Our Complete Winnebago Solis Review


When you hear “pop-top camper van”, that most likely conjures up a certain image in your mind, and maybe even certain feelings, too.  Retro.  Cool.  Funky.  Care-free.  Everyone’s reaction will be different, but they’ll almost all be positive ones.  Winnebago is trying to tap into that with their newest camper van product, the Solis.  We review one below.  Check it out!

 

You can see most everything we know about the Solis in the video, but there are a few other points I’d like to make to make sure that you’re viewing this rig through the proper lens.

Legit Sleeping For 4

There are two “real” beds in the Solis.  Both of them are large.  If you check the specs, one of them is a couple inches longer and the other is a couple inches wider.  But they’re both VERY usable by a pair of adults (or children).  This is one of the main features of the Solis – and it’s what that pop-top is all about.  So the assumption here is that you want that extra sleeping space enough to forego lots of venting on the roof; a roof rack; an external ladder; an air conditioner; and an awning.  Those are the things you’re willing to trade for true sleeping arrangements for four adults.

Simplicity

The camper vans of yesteryear were a lot simpler than today’s Class B vans.  Older camper vans may have had one running faucet, and if they had a toilet at all, it was some kind of porta-potti.  They may have had minimal lights and heat – but you were happy with them anyway.  I’m happy to say there are plenty of lights, adequate heat, a running shower, and a cassette toilet in the Solis.  But in general, the Solis is a simpler van – and in no way do I mean that as a bad thing.  For example, you won’t find a wired-in entertainment system with outdoor speakers in the Solis.  Nor will you find a state-of-the-art lithium power system, an inverter, or even a generator to power the air conditioner that also doesn’t exist.  Rather than gas struts and hide-away buttons on the cabinets, you’ll find magnets and slam-latches.  (The magnets are kind of fun, btw.)  These are deliberate choices made to keep the van simple, and if you’re the kind of customer who appreciates that, then you get it.  I mean… tank probes fail all the time, but when’s the last time you heard of a tube of water failing?

It’s a Shorter Van

The Solis is NOT built on the extended ProMaster van.  That brings it in at under 20 feet long – which means you can take it literally anywhere, and it should fit in almost any parking space.  In my book that’s awesome!  But, nothing is free, and the trade-off for that length is that you won’t get a second sink in the bathroom, for example.  There’s not much roof space because of the pop-top and the short length, so you won’t be storing much up there.  The dinette table isn’t the biggest… These are all things that are traded off to keep the maneuverability and driveability better than most other camper vans.

Keeping It Affordable

Let’s face it – ANYONE can build a $200,000 van… and they do!  Just my opinion here, but I don’t know if the world really needs another crazy expensive camper van right now.  The Solis isn’t one of those, and affordability was clearly one of the design criteria right up front.  You won’t see granite or Corian countertops in the Solis.  You’ll see less expensive and lighter laminate counters.  Curved doors look nice but they’re expensive to make and they don’t add anything beyond a styling touch… so you won’t find those in the Solis either.  You also won’t find painted bumpers, tricked out wheels, etc. etc. etc.  I’m not saying that any of these things are bad, or that wanting them in your rig is bad.  I’m just saying they’re not in the Solis, and as a result, it’s one of the more affordable Class B RVs you can buy.

 

So those are kind of my thoughts on the Solis.  If you compare it to other Class B camper vans, your first impression might be that it’s missing stuff.  But if you look at it with the right frame of mind, maybe… it’s the right van for those who it was designed for.  Is that you?  Sound off in the comments below!



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.


    61 thoughts on “Our Complete Winnebago Solis Review

    1. Jennifer O Garcia

      What about adding a microwave? And on the PX does the pop up get enough cool air and heat up there? Thanks!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Adding a microwave would be possible. Don’t know where you’d put it.
        We found the air conditioning generally didn’t make it up into the popup area. We didn’t turn on the heat because it was 100 degrees when we had it. But since heat rises… you know…

        Reply
    2. Sandy

      Finally find one camper van that can truely sleep 4, and there is no AC!! We have a travel trailer and we use the AC all the time! So no AC is a no go!

      Reply
    3. JP

      We just purchased one it arrived yesterday and we are already having issues with the solar panel not charging correctly. Seems like there was some sloppy work done on the roof and perhaps a wire isn’t fully connected. We’ll have to bring it in for work but seriously for the price shame on Winnebago….

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        In this model, you would have to bring some kind of portable AC unit. Perhaps a window unit or something similar.

        Reply
    4. Allen

      Great review. Tip of the hat to WGO for finally making a follow up product to the well liked (by me at least) VW Eurovan Camper. I think the trade offs and innovation were spot on for the active Pacific NW customer who doesn’t want an over sized coach designed for older RV park dwellers. If they could only find a way to make this a 4×4 it would knock it out of the park for me.

      Reply
    5. Andrew Sauthoff

      Any idea if the rear seats have a top tether for a car seat? We just had a baby and I can’t believe the lack of child safety taken into consideration by RV manufacturers. I’m glad to at least see a 3 point seat belt.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Haven’t seen a top tether for a car seat. The 3 point belts are better than you’ll find in the back of most RVs though.

        Reply
        1. matthew a reeves

          any idea on the manufacture of those solis rear seats…. I want to try and install in our travato for our kids

    6. Brian

      Man, I was really diggin this van until the very last minute when the big reveal came.. NO A/C!!??? What the hell Winnebago? That makes this RV absolutely miserable for camping in the midwest. The transverse sleeping position still makes it a 2-person camper for us as well.. Having to climb over another person to get up and pee in the night is a deal breaker. Put this on a slightly longer wheelbase so you can sleep lengthwise in the bed like a VW Westy. and oh, I don’t know.. realize it’s 2020 and there are options for awesome, compact mini-split like HVAC systems and you’d have a real winner here!

      Reply
      1. Matt

        Funny, if this had A/C, I wouldn’t even consider it. It’s called camping for a reason. But I grew up in a Westy. The wheelbase is pushing too long for me but I like to get on dirt roads and not stick to pavement. I was on the Sprinter conversion bandwagon for a while but at this point, I just can’t be THAT guy. We’re on the list for a Solis and hope it meets expectations. My biggest concern is Winnebago build quality. Have read and heard of some out the gate issues pointing to sloppy craftsmanship. But from everything I’ve seen so far, Winnebago has learned a lot since the Eurovan camper days (I owned one for a while) and knows who they are targeting with the Solis.

        Reply
    7. Rick

      Since Solis doesn’t come with a spare tire and WGO gifted Coach-Net Basic membership to cover Emergency Roadside Assistance, does anyone know why we should carry the heavy and bulky jack in the rig?

      Reply
        1. Cathy

          I just ordered a Solis and was shocked to hear it does not have a spare tire. Is that common in Class B RVs? I live in Montana and there are a lot of times when we do not have cell coverage in order to contact Emergency Road Side Service. I assume the Emergency Road Side Service is for the life of the vehicle?

        2. James - Post author

          Our Travato does not have a spare tire. Never bothered us much. You do get a Fix-a-flat type kit.

    8. Rick

      Has anyone considered adding a 1500 or 2000 watt inverter to power a microwave for boondocking? I considered 5 options:
      1) pull out power converter and install behind it or inside the rear wheel cabinet by using a 2-way power distribution block to split the battery wire to to the power converter and to the inverter (via a 150 amp fuse), then reusing one of the AC wires to an outlet by the kitchen.
      2) install new wires + 150 amp fuse from house battery to the inverter. require drilling under the van.
      3) replace van battery with new AGM or Lithium then connect to the inverter under one of the front seats (assuming it fits)
      4) install new 100ah+ Lithium inside the rear wheel cabinet to power the inverter and install a manual switch between shore power and the inverter to the power converter.
      5) build / buy solar power bank (easiest option)

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I wouldn’t count on solar to run your microwave – but it will help charge the battery.

        You could always check in the Solis Owners and Wannabes group on Facebook. There may be an owner there who has added an inverter using one of your ideas – or some other idea entirely.

        Reply
    9. Terry

      I was wondering why you guys don’t like attached awnings?
      We are hoping to retire at the end of this year and to possibly buy the Travato 59KL, your reviews have been so helpful especially because we have never had a Class B, only camped out of our minivan, and it is complicated to go look at things right now 🙁 Thank You!

      Reply
    10. Lucas Harris

      Hi again. One more question.

      The Solis sleeps 4! This is very exciting for families. It is the first Class B van that I am aware of that does this. Pretty much every other class B van that I have seen only sleeps 2. I am fan of class B vans because of their compact nature and am not really interested in a Class C with a modified body on a Van chassis. In Europe there is a huge array of Class B options that sleep four! But here in North America it appears the 4 sleeper options are limited to the Solis.

      In your travels and reviews, have you ever come across another Class B van that can sleep 4?

      Thank you!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        There are a few other Class B vans that can sleep 4. Not many. Our own Travato G floor plan is an example of this.
        But none of them do it as well as the Solis does.

        Reply
    11. Lucas Harris

      Great review. By far the best review I have watched yet. Thank you.

      My question is about the possibility of installing roof racks (and a ladder to get up there). My family and I all surf and would be using the van for surf trips with several surfboards. While boards could be stowed inside the van while driving to a destination, it would be great to have them strapped to roof racks out of the way. I have seen westfalia vans with roof racks (even popped up with the boards still on), so I imagine that its possible with the Solis. Do you have any insight into the pop-up roofs load capacity and the possibility of installing roof racks? If there isn’t gutters on a roof, its necessary to install mounting plates for the racks. This means drilling holes in the roof. Is there a way to remove the loft lining to get at the actual shell of the pop-up? Would installing roof racks compromise the warranty? I am aware that there is a solar panel. I am fine with not getting the charge from it while transporting boards. And the roof ladder? Are after market options available?

      Thanks so much!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Don’t know the answers to these pop-top questions, but other owners might.
        I’d suggest asking these questions in the “Solis Owners and Wannabes” group on Facebook. Some there have already taken delivery of their vans, and could check this out for you.

        Good Luck!

        Reply
    12. Bert

      This was an interesting rig until I realized the dimension under the rear bed is not enough to store bikes on a fork mount! With so many van builders/ van lifers having garages with ~36″ clearance for bikes, this seems a big oversight on the Solis. I would prefer not to have the under floor storage and then the bed a wee bit higher to accommodate bikes! Like many, I do NOT want my pricey bikes riding outside on a rack. And having use of only the pop top for sleeping isn’t ideal either.

      Reply
    13. Bob Peto

      Does Winnebago have any thoughts in offering a Solice XL on the 159” wheelbase? With twin beds? With raised twin beds with garage underneath? A lot of great possibilities here.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Unknown.
        Though it’s a safe bet that if the Solis is successful, we can expect other floor plans in the future.

        Reply
    14. Marley

      Great review. Thank you. This Solis would have been perfect for us iff it had had an AC unit instead of a pop top and a Travato table so we could make a dog bed. The pop top should be an option!

      We thought the fridge turned 90 degrees and no bathroom sink great ideas.

      Was the bed comfortable? Don’t know if we could live without the Froli system.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I recall the beds being comfortable. But I can sleep on a concrete floor.
        We were only in them for a few minutes though.

        Reply
    15. Matt

      As always a wonderful review, thanks for the great work (including the great sense of humor))))
      I looked up the price on the Winnebago website and was shocked, to see 100k on there.
      Here the Hymer “FREE” sells for about 45,000.- and the Hymer “Sydney” for about 50,000.- and they exist also in different length and as cross sleepers and with two separate beds mounted longitudinally.
      Here is the link to their English website:
      https://www.hymer.com/de/en/models/overview?filter=campervan
      If you don’t want to publish this comment for obvious reasons, that is absolutely ok.

      Reply
    16. Graham Smith

      The Solis is a study in trade-offs. Shorter (less room); no generator, AC, stereo, TV, or awning. Popup sleeping area and decent 2nd row seating means a 4 person coach. Lots of innovative features. Affordable. The question is, will it sell. I see this appealing to the same market as the Revel, but with a more affordable package. I talked at length with one fellow at the Tampa show and he said he knew a lot of people who would be interested. His take is getting rid of the bed in the rear and using that area for gear and sleeping in the loft. He saw it as more of a short trip vehicle than long tours.

      Reply
    17. Cellar Ray

      James, re the new water ‘panel’ in the rear… If you hook a city water hose up there, how do you close the rear door..?
      Is there a hole/hatch in the floor to feed the hose thru..? Time to call Chris again..? Haha

      Great review as always…

      Ray Cellar, Lodi CA

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        You know… that is strange!
        We did not notice any hole in the door, wall, or floor.
        But it honestly wasn’t on our radar. In our own rig, we never hook up to city water. Literally, never. So even if there is no pass-through, it wouldn’t affect us. Just not something we would have thought of. Lol.

        Reply
    18. Shaun Simpkins

      And of course, the 2nd part of my comment appears first. Sorry.

      6. Things that make you say…Huh?: why is the auxiliary solar panel port INSIDE the rear door so that you have to open the door to use the panel? It needs to be on the outside body panel. But that wouldn’t be simple.
      7: Things that make you say Ow my head: 74 inches is NOT enough bed length for a 6 footer that occasionally uses arms as pillows. Sorry. Not sleeping in the loft.

      It will be very exciting to see what happens when WGO applies what its been learning from the Revel, Boldt, and Solis to the Travato. There’s always been too much of a connection between the Travato and the residential-style RVs like the Era and WGO’s class A and C rigs. The market has radically changed since 2014. If the T could make a clean break with its past and embrace the more functional design that the nontraditional buyers are looking for, it could be even more fantastic. Right now there’s a lot of “feature encrustation” that is weighing down the T, as popular and good as it is. The Solis is, frankly, showing it how properly incorporating good features in a clean-sheet design makes for maximal utility in limited space.

      Now imagine this design in the extended length Promaster. The European Adria Twin has done this, sans the poptop. It’s time for a Travato with a garage.

      Great job, WGO. This is probably the rig most folks need.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        All good points and just a couple comments.
        One of the things we noticed about RVs in Europe is that they generally don’t have air conditioners and microwave ovens. The Solis is European in that respect as well.
        We kind of agree about the “feature encrustation”. The outdoor speakers have been a Travato feature for as long as I can remember. But I’ve never seen anyone use them except accidentally. The TV and Jensen could also go, as far as we’re concerned.

        Reply
      2. BobB

        Nice summary Shaun. Good point about the feature encrustation. Like the simplicity (and price) of the Solis.

        Wonder why WGO did not make the windows the same as the Travato? Then they could easily offer the dual-pane acrylic windows as an option, which would complement all the body insulation.

        FYI – Love the loft – on a nice night, it is like a “sleeping porch”.

        Reply
    19. Shaun Simpkins

      Where do I start? By splitting this into two comments.

      1. Chris Bienert is The Stig. Who knew.
      2. I am really, really, impressed at the design and construction of the Solis. It has been superbly thought out and fits together beautifully. I think it’s probably the best designed class B I’ve seen from them so far. And it’s their entry-level rig!
      3. This rig is SOOOO European. Not a thing you don’t need on it, but everything you do, where you need it. WOW.
      4. While you guys were pointing and slamming and looking for dust bunnies in the corners of the drawers I was looking at the construction details. This rig demonstrates why CNC milled plywood is a really big deal. WGO has been able to put things into places that would have been impossible with stick-and-staple. That little cubby for the water pump. The milled-out platform supports. And just study that precision-fit bulkhead over the driver’s side rear wheelwell. WGO would have NEVER tried that with stick and frame. Oh, and the other thing about that wheelwell…
      5. It’s not the wheelwell. It a plastic cover over the wheelwell…and what’s between the wheelwell and the cover? Squeezyfoam! This rig is extremely well insulated!

      Reply
      1. Matt

        100% agree, Shaun. Grew up in Westfalias and owned the WGO Eurovan camper because that was the closest thing. Don’t need a show pony Sprinter conversion that looks swell but isn’t really off-road capable. Have been waiting for something “European” for a long time and this checks most boxes. Never thought I’d like a van with a toilet but it’s more wet storage than anything which is AWESOME for those who get after it. And my prostate isn’t what it was….. Jury is out on WGO build quality but we shall see.

        Reply
    20. BobB

      LOL – the vent cover for the gray tank!

      I knew immediately what that was! I have the same vent on my ’99 Eurovan Camper (by Winnebago and has a poptop), but why black? Mine is white, and blends in nicely with the white of the VW van. Part # 111222-01-01A. Replacement is $7 from GoWesty – good mod to consider on a Solis.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        My opinion here:
        The main purpose of an awning is to generate calls to RV service departments when they break. Which they do. With alarming frequency. I’ve had the fuse pulled on our own Lance‘s awning for over two years now to prevent it from ever being used. On both Lance and our previous RV, Das Bus, we had experiences where we found the awnings partially deployed after a drive.

        Further, awnings are generally only useful for about 13 minutes each day when the sun is in just the right spot, and if the vehicle is parked in exactly the correct orientation. The other 1,427 minutes of the day the awning is useless.

        Also – in our experience, it is almost always too windy to deploy an awning. Unless, again, you’re really into calls to RV service departments.

        Awnings are included on pretty much every RV because of the “image”. RV dealers are reluctant to stock rigs without awnings because they think everyone wants them. Also, RV dealers would lose out on lots of expensive repair visits if there were no awnings, so they like them for that reason as well.

        And so, we’re forced to purchase and carry around a useless, heavy, expensive, ticking time-bomb of an RV repair.

        I’d prefer to see awnings as optional on RVs so only those that want them have to have them.

        Reply
        1. Pete M

          The Sprinter campervan we rented last fall for a bike trip had an awning. And a $1000 fee if it was deployed or used. That’s in addition to any resulting repair costs.

          So apparently the awning’s purpose, in addition to supporting service departments as mentioned above, is also to disable vans from rental service during peak reservation times. Good to know it’s multi-purpose…

        2. BobB

          James,

          Yes, not in the wind (instructions actually say don’t do that) but I could see it being useful with sun overhead during hottest time of day and for rainy (not stormy with wind) days, putting it out only a couple of feet to shield the open door,

          Is the issue the “automatic/electric” feature? Never heard of these “auto” deployment issues with manual awnings.

        3. James - Post author

          Well, I guess we’ll put you down in the “awning” group. 🙂
          My problem with using the awning for shade has to do with parking and angles. If you could pick the orientation of your rig and point it any way out of 360 degrees you wished when you parked, awnings could be slightly more useful. However, in almost no campgrounds, RV parks, or previously-used campsites is this the case. You park the way you have to. Whether or not the awning will work in that orientation is pure chance.
          And as to rain… if it’s raining, I’ll just close the door.

          We’ve had both electric and manual awnings try to open themselves while underway. Our manual awning on Das Bus once vibrated itself open about 3 inches while driving. I zip-tied it shut after that.

        4. Marley

          Agree! We have had a Travato since 2015 and have used the awning once. We finally pulled the fuse. We also find the assembly, deployed and undeployed” unsightly. We asked why it was not optional and were told it was, but we had to pay to remove it!

        5. James - Post author

          Oh!… Don’t even get me started on how they look! (When they do work.)

        6. Matt

          100%+++ agree. Awnings don’t really get used much, break and quickly become dangerous and/or embarrasing sails.

    21. Marjorie Hall

      The Solis seems like a really well-designed, simple, inexpensive B Van–Iove it! It’s really great to see Winnebago thinking of 4-season use. Thanks for the review–do you think an owner should add some insulation to that exterior gray pipe if they’re planning on being in freezing temps, or would the heating pad get the job done?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The drain pipe is an interesting question. The thing about drain lines is – there’s not water in them all the time, or even really for very long. And the water in the drain pipes should always be moving. So the need to keep them warm is lessened somewhat.

        What I would probably do if I had a Solis would be to put some pipe insulation on it and see if I had any problems. I think the pipe insulation would probably be enough.

        Reply
    22. Yoshi Endo

      Stefanie is NOT 5’6″, but 5’4″. If you want proof, I will send you a picture of me standing next to her at the RV show ! However, she is over 6 feet if you measure her kindness and beauty. Thanks for the workout videos, they are a great help during this time stuck inside. Lots of love to you both!

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        Yoshi, my Tampa show buddy!!! You, my friend, are clearly taller than you think! I’m 5’6″ and I’m sticking to it! 😉

        Hope this find you healthy and well. It will be a happy day when we cross paths again. xo

        Reply

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