There are two types of Class A motorhomes: Those you drive because you have to – it’s the
only way you can get to where you’re going – and those you love to drive. Winnebago’s Journey 34Y is definitely an example of the latter.
Powered by a spirited 350-hp Cummins ISB diesel, the nimble Winnie is a barrel of fun to
drive no matter what type of terrain and conditions road engineers and Mother Nature throw
at it. Living in it is not too shabby, either.
The 34Y is built on Freightliner’s fully air-suspended XC chassis fitted
with an Allison 3000MH transmission and four-wheel ABS air brakes. Grace the cab with very
comfy seats, a one-piece windshield for superior visibility and ergonomic instrumentation,
and the driver will be hard pressed to vacate the captain’s mount, other than to take
breaks to answer nature’s call or refuel the coach and his or her stomach.
Part of the
experience is attributed to the amazing quiet inside this coach while on the road. Even the
notorious expansion joints on concrete highway couldn’t rattle the interior, although
potholes managed to break the near silence. Obviously, this is a great testament to the
overall fit and finish of the interior components – and the smooth-riding features of the
We carefully checked fuel economy, covering 1,200 miles over varied
terrain and speed. The best mileage was on flat highway, traveling 60-62 mph, where we
recorded 10.7 mpg. It dipped to 7.6 mpg while scooting over California’s infamous Donner
Pass at a constant 65 mph. Surprisingly, the mileage did not dip that much when we took the
speed up to 65-70 mph on flat highway; here we recorded 9.5 mpg. Even the stint that
included California’s notorious Grapevine only reduced fuel consumption to 8.8 mpg.
As indicated above, pulling grades came easy to the 34-foot Winnie. We hit the hard parts of a 6 percent climb going 65 mph and eventually dropped to 55 mph before cresting the hill. Going down, the exhaust brakes helped control speed to 50 mph, and by the time we hit the bottom, we needed to work the fuel pedal to move us up from 46 mph.
Inside, the interior is transformed by a full-wall slide on the driver’s side and slides in the bedroom and the opposite wall in the front living room. Once fully opened, the coach looks much bigger than a 34-footer. Outside of a few quirks, the floor-plan works amazingly well, affording exceptional livability for two people. By the time you turn the cockpit chairs, position the Euro chair and add the two extra folding chairs to the freestanding dinette, the coach can seat nine comfortably. When the table is retracted, it provides perfect accommodations for two diners. It extends far enough to add the two folding chairs, but the lip created by the slide-out floor makes four-chair positioning a little tight.
The expanse of vinyl flooring from the cockpit to the rear bedroom works well with the cherry cabinetry and curved wall that encloses the curbside bathroom. The eye candy is continued with the Corian kitchen counter-tops and brushed stainless-looking appliance fronts. While not huge, the L-shaped galley works exceptionally well.
So does the bathroom. The corner shower is luxurious and roomy, and
would be even more appreciated by upgrading the fixtures. Corian graces the oval sink, and
the large china-bowl toilet and suitable cabinetry/drawers round out the list of functional
items. Floor space in the bathroom is disproportionately large without feeling like it
takes up too much square footage for a coach this size.
If you prefer the king bed out back
(queen is available), you’ll need to wrap your arms around the fact it will occupy the
greater portion of bedroom space. That means you’ll have limited legroom between the
mattress (optional $770 Sleep Number unit in the test coach) and rear sliding-door closet.
The chest of drawers at the foot of the bed houses another flat-screen LCD TV and the
optional ($448) DVD player and stereo system. An optional washer/dryer can be installed in
the corner cabinetry since the plumbing fixtures are provided by the factory.
Keep in mind
that the rear closets and cabinets can only be accessed by climbing over the bed when the
slides are retracted. That posed little concern for us; we were more annoyed with the
limited access to the bathroom while on the road because the Euro chair butts up to the
galley counter, blocking the aisle. The space loss is exacerbated by the structure needed
to enclose the outside entertainment center. If the outside flat-screen TV and audio
components ($1,386) are opted for, the required box formed on the inside wall pushes the
Euro chair closer to the kitchen counter.
The other exterior compartments are accessible
via side-hinged doors, which make access much more convenient (even the ones below the
extended slide-outs). And they are big enough to handle most of the gear typical owners will
take along. There’s a little pass-through space for longer items, although height is
restricted. The utility compartment makes it easy to hook up to water and sewer; the 50-amp
power cable is stored in an adjacent compartment.
In a nutshell, Winnebago has pulled off
the type of coach that offers the best of all worlds: A nimble machine that gets good fuel
economy, is incredibly fun to drive and is loaded with all the goodies discriminating
owners appreciate – and expect.
For the full text of this article, subscribe to MotorHome