Lot of Latitude

Photo Credit: Shawn Spence Photography

by Kevin Livingston
January 29, 2016
Filed under Reviews, Top Stories, Trailer Reviews

TL-test

 

A wide-open floorplan with a designer kitchen and plenty of room to spread out are hallmarks of Winnebago’s 34RG fifth-wheel

In the relatively few years since Winnebago hung the “Towables Division” sign on its Middlebury, Indiana, facilities, the fifth-wheel products rolling off the assembly line have shown great promise as major players in the industry.

Obviously, Winnebago’s expertise in building one of the most popular lines of motorhomes in America is rubbing off on its towables division. Interiors with a distinct motorhome flavor are proving to be highly livable floorplans. No doubt, the designers are taking a few cues from the mother ship and integrating them into fifth-wheels like the 2016 Latitude 34RG, which exudes creativity and posh living at a midrange price.

A staircase leading to the bathroom and bedroom helps create a homelike feel.

A staircase leading to the bathroom and bedroom helps create a homelike feel.

From the moment one enters through the midway door and faces the staircase with its wrought-iron banister, the homelike interior becomes apparent. There’s a vast amount of space, partially because the 34RG designation is really a misnomer; this fifth-wheel is almost 42 feet long — and it has three slideouts. The extra footage gives designers a pretty nice size palette to create a fifth-wheel that can easily be a full-timer’s pad.

Up front, the plan is more traditional with a hall leading to the passenger’s side bathroom and the front bedroom. But the rear is much more dramatic, featuring a kitchen with a counter that wraps to the center and doubles as a breakfast bar with two chairs. The stove, with its commercial-looking range hood, is positioned in the corner of the continuing galley counter, which can’t help but appeal to cooks who normally have to give up the expanse of a stationary home kitchen when living in an RV.

Everyone who entered this fifth-wheel focused on the kitchen, and rightly so. The light-colored solid-surface countertop is large and unencumbered. Contrasting cabinetry, stainless-steel appliances and the faux-wood floor lend a striking visual appeal. It’s the kind of kitchen people will want to hang out in. The large microwave and residential refrigerator are part of the optional Residential Stainless Steel Package and complement the stainless-steel double sink and RV range and oven. Cabinet and drawer space is abundant, and strategically placed windows, along with LED lighting, make for a bright working area. A piece of the rear exterior graphics goes across the kitchen window, which obstructs the view; simply moving it up or down will make for a clear view. Overall, cooks will love preparing meals in this kitchen and entertaining campground guests.

Stainless-steel-clad residential-type appliances in the kitchen complement the corner-mounted stove and oven, and the expansive solid-surface counter.

Stainless-steel-clad residential-type appliances in the kitchen complement the corner-mounted stove and oven, and the expansive solid-surface counter.

When the opposing slides are open, the living area becomes incredibly expansive. The secret to the extra space in the living room is the wide-open floor, which has no fixed furniture; all of the seating areas and the entertainment structure are contained within the slideouts. On the left, the larger of the two slides is filled with a walk-in pantry closest to the kitchen, the optional freestanding table and chairs and the entertainment center. The eye has no trouble blending the transition from the kitchen to the dining area; it simply looks like a modern condo and offers plenty of area for free movement, especially when guests are over. The large windows in the slide offer wonderful lighting and a great view to the outside.

We liked the position of the big-screen HDTV hanging on the wall above the cabinet that houses the fireplace and stereo components. A couple of cabinets on the sides of the fireplace can be used to stash smaller items. The position of the TV makes it clearly visible without neck distress from the couch and recliner situated in the slide directly across from the entertainment center. The sofa has a hide-a-bed, which sleeps two guests and is relatively comfortable. Settling into the recliner takes some finesse, since the seating dimensions are on the narrow side.

Winnebago-LatitudeFloorplanThe use of big windows in the slide continues the theme that’s carried throughout the interior. The living room looks and feels airy, and it’s a pleasure to hang out in the lower portion of the fifth-wheel.

The aforementioned stairway and landing area are wide open, which is a departure from the typically used narrow steps and dark hallway to access the front areas. It looks and feels residential, and the shelf and storage cabinet are great places to toss items used on a daily basis. Another well-placed window adds to the atmosphere.

A few steps into the landing area lead to the bathroom. Here, the residential-size shower steals the show. Large glass sliding doors enclose the fiberglass surround with molded-in features, like a seat and shelves for soap and shampoo that are welcome touches. The extra space keeps the seat from infringing on floor space, which is big enough for two people.

Winnebago-LatitudeSpecsResidents might find the lavatory sink and counter on the small side for such a large fifth-wheel, but it works with the help of the mirrored toiletry cabinet and the storage space below the sink. A porcelain toilet with plenty of surrounding space is logically placed in the room. There are no windows in the bathroom, so moisture removal relies on the exhaust fan. A Fan-Tastic Vent would do a better job, but these fans are offered only as options in the bedroom and galley area.

Options play a critical role when setting up the bedroom configuration. In the Latitude, a fair amount of space is dedicated to this area, and the bed travels in the slide for additional square footage. But ordering the king bed option (as in the test trailer) will close down the space between the mattress and front-wall wardrobe closet. The optional memory-foam mattress is a must-have item, and the extra room afforded by the king-size dimensions is dreamy, but there are trade-offs when it comes to space and access to the front wardrobe. Also, the shelf next to the bed is on the small side, and we’d like to see 120-volt AC outlets on both sides of the bed, instead of the one that is provided.

Mirrored sliding doors lead to a generous space for handling clothes and other items, and next to the wardrobe is a closet that can be ordered with optional washer and dryer prep. Across from the foot of the bed are a cabinet structure and an optional 32-inch HDTV. Large windows and LED lighting keep the area bright and cheery, regardless of the time of the day.

Full-timing couples and those who spend long periods of time on the road will have no trouble spreading out inside this fifth-wheel. And at the price point, the Latitude has a lot of amenities. The list of options on the test trailer is not that long, and most of the items that make this fifth-wheel so livable are included in the Customer Value Package, which is another misnomer. This package is priced as an option, but it’s mandatory, so in reality it’s not optional. Nevertheless, it’s worth the $6,000 price tag.

Obviously, people who opt for a fifth-wheel that’s in the 40-foot range are interested in healthy storage capabilities, and in this department Winnebago has provided a 54-inch pass-through compartment up front that’s accessed via insulated, slam-latch compartment doors. The floor and walls are well finished with only the rafters showing, which is part of the all-aluminum structure that includes laminated walls with block-foam insulation. The body sits on a chassis built around a 10-inch beam frame, and there’s good capacity to load in the essentials.

An entertainment center, freestanding table and chairs, and a large pantry tuck nicely into the Latitude’s patio-side slideout.

An entertainment center, freestanding table and chairs, and a large pantry tuck nicely into the Latitude’s patio-side slideout.

The utility center is built into a portion of the pass-through compartment on the left side, and a separate door provides access. The hookups are clearly marked, and it’s easy to make the connections. There’s a smaller compartment door toward the front of the pass-through that leads to the batteries (only one battery was provided for the test) and controls for the optional four-point, electric leveling system. It took some time to figure out the controls, but after a while we got acclimated to the button sequence. It’s probably just an oversight, but there needs to be a strut or latch to keep this compartment door open so the user’s hands can work the jack controls and access the batteries, rather than hold the door open.

To help smooth out the ride, an Equa-Flex equalizer is incorporated into the leaf-spring suspension, and, when tied to the optional Trailair Rota-Flex pin box, an improvement in ride quality can be expected. For maintenance convenience, the suspension has E-Z Lube spindles and Nev-R-Adjust brakes.

The optional king-size bed restricts access to the large front wardrobe in the bedroom, but the memory-foam mattress is hard to resist.

The optional king-size bed
restricts access to the large front wardrobe in the bedroom, but the memory-foam mattress
is hard to resist.

Winnebago’s intention is to provide a fifth-wheel that has four-season capability, and does so by offering an optional Extreme Weather Package, which was built into the test fifth-wheel. The Customer Value Package includes an enclosed, heated underbelly, which protects the plumbing and basement compartment, and the Extreme Weather Package encloses and heats the dump valves and low-point drains. Also, the holding tanks are warmed by UltraHeat 12-volt DC heating pads for additional winter protection.

We didn’t get a chance to try out the winter package during the test, but we were surprised how well the single 15,000-Btu air conditioner worked in warm, muggy weather.

Although the performance of the single air conditioner was a testament to the insulation integrity, we would probably opt for the second 13,500-Btu air unit if the fifth-wheel were going to be used in hotter weather.

 An extra-large shower stall is fitted with shelves and a seat for convenience. Limited counter space is augmented by generous-size cabinets.

An extra-large shower stall is fitted with shelves and a seat for convenience. Limited counter space is augmented by generous-size cabinets.

The gray and blue exterior treatment, combined with frameless, tinted windows, stylish wheels and a commanding Winnebago logo on the front cap (with LED lighting) make for a very handsome fifth-wheel. There’s no question that owners will be proud to roll into camp with this RV.

The Latitude is an excellent value in the fifth-wheel market, and Winnebago’s entry into this segment of the RV business has proven to be a good move. Capitalizing on its motorhome-building experience gives the company a leg up on integrating motorized-RV features into its fifth-wheel lines that are appreciated by hardcore enthusiasts. The list of items that can be added to the Latitude is too long to show here, and there’s not much missing when it comes to making this fifth-wheel suitable for couples looking to spend a great amount of time on the road.

Winnebago Towables
574-825-5250
www.winnebagoind.com

 

 


 

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