For many years Winnebago’s Sunstar served as Itasca’s Class A gas motorhome, one with all the basics but not a lot of highline options. That all changed with the debut of its 2013 floorplans. The Sunstar still fills its niche as a value-priced pick for a range of buyers, but with numerous high-end features now standard and a host of family-oriented options from which to choose, Winnebago has done more than just dress up a staple in its lineup.
A trip to Forest City, Iowa, to attend Winnebago’s Grand National Rally provided the opportunity for an overnight stay in the Sunstar 35B, one of three new floorplans built on Ford’s F53 chassis with the 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine. At just longer than 36 feet and with an interior height of 6 feet 8 inches, this motorhome provides ample room for the eight people it can sleep – an ideal arrangement for families.
A young family is exactly what Winnebago had in mind when designing this bath-and-a-half floorplan with bunk beds in addition to the private master bedroom; a move district sales manager Adam Christoffersen said is an industry first.
“We’re the first to offer this floorplan,” Christoffersen said. “It works great for kids and parents to have the separate bathroom.”
Located at the rear of the coach, the full bathroom is home to Winnebago’s BIG shower – a facility the company said dwarfs most RV showers. A 35-inch-wide entrance opens to a shower with generous elbowroom and skylight for taller travelers. An additional shower caddy is a must, however, as the single ledge makes for crowded shampoo and soap storage. A sizeable vanity includes drawer and cabinet storage, with another cabinet above the laminate countertop. On a raised platform, the toilet is located opposite the shower.
A sliding door leads to the walk-around queen bed flanked by nightstands and opposing windows in the streetside slideout. The innerspring mattress provides firm comfort, though we’d like to see Winnebago offer a memory foam option. We appreciated the dual overhead reading lights and this coach featured the optional 26-inch LCD TV ($630) in the bedroom. Full extension drawer storage is abundant, and by adding an interior shelf accessed through the wardrobe the Sunstar also makes use of the space traditionally wasted behind the TV.
Another sliding door can either close off the rear of the coach or open it to the bunk area. Foam mattresses and privacy curtains create cozy hideaways for the kids, who’ll also enjoy their own drop-down LCD monitors with DVD players ($910).
Across the aisle, the larger-than-expected half bath includes a mirrored medicine cabinet, vanity with storage underneath and commode.
Moving forward, Winnebago’s attention to detail is continually evident. The standard soft touch vinyl ceiling and maple cabinets create an inviting space, as does the Comfort Sofa Sleeper ($693), set against the wide windows of the second slideout (a sofa bed is standard). With a soft Ultraleather finish, the sofa sleeper is a couch by day and at night transforms into a large bed with self-inflating mattress. The conversion is simple and mattress firmness can be adjusted with the attached control.
Accompanying the sofa in the streetside slide is the Dream Dinette table, part of the interior upgrade package ($826). The table easily adjusts to the right height with one hand, and with the BenchMark dinette upgrade ($434) the space converts to another sleeping area. The seats of the BenchMark tilt up to provide easy access to cargo. Another plus is the comfort of the innerspring cushions, which also provide easy viewing of the 42-inch LCD TV on the galley’s back wall, standard in the 35B.
The same upgrade package that adds the Dream Dinette also includes a cover for the three-burner range and a flip-up countertop extension, along with an attractive kitchen backsplash to give the galley an upscale feel. We found the optional four-door refrigerator and freezer with icemaker ($2,485) to be a welcome addition; a small adjacent pantry still provides adequate space for essential dry goods. For those with less to keep cold, a two-door refrigerator/freezer with large pantry comes standard.
After noting the exceptional fit and finish throughout the living area, our eyes moved to the optional 32-inch overhead cab TV ($791), a useful entertainment amenity when the full-wall slide retracts to partially cover the galley TV. Up front, the comfortable Ultraleather cab seats swivel to add living area seating when parked. For the co-pilot, a sturdy dash workstation ($140) slides out for ease of use. A rearview monitor system with one-way audio and color LCD monitor comes standard and was helpful as we maneuvered through the rally campground. Our unit also had a side-view video camera system ($406).
The Sunstar 35B is equipped with a 5,500-watt Onan gas generator and has two deep-cycle Group 24 batteries. The unit’s two high-efficiency air conditioners ($455) kept us cool while outside the temperature approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. An electric patio awning provides shade for outdoor entertaining or while relaxing in front of the exterior entertainment center that houses the stereo, DVD player and 32-inch LCD TV ($1,610).
Aimed at families, Winnebago hit the mark with the Itasca Sunstar 35B.
Winnebago Itasca Sunstar 35B Specifications
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: 6.8-L Super Duty Triton V-10, 362 HP
Fuel: 80 gal
GVWR: 22,000 lbs
Length: 36′ 5.5″
Width: 8′ 4″
Height with A/C: 12′ 6″
Interior height: 6′ 8″
Freshwater Cap: 99 gal
Gray-water Cap: 82 gal
Black-water Cap: 97 gal
LP-Gas Cap: 18 gal
Base MSRP: $123,194
MSRP AS REVIEWED: $140,033