The Fuse Ignites
I'm keeping an open mind about someday heading down the highway in a big, glamorous Class A motorhome. But for now, I like shinnying through those narrow cone zones in our svelte Class C Navion. And given that our current travel interests leans toward more diminutive RVs, I eagerly was awaiting the announcement of the Winnebago Fuse.
In adding the Ford Transit based Fuse to it's product line-up Winnebago has done something no other North American RV manufacturer has accomplished: it offers B and C products on all three of the most popular, fuel efficient, European style chassis.
The Fuse parks comfortably in the price and size gap between the Ram ProMaster Trend and the Mercedes Sprinter View/Navion. But, with a wider range of choice now comes a challenge - which is the best fit for you? That's a hard question, there's a lot to like in each one of the categories.
To me the Trend represents a great, no-compromise, entry-level Euro styled C that is actually fun to drive with a peppy gas Pentastar engine. The View/Navion offer larger floorplans, more storage and many upgrades found in larger Class A coaches. And the Fuse sort of splits the difference between the two.
Both the Trend and Fuse feel more car-like in their handling as you're a little closer to the road. With the View/Navion you sit up higher and have a driving impression that feels a little more like a larger RV. What all three platforms have in common is their instant "I can drive this" comfort for anyone who's the least bit intimidated in driving a motorhome.
While the Trend and View/Navion have deeply themed Euro interiors, the Fuse takes its styling cues from American contemporary. The nickel cabinet hardware pairs well with the clean lines of the sliding top cabinets and deep storage drawers. Taken altogether, the impression you get standing in the Fuse is one of being very modern, but with a few comforting notes of traditional interior design.
The Fuse will come in two floorplans. The 23 A floorplan features two twin beds with one being 80" long - ideal for taller sleepers. There's a slideout in the front cabin which creates a larger sense of openness.
The 23T floorplan is very unique in this size class with a side slideout rear queen bed. This is exceptional to see in a 24 foot length compact motorhome. The tradeoff is that the front cabin area is reduced in size with a half-dinette.
Using the new WinnVision virtual reality technology you can get a much better feel of what it's like to stand inside a Fuse by clicking here.
When you stand inside the Fuse it feels larger than it's petit 24 foot length. The biggest reason for that is the 6' 8" ceiling height which increases the sense of spaciousness. Yet, even with that high interior ceiling, the exterior profile of the Fuse looks sleek and smoothly proportioned.
There's some other hidden differences to the Fuse that aren't evident when you're evaluating the coach, but become apparent when you compare it to it's competitors. When I was at the national RVIA industry show in Louisville, Kentucky, I spent an afternoon looking at competitive coaches. What I saw in the competitive Transit-based products was frankly a bit surprising. What was noticeable was the poor fit and finish of these competitive units. Unfinished edges of wood trim, ugly velcro dots (for attaching privacy curtains), exposed screw heads, and block foam seat cushions (versus more comfortable sprung seats). I was also struck by some of the decor schemes that seemed to be straight out of a 2002 design book.
Earlier this year I spent several days at the world's largest RV show in Dusseldorf. There were nearly 2,000 towables and motorhomes on display and after touring a mind boggling number of them, I came away with the impression that the Europeans are still more advanced in the compact RV class. But, unlike other American Class C manufacturers, Winnebago has taken on that challenge with great success here in North America, and the Fuse is the latest in that trend.
In the process of filling out the industry's widest array of fuel efficient motorhome chassis with the new Fuse, Winnebago has unintentionally created a problem of offering buyers almost too much choice -- and I think that's a very good problem to have.
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