In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, the all-new Vista Class-C motorhome by Winnebago Industries represents a departure from conventional wisdom. In terms of livability, it's a full-size (no compromise) Class-C motorhome--however, most of the chassis is by Volkswagen. The cutaway chassis/cab comes complete with cab, seats, instrumentation, steering wheel, windshield doors, hood, a 2.8L fuel-injected V-6 engine (that develops 201 hp and 181 lb-ft torque), and a four-speed automatic transmission. That's the VW part. From the cab aft, Winnebago designed and built the chassis/platform, which includes the rear axle.

Called Superstructure, the Winnebago-built portion of the chassis is a culmination of design integration that incorporates steel-and-aluminum substructures. The Vista features two exterior basement storage compartments that conceal 30 cu ft of storage space, configured to accommodate pass-through storage. An exterior wash station (hot and cold running water) is optional. The house battery is accessible from inside the coach through a hatch in the floor.

Interested in knowing how well the Vista functions as a motorhome and how it performs on the road, Truck Trend put the Vista through a road test. Bottom line: The Vista is for real. The fuel-injected V-6 is responsive on the freeway and on winding mountain roads. Because of its size and center of gravity, the Vista proved agile and stable when navigating traffic.

Only 21 ft 4 in. long (small by motorhome standards) and 87 in. wide, the Vista is quite comfortable. This is a vehicle Mom can use on a daily basis, going to the market, and taking the kids to school. Then, on the weekend or during family vacations, the Vista can hit the road for more adventurous long-mile duty. We logged a respectable 14 mpg during our trip, and we even set up a safe opportunity to find it can do 0-60 mph in 19 sec. (Interesting to note, according to the speedometer, top speed is somewhere around 160 mph.)

In addition to the two airbags and seatbelts up front, the Vista comes equipped with two seatbelts on the living-area sofa as well. A lockable storage compartment in the driver's door can hold a substantial quantity of incidental items. The backs of both captain's seats have large pockets for stowing items like a road atlas. Clearance from the ground to the top of the roof air-conditioner is a stingy 10 ft 2 in., greatly reducing the potential to encounter overhead obstacles and reducing wind resistance.

The only criticisms we noted while driving the Vista include the passenger sideview mirror (the mirrors are power adjustable and heated). We'd prefer it offered more curbside information; a fish-eye or a larger mirror may resolve this issue. Likewise, driver/passenger armrests would be a welcome addition. We suspect their absence is due to space limitations. If armrests were added, it would be difficult to move back and forth between the cab and the rear living area.

The Vista's GVWR is 7275 lb. With a full tank of fuel (21 gal) and a full tank of fresh water (14 gal), our unit tipped the scales at 6480 lb. This means there was 796 lb available for cargo, passengers, and fluids--not much more than the average midsize SUV. The Vista (much of which is based off the VW EuroVan platform) offers an optional Class-II receiver and is rated to tow or trailer up to 2000 lb (be sure to read the owner's manual prior to towing). Four disc brakes are standard.

As for the house or coach portions of the Vista, Winnebago Industries has done a first-rate job at gleaning the maximum livability out of this scaled-down Class-C motorhome. A tall individual can comfortably maneuver around inside, for the interior height measures 6 ft 5 in. The Vista features a large over-the-cab bed that comfortably accommodates two adults. The sofa (immediately aft of the driver's seat) folds out into a bed and can sleep two kids or an average-size adult. In addition, the dinette converts into a sleeping area that works well for a child. It's important to note that, even with the sofa and dinette converted into beds, there remains a passable center aisle. The main entrance is right behind the passenger seat.

A single floor plan includes a rear, coach-wide bath. A full-size shower is located on the street side of the bath. There's a considerable amount of storage space available in the cupboards and roll-out drawers. With some planning and forethought, the space available in the overhead storage cabinets, drawers, cupboards, the compartments below the dinette bench seats, and the exterior bays makes extended family vacations a reality. And with parking issues a challenge for larger motorhomes, it's important to note the Vista fits easily into most driveways and normal-size parking spaces.

For the location of a dealer near you, call 800/643-4892, ext. 3, or visit the Winnebago Industries Web site at www.winnebagoind.com. TT

2002 Winnebago Vista 21B
GENERAL
Location of final assemblyForest City, Iowa,
Winnebago Industries, Inc.
EPA size classMotorhome Class-C
Drivetrain layoutFront engine, FWD
Airbags Front driver and passenger side
POWERTRAIN
Engine type2.8L 6-cyl 15* V-6
Bore x stroke, in 3.19 x 3.54
Displacement, cu in/L170.3/2792
Compression ratio10.1:1
Valve gearDOHC, 4-valves/cyl
Fuel inductionSequential Motronic
SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm201 @ 6200
SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm181 @ 2500
Transmission type4-speed automatic
1st2.71:1
2nd1.55:1
3rd1.00:1
4th0.68:1
Reverse2.11:1
Axle ratio4:57:1
Final-drive ratio3.11:1
Recommended fuelPremium unleaded
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES
Wheelbase, in152
Length, in256
Width, in87
Height, in122 (with A/C)
Track, f/r, in62/70
Ground clearance, in 6.0
Base curb weight, lb6101
Full-tank curb weight, lb6935
Max payload capacity, lb1174
GVWR, lb7275
GCWR, lb9275
Towing capacity, lb2000
Fuel capacity, gal21
CHASSIS
Suspension, f/rIFS, double wishbone,
torsion bars, stabilizer bar/
beam axle, leaf springs
Steering typePower-assisted rack and pinion
Ratio19.3:1
Turns, lock to lock3.6
Turning circle, ft45.5
Brakes, f/r 11.6-in vented disc/
11.6-in vented disc
Wheels 16 x 7.0Tires, f/rContinental 195/65R16C/215/65R16C
Load rating, lb, f/r 1985/2419
PERFORMANCE
Acceleration, empty, sec
0-609.0
40-60 mph9.2
Top speed, mph90
As-tested fuel economy, mpg 14
PRICE
Base price$51,711
Price as tested $56,597
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