Oh the Via!

Dori Gilels  |  08.25.2016

She’s a looker and a dream. Really. Everywhere we went, and we visited more than a dozen RV parks and a smattering of state and national park campgrounds in the western U.S., people stopped and stared when we drove in. She was a conversation starter. Neighbor travelers, struggling to avoid coming off as too nosy, asked a few casual questions about how we liked it or said with a smile “Nice rig.” Friends and family we stopped to see along the way, many of whom never even considered a trip like this, remarked, “Now THIS is a great way to travel. I could do THIS!”

Via BugsA well traveled and smiling Via.

And it’s all in the details. Let’s start with the Mercedes chassis (and the snazzy hood emblem). This bus, as we fondly referred to it on the trip, drove like a champ. Loaded up with all of our belongings, we could pull normal speeds on highways and rarely needed the slow lane on mountain passes (except in 117-degree heat when we thought it wise to be conservative). So much so that we heard a lot of “speed warnings” from the onboard computer system.

The combination of a solar powered battery, generator and propane gave us tremendous flexibility and freedom on the road. We didn’t need hooks ups every night or even every couple/few nights. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated by these systems at first, but powering up or switching from one source to another required a mere press of a well-labeled button. You would have to work pretty hard to mess it up.

The size and length of the Via was also rather perfect for a family of four (especially with the more than adequate outside storage compartments), and would probably be even more luxurious for two. But because we traveled in the summer and spent lots of time outside the bus, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Side note: I’m more of a minimalist RVer. And the relatively short 25.5-foot length (I often likened it to the length of a truck and trailer) made it easy to drive and navigate. Due to her tidy size, we were also able to venture down a couple of more scenic, narrow roads otherwise closed to larger vehicles. Again, it’s all in the details – the side and rear view cameras and collision avoidance system were a big help!

Despite the smaller size and stature of the Via, there were several different – and rather comfortable – options for sleeping. When we set off, my husband and I claimed the king size bed in the back and our kids each slept on the sleeper sofa and loft bed over the driver’s cab. However, just a few days into the trip, the kids requested a night in the back, with the king converted into two singles, and called it their own. For the rest of the trip it was snuggle time in the loft for us, but it worked.

I could go on raving about the Via, but the last thing (or second to last thing) I’ll say is the interior design was smart, especially the floors and smaller appointments like the lower lighting panels on the front of the beds and the bathroom fan and the windows, oh the windows – one of my favorite features. I LOVED the ease of the screen/shade/or neither options and combinations. Super slick.

And although the Via was an attention-getter, especially in the Stormy Blue full body paint, which was unusual for an RV, this is my opportunity to advocate for the elimination of the wave and swoosh graphics that seem to be synonymous with RVs. They just doesn’t do justice to the uber cool and cutting edge Winnebago details you find inside. When we began our search for a Winnebago, I initially fell in love with the Brave and Tribute models, which tastefully harkened back to the retro designs of the 50s. And while the Via demands something more mod for sure, I think there are lots of possibilities for stylish color and graphics that say we’ve been here all along, we know what you like and we’ll take you into the future.

Gilels Family Photo

Dori and her husband Mike and two children, Matilda and Clarence, just completed a 4-week, 5,000 mile trip across the western U.S. in a Winnebago Via. She wrote about her experience for Winnebago Life and for her national audience of readers and writers at Mamalode – “America’s best parenting magazine.”  Dig up all her posts on Instagram @Mamalode #viaMamalode – and start planning your trip.  

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  1. Dori Posted on 09.27.2016

    Great comments. Thanks to all who took the time. Nigel, our kids did wear seat belts on the side facing couch during most of our drive time. Admittedly, however, they also spent some time lounging on the beds in back. And while our kids may have “appeared” unhappy, they really just hate having their picture taken. Not to say there weren’t some moments…I also have to add that a couple photos of my son were taken right after he woke up!

    This trip was definitely one for the memory books and we plan to do something like it again (probably without the kids).


  2. Nigel Posted on 09.16.2016

    Well-written article. I, too, am not a fan of the graphics which have seemed to have gotten increasingly more gaudy over the years.
    Wondering what your kids (who look very unhappy BTW) did to travel securely when you were on the road. Belted somewhere in the back (dinette?) just doesn’t do it in the event of a roll-over IMO.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. jimmie jahn Posted on 09.11.2016

    The via is really ideal except for the Mercedes chassis. You cannot get general service due to no one wanting to service the chassis. For example Colorado has about 3 dealerships all ear Denver and along I-25. Please use the pro master or transit.

    1. Don Cohen Posted on 09.11.2016


      Winnebago now offers three motorhomes on Euro-based chassis. The Sprinter (View/Navion), The Trend (RAM Promaster), and the Fusion (Ford Transit). All three models offer good floorplan options. I know of many owners who own the Sprinter based View/Navion who do not live particularly close to a Mercedes dealer. In my own experience I have put a combined 70,000 miles on two Navions. Mercedes now specs a 20,000 mile interval between service. It was nearly a year before I visited a Mercedes dealer for routine service (primarily oil change, engine check, and tire rotation).

  4. Bruce Posted on 09.10.2016

    My wife and I have a 2015 Via and have traveled over 25000 miles since purchasing it in Feb 2015. We were out for three months straight last summer from PA to the NE parks then to the western National Parks and down the west coast, then back east. This year some western parks we missed and back to the NE for more time in Acadia NP and Cape Cod.
    We average 15-16 mpg and challenge most RVs on the rising terrain. It is a great ride and has great storage and comfort. It is a keeper.

  5. TJL Posted on 09.10.2016

    A great rig, but way too small for 4 people, unless very small children.

    (2013 Itasca Reyo 25R)

  6. Mike Pleman Posted on 09.10.2016

    Excellent and very informative,all in a concise article.
    I like the size of the Via; not sure of the floor plan.
    I’m also a fan of the solid color. The swoops and the swirls are Not 4 me. Thanx