Two Weeks with Lance

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We’ve been on the road for over two weeks, so it’s been hard to put together videos, or write the kind of in-depth posts that I like. But we got home last night, and I’ll be getting back to work on my backlog. But before I do all that, a quick update on our new Travato.

After two weeks and two thousand miles living in Lance, Stef and I are getting to know him pretty well. Some things have worked out even better than we thought they would, and some are… well… still works in progress. Here’s a quick rundown.


First off, I’m hoping the mileage gets better. I know it’s only been two thousand miles, but the initial numbers are a little disappointing. Here’s what I mean:

According to the on-board computer, Lance’s lifetime average is 14.8 miles per gallon, and the vast majority of those miles are highway miles. That’s not awful, but it’s also not the mid-fifteen I was hoping for. Not only that, but the mileage I calculated at the pump was consistently 1mpg less than the on-board computer reports.  I did spend some time on this trip talking with other Travato owners, and I’m definitely on the lower end of the mileage scale. (I’m also on the lead-footed end of the scale.) But this trip was unusual for us – we were carrying a whole lot of stuff, and we idled a lot. Those probably helped drive the mileage down. By all accounts, once I change the oil and switch to synthetic, mileage should improve a bit. Time will tell.


Coming from a diesel coach, the gas engine in Lance is taking some getting used to. We both LOVE how quiet the engine is. Compared to Das Bus, it’s nearly silent. We also love not having to make sure the gas station we just saw has diesel. But I am noticing that I lack the torque I had gotten used to.

Mainly, I notice that I have to apply more throttle pressure than it seems like I should. This may just be that I’m not used to the feeling of these pedals yet. But the other place this shows up is on grades. I have to downshift more frequently than I did in our diesel coach. The automatic transmission seems to not downshift quickly enough to maintain speed. (Generally, I set the cruise on 68mph and leave it there, if you’re wondering.)   Eventually, on our trip back to Utah, I started moving it into Tiptronic mode and managing the shifting myself.

Lance Skyward

This was quite the climb.

Two points about manually shifting the ProMaster should be noted:

  1. To shift up, you move the lever down, and shifting down is up. On what planet does this make sense!?!?  Don’t even ask me how many times I got that wrong.
  2. When you knock it out of drive into Tiptronic, it remembers your cruise control and keeps it active. This is AWESOME!

And speaking of cruise control, the one in the ProMaster does the absolutely best job of engine braking of any cruise control I’ve ever used in any vehicle ever. If you don’t have cruise control on, and start going down a grade, it will do some engine braking for you. But if you DO have cruise control engaged, it will find that speed and stick to it regardless. It was a really great feature to have coming down Parley’s canyon on I-80 into Salt Lake City.

So to wrap up, It’s not what I was used to, but don’t get the wrong idea about the power in the gas version of the Travato. Lance was still a great climber – powering up hills and leaving big rigs in the dust. He just seems to spin his engine a little faster to do it. (So, Lance climbs on cadence, not power?)

Bike Storage

There were pictures in an earlier post with our bikes out on the rear rack. And we do keep them there from time to time. But that was before we really had the “garage” area figured out. By the time we left Iowa, we had the bike racks in the garage dialed in. This is how we rode them home to Utah, and it was nice to not remove the skewers and use a wheel bag for the front wheels (you can see them mounted on the rack as well.)

And if your weather band radio wakes you up at 4:30am with a hail warning – it takes about 180 seconds to get them from outside to inside, half asleep.

Now, having said all that, it is still pretty convenient to be able to put them out back on the rear rack, because (as you may have guessed) accessing the wardrobes is difficult with the bikes in. Stef and I (and Lance) are still working out storage solutions, and this isn’t the last word on it. But as you can see here, it really is more spacious without bikes inside.

Inside Lance no bikes

And do you see the mesh bag on the underside of the bed in that picture? We were keeping dirty laundry in there. It actually holds quite a bit. How much?

Yes, that’s our dirty laundry.

About that much.

Beware the Update!

So, Winnebago installed a premium JBL sound system with amplifier in our coach. The few times we got to listen to it, we really liked the sound. It was powerful, and rich. But just before we left Iowa, I tried to apply the UConnect update supplied by Fiat/Chrysler. As soon as I did that, all sound from the radio ceased. It was a very quiet drive home.

Winnebago, and the folks from Harman Kardon, have been all over this problem. Here I am on the side of the road by the Mickelson trail in South Dakota, tracing wires from the stereo back to the battery. I’m actually on the phone with engineers from Harman Kardon on a Saturday in this photo.

Battery Wiring

If you didn’t know, the battery in the ProMaster is under the driver’s side floor.


But basically, all I found is that Winnebago installed a proper fuse (that was well wrapped to keep it from rattling), and that the wiring seemed to be in order. So the thinking now is that it’s a software issue. I wish the support from Fiat/Chrysler was as good as what I got from Winnebago and Harman Kardon – the UConnect support line just rings busy, every time I’ve tried it. So things remain pretty quiet for Lance right now.

The Navigation System

Stef and I got pretty used to the Garmin navigation system in Das Bus. We took an almost instant dislike to the Tom Tom system in the Travato. Probably the main thing we disliked was the inability for the co-pilot to program the system while underway. This is something Stef does all the time (mostly looking for Starbucks). Not being able to do it was a bit of a hangup for us.

OK, it was more than “a bit of a hangup”. We both threw hissy-fits about it.

So, almost immediately, we ordered a Garmin NuviCam LMTHD. In addition to having a familiar interface for us, this unit also has a dash cam built in, which records in a loop, in case of an incident. Further, this unit is removable from its mount, so Stef can program it in her lap, instead of reaching across the dash. And finally, she can transfer locations to it from a smartphone app. Lifetime traffic, lifetime map updates, blah blah blah. I was pretty happy with the directions it provided on the way home.

No, that’s not home. I wish.

No, that’s not home. I wish.

Cab Shades

When we picked up Lance, we were expecting to get the “fur” window coverings for the cab. We were pleasantly surprised when Lance came with some new cab window shades that Winnebago is trying out. They’re a firm-ish cardboard type material that is reflective on the outside and black on the inside. Here they are installed, from the inside:

The ones on the side windows attach with magnets. They go up in about two seconds each. The ones across the front take a bit longer to put up, but once they’re in, you can see that you get a good light and heat barrier around the cab.

Winnebago did give us the “fur” cover as well, but we haven’t opened it. Our feedback to Winnebago is thus:  “These things rock! Use them going forward so everyone can experience this awesomeness.”

The Composting Toilet

OK, first, the good news. Stef took it upon herself to pick out new towels and accessories for the bathroom. They look great, and certainly make the composting toilet look less like a space-station appliance.

Bathroom Decor

But now the less-good news. After a brief initial honeymoon period where things were perfect, we discovered it IS possible to have problems with a composting toilet. I don’t want to be the kind of person who points out problems without a solution, so I’m not going to say too much more about it just yet. I am working on a video where we’ll go into some of the problems we’ve had, and what the solutions to the problems ultimately are. And trust me – the video will be entertaining…

Stef and I are reasonably intelligent people, and we’re getting great support from Winnebago and Airhead. I’m confident we’ll get these problems solved in short order. We’re all learning here, and when I’ve got something you could learn from, I’ll post it.

And Lance Has a Ghost

Yes, you read that right. I can’t explain this any other way, so I’m saying Lance is haunted. I’ve named the ghost “Floyd.”

Every so often, at random intervals, I’ll hear a “whoosh” noise while driving. The noise isn’t coming from the vehicle’s ventilation system. And it’s not coming from any detectable wind outside. It happens at different speeds, traveling at different directions, at different times of day. Sometimes it happens twice in succession, sometimes not for several hours. I really haven’t been able to find an explanation for this yet.  So I’m calling it a ghost.  I’d be curious if anyone else with a ProMaster or Travato has had a similar experience.

Let the Modifications Begin!

As you can imagine, now that I’ve got Lance back to my shop, there are some mods that I’ve got planned.  I’ll be providing info about those in the coming weeks.

I also conducted three pretty good experiments while we were on the road, so I’ll be posting about those too. Lots of good stuff coming up. Stay tuned!


James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    113 thoughts on “Two Weeks with Lance

    1. Randee

      Hi James,
      We are having a used and empty Promaster cargo van converted to an RV that will suit our particular needs.
      I am about to order an AriHead composting toilet. Because of your previous post that states you’ve had problems with it I am wondering if I should reconsider Nature’s Head or is it Not a manufacturer’s design issue?
      I wish I knew what problems you were writing about because the framing in the van is being done this week and i’m wondering if we need to make some adjustments? or what? Please help with any information you can.
      Thanks James!

      1. James - Post author

        Our quibbles with the composting toilet don’t have anything to do with Airhead vs. Nature’s Head. In fact, we think the Airhead is the better designed product of the two.
        Instead, our toilet troubles have to do with the nature of composting toilets in general. As far as the install, it’s pretty simple. Pay attention to the venting during construction, and make sure you have positive airflow there at all times. That’s the biggest thing.

        1. Randee Mathers

          Hi again James,

          Can you tell me where your composting toilet is vented? …into the floor, out the side of the coach or up to the ceiling? It seems to make a difference in the amount of airflow.

          Thanks again,

      1. James - Post author

        They’re Covercraft UVS-100 shades.
        Winnebago is providing them now, so they might be available through the parts department of your Winnebago dealer.

      2. Donald P Wolf

        Will those window shades fit in a new 2016 Unity and if so where can I get them. They really look great and I like the simplicity of attaching them.

        Thanks Don

        1. James - Post author

          If you’re talking about the cab shades, those are custom fit for the ProMaster. There may be other options, but these won’t fit a Sprinter.

    2. Skagitstan

      Hi James,
      I’ve been following your blog for about a year now, reading about your Das Bus renovation.
      Now that I’ve started my own conversion of a Ford Transit ( in case your interested), I’ve been following your insights on good and bad things about various class Bs and components. It’s a great resource!

      We’ve spec’d an Airhead composting toilet, and are getting close to building the john. So, I’ve been anxiously awaiting your Lance toilet findings in case I need to change my design. Any hint when your composter update might be ready?


      1. James - Post author

        It will be a while on that one. That needs to be a video, and frankly, I’m swamped!
        For a DIY camper, it’s probably the best solution you’re going to find. But… in my opinion, it requires just as much effort to keep running properly as a standard gravity toilet. The work is different, but there’s work.I’ll just leave it at that for now.

        1. James - Post author

          The problems we have had are not covered anywhere else (that I’ve seen, anyway).
          Finding time to make the video is all that’s holding us back at this point – I think we’ve got our problems figured out.

    3. Chris

      James, living vicariously through you guys! Test drove a Travato 59G and loved it but torn on price especially when I see the Dyna-Max price and features. Also heard some folks talking about toilet clogging and climate control issues (can’t maintain temperature when it cold outside). Keep up the good work!

        1. Inho Yoon

          James and Stef, I enjoy reading your informative web site and getting educated. I’ve never owned a RV but thinking about aqcuring one, and my independent research has been leading me to Travato 59G because of its useful floorplan. No matter what model I may ultimately choose, It has to have a bike storage for at least one small-frame mountain bike INSIDE.
          My question: I know there is no room for two bikes but can you store one bike with its front wheel off in the space, perhaps diagonally, under the stock bed (before it is raised as in Lance)?

        2. James - Post author

          Bikes are an odd-shaped thing to store, so length x width x height dimensions don’t give the full picture. BUT…
          I think you could probably get a small frame mountain bike in there, lying kind of crooked/diagonal, and still get the bed down IF you are willing to remove the wheel and possibly also drop the seat post.
          This is just me guessing, because I didn’t try it. You would not be able to get a 29er in there or anything large like that.
          You would also have to come up with a pretty cool angled mount to keep it from scraping all around while you were underway – but that should be do-able.
          Sounds like a fun challenge. First step would be to head to your dealer with your bike. You local?

    4. Emile Bakker


      my biggest gains in fuel economy have come from driving in the low end of my top gear (overdrive) and keeping my foot very still, except when I want to take advantage of momentum when there are hills around. You can off course run in the bottom of any gear depending on available speed limits. In this manner you’re keeping engine friction to a minimum and cylinder pressure high for maximum efficiency. The fuel cost of accelerating thousands of pounds of vehicle weight can be offset by coasting in neutral if you have the space ahead of you. Using engine braking slows you faster and will cut off fuel supply as mentioned earlier on. Your engine will definitely loosen up over time. Hill climbing with bursts of full throttle does the trick here if you gradually build up the length of the “bursts”. Some vehicles improved in this manner even after thousands of miles on the gauge.
      Your plans to improve aerodynamics could also help, unless there happens to be a substantial vehicle a few car lengths if front of you doing the pushing as I have experienced by coincident….
      Thanks for describing all you experiences with your van, this could very well be a future upgrade for us.

      Keep up the good work!

      1. James - Post author

        Good points.
        I know there are all sorts of behaviors I could engage in to get better fuel economy. (Slowing down would probably be the first… lol.)
        But there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to have to think about it; and would rather put on cruise control, sing along with the radio, and smile at the wife occasionally.
        I do plan to keep an eye on the mileage as the engine wears in, and I’m working on finding sources for some fairing materials.
        I’ll report back on these topics in the future.
        Thanks for reading!

    5. Jerry Fern

      Hi James,
      Have enjoyed all of your reports.
      I have been researching and leaning toward the 59K.
      What kind of window cover is used for the sliding door ?.
      Is it blinds, roller shades, Covercraft Sunscreens ?
      I have seen lots of videos and pictures of the Travato but they always show it with the door open.

      Jerry F.

      1. James - Post author

        I can’t speak for everyone’s, but on ours, the window covering is a lined fabric piece which is held in place by magnets.
        It looks kind of nice, I think.

    6. BarbB

      Covercraft UVS100 Sunscreens — is there a specific model #. I just went on a few websites and they seem to be vehicle specific.

      I definitely want to order them; just want to make sure they’re the correct ones!!!



      1. James - Post author

        I assume you would just order the shades for the Dodge Ram ProMaster of the appropriate year.
        I didn’t order ours, they came from Winnebago. There is not a part number on them.

    7. BarbB


      I picked up my 2016 59G a couple of weeks ago — downsizing from a diesel Itasca. I travel with 3 dogs (2 big and 1 who thinks he’s big). I travel to dog agility trials up and down the east coast. I am in love with “Silver” (Hi Ho Silver and AWAY). I will be dry camping at agility sites and am a bit concerned about the noise level of the onan generator. So look forward to your upcoming posts about upgrading. Other than that I’m in love with her. Looking forward to your tips about storage, etc.


    8. joe

      Just purchased the stock model 2106 G refresh. Love it so far and really excited to see what your experiences will be with this rig.

      Do you have trouble putting up the rear bed with the Froli system? We found that the mattress gets caught on the Froli “springs” and makes is awkward to put up and down.

      1. James - Post author

        The mattress does catch on the Froli if you’re not careful. What we typically do is fold up the mattress first, and then fold up the platform. That seems to help.

      2. Stefany

        Congrats on your purchase and becoming a fellow Travato owner, Joe! Glad you’re loving yours, too. I keep meaning to start a Facebook group for us Travato owners so we can brainstorm mods, share tips, and learn from others’ experiences. Will post something in the blog when I finally do…hope you’ll join and we can stay in touch!

    9. John Kurtzeborn

      James & Stef,

      My wife & I ordered a 59g a few days after you did – still waiting. So, naturally we have been eager to hear your review.

      In light of your “uconnect” issues I was wondering if you were aware of the huge recall associated with HK’s products supplied to Chrysler & Fiat. You might want to check into this.
      I know I am going to before I take delivery.

      Good luck with your Travato; hope to meet you on the road sometime

      John Kurtzeborn

      1. James - Post author

        Yeah, Fiat Chrysler is “under siege” a bit right now. Even so, Winnebago has found someone from Fiat who is trying to help. Unfortunately, the help is steps that only a dealer can do. But I imagine the dealers are pretty busy right now.
        A side note on the UConnect update – it was released to address a security vulnerability that was recently written about in Wired magazine. But I don’t believe the vulnerability was really there for the UConnect 5.0 systems in the ProMaster vans. We don’t have the Wi-Fi Hotspot capability built into the ProMaster, so there’s no way an attacker could gain access other than physically. So for us ProMaster owners, the update really wasn’t about security, but other software items. I’m not saying don’t update your software, but I don’t think the security issue was as high for the ProMaster with UConnect 5.0.

    10. Ted

      Looks like there’s a new guy rolling around in a 2006 Gulfstream Vista Cruiser G24 with a high mount rear bed and bump outs for transverse sleeping and a dinette in front as a separate living space (sorta similar to the Avion)

      He managed to fit his mountain bike in the garage with a bunch of other stuff, but pointed out how cramped the bathroom is. Should be fun to follow his travels. Love the clip waking up with a train rolling behind the van.


      1. James - Post author

        I saw a van like that last week. Having lived in Lance for a while now, the one thing we can say for sure about the bathroom is that it’s plenty big enough. We wouldn’t have accepted the standard, tiny, Class B bathroom.

    11. Don

      James, your concern over gas millage had me thinking. Does the Travato RV generator draw from the vehicle’s fuel tank causing any calculations to be off depending on the amount of use to charge or use appliances? Does the vehicle’s fuel monitoring account for this fuel usage in its calculations? I do love the feature that if you did use up all the fuel for the generator you still have 1/4 a tank of fuel to drive to the gas station for a refill. Am I looking at this right?

      1. James - Post author

        Our generator does run from the vehicle fuel tank.
        So it would count against mileage I “calculated” at the pump. It would NOT be included in the “average mileage” calculations done by the on-board computer.
        You’re thinking about it correctly – you could run the generator dry, and you should still have a quarter tank to get someplace with more fuel.

    12. Mike

      Re: “the UConnect support line just rings busy, every time I’ve tried it”

      I imagine the Fiat/Chrysler support team is pretty busy right now, with that UConnect vulnerability & recall notice going on 😉 Perhaps that’s the source of Floyd the ghost!

      1. James - Post author

        I know. I feel a little guilty for “piling on” FCA right now, but their update broke my radio!!
        We are working through all available channels and getting support, and Winnebago has been great at trying to track this down for us.
        But – it does look like a trip to a dealer is in my future…

        1. Mike

          Ugh, that sucks… an update really shouldn’t ‘brick’ the radio. Reminds me of the bad old days with certain PC motherboard updates.

    13. Roger


      I’m close to ordering a 2016 59G gas Travato. I hope to use it this winter for travel to and stay at ski resort parking lots (the vast majority of which do not have electrical service). What are your thoughts on snow and ice traction (with or without chains), adding heaters to the holding tanks and drainage system, and the Travato’s overall suitability for winter usage? Also, do you think Winnebago is going to be offering internal water supply lines on all future 59G builds?

      Thanks for your great blog.


      P.S. I’m addicted to Coffee Peanut Butter smoothies!

      1. James - Post author

        RV at the ski area: Take THAT 12 dollar ski resort hamburger! I love it!
        I plan to have snow tires for Lance. And I’ll try it out around town before heading up the canyon. The weight in the back unloads the front a bit, so I think I’d probably look into chains for winter traction, but I’ll try the snow tires first.
        As far as adding heaters to the tanks: totally feasible. Ours has them. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal to do yourself, or have any competent RV shop do.
        Overall, I think the Travato will be fine in the winter. The Truma heater is really a marvel, and so much quieter than other options. I don’t know if the internal water routing will become a regular option for Winnebago, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I know they’re watching the feedback on our rig. And knowing these guys, I’m pretty sure they saved the design docs when they finished with ours.

    14. Maggie

      James, we really like the Garmin! Did you install it yourself or have someone install it for you? If you installed it yourself, was it difficult to do? Did you make a video on that? It appears it does a lot more than just give you navigation. I love the features regarding the alerts. Those are such great features. It saves lives. We were in a bad accident once due to blind spot and lane changing. We have it on our Honda and it’s AMAZING! Thank you so much!

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Maggie –
        Well, there’s been really no “install” to speak of. It’s a suction cup windshield mount, and (for now) a cord hanging down to a cigarette lighter outlet. So no, the install wasn’t difficult at all! In fact, it’s out of the vehicle altogether right now.
        I don’t have a video of it, but may make one in the future. Particularly if I make the install look more “finished” by hiding the cords, etc.
        Thanks for reading!

    15. Mark Roberts

      I’m in Fort Collins, Co, with the original 2014 and most trips involve mountain passes. One recent trip over I-70 to Grand Junction and beyond netted 17.1MPG average. Another trip into Wyoming saw 14.8MPG on the way up, and 21.5MPG on the way down. I haven’t checked against the ‘real’ numbers, but I’m going to now… I’m pretty darned happy with the mileage we get.

      We’ve sold two cars, and are down to the van and one other car. I use the van quite frequently for trips in town, and it’s awesome for carrying tools, materials, my motorcycle (inside). It’s peppy, turns tight, and I call it a sports van!

      1. James - Post author

        Those are GREAT mileage numbers. You should be happy! Congratulations on that.
        At this point, I can only aspire to that kind of mileage.
        But I like the idea of calling it a “sports van”. I may adopt that one…

    16. Terry McWilliams

      Question for those who tow vehicles: How is handling affected by towing a vehicle less than 3500 lbs? Can you make it up grades or do you have to disconnect “toad”?

      1. James - Post author

        I don’t know how many folks with a Travato would tow, but hopefully someone will chime in if they do.

        1. Ken Langlands

          JAMES, we hauled a Victory Vision on a Stand-Up brand motorcycle trailer to southern Florida and back to Missouri (1300-1400 lbs tow weight) Our Travato towed it nicely although you can tell its back there, accelerating and stopping were a little longer/ slower but very acceptable. Mileage penalty Was 1 to 1.5 mpg avg overall through the hills and Flats. As far as handling and safety it Seemed to be pretty good.
          I would have no reservation to do more trailering In the future with this rig.

        2. James - Post author

          Good to know. Sometimes, I need to manage a trailer around town, and it’s nice that I’ve got an option if my little pickup won’t handle it.
          If I had to add an “RV” trailer, it would be an enclosed trailer, with room for lots of bikes and other outdoor gear.
          Out of curiosity: Did you weigh your rig first, before adding the trailer?

      1. James - Post author

        Interesting read. There’s so much stuff on top of an RV already I wonder if those numbers hold true for us.
        On Lance, the roof racks hold some of the solar, so it’s probably a wash as far as “greenness” goes. The Kayak racks could be one exception – they stick out a bit, and we could remove them when we don’t have anything in them.

        1. Carol

          Yeah, anything going width-wise up top would probably cut down on mileage (which would include any RV with the air conditioner up top). Wasn’t really commenting on the “greenness” of an RV or lack thereof but was shocked myself at how much of a mpg loss results from stuff up top. But I would think that kayak rack is your biggest offender in terms of creating air resistance and resulting in mpg loss (but I’m just guessing). Your weight in the RV probably does as much.

    17. Bob J

      Wow, lots of good comments since I posted mine 24 hrs ago. didn’t mention in my first one that we’ve had 2 Jeep Wranglers with the 3.6 Pentastar, a ’12 & ’15, same as the ProMaster engine. The Wrangler is a square, flat front vehicle. Over 70k miles between the 2 of them, figured by the Android app, Fuelio, we’ve averaged 18.3 mpg, approximately 70% city, 30% highway. You are probably carrying at least 3k more weight than a Wrangler Unlimited, (4 door).
      I’ve found as mentioned earlier that not using the cruise control in hilly terrain, helps the mileage somewhat. Also, I’d bet that kayak rack is hurting the mileage too. Probably more than any of us think it would.
      Maybe some current Travato/PM owners can give some tips on driving that 6 speed trans. in hilly terrain to cut down on the excessive shifting others have reported with it.
      By the way, love your color combination on that exterior, and Stef’s towel color choice…

      1. James - Post author

        Well, one thing that’s becoming clear is that I need more time behind the wheel to get a better feel for driving the Travato. Here in Utah, we’ve got nothing but hills. I’m picking up a lot of things to try from what other owners have commented here. I will eventually get my mileage up. It will just take time.

    18. Mike

      James – I can give you some feedback on gas mileage from our new 2016 59k. We did some touring around Michigan the last few days and I have some data. Note – this is all from the internal display and not manually calculated at the pump but I think it’s pretty close. When I picked up the coach it had 776 miles on it – the delivery from Winnebago to the dealer. That data was still in the system and was showing 16.9 mpg. I am sure that would have been all hwy miles – but no idea what speed. On Sunday my wife and I took the coach on a trip – 247 miles which was about a 50% hwy / 50% two-way highway combination. On the hwy we had the cruise set about 72, and were running about 58-60mph on the two-way. That combined trip shows 17.6 mpg. Today I took an all hwy trip back to the dealer (unfortunately we have a very sick electrical system) and this was all hwy, about 175 miles. I had the cruise set at 71~ and saw 17.1 mpg.

      While the coach is at the dealer for service, we’re going to go ahead and get a quote to get the “whoosh” generator installed. 😉 – Mike D.

      1. James - Post author

        Clearly, I have some work to do on my driving technique. I think I need lots of practice time behind the wheel… Stef! Get ready for more road trips!

        The random “whoosh” ghost is a hoot. Get it. You’ll love it!

    19. Terry McWilliams

      Seeing you under the Travato with your tape measure and the limited clearance, traveling off paved roads you’re really going too need to be careful.What’s your thinking after traveling home?

      1. James - Post author

        Our special Travato seems heavier than most… Right now, in our driveway, the generator is sitting about an inch lower than in our videos. I think our extra cabinet build is coming into play.
        Even so, we didn’t have any issues bottoming out in and out of parking lots, curb and gutter, etc. I think the clearance is still OK for us. Of course, I didn’t try to take it down any forest service roads on this trip.
        But for on-road use, I don’t think – even at my weight – there are any issues.

        1. Mark Roberts

          The very first modification I did after buying the Travato, and seeing the generator hanging down below the axle, was to have a 4X4 dealer install aftermarket springs to raise the rear end a bit. I don’t think I’ve been in a position to have needed this (well, maybe once!), but it’s peace of mind.

        2. James - Post author

          I may tweak with the rear suspension as well. I added springs to our Sprinter, and it actually helped the handling a lot. The Travato doesn’t need any help with handling, but the extra height would be nice. But in addition to that, I want Stef to be happy with it, and that means smoothness. If I can get up and drive off without waking her up, I’ll know I’ve achieved victory. There are a number of options I’m looking at: Sumo Springs, Timbren SES, and spring assist kits from Upscale Automotive. Smoothness and ride height are my main goals.

    20. Mike S.

      Really enjoyed your posts. Have enjoyed ours going on three months and 4000 miles. Have traveled all types of terrains and traffic conditions here in the northeast, and a tank full has been as high as 18 mpg to as low as 13 mpg. Enjoy Lance.

    21. Tumbleweed

      Glad you like Lance. We’ve had ours for 15 months / 20k miles! We just returned from 10 wks in Alaska. We averaged 19 mpg over 9k miles. We travel w/ a 50lb yellow lab. She naps under the dining table during the day, but we make up the dinette as her bed at night. We put our bed up most days to make it easier to maneuver. It takes some effort to reconfigure several times a day, and we definitely need to synchronize movements. But it’s totally worth it. Our wee rig is affordable to own & operate. It’s easy to park & find places to free camp. As you discovered the u turn is a biggie. Driving thru BC we’d see a bear and pull a u-ey to go back & take pix. All that being said, I’d consider trading her for Lance’s sister 🙂
      And yes, we also experience a ghost.
      Happy trails in your wee rig!

      1. James - Post author

        Another ghost!!! Well now I’ve GOT to figure out what it is!
        The Travato is awesome. We’re glad to be a part of the rapidly growing club.

    22. Marshal

      So, the facts as I understand them:
      – James and Stef are avid/serious cyclists
      – They have a big yellow van named “Lance”
      – The big yellow van has a ghost named “Floyd”
      – There are some issues/concerns regarding power and efficiency
      – Nobody is telling us yet just exactly what is going on in the bathroom

      It would seem the obvious answer is to add some EPO the next time you fill-up.

      Anyway, can’t wait to follow along as you work all this stuff out!

      1. James - Post author

        If I could find some automotive EPO, I’d add it. But all I can find is STP.
        As it is, our van has never tested positive for any performance enhancing substances…

    23. Stanley

      Hi James, I have heard that the Onan gas generator is very loud on a Travato. What’s your experience? Any solutions to reduce the noise? Do you have enough power to run everything? If so, how many days for dry camping? Thanks so much and I really enjoy your videos.

      1. James - Post author

        I’ve got a generator video that I’ll be putting together in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for that one.
        We haven’t done any extended dry camping yet – we were mostly plugged in. But we were able to make it almost two weeks with just the onboard water tank (being very conservative and using campground showers mostly). Remember though, we’re not flushing any water down the toilet. Sink and shower tanks never really were a problem – I think we drank most of the water.

        1. Ron

          James, you may want to check out my blog entry on the EC-30W wireless Onan remote control for your Onan. It has a lot of features – including autostart options – for not a lot of money, and it’s a simple, DIY plug & play install.

    24. Don

      I see a Travato in our future and looking forward to the Pomona RV show in Oct! In reading some blogs there is some concern with the water drain pump in the wet bathroom area. Any comments and do you feel you had enough room in your bathroom?

      1. James - Post author

        Do it!! Join our tribe!
        We’ve not had any issues with the drain pump in the bathroom (except when you forget to turn it on and realize you’re standing in an inch of water…)
        There are filters that will need to be cleaned periodically, but that’s no big deal.
        We actually have PLENTY of room in the bathroom. Stef can even shave her legs!
        We’ll see you in Pomona!

    25. Drew


      I know a lot of folks love to cruise around 70 but if you really want to see any gains just ease off. Mileage really suffers after about 65.

      Nice work on this- I will love the toilet stuff!

      1. James - Post author

        I may have to experiment with that a bit. Although for part of those miles, I was in a RV caravan that never got much above 55, and I still had the worst mileage of the bunch! Maybe it’s just me…

    26. Wayne and Jill

      After 17,000 miles (we’ve only had our T for 90 days – 2015 bought used with 7,900 miles) we have been entertained periodically by a ghost with a swish, too. We’re counting on you to be our ghosting-buster to figure this one out!

      1. James - Post author

        If I ever do figure out what’s behind Floyd, I’ll let you know. Though part of me likes it just being a mystery…

    27. Vanessa Herbst

      James and Stephanie, my husband George and I have enjoyed following you since we started researching RVing.
      I could hardly wait for this first big post on Lance (popcorn long gone).
      We had a tough time deciding between the Travato 59K and the 59G.
      We decided on the 59K and get to finally pick up our Travato on August 4th. We really appreciate your feedback and it will help us with the modifications we plan to do. I also hope ours come with the new front window shades!

      1. James - Post author

        The K is a sweet ride. You’ll like it. I’m glad we’ve been helpful in some small way.
        I hope you get the window shades too! They’re much better than the fur.

    28. Cam

      Hi guys, glad you’re working through the inevitable teething issues of all new coaches.

      On the Tiptronic thing, believe it or not the shifting direction is race car inspired! I figure you bicycle racers would appreciate this. When accelerating, the G forces push you back, so you pull back against the stick to shift up. When decelerating, the G forces push you forward, so you push you forward against the stick to downshift. Sure, the average ProMaster isn’t pulling a lot of G’s, but at least you can pretend you’re racing to the next campground!

        1. Mark Roberts

          If you’ve ridden motorcycles, the system isn’t as awkward. To downshift you push on the lever, and to upshift, you pull up. It’s the same general direction.

    29. AL

      Welcome home from your shake down trip! I was wondering how you felt about going from diesel to gas. I guess there are pros and cons with either engine. The gas mileage you got was almost identical to what I get in my 2 dr Jeep Wrangler with the same 3.6 engine, so I’d be happy with that. I can tell you the throttle response on the Jeep is much stiffer than on the Travato. Diesel prices in SoCal are about a dollar less than regular now, but when gas prices took a dive earlier this year, diesel was about a buck more for a long time. I wonder if the roof rack or solar panels are causing drag or buffeting which will reduce mileage?
      Hope you get your U connect problems worked out, bummer to shut down on the road. My Jeep has worked well, programmed it in 2012 at dealer and haven’t had any issues since.
      I was hoping the Tom Tom would work while driving too. Wonder if there is some fix. I guess I’ll use my Garmin too.
      Look forward to your future blogs and the mods you have planned. Keep up the good work and your real world impressions good or bad!

      1. James - Post author

        Well, if you got the same mileage in a regular Jeep, I guess I feel pretty good about it.
        I’m sure that the roof rack and solar are causing some additional drag – one of my planned mods is to work out some sort of fairing for the front of it.
        I’ll post what the ultimate solution to the radio problem is.

      1. James - Post author

        Well, don’t get the impression that it’s all bad – or even mostly bad. We seriously love our Travato!
        We’re just working through getting adjusted to it. We had a long time to get used to Das Bus.
        Seems like most of these things are chassis related, not Winnebago items.
        Come to think of it, I met up with some FCA representatives at the WIT rally – I may ask them some additional questions.

    30. JD

      I’ve been waiting for the beginnings of your review. So gratifying to hear more! The good, and the not so good. Appreciate your candor. No RV (or boat, which is what I know better) is without compromises. The real issue is to figure out what they are, and whether it is worth working through them. It is great to have your candid assessment. Nothing sounds insurmountable. And anything one buys will involve a balance. It helps to know what challenges you are hitting, and your thoughts about them.

      After 2000 miles, what do you think about comfort driving? I ask because I finally got to test drive a Promaster conversion. It wasn’t the Winnebago, but I don’t think that matters. My understanding is that the seats are all Dodge, because the air bag system dictates that the upfitters leave them as is. My test drive wasn’t all that long, but it was right on the heels of a Sprinter test drive. I have to say — the ride on the Sprinter chassis and on the Sprinter seats (recovered by that specific manufacturer) left no comparison. For me. And my ergonomics. But my experience might change if I had a bit more time in the seats. Curious how, after 2000 miles, you found the pilot / co-pilot ride.

      Keep the info coming!!

      1. James - Post author

        Actually, I found the seats pretty comfortable.
        The biggest adjustment for me was that the driver’s left arm rest is pretty far away from the steering wheel. But the ProMaster has a dynamite lumbar support, and more seat adjustments than Das Bus did (older Sprinter).
        It has a telescoping steering wheel, but not tilting – if you need to change the tilt to get to your proper driving posture, that may take some doing.
        You’re right about all the manufacturers leaving the ProMaster seats as-is. Since the GVWR is under ten thousand pounds, it has to be tested like a car, and if a manufacturer changed the seats, they’d have to run through the battery of crash tests. But just because Winnebago can’t change the seats, that doesn’t mean that you as the end user can’t change them! If the seat padding and covering were the only thing holding you back, I wouldn’t let it. General ergonomics of the seats were fine in my opinion.

    31. Bob J

      James, your descriptions mirror others that have went from diesel back to gas. have to get used to having to give it more “gas” to maintain speed up hills etc. We have the same engine you do in our Jeep, and it needs rpm to make power as in all overhead cam engines.
      I believe you’ll find if you ask Chrysler, you already have synthetic oil in that engine. It’s pretty much factory fill any more with all manufacturers.
      Also keep in mind, idling and weight use gas, so as you get used to the van, you should up your mpg a bit.
      Anxious to see your videos and write ups…..

      1. James - Post author

        We were really heavy on this trip – had way too much stuff if you ask me. (Not that Stef’s 13 pairs of shoes weighed all that much, but they were symbolic of how much excess we were bringing…)
        I am hopeful that as we pare down what we need, and I get more used to driving it, I can get the mileage to improve.

    32. Ken

      I think pushing up to downshift me is completely natural. I think of low being towards the front of the vehicle and high being towards me. Interesting where you put the laundry. My laundry would stink too much to put it there:-)

      The more RPMs to climb grades seems normal to me. I was figuring on mid 15s for gas mileage. I have a Jeep Cherokee with the same engine. On the road I can average 23-24 mph. But the Travato is much heavier. I had a guy tell me that he uses Shell when he wants to clean the fuel injectors but Chevron when he wants better gas mileage. I tried it once and got 2 more mpg coming back from Seattle to Portland using Chevron then the other way using Shell. Of course a non scientific study. How much harder was it to find diesel with Das Bus?

      I’m almost ready to pull the string on a 59K.

      1. James - Post author

        We couldn’t really think of what else to put in that bag. We may not keep doing it that way, but that’s how we did it this time out. One downside of that is I can’t put something in the laundry if Stef is still in bed.
        I normally buy Chevron. Couldn’t find any on this trip until we got back as far west as Wyoming. Now, if I start getting better mileage, I’m going to wonder if I’m driving better, or if it’s just the Chevron. lol.
        If you do get the 59k (Do it! Do it!) you’ll have one huge under bed compartment for laundry!

        1. Ken

          I keep oscillating between a used View or a 59K. Even consider a Trend. I found a 2014 View for the same price as a new 59K. The View is about a little less flexibility, drivability and storage fees but a lot more room and down the depreciation curve. A new 59K is all about driveability, flexibility and no storage fees but with a lot less room. Both are a wash as fuel cost is concerned. I’ve driven both and both are acceptable driving.

          It’s me an a 85lb dog so if you and Stef with bikes can fit in a 59G, a 59K should do us well. I think WGO has a hit with the Travato. It’s amazing how many USB outlets there are in the 59K. Someone who understands modern electronics needs must have been on the design team although I can’t figure out why they didn’t add a small inverter. I’ll also be interested when they may move to a lithium battery solution like Roadtrek. Also not sure why they didn’t offer an option for a heated drainage system since the Travato is marketed towards active sport people like you and Stef.

        2. James - Post author

          Maybe this will help you: Lance is about two feet shorter than Das Bus. You wouldn’t think that’s a whole lot, but I definitely notice it. I fit entirely within parking spaces now, and I can U-Turn on a dime. The drive-ability of the Travato is insanely good. Having driven both, I’d say it’s better than a Sprinter, but I don’t want to start a holy war on our site… At any rate, it’s certainly going to be better than any class C.
          I don’t know how bulky and/or mobile your dog is, but turning around in the aisle would be my only concern there. Apart from that, you should have plenty of room in a Travato. I wouldn’t be concerned.
          I’m with you on the inverter, but I have a cheap portable one to run a laptop, etc, so it’s all good. Though a small inverter may be a future project for me.

    33. Andy & Kim

      Great update James, we ran out of popcorn waiting for this!
      You read my mind, my first question was going to be about how it handles on hills. we live at the beach, hence our travels are mostly in the mountain areas (especially the High Sierras). Very encouraging results and the cruise control is all one could hope for.
      We have been following the Travato since the 2014 model and are very impressed with the continual improvement / innovation that Winnebago has added. Looking forward to more details,especially about the Truma and the power systems (as we mostly dry camp).

      Happy Trails,
      Andy & Kim

      1. James - Post author

        The Power Control system is pretty darn cool. I watched it as Stef ran the microwave and a hair dryer while the AC was on. I think I need to make a video about that one!

    34. Char

      Our mileage has been running about 16-17 mpg and we have only about 2000 miles on our Travato. Been using the cruise control on highways and we’ve also done some city travel. It does have a quiet engine and rides and handles well.
      Thanks for the update!

      1. James - Post author

        You’re my new MPG hero!
        I’m hoping that Lance and I mesh more on the hills in the coming months (because we’ve got a lot of hills around here). When I get to the point where I can read his mind about shifting and such, I think we’ll get better mileage.

      2. Ron Merritt

        I’ve gotten as high as 19 on the flats in Florida. One thing to consider, while that engine braking may be nice on some long grades, you really take a hit on your MPG. Often in rolling country, I kick of the cruise and use my right foot. It does alot better on economy.

        Those window covers look great! I fashioned my own of sorts with some reflectix velcroed to the mouse fur stock coverings. I’d love to order of set of what they are testing with you.

        1. James - Post author

          Hi Ron – The windshield covers seem to be Covercraft UVS100 Sunscreens. Although I don’t know if the magnets were Winnebago’s addition or if they were standard.

          Interesting about the engine braking. Of course, the on-board computer says we’re getting 99.9mpg while doing it. So if it’s actually tough on mileage, perhaps that’s part of the difference between the on-board mpg and simple math.

        2. Ian (Zyzzyx)

          I don’t see that the engine braking could cause a direct hit on MPG. Like any modern engine the fuel injection stops while in engine braking (zero throttle input and above idle). This, as the display shows, gives basically infinite mileage.

          The benefit of not using cruise in the hills is you can let it gain a bit more speed on the downhills and then slowly bleed off the momentum on the next uphill, topping out at a slower speed than if on cruise. Not having the cruise force a set speed on a climb makes a big difference on mileage.

        3. James - Post author

          Zzyzx (BTW, is your handle an homage to the road?)
          You’re right, on some of the downhills, I found myself nudging it out of cruise to let it pick up more speed. I just need more practice behind the wheel to get in sync with the vehicle I think.

    35. Juan Dickerson

      James and Stephanie, I am enjoying your blog and following the rollout of Lance very closely. I am looking into the Travato 59K (or a Transit based model as they start to appear). I am with you on on the Tom Tom navigator, I had one and ended up giving it away and buying a Garmin as well. A couple of questions for you That you probably answered already:

      1)Is there an option for an engine generator or a setup like the Roadtrek E Trek/Eco trek?

      2) Can Winnebago look into bigger Gray/Black tank sizes (Resisting the urge for some Adam Sandler humor about tanks contents!)

      3) You covered partially but I would like to use the Vehicle in the winter any Ideas on if indoor plumbing (like yours) could become a standard?e

      Love the blog Keep on Trucking !

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Juan –
        Let me see if I can answer your questions (but remember, I’m not an official Winnebago representative).
        1. There is currently no option for second alternator (engine generator). It’s not that they’re not looking into those kinds of technologies, it’s just that they don’t have anything ready yet. There are chassis warranty issues if they add a second alternator, among other things. I expect they will eventually work something out, but nothing available today.
        2. I’m sure if Winnebago could fit larger tanks under there, they would! It’s pretty cramped under there. I don’t know where they would put them.
        3. Winnebago is paying attention to how our RV is received, and what people like and dislike. If there are enough people that like something – like the indoor plumbing – it might encourage them to offer it as an option in the future. So thanks for chiming in!
        See you on the road!
        (PS: Pull the trigger on the 59K. Join the club!)

    36. Barbara Kroczak

      Any chance of Winnebago’s changing to an in-built Garmin? I haven’t heard good things about the TomTom and love my cheap Garmin…

      1. James - Post author

        The Tom-Tom unit is factory supplied by Fiat/Chrysler, and is tied in to their U-Connect system. I don’t think that would be easy for them to change.
        You could change it yourself, of course. And I thought about it for a bit before I settled on the Nuvi.
        The thing about the built-in units is that usually, you have to buy your yearly map updates. For the portable units, they’re generally free.

    37. Jon

      I’ve had 2 cars with onboard fuel economy readouts, and they both tended to give me numbers that were a bit higher than my own calculations. At this point I just automatically subtract 1 from whatever they tell me. I suppose they have a difficult time accurately measuring fuel consumption.

      1. James - Post author

        I know, right? I was wondering if the on-board readout only included mileage when it was moving, and subtracted idle time from its average. That would move the numbers up if you don’t average in all those zeros.

        1. Jon

          I don’t think that’s the issue in my case – my current car is a hybrid, so the engine is usually off when I’m sitting at a light.

          But just for grins I did a test this evening on the way home from work. I reset the fuel economy calculation as I was coasting up to a stoplight, and then hit the gas a bit while I was waiting for the light to change. The engine came back on & the fuel economy readout, which had been sitting at 99.9, dropped like a rock. So it seems to keep calculating even if the car isn’t moving.

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