Test Camping in the Ultra-Compact EKKO
Test Camping in the Ultra-Compact EKKO
The FitRV’s review of Winnebago’s new Class C motorhome.
By: James & Stef Adinaro
Production has just recently started on Winnebago’s new compact Class C RV … the EKKO! It’s an exciting time for expectant EKKO owners, as many of the new owners – us included – placed orders all the way back in November during the EKKO launch, and it’s felt like a long wait to get from there to here.
Before the EKKOs got to production, they had to go through many months of extensive testing. One of the ways Winnebago tested the EKKO was sending some pre-production versions out with actual RVers to do some real-world camping. James and I got recruited to be some of the EKKO “test campers.” Our job was to go camping and then report back on what we liked, disliked, and especially any issues or concerns they may have missed.
We did our best trying everything out and got our feedback to Winnebago as planned. And while there were some things we wish were different, our time with Testy (that’s what we named our test rig) only reaffirmed our decision to sell our Travato campervan Lance and buy an EKKO. We already put together a video of our experience and, in this article, we’re sharing some of the feedback we shared with Winnebago.
The Galley & Dinette
Coming from a campervan, we had no problems cooking in the EKKO. It felt very ‘van-like’ in that way. We’re used to keeping meals simple due to the limited space, though someone coming from a larger RV will likely go through an adjustment period as they learn to work with the compact galley space.
Thumbs up for the galley sink, with its high faucet and the pull-out sprayer – and oh my, the awesome water pressure! I didn’t realize RVs could actually have good pressure! The propane stove didn’t win us over, and we still prefer the built-in induction cooktop we have in our campervan, so that’s a mod we’ll eventually be doing in our EKKO.
Both the freezer and microwave are a bit high up, and will be especially challenging for shorter people, but we just chalk that up to the compromises we make to get the ultra-compact footprint. Storage for galley needs was great, though. The cabinets are larger than we originally thought, and we discovered we can carry everything we had in our Travato’s galley … with room to spare.
Besides the pantry behind the dinette, the galley cabinets are all lacking shelves. While they very much need them to maximize the space, I’m glad Winnebago didn’t try to add shelves themselves. It’s such an easy mod, and I’d rather we do that based on our own storage needs.
The Bathroom & Shower
The good news here is that the bathroom worked as expected and we took FABULOUS showers in the EKKO. The pivoting wall is genius, and everything that was supposed to stay dry stays dry. You do have to be careful to only mount thinner towels on the hooks on the back of the pivoting wall though, to allow room for the wall magnets to engage.
The Truma AquaGo water heater provides instant and unlimited hot water and is such a luxury coming from a campervan! The 50 gallons of fresh water made showers a lot less stressful than in our van – no more worrying about using all the water up!
As for the cassette toilet, coming from a compost toilet ourselves, we’ve been nervous about adjusting to a cassette – especially after having some less-than-pleasant cassette experiences in years past. It actually went okay, though!
We found ourselves needing to empty the cassette every two days. We used an interstate rest stop, a pit toilet at a remote campground, and even an RV dump with James’ little Americanizer gadget attached so there was no waste exposed. We appreciated the extra dumping options a cassette toilet provides, and never had trouble finding a place to dump it.
The bedroom is as comfortable as we had hoped, and that’s all due to the mystery foam that Winnebago uses in the Winn Sleep mattress. I don’t know what it is, but it’s 10 kinds of awesome.
As for the windows, we’re so glad there isn’t another window on the back wall! The bedroom is raised, and when the sun is shining and the A/C isn’t on, the back bedroom gets warmer than the lower living area of the EKKO. If there was yet a third window in that space, the greenhouse effect would be severe. Plus, not having a window on that back wall opens up more options for creativity, whether that be adding more shelves or storage baskets, or fun décor and personal touches … like pillows! (James says I have a throw pillow obsession.) So, I’ve been noodling how I’ll ‘cute’ that area up when we get ours.
THE POWER! OH, MY GOODNESS, THE POWER! That was the biggest difference we noticed between the Promaster we’re used to and this new Transit rig. Just … wow. The EKKO climbs mountains with ease and accelerates effortlessly when you want to pass someone quickly. All the safety features and options on the Transit chassis are the icing on the cake. Adaptive cruise control is life-changing. Great choice of chassis, as far as we’re concerned.
On the flip side of all that chassis awesome, there is the wider turning radius, which unfortunately came into play more frequently than we realized. Plus, the EKKO is a slightly bigger rig than what we’re used to, so it took us a minute to get “in sync” with how it handles. Once we did, it was fine, and I grew just as comfortable driving it as our campervan. There was also more wind noise at high speeds than our van, although James worked hard at making our Lance one of the quietest Promasters out there, so I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison. And finally, gas mileage was significantly less than our Promaster too, with the EKKO averaging about 12mpg.
The test EKKO had two Lithionics 320-amp hour batteries and no generator. Not once did we want for a generator. There was always plenty of battery power for anything we wanted to do, and we never needed to plug in. To be fair, we were using it in early spring in milder temperatures, so the air conditioner was only used minimally. Evaluating how the two-battery setup works with A/C will have to wait for warmer weather.
A pleasant surprise on the electrical front was the solar power setup. We’re accustomed to solar not mattering much on campervans with large lithium battery banks. But in this case, the solar was a happy bonus. It seemed that every time we looked, the battery had been topped off thanks to the solar. We’re fairly certain that, apart from air conditioning, this solar and battery setup could keep us camping indefinitely.
So, those were our main takeaways after camping with Testy. It was a sad day when we had to let Testy go. But the good news is, we’re just around the corner from getting our own EKKO! Thanks to our opportunity testing Testy, we already know we’re going to love it.