The Icon is part of a new breed of North American motorhome that flies in the face of traditional North American RV design. It takes most of its design cues from European motorhomes that are compact and space efficient by necessity, being built on a continent where the transportation infrastructure is best suited to walking. Of course, this is the opposite of typical American motorhome design, which seems inspired by the huge landscapes of this country.

The Icon, by Fleetwood, follows none of these geographic biases; its design is a choice. At a length of just 25 feet, it is small, but inside its layout and amenities bring a third concept into the mix: yachtlike features, shown off in the choice of softly curved cabinetry doors throughout the interior in a rich cherry wood color. These radius accents also grace the bathroom door, the dinette seats, and the rear queen bed pedestal. Brushed nickel hardware throughout is a nice contrast. Add these features in with the use of space and weight-saving designs and further benefits emerge: increased fuel economy and maneuvering ease. The other difference is its engine. The Icon uses the midsize 3.0-liter Mercedes-Benz diesel engine, which gives the Icon good low-end torque for accelerating and offers a decent cruising range.

We recently took the Icon on a tour of Arizona. From below sea level near Yuma in the south, up to over 7000 feet at the Grand Canyon in the north, and back around to Lake Havasu, we drove the Icon through a sandstorm and a snowstorm, in temperatures that fluctuated between freezing and over 85 degrees. We drove over 1600 miles on Interstates and dirt cow paths.

The Fleetwood-built Icon here makes use of the one-ton Sprinter cutaway platform with the standard 3.0-liter diesel engine pushing power to the dual rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. This diesel makes 154 horsepower and has a torque rating of 280 pound-feet. This figure is key, because torque is what gets the weight moving off the line.