This sprightly type C from Winnebago Industries provides comfortable surroundings as it takes on the road with small-coach versatility.
By Jim Brightly, Technical Editor
With its streamlined profile and a fairly narrow beam, Winnebago Industries' new 2005 Itasca Cambria can slip along the two-lane byways as you search for little-known antiques shops or bookstores dealing in rare and used books, and it can handle freeways and toll roads with equal aplomb.
The 2005 Itasca Cambria 26A that my wife, Saraine, and I took on the road was one of two available floor plans, the other being the 23D. The 23D, which is 23 feet 7 inches long, is built on Ford's E-350 chassis, which has an 11,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The E-450 chassis that our test coach was based on has a GVWR of 14,050 pounds. Both Cambria floor plans offer a single drivers-side slideout.
We discovered that the 26½-foot version of this motorhome can travel from 0 to 60 mph in 21.9 seconds. Its 6.8-liter Triton V-10 engine puts out 306 horsepower at 4,250 rpm and 420 pound-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm. Coupled with the Ford E-450 chassis' four-speed automatic transmission (first gear, 2.74:1; second, 1.56:1; third, 1:1; overdrive, 0.071:1), the Triton's power is routed to the road through a 4.56 to 1 rear-end ratio and Michelin LT225/75R X 16E tires.
Winnebago Industries introduced the Itasca Cambria this year. The company also added a Winnebago counterpart to this coach, called the Aspect. Roger Martin, vice president of sales and marketing for Winnebago Industries, said the Aspect and Cambria further enhance the company's type C lineup. These new homes on wheels are small enough to drive comfortably on narrow country roads and maneuverable enough to fit into almost any shop's or mall's parking lot.
The idea works. During our test drive, we were forced to turn around on a two-lane, narrow-shouldered Iowa country road, and the Cambria handled the task well. This motorhome would serve as a good step up from a slide-in camper or a type B coach, because of its sleek design. It also would be a good choice for those stepping down from a large type A coach, because of its excellent electronics and nimble maneuverability.
Another aspect of the Cambria is its adaptability. It achieved an average fuel economy figure of 8.8 miles per gallon during our test. Plus, it is equipped with six seat belts (it sleeps only four, however), which helps build a case for considering it as a commuter coach. You could seat six in comfort; brew your own coffee in the morning; passengers could watch the television on the way into work; and everyone could enjoy cold, refreshing drinks and more entertainment on the way home. The coach's rear wall has a large window; so, between that and the accompanying rearview mirror, the driver can keep an eye on approaching traffic as well as passengers. You'd even have a bathroom along for bladder-challenged comrades.
Cambria comfort comes in more than one form, because even on fairly warm and muggy Minnesota days during our test outing, the dash air was more than efficient. Our test coach had the optional 4,000-watt Onan MicroQuiet gasoline generator, but we didn't need to run the generator and roof air at all while driving. We did learn that the power cord must be plugged into the receptacle in the compartment for the generator's circuit to be complete. If you forget to do this, the generator will run, use gas, and click over the time meter, but it will not feed power to the coach's 120-volt-AC outlets.
Okay, it's time to pull off the highway, back this baby into a campsite, extend the slideout, and examine the Itasca Cambria's interior amenities. The coach's keyless remote door locks make access easy.
The first thing I want to tell you about is the optional Audiovox docking port, where four two-way radios are stored (and charged) when not in use. The port is mounted in a cabinet by the coach entry door and contains four family radio service (FRS) two-way radios, which feature a 5-mile range, 22 channels, and 38 privacy codes. An LED display on the face of the docking port indicates whether the radios are still charging or have a full charge. The docking port is right at the door for quick access, even from the ground outside. Everyone can keep in touch using these radios, whether at the Mall of America, a NASCAR event, or a high school football game.
The U-shaped dinette area is situated inside the Cambria's 7-foot-long, 30-inch-wide slideout. An excellent bay window is formed when the slideout is open, making this spot great for reading, observing kids or neighbors, or simply relaxing with a cup of coffee. The slideout is controlled by one rocker switch, and no key is necessary. Electrical outlets, both 120-volt-AC and 12-volt-DC, are located in the slideout, so you can sit there comfortably and use a computer. The lighting in this area is excellent for projects or reading, not to mention dining.
Speaking of lighting, we found the incandescent ceiling lights to be well placed and in better-than-average numbers for the most part, especially in the living and dining areas. In the bedroom, however, the lamps on the side of the bed are more decorative than functional. They're okay for a reader, but we would have preferred for them to be brighter. Then again, if they were brighter, they'd be more likely to interfere with a bed partner's sleep, because they are not directionally shielded.
The queen-size bed is situated on the curb side in the rear corner, which makes it a bit difficult to make up, but it is quite comfortable for sleeping. The bedroom has two windows — one on the curb side and one at the rear — which give the room plenty of light, air, and visibility.
The bathroom occupies the street side of this rear portion of the coach, making it a bed-and-bath area. The only downside to the room arrangement is that if you or your partner need to use the facilities in the middle of the night, you may need to climb over each other to do so.
The bathroom itself is quite small, but that is to be expected in a coach of this size. We thought the toilet paper dispenser was in an awkward position, and decided occupants would find it more convenient to put a surface-mount dispenser on the door or on the opposite wall.
Three towel rods are on the door and one is on the wall behind the toilet. A domed skylight over the shower allows full-size adults to stand erect. An opaque vent cover with a fan over the toilet also provides overhead light during the day, and ceiling lights are located above the shower and toilet areas; they are controlled by wall-mounted switches. A clothes rod in the shower provides a handy place for drip-drying items and also could be used to carry additional hanging clothes while traveling. Also within the tight confines of the bathroom is a nicely sized mirrored medicine cabinet that hangs above an adequate sink; the medicine cabinet has generous depth, width, and height.
A curtain extends across the hallway to divide the bed and bath area from the galley, so early risers can use the kitchen appliances while their companions are still sawing logs. Just remember to be quiet, though, because it is only a curtain, after all.
A pull-out wire pantry takes advantage of the available space next to the refrigerator.The in-line galley in our test Cambria had a three-burner range top and a sink with a single-lever faucet. Next to the sink is a fold-up countertop extension. Over the stovetop is a microwave-convection oven. But don't overcook your gourmet goodies, because two smoke detectors will loudly notify your neighbors that "dinner is done!"
Storage areas in the galley include two large drawers beneath the stovetop, three medium drawers near those, and under-sink cabinets. More storage is available in a vertical slideout pantry located next to the refrigerator. The pantry has baskets that can be adjusted to various heights. A double-door two-way Norcold refrigerator-freezer is standard.
More storage is available in cabinets under the dinette seats, which have convenient sliding baskets. Speaking of cabinets, the wood cabinetry throughout our test Cambria was light "washed maple," a shade that gives the coach a spacious feeling. ("Sierra maple" cabinetry is also available.) The cabinets are outfitted with satin nickel hardware.
The cab area has a cockpit privacy curtain held in place with four snaps. This area is designed for driver and passenger comfort during travel and while parked, with new-style cab seats that have three-point adjustable seat belts and also function well as living room chairs. The TrimLine console in between the seats contains cup holders and has a storage compartment inside. Winnebago's RV Radio brightens up the dash with a stereo radio, cassette/CD player with a weather band, four speakers with remotes, and a power selector switch.
Above the cab, glass-enclosed bookcases flank the standard 24-inch flat-screen television; in our test unit, the right-hand case housed an optional combination DVD player and VCR. Beneath each bookcase is a 2-inch-high carpeted shelf that is perfect for stowing magazines, maps, reading glasses, etc. A portable satellite dish hookup is also available for coach occupants to tune in their favorite channels when parked, and a digital in-motion satellite system is available as well. The optional exterior entertainment center includes an AM-FM radio, cassette, and CD player. The coach comes ready for an optional rearview monitor system.
Just aft of the cab on the curb side is a rocker chair that swivels 360 degrees. The chair does not have a seat belt, so it should not be occupied during transit. Since its support is clamped to the floor by a butterfly nut, it can be moved about while the coach is parked, and even used at the table to seat an extra guest in a pinch. The table would be uncomfortably high to use the chair in this manner all the time, however, and the extension leaf has to be in the raised and locked position. The table is supported by two pedestals, so it is extremely stable.
The furnace and the air-conditioning system are controlled by the same thermostat, and the air-conditioning is ducted through the ceiling. A 300-watt inverter is optional.
As mentioned, the Itasca Cambria is a low-profile, aerodynamic motorhome. It features a sleek front end designed to echo the lines of the Ford cutaway cab, a sculpted back with a spare tire cover, a seamless roof-to-sidewall design, and running boards. The one-piece fiberglass roof and Filon Plus high-gloss fiberglass skin, as well as the optional deluxe graphics package, give this sporty vehicle a "cool" look.
The Cambria also offers 43 cubic feet of external storage; it just comes in smaller apertures. Several storage compartments are located on both sides of the motorhome.
The base suggested retail price of the Cambria is $67,750. Our test motorhome cost $73,805 with the following options: a 4,000-watt Onan MicroQuiet generator; two-way radios with docking point; an exterior entertainment center; a DVD/VCR combo; a microwave-convection oven; a three-burner stove top; an exterior wash station; and a patio awning.
This coach is a "find" in itself. But if you use it for antiquing, you have everything you'll need with you: the opportunity to cook quick snacks, a spot for bathroom breaks, and a bed for naps between shops. You may even want to include a trailer for all your newly found treasures, for the Cambria has a 5,000-pound towing capacity and hitch.
The Old Cabin
Log Cabin Books, where we photographed the Cambria, was built in 1880 somewhere in northern Minnesota and moved to its current site about 30 years ago to save it from being torn down. It remained in the original family and was used as a playhouse for the owner's sons. It became an antiques shop and is now a bookstore stocked with used and rare books, especially volumes focusing on Minnesota history. It is open between May 1 and Christmas Eve and is located approximately five miles west of Interstate 35 at 358 Stark Road in Harris, Minnesota; (763) 689-2474.
Winnebago Industries' Campus
If you're planning to purchase a new Winnebago coach in the near future, you might want to consider taking delivery at the factory. In addition to the lovely campground across the street from Winnebago Industries' customer service facility, you'll find a delightful motorhome museum displaying many artifacts, both new and old. You'll see displays of a few new chassis, historical photos, and examples of RVing from the past.
But the crown jewel at Winnebago Industries' campus, apart from the manufacturing facility itself, of course, is "The Lodge." You turn off the highway and find yourself driving down a lane that meanders through an oak forest. There, at the end of the lane, stands a magnificent brick and wood chalet. The Lodge is an inn and a restaurant. It also has a private conference room for 12 on the upper level, and another that accommodates 30 on the lower level.
A second building, located on the hilltop, known as The Stable, has been remodeled into five guest rooms. In the winter, the area beyond The Stable has become a favorite spot for cross-country skiers.
Tours of Winnebago Industries' manufacturing facility are offered Monday through Friday at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. from April through October. From November through mid-December, tours are offered at 1:00 p.m. only. Regular tours are not offered from mid-December through March 31 and for one week in July. Reservations are recommended for groups larger than six.
Manufacturer … Winnebago Industries Inc., 605 W. Crystal Lake Road, Forest City, IA 50436; (641) 585-3535; www.winnebagoind.com
Model ... Itasca Cambria
Floor plan ... 26A
Chassis ... Ford E-450
Engine ... 6.8-liter Triton V-10; 306 horsepower @ 4,250 rpm, 420 pound-feet torque @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission ... four-speed automatic with overdrive
Axle ratio ... 4.56:1
Tires ... Michelin LT225/75R 16 load range E
Wheelbase ... 182 inches
Brakes ... four-wheel disc with four-wheel antilock hydraulic
Suspension ... front — coil springs with twin I-beam; rear – multileaf
Alternator ... 130-amp
Batteries ... chassis — (1) maintenance-free, 650 cca; coach — (1) Group 24 deep-cycle, second battery optional
Steering ... power-assisted with tilt wheel
Electrical service ... 30 amps
Auxiliary generator ... Optional Onan 4-kilowatt MicroQuiet, gasoline-powered
Exterior length … 26 feet 6 inches
Exterior width ... 7 feet 11.2 inches
Exterior height ... 10 feet
Interior height ... 6 feet 5 inches
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR) ... 20,000 pounds
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ... 14,050 pounds
Gross axle weight rating (GAWR) ... front — 4,600 pounds; rear — 9,450 pounds
Wet weight as tested ... front — 3,380 pounds; rear — 8,360 pounds; total — 11,740 pounds
Payload as tested ... 2,310 pounds
Frame construction ... steel and aluminum
Insulation ... polystyrene foam
Fresh water capacity ... 38 gallons
Holding tank capacities ... gray water — 37 gallons; black water — 32 gallons
Fuel capacity ... 55 gallons
Fuel requirements ... gasoline
Propane capacity ... 18 gallons
Water heater ... 6-gallon Atwood
Water delivery system ... demand, Shurflo pump
Furnace ... 30,000-Btu Suburban
Air conditioners ... (1) 10,500-Btu roof unit; heat pump optional
Refrigerator ... Norcold two-way (AC/LP) two-door 6.3-cubic-foot
Toilet ... Aqua Magic
Warranty ... chassis — 36 months/36,000 miles; coach — 12 months/15,000 miles; lamination — 36 months/36,000 miles, limited; fiberglass roof — 10 years parts and labor, limited
Base price ... $67,750
Price as tested ... $73,805