Road test and photos by Norm Rosen
For generations, the general public has considered the name “Winnebago” to be synonymous with “motorhome” – but in 2014 this could change, because the new Adventurer 38Q seems to be redefining the category… everyone we spoke to had the same reaction the first time they saw the new flagship of the Winnebago class A gas-powered fleet – it could be the beginning of a new RV category - “Cool Motorhome!”
The Adventurer 38Q is a class A motorhome with 39’1” of WOW factor… triple slides, deluxe features, a sensational front lounge – everything you would expect to see in a much more expensive coach. At approximately $200,000 CDN, it embodies everything you could ask for in a vehicle of this type, and more.
We experienced the 38Q at Sicard RV in Smithville, Ontario, and took it for a road test through the magnificent scenery of the Niagara escarpment. On winding country roads, up and down the hills, and along the highway the coach rolled quietly and effortlessly – to sum it up in just a few words, it was a pleasure to drive.
Winnebago manufactures vehicles that are built to last, using a trademarked “Super Structure®” design concept. This includes a chassis that is laser-aligned to create a strong and durable foundation for the vehicle, and a framework of extruded aluminum that forms the skeleton for the walls and roof. There are embedded steel substructures in the sidewalls to assure solid points of attachment for the cabinets and appliances, and specially designed interlocking joints that connect the roof, sidewalls, and floor. The crowned, one-piece fiberglass roof carries a 10-year limited warranty. Thermo-Panel™ sidewalls use layers of fiberglass and high-density block foam insulation and welded aluminum support structures to create a strong, durable and lightweight shell for the vehicle.
While the average RV owner will never see the internal structure of the motorhome, everyone will be impressed with the full-body paint, the modern front cap, and the optional dual-pane Contour windows. Take a close look at the exterior features of the motorhome and you will see the state-of-the-art in RV technology – we really liked the TriMark® KeyOne™ lock system, the automatic entrance step and the power patio awning that has a metal wrap and WeatherMAX™ fabric. The LED lighting integrated into the awning is a great feature – it completes the lighting convenience components that include a driver’s side service light, porch light, and lights in the storage compartments.
On The Road
The Adventurer is a vehicle that loves the open road. Driving the Ford F53 chassis is a breeze, with the 362-hp 6.8L V10 SEFI Triton® engine providing lots of power, and the TorqShift™ 5-speed automatic transmission delivering lots of “vroom” for highway merging, then shifting into overdrive for optimum performance. The tranny has a “tow/haul” setting for hilly terrain and better performance when pulling a car or a trailer. Power steering, tilt wheel, cruise control and Hydro-Max brakes with ABS make the overall driving experience very comfortable – once you get used to the size of the vehicle, the driving experience is very relaxing.
Cockpit comfort is a key consideration for long journeys – the captain’s and co-pilot’s chairs feature adjustable armrests, lumbar support, multi-adjustable recline and swivel/slide adjustments. The captain’s chair has six-way power adjustments, and you can order an optional footrest for the co-pilot.
The large windshield provides a panoramic view of the road ahead, while power side mirrors with defrost and side view colour video cameras let you keep an eye on your surroundings. A rear view monitor system is incorporated into the dash radio system, providing a 6” LCD colour touch screen. You can upgrade this component by selecting the optional Infotainment Center with Rand McNally RV GPS – this unit has a color rearview camera, CD/DVD player, SiriusXM™ (subscription not included), compass, outside temperature readout, iPod®/iPhone® audio integration, Bluetooth™, and more. There is a handheld remote so your co-pilot can change settings without reaching to touch the screen.
The Adventurer has a dash workstation for the co-pilot, and 12-volt powerpoints, and the cab is pre-wired for CB.
Comfort and Convenience
Like a luxury condo, the climate control in the Adventurer is fully automatic – just set the thermostat and the TrueAir Maximum Comfort AC system maintains your preferred interior temperature. An advanced ductwork design ensures consistent, precision airflow throughout the coach. Dual-zone climate control lets you maintain two different temperatures in the coach – ideal for times when you want a cool environment in the lounge, and a warmer and quieter atmosphere in the bedroom.
Winnebago uses low-profile highefficiency Polar Mach compressors with 13,500 BTU output for better cooling using less energy. The TrueAir Maximum Comfort AC system helps keep your motorhome free of those ugly drain stains – the unit pumps rooftop condensation directly to the ground. On chilly summer mornings the TrueAir Maximum Comfort AC uses an advanced heat pump to provide supplemental heat without running the furnace, reducing LP usage.
For cool weather camping, the Adventurer has a 40,000 BTU low-profile furnace that warms the unit up quite quickly, and keeps it comfy in the campsite or on the road.
The Adventurer 38Q has an AC/ DC distribution system with a 55-amp converter/charger and four deep-cycle, maintenance-free AGM marine/RV batteries. With automatic dual-battery charge control and a battery disconnect system to isolate the coach and chassis power supplies, you can easily manage your power on the road, and in unserviced campsites. There is a 5,500-watt Cummins Onan Marquis Gold™ generator with the Cummins Onan® Energy Command™ automatic generator start system, and a 2,000-watt inverter/charger. If you enjoy “dry camping” you might want to order the optional 100- watt solar panel battery charger. This may sound complex, but in the real world everything works automatically – you can monitor and control all of the systems at the OnePlace systems center.
In The Campground
Our test vehicle was equipped with hydraulic leveling jacks that are connected to three convenient control pads – one at the driver’s seat, one at the entrance door, and one at the “QuickPort” service compartment – this lets you keep an eye on your progress, and it only takes a minute to level and stabilize the motorhome. Once the jacks are in place, you can connect the water, sewer, and electrical hookups and then extend your slides.
We often wrestle with gear and cargo on RV excursions, so the Adventurer’s Smart Storage™ concept is a welcome approach to motorhome design. The engineers have located the various RV system components and tanks to leave plenty of room for basement storage. By integrating multiple doors and sliding storage trays on the various models, you have easy access to all of your gear.
Winnebago uses a “TrueLevel” monitor system with Mirus™ detector cell technology to give you an instant and accurate reading of the fresh and waste water tank levels. Because the Mirus detector cells use micro-electrical fields to detect liquid levels from outside the tank, there are no probes to worry about, and the system should be maintenance free.
If you travel (or road test RVs) during the winter months, you will appreciate the cold-weather design elements of the Adventurer. The holding tank compartment is heated, and the winterization package gives you easy access to the water heater bypass and siphon tube.
The Adventurer features Winnebago’s PowerLine energy management system that temporarily turns off one or more electrical appliances to avoid a system overload – you won’t pop a circuit breaker if you turn on the air conditioner, microwave and toaster at the same time.
Our road test motorhome had the Silver Birch décor scheme with Coffee-Glazed Vienna Maple cabinetry. The off-white Ultraleather™ furniture was simply gorgeous – so comfortable that we contemplated extending the road test indefinitely. This premium upholstery fabric is made from a PVC-free polyurethane that is more durable than leather and very easy to clean.
Winnebago uses “SmartSpace” design to maximize your living space inside the coach. Our test vehicle had the Rest Easy® Multi-Position Lounge that has a button that automatically converts the couch into a lounger with a pull-out ottoman. Press the switch again and the lounger converts into a large and very comfortable bed. It is the ideal way to enjoy the 46-inch TV and fireplace.
If you travel with more than four people, ask your dealer about the optional BenchMark® freestanding dinette that seats four people in comfort and features a Glide n’ Dine table that extends to seat six with two matching folding chairs.
In The Galley
Campground gourmets will enjoy the art of cooking in this motorhome, with a galley that rivals a deluxe condo. The Corian® solid-surface countertop is very generous in size, and there is a flip-up extension and matching backsplash. To match the interior décor, the design team has provided Corian sink and range covers.
Galley appliances include a counter depth french door residential refrigerator with stainless steel finish, interior water dispenser, icemaker and glide-out bottom drawer freezer. There is a large microwave/convection oven with range fan, and a 3-burner range top with storage below. You can enhance the galley with an optional 3-burner range with oven. Under the sink, a cold water filtration system is a welcome addition.
In The Bathroom
Whether you are a full-size RV jockey or a petite co-pilot, you will love the shower in this motorhome. With a wide textured glass entrance door, a flexible showerhead, and plenty of room to move around, it is one of the real benefits of moving up to a larger vehicle.
While everyone has their own preferences for water temperatures and time in the shower, we have found that 10-gallon water heater systems like the one in the Adventurer are able to keep up with three showers per hour, thanks to the 110 V/LP gas with motoraid and auxiliary auto heater.
In The Bedroom
The master bedroom in our test unit was outfitted with a powered king size bed – you can select a queen size bed if you prefer to have additional space around the mattress, and larger nightstands. We were very impressed with the Ideal Rest® Natural Reserve digital comfort control mattress that provides fifty unique set points so you can customize firmness and support. The bed has dual remote controls, and lifts to reveal a storage area. Bedspread, pillow shams and pillows are all colour coordinated to match the interior décor.
The bedroom is very well appointed with ample closet and cupboard space, a ceiling fan, and a 32” HDTV.
The Bottom Line
Winnebago’s 38Q is a class A motorhome that sets the standard for vehicles in the category. The Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association recognizes manufacturers who provide exceptional products with a Dealer Satisfaction Index “Quality Circle” award – Winnebago is the only manufacturer to have received this award every year since its inception.
Don’t buy a class A motorhome until you have test driven a Winnebago – it is the benchmark for the industry.