360 Degree Video. The 2018 Travato by Winnebago is my choice for the best low-cost campervan you can buy today.
The normal version of this episode can be found here:
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In 2012 when Winnebago entered the class b market in North America they had one van built on one chassis with two layouts. Today, they have 4 different van lines built on 3 chasses with 7 different layouts. They’ve got a van for everyone from families to outdoor adventurers and the entry-level Travato with its starting price of just over $100k is their most popular.
Winnebago was the first RV manufacturer in North America to offer a camper van on the Promaster chassis with the Travato 59G. The radically different interior layout on the 59G borrowed heavily from European van designs: with a 4 person permanent lounge up front and a bed that could be folded up in the back. The design was fresh, utilitarian and addressed the needs of a new, younger buyer. It didn’t take long for the 59G to become a hit.
Winnebago wasted no time capitalizing on their momentum and in 2015 introduced the Travato 59K. While the 59G was ideal for sleeping more than a couple, the 59K was designed for just a couple with two, fixed, twin beds on each side of the aisle. Additionally, because the bathroom was moved to the rear of the van, both sides of the van from the front to the back is wide open. Winnebago states that this was a design goal in order to appeal to the American market which wanted more of a passenger feel to their campervans. Winnebago certainly achieved the result.
The bathroom at the back of the van is quite large and offers plenty of room for taking a shower standing up (if that’s important to you). It has a lot of storage and features a fold down sink which I like a lot because you can get that thing out of the way when it’s not in use. The aluminum tambour doors look nice but the rattling might start to bother me on longer road trips.
The beds feature the Froli sleep system which is basically a bunch of plastic springs-like devices that act as a low-profile box spring. These springs combined with the thicker mattresses make the beds very comfortable to sleep on. Plus each bed features a chaise lounge whereby you can mechanically lift up the head of each bed so that you’re propped up at an incline. Perfect for reading or watching T.V.
Some of the things I like about the Travato are the use of higher end, name brand components generally reserved for more pricey vans. Things like: MCD blackout shades, a Corian counter in the kitchen, the Truma Combi hot water/heater, a convection microwave and cabinets that feature positive locks. The closing action on the cabinets is really satisfying. They close with an assured “thunk” and I found myself just opening and closing cabinets repeatedly to get my hit of that “thunk”.
The price is also something that I really like. The advertised price of the fully loaded 59K that I saw was $112k but I’m certain you could pick it up for much less. Included in that price is almost every option Winnebago offers on the Travato including: a bike rack, luggage rack, exterior ladder, side and rear screen doors, 100W solar, heated drains and that oh so hot cherry red paint. It’s amazing how much van you can get for what will likely be sold for under $100k.
There are some things that I’m not so keen on with regards to the Travato. The one year warranty being at the top of my list. In this day and age where some RV manufacturers are offering 5 and 6 year warranties a 1 year warranty just seems too little. Even the bargain basement Carado brand offers a 2 year warranty. Winnebago needs to up their game here.
Then there’s Winnebago’s use of staples to hold cabinets together. I know, you can’t have both an inexpensive camper van AND superior quality. But using staples to hold anything together that’s being rocked and swayed and subjected to earthquakes continuously just doesn’t seem like it’s going to last. And I did verify that Winnebago uses staples in the Travato by pulling out drawers and looking inside at the framing. To be fair, I don’t own a Travato and I haven’t done a long term durability test of the cabinets and staples. Maybe it’s all okay but the engineer in me is a bit skeptical.
Despite my misgivings, I’m still a fan of the Travato. It gives you so much for your dollar and the interior layouts of the 59k and 59g are refreshing and pragmatic. There’s a reason why the Travato is the best selling van that Winnebago makes and the Travato is no small part of the reason why Winnebago is the leading class b manufacturer in North America.