By Tony Barthel
Some people have whatever RV they have just because that’s what was available at the dealership at the time. But then there are some RVs that have huge followings of passionate owners. Such are some of Winnebago’s Class B vans, including the Revel.
The Revel is not your ordinary RV by any means. Based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4X4 chassis, this is a Class B van that also offers off-road prowess along with significant off-grid functionality. What does Mercedes know about off-roading, you ask? Have some fun on the Internet and look up the Unimog and the Geländewagen. Mercedes is a company that knows 4X4 – we just don’t see it very much.
In addition to its Sprinter roots, Winnebago has outfitted this rig with some incredible tech that is useful to the off-grid overlander. Up on the roof are 250 watts of solar feeding 250 amp-hours of LiFePO batteries. There’s a 2,000-watt Xantrex converter that will run the air conditioning system.
If the solar isn’t cutting it for energy production, because sometimes you want to park under the trees, there is a second alternator on the Mercedes-sourced 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine that specifically charges up this battery pack. Of course, you could also hook this to 30-amp shore power – but there isn’t much of that where a lot of folks take these.
Knowing that lithium batteries don’t like to be charged when they’re cold, Winnebago has outfitted these with a warming blanket.
You can monitor these systems with a control panel on the wall behind the dinette, where all the controls are located, or use an app on your smartphone to do so. You can also use an app on the smartphone to run the AC and heater systems, open the awnings and more. That app seems like a redundant way to do this since there are buttons and logical controls in the RV to do the same thing.
Speaking of the heater and, by extension, the water heater, those are fueled by the same diesel fuel as you would use to run the RV itself. There’s a hydronic heating system that provides wonderfully even heat in the body of the coach. You can also adjust the hot water output of the system as well. It really, really makes sense.
Not just technology
I would imagine technology is something buyers of this are enthused about, but it’s not just tech that makes this a stellar unit.
In the bathroom are bamboo shelves that drop in that make the bathroom seem almost like a big closet. Those shelves are great if you have wet clothes and want to put them somewhere to dry. Then turn on the bathroom fan and, voila, a dryer, of sorts.
In the back on the outside are slight bulges in the exterior. There’s a bed on belts that can be raised or lowered and these bulges offer just a bit more space for that bed. But they’re enough that there is over 6’ of width to the bed, allowing two taller folks to sleep there.
When the bed is up, the whole back of the van is an open cargo bay with six D-rings so you can tie down cargo like bikes, a dirt bike, kayaks or whatever.
All over the inside of this van are RAM® track rails. This is a standard mounting system where you can get all sorts of devices to slot into these rails – things like tablet holders, rings to hold tie-downs, and just about anything else you can imagine. An example of where this is useful is over the dining table where you can slot in a tablet holder and look at your tablet while sitting at the dinette.
There’s a screen over the sliding door that rolls up. But when it’s rolled down there’s a magnetic closure that you can use to quickly get in and out. The magnet quickly snaps closed to keep the bugs out.
This same idea is in place on a cloth “wall” over the back doors. That wall also has a magnetic side closure but also a zip-open screened panel which can afford ventilation. Combine that with the high-performance fan and you’ve got some nice airflow.
New for 2021
Winnebago, potentially more than any other RV manufacturer, really keeps in contact with owners. The company has truly owned social media and works closely with influencers to produce ever-better products.
The proof of that is in some of the minor changes made for 2021. For example, the table that swings down when you have the sliding door open is now suspended by a stainless steel cable instead of a table leg. That way, if the coach isn’t sitting level the table still can.
Winnebago has increased the size of the 12-volt compressor-based refrigerator by 20 percent and moved it to the end of the kitchen peninsula so you can easily access it from outside or in. That allowed them to refine the kitchen experience.
One of those refinements is a drawer where Winnebago keeps the single portable induction cooktop that, again, you can operate from the batteries through the inverter. You can use this on the counter in the van or on that table outside. When you’re not using it, it just lives in that drawer.
What I don’t like
I don’t like the idea that all the water connections are inside the rear door of this rig. Yes, I understand that that will help prevent freezing but, by the same token, you have to have the back door unlatched to attach the water hose. Not a fan of this idea.
Also, now that I’ve discovered the Lagun table, I wish they had used that instead of the one they did. But, fortunately, you can do that yourself if it’s a priority and this isn’t really any big deal.
If you want one of these there is a very long line to step up to the plate and I can see why – this RV breaks a lot of barriers and was clearly created by people who truly understand the customers who would be buying it.
This is not the RV for everybody, though. The actual quarters and bathroom are a bit tight – but the individual who wants one of these is probably not inside it enough for that to even matter. The person who gets a Revel is very likely spending time way off the grid truly making the most of the great outdoors with a vehicle that is very well suited to serving that lifestyle well.