Class A Review: Winnebago Buena Vista
One of the most alluring aspects of RVing is traveling and seeing new places. Larger Class A motorhomes are great, but can be difficult to maneuver around many destinations, and parking while touring and shopping can be a concern. Not to mention that for many folks who are looking at their first Class A, the available sizes – and the related jump in price and complexity – can be daunting.
With seat belts for six and sleeping positions for up to eight, the 2018 Winnebago Vista 27PE may be shorter on length at just under 29 feet, but it’s great on space. Additionally, with solid build quality coupled with a slightly simpler feature set, the Vista makes getting into a Class A more affordable, in an easy to handle and operate package that’s great for touring.
We tested the new Vista 27PE at Normandy Farms Campground in Foxboro, Massachusetts, a Good Sam RV Travel and Savings Guide 10/10*/10 park, and arguably one of the nicest RV resorts in New England, if not the country. Owned and operated by the Daniels family since 1759 – yes, that’s right, since before the American Revolution – Normandy Farms has grown over the decades to include some incredible facilities and services, and even a spa.
The Vista 27PE has a dual personality; it’s both a good couple’s coach and a fine family motorhome. It has two slideouts, both on the driver’s side. When deployed, the interior has an abundant amount of living space. The front slide contains the kitchen and dinette, while the rear has a fold-up king bed. Add to this a folding sofa bed and an optional drop-down bunk over the front driver and passenger seats, and you have a suitable floorplan for plenty of people to sit or sleep, without taking up the extra floor space typical in a bunkhouse model.
Stepping into the motorhome reveals an attractive and comfortable space. The 2018 Vista is available in four interior motifs and two exterior applique treatments. The test unit featured the Infinity interior, with tans, grays and blacks, combined with a gray wood-plank style vinyl floor and cherry cabinetry with laminated counters.
The rear third of the motorhome features the aforementioned king bed, closet with drawers and bathroom. The bedroom is separated from the kitchen by way of a telescoping sliding door, and a curtain that separates the bed from the bathroom to give guests privacy.
The king bed is an interesting design in that the lower third of the mattress folds over to allow the slideout to be retracted. Each side of the bed features a shelf and overhead storage. The foam mattress is thick and firm. Across from the bed is an optional 32-inch Insignia TV ($471). Some 120-volt AC outlets are accessible from both sides of the bed.
Access to the bunk is via a ladder, which is kept in a coat closet near the entry door. The ladder hooks onto two brackets on the bunk structure. The downside is that the ladder will not clear the sofa when the sofa is deployed as a bed, but this can be easily remedied by adding a third bracket, which will allow the ladder to be placed more to the left when necessary.
Above, a feature harkening back to motorhomes of decades past is an optional ceiling-mounted bunk ($2,393), but unlike the spring-loaded version of yesteryear, the new version is electrically lowered, using a key-switch by the OnePlace Systems Monitor. This bunk is surprisingly large, with enough room for a couple of kids or even small adults. And, in another nod to the old Class A’s, there is a wraparound cubby system mounted above the windshield for those little necessities that need to be accessed while in the bunk. While we missed having a 120-volt AC outlet accessible to the bunk, it did have two reading lights, and a 12-volt DC receptacle is just below on the dash.
Galley & Storage
The kitchen and living area have generous room for a small campground party. Meal prep is easy on the neo-angled kitchen counter, which has plenty of open space to place items needed for cooking behind a stainless-steel, double-bowl sink. The 17-inch Atwood range, to the left, below the 1-cubic-foot High Pointe microwave oven, worked well; however, there is no range-top vent, which is a bit of a disappointment. Be careful what you cook because you’ll be smelling it for awhile. There is a crank up roof vent (no-fan) in close proximity that could be replaced with a Maxx-Fan for optimal ventilation. The cabinetry is well-made and abundant, and includes a vertical, fixed-shelf pantry next to the Norcold 8-cubic-foot refrigerator; a stacked, three-drawer base cabinet under the sink; and plenty of overhead storage space throughout.
Just forward of the kitchen is the dinette, which features a large 40-inch wall-mounted Insignia HDTV, and the standard fold-down two-bench dinette with storage underneath. Also, the dinette has a connectivity port under the table with AC, DC and USB power ports, as well as two cup holders for use by the seat belted passengers while heading down the road. The dinette folds down into a small bed, which is good for kids or smaller adults.
Across from the dinette is a jackknife sofa bed, clad in a soft vinyl. This seat is comfortable and includes two matching pillows in lieu of armrests for the ends. These aren’t particularly useful, as they have nothing holding them to the couch and fall off when you sit next to them. This is one of those pieces of furniture that makes you ask “Didn’t an interior designer or engineer sit on this sofa/bed before choosing to use it in this coach?” A good fix would be to have an attached plate or board extending from the pillow to slide down between the cushion and couch frame to hold them in place. As with the dinette, the sofa is a bit on the shorter side, but still comfortable for an average sized adult.
The corner bathroom is functionally spacious, and has adequate room to handle all the necessities. A standard plastic Thetford foot-flush toilet is placed next to the vanity, beneath a multispeed MaxxFan roof vent. Ample storage is provided by the vanity cabinet, a wall cabinet and a triple-towel rack built into the door.
The shower has enough vertical room for this 6-footer to get clean and features an overhead skylight and an interesting Nautilus retractable shower door. The door rolls up into a box when open, and clips to the opposite wall when closed. This is a nice, clean-looking option that works well, eliminating the bulky glass surround and the daily fight with a regular shower curtain.
The driver and passenger seats are comfortable and also clad in the white soft vinyl. These manual captain’s chairs spin around, adding to the seating in the living room, and a removable pedestal table that’s stored in the closet can be set up between them.
The driver’s compartment is well laid out and comfortable. The driver’s seat and steering column adjust so that the pedals and dash controls are within easy reach. The driver has his or her own cup holder on the left, as well as two more mounted on the center engine doghouse; the passenger has a wall-mounted cup holder as well, with a switch for an overhead map light. Visibility through the one-piece windshield is great and the electric sideview mirrors are easy to see. The center pod of the dash is fitted with a Pioneer MVH-AV290BT touchscreen stereo with Bluetooth. This unit allows hands-free communication through a compatible iPhone or Android phone, as well as playing music, etc. This is strictly a stereo, and this motorhome doesn’t have a DVD/CD player; however, an entertainment center console lowers from the ceiling over the entry door where one can be installed. This is fine because it allows the owners to pick the style of Blu-ray or DVD player, or simply not have one at all.
Lighting throughout the Vista is LED, and there are plenty of fixtures for general and task lighting. The motorhome is kept comfortable via the standard Coleman 15,000-Btu air conditioner and the 30,000-Btu furnace. The Vista comes with a 6-gallon LP-gas water heater with electronic ignition; while this is OK, a gas/electric model would have been preferable for increased flexibility and faster recovery, and an option for a 10-gallon model would be even better.
Materials & Construction
The exterior of the 27PE is clean and attractive, with tan fiberglass side and rear walls, standard tinted radius corner windows and a fiberglass front cap. The test coach had the Solar Flare exterior graphics, one of two choices for 2018. The 27PE comes with a standard Dometic 19-foot electric awning with LED lighting, under which is an optional ($1,225) exterior entertainment center that has a 32-inch Insignia TV tied to a pair of wall-mounted speakers. A switch next to the articulating TV mount allows the user to switch speaker input from the TV to the dash stereo.
Engine access is pretty standard. Most maintenance points are accessible from the front hood, with the exception of the batteries and the hydraulic leveling system. The batteries are easily accessed under the entry step, and the hydraulic pump and reservoir are hidden behind a panel in the front driver’s-side basement compartment.
Notable Equipment & Features
The utilities in the Vista are straightforward, with a standard 30-amp shorepower cord that users manually plug into an onboard receptacle when using the 4kW Onan generator (no automatic transfer switch). The water utilities are basic with the exception of the black-water dumping system. Because of the short stature of this motorhome, the black tank terminates on the passenger side. To make this palatable, a dump valve and macerator system mounted in a compartment on the passenger side is piped across the chassis to a 1½-inch black-tank dump valve in the utility compartment. To dump the black tank, you must first open the passenger-side valve, hook up the sewer hose, pull the black-tank dump valve in the utility bay, then push and hold the momentary switch to engage the macerator, and listen for it to run dry. This is a small inconvenience that’s offset by the livability of this coach. When you’re used to seeing a 1½-inch gray-tank valve and a 3-inch black-tank valve on 99 percent of RVs, seeing it in reverse can be momentarily disconcerting. The handles and stickers are color coded to make it easier. Winterizing the motorhome will take a few extra steps to make sure the macerator is protected. One thing we’d like to see is a black-tank flush system, which is common on most RVs, but unfortunately is not included on the Vista.
Exterior Storage Space
Basement storage is generous in this motorhome, and it offers more than 2,800 pounds of realistic occupant and cargo carrying capacity (ROCCC), so loading the basement shouldn’t be a problem. Access to the compartments is via radius cornered, side-hinge doors with twist locks, and several of the compartments are of the pass-through variety. All are lined with Ozite carpet, and one of the compartments under the awning has an AC outlet for plugging in patio lights and other accessories. There is also a large exterior compartment under the bedroom slide.
Operation and Ease of Use
The drivability of this coach is very good, especially for a short wheelbase gasser. While there is the usual low-speed sway, it was pretty stable on the highway, even in crosswinds and when confronting passing big rigs. Engine noise was customarily loud when the engine hit higher rpm. We did have some shake above 60 mph, but this is commonly attributed to wheel alignment and balance, which should be easily rectified.
What We Liked
Size and drivability; great interior space; excellent carrying capacity; basement storage; optional overhead bunk,
What We’d Like to See
120 volt outlet in overhead bunk; arm rest pillows on couch; propane and electric powered 6 gallon water heater
We were impressed with the Winnebago Vista 27PE. It is a solid, comfortable motorhome that’s easy to use and enjoy. And isn’t that what RVing is all about?
Winnebago Industries Inc. | 641-585-3535 | www.winnebagoind.com
Special Thanks To:
Diamond RV Centre in Hatfield, Massachusetts
888-RV-4-LESS | www.diamondrv.com