Built on the Dodge Sprinter chassis, a platform with a proven track record in Europe, Winnebago's all-new Class C motorhome was created specifically for the American market. The Itasca Navion uses a Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter turbocharged I-5 that develops 154 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. For 1500 miles, we put the Itasca Navion through its paces. In steady operation across the Mojave Desert at 75 mph, with the dash A/C on high, we averaged a respectable 14 mpg. While that's not bad, the Navion specs list the vehicle's fuel economy at 17-19 mpg.

Climbing 10,000-foot-high mountain passes, the Navion was just as responsive at these elevations as at sea level, thanks to the diesel's turbocharger. While a gasoline engine loses about three percent of its power with each 1000 feet of elevation gain, the turbo-diesel isn't affected because of its higher compression ratio and pull-feed airflow.

If you plan to tow, the Sprinter platform has an adequate (but not impressive) towing capacity of 3500 pounds. GVWR is 10,200 pounds. With a full fuel tank, fresh water, LPG, two passengers, and personal gear on board, the actual gross weight of the unit was 9820 pounds, which means cargo-carrying capacity is less than 400 pounds. Plan--and pack--carefully.

When parked next to a standard American-built Class C motorhome (built on a Ford or GM chassis), the Navion is significantly smaller; however, by utilizing clever design choices, Winnebago has done a good job of gleaning maximum liveability out of the Navion's smaller size. The interior ceiling height is an impressive six feet eight inches, and the living area features a slideout seating arrangement. Navions feature a full bath and galley and sleep three adults.

On the road, the independent front suspension yields solid comfort, good cornering, and stability. The cockpit isn't as cushy as those in some Ford or GM Class C motorhomes, but it's functional. Side and rear coach visibility are good. And, thanks to electronically controlled fuel injection and a high-pressure single-rail fuel-delivery system, diesel noise is quieter than expected.