Testing the new Outlook RV from Winnebago was a monumental task.
It carries everything from a spice rack to an outside-mounted stereo system for quiet nights by the fire, and even includes a kitchen sink. So I called in my crack team of evaluators and put the RV though five days of intensive road testing and hard, back-country bachelor living.
The RV's most important component is the Ford chassis and powertrain. Our Outlook, the 25F version, carried a 6.6-liter Super-Duty Triton engine, a V10 that put out 305 hp through a five-speed Torqshift automatic transmission. It was more than enough to get the 7-ton vehicle up to highway speeds and will even tow up to 5,000 lb. Gas mileage is about what you'd expect — about 8 mpg. Four-wheel ABS brought the vehicle securely to a stop. The chassis gave us a smooth ride and handling was crisp. (An optional Chevy chassis and powertrain will be available halfway through this year.)
From the driver's seat, the dash looked too simple to control such a complicated vehicle, but it has all you really need. Straightforward controls and indicators located in several places made it easy to keep all the vehicle's systems working. For example, a thermostat controls both air conditioning and furnace; an easy-to-read indicator panel updates the status of various holding tanks; a propane-electric refrigerator keeps food (and bait) cool without intervention; and the hydraulic bump-out or extension that adds 30 to 40 ft 2 of floor space no longer needs clamps to hold it in the stowed position (Winnebago did away with them).
Some of the newer features included a wastebasket that mounts outside the living space, keeping out odors and flies. A sliding door in the back wall lets you throw out trash. A hard-wired weather-band switch on the radios keeps you updated on storms and four handheld small walkie talkies (and chargers) let campers stay in contact on the road or the trail as long as they're no more than five miles apart. And there's more storage on the outside than last year's Outlook.
The RV is built solidly using what Winnebago calls "Super-structure construction" and Thermopanels. The panels combine a durable outer sheet, welded aluminum supports, and high-density foam-block insulation into strong, lightweight sidewalls. They attach to the Superstructure, which includes tubular steel risers in a precisely aligned truss for maximum strength and stability. The steel also gets an electrodeposited coating that improves corrosion resistance. Aluminum structural members interlock to create floor-to-side-wall and sidewall-to-roof joints. This evenly distributes the weight of the walls and roof and is stronger than the screw construction found on many other RVs. Another improvement over other RVs is the crowned fiberglass roof. It is stronger, more durable, and resists punctures better than rubber-covered roofs.
The camper stood up well, providing all one needs when roughing it in the wilderness, if you consider air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpet, and an entertainment system as roughing it. The RV cost about $74,000, more than some (older) people paid for their first house.