no way similar to the typical class B sit-on-the-toilet-to-shower-and-lean-to-one-side-if-you-try-to-stand-up bathrooms. We wouldn’t accept the typical Sprinter bathroom: this one is about twice that size. The other thing that makes us OK with the wet bath is that the storage we’re giving up (in our current shower) – we’ll make up for with the Travato. We won’t have to store bed linens and pillows. That’s one whole wardrobe cabinet now! And the Travato has over cab storage which we currently lack. So while we won’t be able to store things in the shower anymore, we also won’t need to.
So, all in all, we’re feeling pretty pumped about the Travato. But let’s take score.
The Score Card
If you look back to our “What are we really looking for in our next RV” post, how does the Travato stack up against Das Bus?
|Das Bus||Travato 59GX|
|Must Have Criteria|
|Under 24 feet long||Yes!||Yes! (2 feet shorter than Das Bus)|
|4 Season Capability||Yes!||Yes!|
|Indoor Bike Storage||Yes!||Yes! (and more convenient)|
|Pretty Nice Features to Have|
|Mileage||20 mpg||15.2 mpg (worst) up to 20 mpg (best reported)|
|One Fuel Source||No||No|
So there you have it. On the “Must Have” list, I give the edge to the Travato – it’s shorter than Das Bus, it has a permanent bed, and the bike storage will not limit our ability to use the sliding door. Once we deprecate the Dry Bath requirement, the Travato scores 4 out of 4. And on the secondary wants list, the gas Travato likely gets less mileage than the diesel – though I’ve had Travato owners comment here that they get 20-22 mpg, which is what we get in Das Bus. But when you consider the (nearly) infinite black tank capacity, and the fact that the generator runs off of the same fuel source as the engine; then the scales tip in favor of our new yellow friend. We couldn’t be happier.
And that’s just SOME of what’s coming. There are even more things planned for our yellow companion, but this post is getting really long, so those can wait. I’ll be writing more as Winnebago starts the build-out, but for right now, he looks like this inside:
JOIN US ON OUR SHAKEDOWN CRUISE. NO – REALLY!!
Anyone’s first trip in their new RV is a big deal. We’d love to share that experience with you, our readers. But not just virtually. Seriously! Come along on our maiden voyage for a 4 day group tour through Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota! Winnebago Outdoor Adventures puts together trips that ANYONE can join, not just people with Winnebagos. You can read about the Driftless Adventure, our shakedown cruise in mid-July, right HERE. It should be fun – there will be canoeing and biking to satisfy our urge for “active”. But I’ll probably lead an extra ride or two, time permitting, and we’ll be bringing our fitness equipment and sharing exercises and tips for working out on the road as well. It’ll be a blast, we promise!
I’ll keep the updates coming on our new Travato. That’s all for now. Stay healthy and safe out there!