The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 chassis forms the foundation for this Type C motorhome filled with comfortable touches and amenities.
By Bruce W. Smith
The freedom to travel, the freedom to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, the freedom to control one’s environment away from home, all in a more maneuverable and fuel-efficient RV . . . These are among the reasons smaller Type C motorhomes have become increasingly popular over the past decade.
Type Cs coaches such as the 2023 Winnebago Navion and its identical twin, the View, are great contenders for RVers who want to downsize from a larger Type A. They also should be attractive to anyone dipping their toes into RVing for the first time.
Winnebago’s diesel-powered Navion is offered in three layouts (24D, 24J, and 24V) within its 25-foot-6-inch length. It has garnered a good reputation for safety features and innovations in the small-motorhome market since its debut in 2006. The 2023 model continues to impress, although it remains unchanged from the previous model year.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 Chassis
The rear-wheel-drive Navion is based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 DRW cab chassis, powered by a 188-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesel engine backed by a smooth, seven-speed automatic transmission. The coach has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 11,030 pounds and a hitch rating of 5,000 pounds. (Note: Mid-year 2023 Sprinter-based Type Cs likely will include the brand-new, more powerful Mercedes-Benz twin-turbocharged 208-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission.)
The Sprinter cab layout provides a great view to the front and sides. I liked the comfort and adjustability of the heated, power pilot and copilot seats, and the dash configuration was intelligently laid out and organized. Driving the Navion should not be intimidating, even for diminutive drivers.
All of the creature-comfort controls, the infotainment system, and other functions are within easy reach from the driver’s seat. An abundance of driving safety features help to keep the pilot alerted to what’s going on around the vehicle — Attention Assist, active lane keeping assist, active braking assist, power steering assist, hill start assist, and crosswind assist are included, among others. And in my view, the headlights are some of the best on the road.
Floor Plans Fit Various Lifestyles
The Navion/View sleeps four. They are offered in three floor plans to accommodate a variety of personal and lifestyle preferences. The least expensive model, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $196,152, is the 24J; this unit features a rear corner bed and rear bathroom, plus a midsized street-side slideout that houses a big U-shaped dinette or optional theater seating, a pantry, and a wardrobe. It also has a roomy cross-coach external storage compartment in the rear and, at 37 gallons, the largest fresh-water capacity of the three.
The 24V ($197,657) contains twin beds in the rear that convert to one large sleeping space, along with a midships bathroom and a small street-side slideout where the TrueComfort+ sofa and table (or optional recliners and table) are located.
The 24J and 24V feature the FROLI Sleep System, which is said to relieve pressure and improve air circulation under the mattress.
To me, the Navion 24D ($198,488) feels the most spacious inside. I spent a short time behind the wheel of this unit and riding along as a passenger. This floor plan offers the largest street-side slideout, with a Murphy+ bed and a U-shaped dinette (or optional theater seating) in the midsection, plus a roomy bathroom across the rear of the coach. It also features a rear pass-through exterior storage compartment.
Galley And Storage
The galley in all three floor plans is inviting and nicely arranged with a big window to provide a great view of the surroundings. The galley layout is similar in all three and includes a combination propane/induction cooktop, a laminate countertop, a stainless-steel sink with two deep basins, a 10-cubic-foot 12-volt-DC refrigerator-freezer, lighted soft-close galley drawers, LED lighting under the toe kicks, a pantry, a 32-inch TV, and eye-catching curved Tecnoform overhead cabinets on both sides of the coach.
In addition to their external storage compartments, Navion motorhomes maximize inside space — utilizing open areas beneath the beds and dinette seats, for example. If storage is a big concern, customers can forgo theater seating and stay with the U-shaped dinette, which offers compartments under each seat. The floor plans with rear beds also provide storage beneath the mattresses. The 24J incorporates the most storage space, the 24D the least.
Fuel-Friendly Diesel Power
Out on the open road, the Mercedes-Benz 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesel is very quiet. Fuel economy ranges from around 14 miles per gallon in city driving scenarios to nearly 18 mpg on the open road, as long as speeds are held under 60 mph.
In typical Type C motorhome fashion, the Navion forgoes some aerodynamic qualities with the large overhang above the cab that encloses the bunk area: Winnebago’s own SuperShell Sleeper Deck, a lightweight fiberglass outer shell that’s designed to provide enhanced thermal and acoustic insulation. The Mercedes-Benz diesel’s good fuel economy is short-lived if you push the speed above 65 mph. For those concerned about saving fuel and stretching the driving range of the 24-gallon fuel tank, cruising along at 55 mph is the sweet spot.
The 188-horsepower V-6 turbo-diesel is smooth, and the seven-speed Mercedes-Benz automatic transmission shifts nearly seamlessly. This powertrain is well suited for leisurely flatland cruising. When merging with fast-moving city and interstate traffic, however, the driver will want to keep in mind that the turbo may take a few moments to get spooled up and into its sweet power range to motivate the coach. The same is true when driving in hilly terrain and up long, steep grades. Perhaps the new twin-turbo diesel engine on the horizon will help in this regard.
Another driving characteristic the Navion shares with other Type Cs built on the Sprinter platform is its nimbleness and overall level of comfort. The steering is light and the brakes function well, making the coach easy to drive and maneuver, even in tighter surroundings. Front, side, and rear visibility is excellent, thanks to its big windshield, deep side windows, power mirrors, and rear color camera system.
Sudden changes in road surface, such as broken pavement, expansion joints, railroad tracks, etc. are noticeable but what you might expect from a small motorhome that rides on heavy-duty leaf springs and dual rear wheels.
This 11-foot-tall, five-ton motorhome sits atop a relatively narrow 170-inch-long wheelbase. As with most Type C motorhomes, the driver will want to remain vigilant of strong sidewinds, microbursts, wind gusts from passing trucks, and off-camber sections of the road that affect steering.
Winnebago Navions come pretty well equipped with standard features for the average RVer. But those who will be spending weeks or months on the road may find some of the options worth exploring. These include dual-pane insulated windows; a 3,200-watt Cummins Onan diesel generator in place of the propane-fueled version; dual lithium-ion batteries in lieu of the standard deep-cycle RV batteries; hydraulic leveling jacks; Ultrafabric leatherette cab seats; and an upgraded entertainment system with a Blu-ray disc player and a Bluetooth soundbar.
If you are considering the Navion for spending days at a time off-grid camping, I would highly suggest the upgraded cab seats and diesel generator. And regardless of how I would plan on using the Navion or its twin, the View, I’d also opt for the hydraulic leveling jacks.
After spending a couple days in the Navion, I could see why it has garnered a good reputation in the Type C arena. It’s priced on the higher side of the market, but the floor plans, attention to detail, level of comfort, and fit and finish are upscale. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz cab and plethora of safety features are impressive.
SPECIFICATIONS | WINNEBAGO NAVION
Winnebago, 605 W. Crystal Lake Road, Forest City, IA 50436; (641) 585-3535; www.winnebago.com
24D, 24J, 24V
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 DRW
3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6; 188 horsepower at 3,800 rpm; 325 pound-feet torque at 1,400-2,400 rpm
Tronic 7-gear automatic
3.92 to 1
hydraulic with ABS
front — independent with transverse mono-leaf spring and stabilizer;
rear — leaf spring with stabilizer bar
chassis — AGM, 850 amps;
house — (2) deep-cycle Group 31,standard; lithium-ion smart batteries, optional
30 amps; (2) 100-watt solar panels; battery charger with controller, junction box, and plug for additional portable solar panel
3,600-watt Cummins Onan MicroQuiet propane, standard; 3,200-watt Cummins Onan diesel, optional
25 feet 6 inches
6 feet 8 inches
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)
front — 4,410 pounds;
rear — 7,720 pounds
FRESH WATER CAPACITY
24D — 30 gallons; 24J — 37 gallons; 24V — 31 gallons
HOLDING TANK CAPACITIES
gray water — 41 gallons;
black water — 41 gallons
continuous; Truma AquaGoComfort Plus, tankless
20,000-Btu low-profile ducted
15,000-Btu with heat pump
10-cubic-foot 12-volt, 2-door compressor-driven refrigerator-freezer
24D — composite; 24J, 24V — porcelain with foot pedal and sprayer
chassis — 3 years/36,000 miles;
diesel engine powertrain —5 years/100,000 miles, limited;
outer body — 5 years/100,000 miles, limited coach — 12 months/15,000 miles, limited;
structure — 36 months/36,000 miles, limited;
roof skin — 10 years, parts and labor, limited
BASE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
24D — $198,488; 24J — $196,152; 24V — $197,657