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Old 08-07-2020, 11:47 PM   #1
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Default Experiences with the Winnebago Era 170M

Hi-

A new user here. Have never owned a motorhome/van before, but we did have a Coleman tent trailer for most of our children's childhoods. Towed it behind 6 cylinder Toyotas... Recently we started looking at class B and C options. For a number of reasons, I'm not into towing a trailer anymore, even though I know it is a much cheaper solution than a motorhome. With our children now grown, it would mostly be used by just the wife and I, but also sometimes the grandparents (although I may do the driving for them) and sometimes our adult children.

After a lot of discussion in the family, and looking at a number of small class C's, we moved to looking at class B's. Thanks to these also being known now as "Covid campers" in these parts, there is currently very little for sale locally (PNW) but we did recently find a very slightly used 2018 Era 170M. This is the model with a slide-out, murphy bed, and dry bath. It's appealing for a number of reasons:
1. Being slightly used (2300 miles) it's considerably cheaper than new. My calculations are that it had a list of about $156k (it appears to have all options), and given what I know of typical discounts (pre-covid) it probably sold for around $125k new. But I could be wrong. But Seattle is an expensive area and nothing here is discounted much, except rain.
2. Being on the 2018 chassis, it has the older cockpit, and my wife MUCH prefers the driver/passenger seat to all new Sprinters. She has chronic neck/back issues so this is really important to us. I'm fairly confident we will never own a 2019 or newer Sprinter, period.
3. Same issue causes us to want a real bed, not fold down cushions to sleep on.
4. Some in the family are really dubious of the concept of a wet bath. Never had one, but it certainly doesn't look ideal if you are actually going to shower in it every day.
5. The slide-out creates enough floor space for my wife to do stretches/exercises within the van.

My big concerns are:
1. General quality. I gather Winnebago isn't really the best, or even better than mediocre?
2. The slide-out in particular. Where there issues with this (other than high cost) that caused Winnebago to discontinue it?
3. Other things that I as a motorhome noob aren't aware of but should be?

My thanks in advance!

-dm
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:58 PM   #2
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I would suggest checking vehicle weight, actually get in on a scale. Slide-outs are very heavy. Personally, I would never own an RV with a slide out, too much headache, but that is just me.

We are also retired, looked for a camper van back in 2013 but none met our desires so we built one. It must be difficult to get something to meet your expectation in such a hot market.
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Old 08-08-2020, 12:43 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input. I haven't found OCCC data anywhere online for the ERA, much less this particular floorpan. As long as the OCCC is at least 1000 pounds I'm ok with it, as I don't like the idea of dragging a lot of water around for any distance. We'll see if any Era owners respond with their van's OCCC.

Everything in life, but in RVs in particular, involves trade-offs. Our children would much prefer a 19 foot, 4x4, 4 season, toy-hauler type of van. Our son would have to use chains in the mountain passes and dry camp if he uses it for skiing and ice climbing. We have a large extended family, so there are going to be times when we wish we had 7 seat belts. But we think they vast majority of the time it will be just the two of us, and this floorpan seems optimized for that.

I was ready to just say wait until post-covid to buy one, but then my wife tried the seats in the new Sprinters. That forces us to stay with a little bit older units, and really narrows the potential choices.
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KitsapEra View Post
Thanks for the input. I haven't found OCCC data anywhere online for the ERA, much less this particular floorpan. As long as the OCCC is at least 1000 pounds I'm ok with it, as I don't like the idea of dragging a lot of water around for any distance. We'll see if any Era owners respond with their van's OCCC.

Everything in life, but in RVs in particular, involves trade-offs. Our children would much prefer a 19 foot, 4x4, 4 season, toy-hauler type of van. Our son would have to use chains in the mountain passes and dry camp if he uses it for skiing and ice climbing. We have a large extended family, so there are going to be times when we wish we had 7 seat belts. But we think they vast majority of the time it will be just the two of us, and this floorpan seems optimized for that.

I was ready to just say wait until post-covid to buy one, but then my wife tried the seats in the new Sprinters. That forces us to stay with a little bit older units, and really narrows the potential choices.
Welcome to the forum Kitsap!

I have no knowlege of the 170M model and only you can decide what is right for you. This is not inteneded to push you into a purchase, only to push you into checking into the 170M as soon as possible so you can decide if it's right for you or a pass. Because with the hot Seller's market we're in, a good condition class b that is priced right won't last long.

Good luck.
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:37 AM   #5
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We were all set to buy an Era M until we realized when the slide was in you could barely squeeze into the back from the front seats. That was an issue for us because we travel with two Labs that like to be with us when driving but may be okay for you. We went for the Era A with a rear bed we can leave made up, larger fridge and more storage. We’ve had no problem with the build quality.
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Old 08-08-2020, 02:13 PM   #6
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I would investigate the Winnebago slide out model thoroughly. I doubt you will get a true story from Winnebago but discontinuing an innovative and seemingly popular model may have had some underlying issues. Weight is rumored to be the biggest factor but I haven't seen any independent analysis of that. Weight distribution of more weight on the driver's side might have been an issue. Slide out mechanisms have been in use with RV's for many years. Other than its naturally more complicated use and maintenance I tend to doubt that would have been the problem for discontinuance.
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Old 08-08-2020, 02:43 PM   #7
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If showering everyday and floor space for stretches/exercises are major considerations, you might be more comfortable in a larger camper. A yoga mat will fit in aisle of most Class B's but it is tight. (I find it easier to do stretches on the bed but can't really do other floor exercizes on a mattress.) Showering works, but unless you have a full hookup site you'll have limited water or will be filling water tanks and dumping waste tanks quite frequently.
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:40 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the responses so far. Still looking to see if any other Era owners respond.

My wife and I didn't see any real issue moving from the front seats to the rear with the slide in. I note that Winnebago curved off the corner of the kitchen counter-top, in an apparent attempt to ease passage. We're both pretty thin so that helps. I guess if you have passengers sitting in the sofa you might have to step over/around their feet, but it didn't appear to be nearly as bad as what you have to do to get from a window seat to the bathroom on a 737.

I did IM the sales guy and ask him directly for the OCCC and what explanation Winnebago gave them for dis-continuing. As evidenced by the number of listings I see on RVTrader or Clist, I don't think it was ever very popular. The X model (otherwise known as the college football family's tailgate party house) seems to have been the most popular, based on # I see offered for resale. Most of the family thinks a class C would be just way too big for their potential uses. Even this one at 24 feet is on the big side and may be hard to fit in a gravel spot off the Mountain Loop Hwy along the beautiful Stillaguamish River, for example. I haven't owned an RV with black water holding tank before, but it seems that dump stations are very frequent in this part of the world (like all WA state parks with camping and a lot of WA rest areas). If you are a WA resident a know better, please let me know!

We do have a deposit down on the vehicle (otherwise it probably would have sold to someone else that day) but am willing to walk away if I hear something really bad about it.

Thanks again

dm
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Old 08-15-2020, 06:00 PM   #9
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Kitsap,

I have never thought that Winnebago has a reputation for mediocre quality or substandard RV's. Winnebago has been around for many many years. They might not be number one in quality but they are a stable company and must be doing something right to be around for over 50 years. Kind of like the Chevrolet of the RV world.

Also, every motorhome manufacturer buys their chassis (or the vehicle itself for Class B's) from a from another manufacturer. And most of the systems/accessories are also from other manufacturers. So some quality issues are dependent upon companies that are not the RV manufacturer.

However, the way the RV manufacturer assembles the RV and integrates the various systems is the the quality part that they own. And Winnebago has a good reputation.

So what it basically comes down to are the other parts of the equation - the layout of the RV and does it have the types of systems/amenities that you like. And if you have a preference of the chassis manufacturer and the price. So base your decision on these factors.
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Old 08-15-2020, 06:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TatraDog View Post
I have never thought that Winnebago has a reputation for mediocre quality or substandard RV's. Winnebago has been around for many many years.

our first choice for an RV was a 2010 Era- I loved the way it drove and the appearance of the layout.

the quality of the conversion was shockingly bad. lifting the rear cushions showed a number of ""blind screws ( not secured into the material behind) and use of poor quality CDX plywoods
leaving the build/ cabinetry compromised from day 1

people have commented this poor quality somehow related to that recession and that Winn was using cheaper labor- but these decisions are made by accountants and execs, who they hire, the tools used, the materials supplied...and the quality control

before buying we looked at perhaps 30 RV's- if the era was a 1, the next worse was a 4 such was the gap in quality

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Old 08-15-2020, 08:01 PM   #11
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We thought of the 170M as well, but after some research and checking forums like, we decided against it. Mostly because of the slide-out. Although one would think itís a huge plus, there are drawbacks when installed on a van type vehicle. The biggest item, was you couldnít sleep in it unless the slide was out. So there goes any thoughts of ďstealthĒ camping. The other item people mentioned was the constant noise from the slide when traveling. Also the driver seat was pushed back against the slide when driving. If your wife likes the passenger seat, you may end up hating the drivers seat. They donít make that model any longer, so itís a toss up if parts will be available should the slide require them. Nothing wrong with a wet bath IMHO. The other ERA models seem very well made. As far as Winnebago quality? Please, thereís better and worse. Winnebago is more on the up side than the bottom.
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Old 08-15-2020, 09:11 PM   #12
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Kitsap, I've found the FitRV blog to be a good source of Class B info. Here's their 2017 review of Winnie ERA 170M..... https://www.thefitrv.com/rv-reviews/...bago-era-170m/
A similar ClassB with slide is the quality Leisure Travel Van Free Spirit SS. It's no longer in production. Here's one listed for sale in Calif. (with lithium battery upgrade!) https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/201...4SS-5013515100
Good luck with your search. From a satisfied LTV Free Spirit owner.
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Old 08-16-2020, 02:55 AM   #13
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Thanks to all who responded. We went ahead with the deal today, and now have a 2018 Era 170M sitting in front of our house. Time will tell as to whether it was a good decision. So far, just sitting in it, I really do like the extra space that the slide affords, and the ability to sleep on a real bed without having to lug a "mattress topper" along. I'm sure we would have had to do that for my wife with the other floorplans. I didn't notice any extra noise from the slide driving it 25 miles home on I5. All the noise I noticed was the usual RV noise of things rattling around in back. The cab is blissfully quiet at 60mph compared to any of the old class C's I've ever been in. Enough space for my wife to squeeze back to the bathroom if necessary while under way (yeah I know not ideal from a safety POV, but we all develop old bladders with time). Overall fit and finish does seem nice, beside the stapled together cabinetry. Interestingly, the drawers and slides all look like high quality stuff.

Thanks to all who responded!

-dm
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:54 AM   #14
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Congratulations! Always great to start a new adventure.
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Old 08-16-2020, 02:18 PM   #15
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Congrats. Lots of storage and a dry bath. If the slide out works as intended and you don't plan on any stealth camping, you've got a winner.

As you wisely said. Only time will tell. We're happy with our class b, but in the beginning, the nagging problems made me doubt my purchase sometimes. But as we got things fixed and sorted out, my only regret is that we did not purchase sooner.

Keep us informed on how it goes.
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