Cruising in Style!
With a growing number of families looking for classic styling and comfort in a compact class A motorhome, Winnebago Industries of Forest City, Iowa, has created the Vista 27PE, a vehicle that meets the needs and fulfills the desires of a very broad range of RV enthusiasts.
We had two opportunities to review the 2018 Vista 27PE – on the roads of the Niagara escarpment, with the crew from Sicard RV, of Smithville, Ontario, and at the Louisville RV Show, where the unit was one of the featured models in the Winnebago display.
The Vista 27PE is a refreshing approach to class A motorhome travel. With a compact overall size and an ingenious interior, the vehicle combines the two most important criteria for active travelers – easy handling with excellent road ability, and a spacious and fully-equipped interior.
On the Road
The Vista 27PE rides with confidence on a Ford F53 chassis, powered by the V10 gas engine. At just 15,141 pounds dry weight, and 18,000 pounds fully loaded GVWR, the motorhome is relatively light compared to other models using the same engine and 6-speed automatic transmission in a longer chassis… as a result, when you compare the handling of the 27PE to a model in the 34-foot range, the 27PE, with a 187-inch wheelbase, provides refreshingly agile and peppy performance. You also get a standard 5,000-pound capacity hitch, bringing the GCWR (gross combined weight rating) to 23,000 pounds.
The Vista 27PE is powered by a Ford 3-valve Triton® V10 engine with SEFI, with a TorqShift™ 6-speed automatic transmission that has tow/haul mode. The chassis electrical system has a 175-amp. alternator to handle the vehicular and RV related power requirements. The unit handles very well, with lots of pep and confident braking, thanks to large hydraulic brakes and ABS brake control system.
For those who like to tow a small car, or a trailer, or a boat, the Vista is equipped with a rear trailer hitch, with 5,000-lb. drawbar capacity and 500-lb. maximum vertical tongue weight rating. A 7-pin trailer electric connector is supplied for your convenience.
Winnebago equips their F53 chassis for a very nice level of pizazz, as well as RV convenience. We like the idea of the stainless-steel wheel liners, which add a touch of sparkle to the exterior, and the four-corner automatic hydraulic leveling jacks are a definite plus. The Vista we drove through the winding and hilly roads of Ontario’s Niagara region rode on Michelin rib tires, ideally suited for most motorhome applications.
Driver comfort and convenience are always top-notch in the Winnebago products, and the Vista comes with a combination radio/rear-view monitor system that features a 6.2” LCD colour touch screen, as well as iPod®/MP3 input, rear colour camera, and Bluetooth® connectivity.
Seating for the pilot and navigator is supremely comfortable, with Winnebago’s exclusive Versa chairs. The Versa concept features seat base placement that provides a full range of motion, and adjustable height and lumbar support. When parked, we had no difficulty at all rotating the seats to transform the cockpit seating into lounge recliners. We really liked the adjustable armrests and the quality of the upholstery.
Driving the Vista is a very pleasant experience, with power steering, tilt steering wheel, power side mirrors, map light, and the full range of automotive driver’s assist features. Set the cruise control and you can relax as the miles roll effortlessly by.
On the road, your navigator can use a laptop on the dashboard workstation – there is a 12-volt power point and a USB hub for your convenience.
In the campground, you can lower the powered MCD front blackout shade and the Vista becomes a fully enclosed private residence.
Winnebago has always been famous for the steel cage coach construction that they call SuperStructure® The concept includes a strong, durable cab substructure, precision engineered using an advanced laser alignment system to mount the cab to the chassis.
The Vista, like all the Winnebago motorhomes, uses a premium high-gloss sidewall skin, and high-quality components throughout the vehicle. Windows, doors, hinges, and locks are well-suited to a vehicle of this type. Built for year-round use, the Vista is very well insulated, and features a heated holding tank compartment.
Comfort and Convenience
Among the many convenience features in this motorhome, Winnebago’s proprietary OnePlace® systems center digital monitor panel puts several key RV systems at your fingertips, including the climate control and generator.
Winnebago’s SmartSpace™ design concept creates the most usable space possible within the coach. From storage space beneath the dinette seats to full-extension drawer slides and a very clever pantry configuration, each model has features that optimize interior space to give you the best possible RV experience.
Winnebago has created a very practical approach to managing your electrical system. The exclusive PowerLine® Energy Management System temporarily turns off low-priority electrical devices like your toaster or small appliances when you start up the air conditioner, to avoid power system overload, then automatically restores power when the load returns to normal.
The Vista features a range of RV systems designed for efficient use of electrical power. There is an AC/DC load center, with 45-amp. converter/charger, and a 30-amp. power cord. The motorhome has two deep-cycle Marine/RV Group 24 batteries, with a battery disconnect system and automatic dual-battery charge control. This coach battery system has an auxiliary start circuit that gives you the option to use the RV batteries in case the chassis battery needs a boost.
Our test vehicle was equipped with a 4,000-watt Cummins Onan® MicroQuiet™ gas generator, which is especially useful when dry camping, and very convenient when you stop for a quick snack en route. The Vista is equipped with AC duplex receptacles for use when you are connected to the campsite electrical system, or running the generator, and DC receptacles for when you are running on 12-volt power.
In the Campground
The Vista is loaded with features that make the camping experience particularly convenient. We particularly like the automatic entry steps and the assist handle on the side of the coach. The powered patio awning extends or retracts at the touch of a switch, and the integrated LED lights are an added plus for campsite ambiance.
Several of the exterior storage compartments have incandescent lighting, which makes evening campsite hookups a breeze. One of the exterior storage bays is used for a Service Center, with all your water system hookups clearly marked with coloured labels – this is where you will find your pressurized city water hookup (with a diverter valve), the drainage valves, and the hookup for your 10’ sewer hose. Winnebago’s winterization package includes a water heater bypass valve and siphon tube.
Winnebago has a number of options that enhance your campsite lifestyle, including an external entertainment centre featuring a 32” HDTV with remote and speakers. The vehicle has cable TV input and an exterior antenna jack.
Whether you travel in the dry cold of winter or cruise the scorching summer routes, your Vista will keep you comfortable, thanks to a 30,000 BTU low-profile furnace and a 14,800 BTU roof air conditioner (with ChillGrille™ feature).
Inside the Vista 27PE
The Vista has twin slides to maximize the interior space within this compact class A motorhome. The rear slide extends the bedroom area to accommodate a king-size bed across the width of the unit, and the centre slide expands the living room to give you lots of space between the dinette and the sofa bed. Unlike many floorplans where a sofa bed is placed in similar position, you can easily walk past the end of the bed when it is fully extended.
Old-world craftsmanship is the cornerstone for the cabinetry in the Vista, with modern manufacturing techniques utilized to produce high-quality interior components that will last for generations. Winnebago finishes the interior woodwork with Valspar Resistovar Conversion Varnish that produces a very durable protective finish with enhanced UV protection and superior scratch, chemical, and moisture resistance.
This motorhome is a bit of a mathematical conundrum – the Vista 27PE sleeps seven, but only has seat belt positions for six people… from our perspective, this means that the six passengers can choose who sleeps where, and we wonder why the engineers don’t add two more rear-facing seat belt positions in the dinette area. There is a child seat tether anchor at one of the forward-facing dinette seat locations.
For the six sleeping positions, you can choose from the king size bed in the rear bedroom, the dinette that converts into a 42” x 73” bed, the 40” x 66” sofa bed, and the optional 48” x 80” StudioLoft™ bunk with ladder over the front cab. On our travels, we have always found that the StudioLoft™ is the prime selection for the younger passengers, who like to climb into the bunk and pull the privacy curtains to create their own personal space. The twin captain’s chairs in the cockpit are mounted on pedestals that let you lower the seats when the loft bunk is in the down position.
Entertaining in the Vista is a very pleasant experience, with lots of comfortable seating and an open living room floorplan that lets all of your guests participate in the conversation. For movie nights or sporting events, the 40” HDTV that rises from the cabinetry beside the dinette is a great idea, and the amplified digital TV antenna system helps enhance the reception. The coach is satellite dish ready, but you are on your own for the dish and the network arrangements.
In the Galley
One of the areas that RV travellers use the most is the galley, and the Vista provides a well-equipped although compact kitchen arrangement, with a three-burner range with oven, a stainless-steel double sink and a microwave oven in the slide-out section, and a large 2-door refrigerator/freezer, cupboards, and pantry on the opposite wall. The laminate countertop with matching backsplash makes clean-up a breeze.
In the Bedroom
The Vista features a king bed with foam mattress. Drawers below the bed are easily accessed and quite spacious. Winnebago designers have matched the décor with a very nice bedspread and pillows to complete the appeal of this area.
You will be comfortable in the rear master bedroom, with easy access to the ensuite bathroom. A sliding door separates the bedroom area from the main floorplan of the coach, and there is a privacy curtain that separates the bedroom from the bathroom, so you can be relatively undisturbed and still provide access to the bathroom for the rest of your passengers.
Optional Equipment in the Vista bedroom includes a 32” HDTV.
In the Bathroom
While the bathroom in a vehicle of this size is limited in overall space, Winnebago engineers have delivered a very impressive “comfort station.” The layout is clean and functional, with a generous size shower stall with retractable screen door, and a power roof ventilator fan. The skylight provides a bright environment and the lighting system illuminates the bathroom very well at night. The foot-flush toilet is residential style, and the laminated countertop vanity and sink complete the washroom facilities. A 6-gallon LP water heater with electronic ignition supplies enough water for approximately three 10-minute showers per hour.
The Bottom Line
The Winnebago Vista 27PE is an excellent choice for RV enthusiasts looking for a compact class A unit at a reasonable price. With Winnebago quality construction and the three basic warranties (12-month/15,000-mile basic limited warranty, a 36-month/36,000-mile limited warranty on structure, and 10-year limited parts-and-labor warranty on roof skin) the Vista is a benchmark for the sector, and it is definitely a unit to consider as you shop for the RV of your dreams.