By Tony Barthel
Possibly one of the hottest new RVs on the market is the Winnebago EKKO. Winnebago has been making waves in the popular Class B segment for some time now and has really brought forth some leading-edge products, including the Winnebago Revel 44e that we reviewed recently.
But the EKKO takes their experience and elevates it in many, many ways. Yet there are also things we’ve seen for years. So what’s the big deal?
The EKKO is an evolutionary rig in some ways, being essentially a “B plus.” This translates into a van/cutaway front and a motorhome back, but without a sleeping area over the cab. The EKKO is just a few inches wider than the Ford Transit body on which it is based. So it retains much of the drivability of a Class B – one of the strong suits of this genre.
By adding a big square box to the back, that minor addition of width translates into a whole different experience for the camping side of the vehicle. And I have to say that Winnebago has taken every advantage of this body as well.
The Winnebago EKKO was very intentionally created to deliver four-season camping as much as possible. The walls of the motorhome section are 2” thick and the roof is 3” thick. The entry door very specifically does not have a window so that it can be better insulated.
There is a thick blanket that Winnebago makes in-house that separates the cab from the camper portion if you’re really in cold temperatures. All the tanks and plumbing are within the cabin of the camper – and even the wet bay is heated. Of course, those tanks have 12-volt heating pads on them.
This is based on Ford’s four-wheel-drive Transit platform. So even lousy roads, or no roads, won’t be an impediment to getting out there.
Off the grid
Winnebago has also provided serious off-grid capability with a number of choices owners get to make.
As standard in the Winnebago EKKO, you get a 320 amp-hour lithium-ion battery that can be monitored via Bluetooth and is also heated. Three solar panels are on racks on the roof: two 170-watt panels, and a third 115-watt panel. All this power can be fed through a 2,000-watt inverter. Also, there’s a second 80-amp alternator on the V6 engine that drives the vehicle. This alternator is designed to be able to charge the battery even at engine idle speeds without overheating. This means you could idle the engine to provide some extra oomph to the battery if you wanted.
But you don’t have to do that as there’s also a standard Cummins Onan QG 2,800i gasoline-fired generator aboard. This is so quiet the National Parks system has given it their stamp of approval.
Power is one thing, sure. But what limits my off-grid fun are the holding tanks. Here, you have a big 50-gallon fresh water tank and a 51-gallon gray tank. This rig was intentionally designed with a cartridge toilet so you can dump that in a pit toilet or regular outhouse. This is a big plus. Of course, if you’re so far off the grid that none of these are available to you, you could also carry a second toilet cartridge.
The holding tank monitors are also not the typical lousy monitors. Instead, they are monitors which report tank levels in one-degree increments.
Heating is provided by a Truma VarioHeat system, and your hot water is endless thanks to a Truma AquaGo water heating system. Well, endless until your fresh tank runs dry or your gray tank fills up, naturally.
That’s not all
What really gets me is the attention to detail in this rig.
For example, there are RAM® Tough-Track™ mounts all over this rig. So you can hang things above the seats/dinette, over the bed and in so many other places. I love convertible and flexible-use items – this goes a long way to being that.
The corners of the RV portion of the rig are powder-coated aluminum. That will protect them from brush or branches or the kinds of things you’ll encounter if you truly do take this rig off-road. It’s a better quality method of building the box, and quality is something that really comes through with this rig.
There’s a metal screen door on this rig that can even be locked with the door key separately from the door. That way you can lock the screen and step away from the rig if you choose.
Another appreciated thing is that the propane tanks are the typical 20-pound propane tanks that you can swap out almost anywhere or have refilled. This is so much more convenient than having to find a place to fill a permanent tank in an RV.
The tour of the Winnebago EKKO
Going through that windowless entry door, you’ll see that the cab features seats that swivel around – as you would expect in a Class B or Class C. Since the floor of the cab is lower than the floor of the camper, Winnebago has provided “booster” cushions to accommodate this. There’s also a Lagun table for the camp-side position. That table can swing around in front of the entry door and be additional prep space for the chef.
This is the kind of attention to detail that makes all the difference.
Over on the road side there are two vehicle-style seats that face forward, each of which has a three-point seat belt. This means you could safely accommodate four people in transit: two in the cab and two in these seats. There’s a folding table for these occupants as well.
Over on the camp side is a metal sink and two-burner stove. The only thing I was surprised at in this rig is the old-fashioned laminate counter. But Winnebago specifically addressed this, saying that it’s a weight-saving piece.
Having owned a commercial kitchen, we used all stainless steel surfaces. They were light yet strong, and you could put a hot pot on them. This would be my first choice.
Above the galley counter is a cabinet and a microwave. All the latches on the cabinets are positive latches – which essentially means they’re not popping open on the road. The cabinets, too, are nicely designed.
Behind the galley on the camp side is a large 12-volt refrigerator.
The Winnebago EKKO has an interesting bathroom
On the road side is one of the more interesting RV bathrooms I’ve seen. In some ways it’s a wet bath – in others it’s not.
When you step in it seems like a dry bath with a toilet that swivels and a small sink. But the wall at the rear of the bathroom swings away revealing the shower. So, while it’s technically in the same space as the bathroom, the shower is sort of separate. It’s pretty ingenious. Also, super bonus points to Winnebago for including an Oxygenics showerhead, which is what so many RVers replace theirs with.
Finally, the bedroom area is unusual to most U.S. RVers. It starts life as a twin bed arrangement with a set of stairs between the beds, which are high up in the space. This is to facilitate closets and storage beneath the beds.
Those beds themselves sit on a Froli spring system. There’s also a cushion and platform that you can stick in between them that turns it into a proper queen-sized bed area.
What’s outside is as exciting as what’s inside the Winnebago EKKO
Behind the entry door there is a large storage space. If you want, you can opt to have this outfitted with an outdoor kitchen that incorporates a 12-volt cooler, sink and propane cooktop. Winnebago deserves some sort of award for using a 12-volt cooler instead of a 110vac refrigerator on this.
At the back of this rig is a huge storage space that is also heated. There are access doors on both camp and road side. There’s also a large rear hatch door. All of the doors are the same 2” thick wall material as the rest of the rig.
Winnebago is making the awning on the camp side an option. So for those who don’t want one, you’re not forced to have it. But there’s also an optional “batwing” cover over the rear and road-side doors of this rig. These are great for assembling bicycles or skis or other things.
If you’ve seen European RVs, then a lot of what’s in this rig won’t surprise you. But Winnebago has done an outstanding job with packaging all this into a very well-designed system.
I like that they offer the option of minimal exterior graphics. In so many ways this rig is just such a right fit for so many. I hope that a lot of the design elements extend to other models in their lineup, including their travel trailers.
If you look at yesterday’s Coachmen Cross Trek 20XG review you’ll see that many elements of these two are the same. But the devil’s in the details – and Winnebago just nailed it on the details. Furthermore, Winnebago’s website and video channels are just so well done and Coachmen is just in the dark here. I just don’t see how a modern vehicle seller can be so out of touch with digital messaging, frankly.
It’s no surprise why this vehicle is getting so much attention from so many.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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