Winnebago Wow

Photo Credit: Karen Dougherty

The Minnie is a striking travel trailer with its dark blue fiberglass and metallic silver appliqués. It is an easy-to-tow, easy-to-own package that offers great value.

by Chris Dougherty
January 3, 2017
Filed under Top Stories, Trailer Reviews

 

The latest addition to the Minnie lineup, the rear-bedroom 2500FL model gets attention everywhere it goes, from a Massachusetts RV park to the middle of Manhattan

The minute we saw this trailer, we knew it was going to be a fun test.

Winnebago’s series of Minnie travel trailers is designed for just that — family fun. The trailers are nicely designed and built with modern amenities. The newest member of the clan, the single-slide, rear-queen-bed 2500FL, doesn’t disappoint.

This test came on the heels of a remarkable acknowledgement by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and CNBC network that Winnebago Industries and its president, Mike Happe, were riding atop the RV industry’s recent wave of success. And so it was that we started this test by towing the 2500FL into Manhattan from Massachusetts one Friday, as Winnebago and CNBC wanted to showcase the manufacturer’s latest advancements.

Everywhere we stopped on the way to New York, whether at a Pilot Flying J travel plaza or parked within the security zone at the NYSE, this Winnebago received lots of attention. With its royal-blue-and-black two-tone exterior, sporty deluxe aluminum wheels and metallic-silver “W” graphics that glimmer in the sunlight, this is an RV that has “Check me out” built into its DNA. People would stop and give a thumbs-up for it, and everyone from network executives to NYPD officers had to come and take a look.

The Minnie’s front wall features a comfortable vinyl-clad jackknife sofa with side-table cabinets at each end, an overhead shelf with cabinets and voluminous storage underneath the sofa that is accessed by a full-width vinyl-clad door.

The Minnie’s front wall features a comfortable vinyl-clad jackknife sofa with side-table
cabinets at each end, an overhead shelf with cabinets and voluminous storage underneath the sofa that is accessed by a full-width vinyl-clad door.

There are plenty of travel trailers we wouldn’t want to haul around the southern tip of Manhattan, but the Minnie towed beautifully. At just a little longer than 28 feet, the 2500FL is small enough to handle without too much tail swing, yet, within, it still has a roomy, comfortable living space.

Following our little adventure in New York, we proceeded to Oak Haven Family Campground in Wales, Massa­chusetts, just outside the historic town of Sturbridge. A nice Good Sam Park equipped with 140 campsites, an outdoor swimming pool and a store, Oak Haven is a great place to stay while visiting Old Sturbridge Village or the weeklong Brimfield Antique Shows held in May, July and September.

While the Minnie’s eye-catching appearance does attract attention, it’s still quite at home in the campground. On the outside, you’ll find all the usual trappings expected of a midpriced travel trailer. Under the plentiful shade provided by the optional 18-foot Dometic power awning are the two entrances, the front one serving the living area and the rear one the bedroom, both with dual manual pullout steps.

Besides the optional large grab handle for the front door, under the awning you’ll find an optional backer plate area to mount an outside TV, along with an electrical outlet and coax cable connection into the trailer’s central TV system, the freshwater-tank fill, refrigerator vent, furnace and water heater. While the water heater is probably OK, I’m not a big fan of furnaces under awnings, especially right where you’d be likely to put a picnic table and have to listen to the noise. Caution should be taken by any RVer when combustion appliances are under the awning. If the furnace kicks on, for instance, it can heat items on the table, especially plastic tablecloths, which can ignite. Also, if you use an enclosed screen room, make sure it is ventilated when using the appliances to reduce effects of carbon monoxide.

A cavernous storage area runs across the back of the Minnie with compartment doors of ample size to admit most chairs and large items. The doors themselves are standard radius-corner style with thumb lock and key lock, and are held open by the customary plastic catches. We would love to see magnetic catches here, but the plastic ones are serviceable.

The aluminum-frame trailer (walls and floor) has 5/8-inch plywood flooring and an optional enclosed underbelly, and is set on the NXG Frame chassis system. This chassis from BAL RV Products Group is said to be stronger and lighter than comparable fully welded steel frames. Made with high-strength low-alloy steel, the chassis is powder-coated to resist corrosion. While some common components like the trailer A-frame and bumper are robotically welded, the rest of the frame is built using individual pieces Huck-bolted together, providing a consistent clamp load, according to the manufacturer. Crawling under the trailer, I found a nicely engineered frame that looked tight and was free of rust, which many new trailers will have right from the factory.

Aluminum-frame tinted windows with radius corners are standard, with a mix of jalousie, slider and hung glass. The windows are set into high-gloss gel-coat exterior walls available in five attention-grabbing colors. In addition to LED lighting under the awning, LEDs take the place of the standard porch light, although some people may not think this is an improvement. In consideration of the neighbors, the use of a small amber light rather than super-bright LEDs will be less obtrusive.

The Minnie towed easily on this platform, even on the highways around New York City, and was well balanced and compliant. The standard spring suspension attached to dual 3,000-pound axles with 14-inch aluminum wheels provided a predictable amount of support without the trailer being too bouncy.

The kitchen is nicely appointed, with ample counter space, a full range and lots of storage.

The kitchen is nicely appointed, with ample counter space, a full range and lots of storage.

The street side of the 2500FL has the single slideout, as well as all the standard utility connections. Standouts include an optional exterior shower and black-tank flush, cable- and satellite-TV connections, and a 30-amp Furrion twist-lock power-cord set. The rear has a spare tire with a “Winnebago”-emblazoned tire cover, a 4-inch square-tube bumper for hose storage and an optional roof ladder. The Minnie comes standard with walkable roof decking.

The trailer can be stabilized on all four corners with optional manual-crank lateral-arm jacks that function well, in addi­tion to the optional 12-volt DC power A-frame jack. Twin 5-gallon LP-gas cylinders and the standard battery tray complete the attachments to the trailer A-frame.

Upon entering the 2500FL, the first thing you notice is how bright and open it is. Winnebago uses light-tan wall paneling and whitewashed oak-colored cabinets with darker accents in this package. Of the six interior combinations, Onyx was the one featured in the test unit. The counter is a dark-marble laminate with a faux-glass-tile wallpaper backsplash. Upholstery is soft vinyl in dark chocolate, and the dinette seat backs and window valances are clad in an attractive tan-and-black swirl fabric. All of this is atop a vinyl floor that has the appearance of recycled oak, which looks modern and stylish.

Of the three “optional” packages — Value, Comfort and Convenience — two are mandatory. Dealers are required to order them, and no trailer will be sold without them.

Although “optional” and “mandatory” have opposite meanings in the real world, here these packages aren’t options at all but standard features. A long list of à-la-carte options means the Minnie can be outfitted in just about any way the purchaser desires.

To the right of the main entrance is a jackknife sofa that is set out just enough from the sloping front wall to allow comfortable seating for a 6-footer. A small shelf sits low behind the sofa to act as soft-goods storage, or whatever you like, and the open space in front of the shelf leads to a cavernous storage area under the sofa, which is accessed by a large hinged door on the front of the couch. Accessible from the front entry door, the compartment is really handy, as we could open the door and put camera bags, purses and such inside without having to go inside the trailer.

The sofa has end-table cabinets on both sides and a pair of bookend ceiling cabinets with a long overhead shelf between them. Windows that open on each side of the sofa provide nice ventilation for when you’re watching the 32-inch LCD TV, for instance, which is mounted on the opposite wall. Next to the screen is a Dometic thermostat for the furnace and the optional 15,000-Btu air conditioner (13,000 Btu is standard). Wall outlets on each side are convenient for plugging in chargers for all those necessary electronics. Well-positioned LED lighting is standard throughout.

The slideout contains a booth-style dinette that converts into a small bed. Folded down, it’s great for kids or a small adult. Set back up, we found it adequate for meals, although we missed having a power outlet close by. We wound up running an extension cord across the window valance to the outlet behind the TV.

Across from the slide is the nicely appointed galley. The neo-angle base cabinet features a large under-sink space and three full-length drawers facing the dinette. A large two-level storage cabinet is around the corner.

A stainless-steel double-bowl sink sits in the countertop, and an optional three-burner range is to the right, next to the 6-cubic-foot double-door Dometic LP-gas-and-electric refrigerator.

We found the counter space sufficient for moderate cooking duties, especially with the sink covers in place. Above the counter is a single-door wall cabinet, flanked by the stereo and command center on the left and the microwave on the right. The command center is concealed neatly behind a cabinet door and includes the light switches, tank-level gauges, awning controls, and water heater and water-pump switches.

The hallway contains abundant cabinetry along the curb side of the trailer, and includes a combination closet-and-pantry cabinet. The cabinet is conveniently arranged, albeit a bit hard to access because of the narrowness of the hallway, but it works. Below it are two smaller cabinets and the electrical load center.

The bathroom is compact but gets the job done with a walk-in shower, a ceramic toilet and a stainless-steel sink.

The bathroom is compact but gets the job done with a walk-in shower, a ceramic toilet and a stainless-steel sink.

On the street side of the hallway is the full dry bath, which includes a ceramic toilet, a stainless-steel sink, a mirrored double-door vanity and a walk-in shower. While compact, the bathroom is adequately sized for the task with ample counter space for all the necessities. The rectangular shower with ABS surround has plenty of room and features a skylight and an arched accordion-topped, magnetic-latched shower screen that offers extra shoulder room. The only addition we would like to see is lighting both above the sink and in the shower area. With the single LED fixture above the door, the room is somewhat dark at night, especially in the shower.

The roomy and well-appointed master bedroom fills out the rear of the 2500FL. A queen-size memory-foam mattress sits atop a nicely designed storage cabinet, which is accessed by lifting the bed with the assistance of gas props. On either side of the bed are shirt wardrobes with two-door cabinets above. Access, or for that matter, egress, is easily facilitated in the bedroom, as it not only has an outside entry door but two emergency-exit windows, one on each side. The curbside emergency exit window is a bit odd because it’s right next to an exit door. A jalousie window opens at the head of the bed, and a standard 14-by-14-inch crank-up roof vent is directly above the bed. The mattress wasn’t the best, but what factory RV mattress is?

The Winnebago Minnie is a well-designed and well-equipped trailer. While the price point on the 2500FL is on the higher end for this class, the build quality, feature set and the support of the Winnebago brand are more than worth the difference.

Winnebago Industries | 574-825-5250 | www.winnebagoind.com

Winnebago Industries | 574-825-5250 | www.winnebagoind.com

 


 

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