As one of the leading manufacturers in the RV industry, Iowa-based Winnebago is an important trendsetter in how people camp. The big news this week is the debut of a new camper van called the Solis, what Russ Garfin, director of product management at Winnebago, is calling the company’s “first entry into the pop-top market.” Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.
With an eye to adventurous camper van buyers, Winnebago announced a new Class B camper van last spring called the Boldt. Already well known for the Revel, a converted 144-inch Mercedes Sprinter with four-wheel drive, Winnebago is looking to grow its share of the camper van market with no fewer than three brand-new camper vans in less than three years—and the Solis is the newest.
Some readers were curious why Winnebago was calling this their first pop-top camper when there were Winnebago Eurovans in the 1990s. According to Winnebago Industries, the original Eurovan was sold through Volkswagen dealers and not through Winnebago dealer distribution channels.
Billed as a four-season pop-up camper built on the Ram Promaster chassis, the Solis is also Winnebago’s most affordable camper van with a 2020 price tag of $100,667. That’s in large part because the Promaster chassis is more affordable than the Sprinter chassis used by the Revel.
The layout of the Solis sticks with what Winnebago does best. Two front cabin chairs swivel to create a front dining area that can seat four thanks to two other seat belt-approved chairs in the back. A removable pedestal table stows away when not needed, and behind the rear chairs sits a compact wet bath with bi-fold door, mirror, cassette toilet, and shower.
The galley kitchen prioritizes affordability over luxury, opting for a laminate countertop with extension, two-burner range, stainless steel sink, and small fridge that can be accessed from the inside or out.
But what’s exciting for potential buyers is that the Solis delivers sleeping space for four thanks to a rear double-bed area that converts to seating during the day. Buyers can opt for a queen-size Murphy bed that drops down, or—and this is key for families—a sofa bed that includes two additional three-point seat belts. This means that parents can safely drive and sleep their kiddos, either in the optional sofa bed or in the two chairs up front.
Whichever option you choose, two people can enjoy the rear sleeping space while another two people can sleep in the fiberglass pop-top area that includes the Froli sleeping system and three windows.
The ability to sleep four in camper van may not seem revolutionary, but it’s been surprisingly hard for families to find manufactured vans that work—custom vans are often the only option. The Winnebago Revel really only sleeps three, and would be incredibly tight sleeping two kids; the Hymer Aktiv sleeps four, but has some drawbacks, like the ground clearance; and one of the best options—from California-based ModVans—has a more modular feel that we love, but that may not appeal to all buyers.
Other perks in the Solis include a removable ladder that accesses the pop-top bed, full-black-out zipper screens, and upper-cabinet and below-the-bed storage. Winnebago also took a cue from custom van manufacturers with a new rear annex that uses a pole between the two rear doors and a privacy screen to create a changing room, drying rack, or shade awning.
Overall, Winnebago’s first pop-top camper will make a splash in the RV market thanks to a lower price point, the Winnebago name, and the ability to both sleep and drive a family of four safely. While we’ll be interested to see if the pop-top sleeping area is really warm enough for true “slopeside” winter camping, it’s great to finally see the kind of options that have been standard in Europe for years debut in the North American market.
We only have one interior photo, but Winnebago did release a 30-minute video tour of the new van, below.