Sunday, July 31, 2016

Winnebago Fuse 23a review - 5 month Review

I wanted to give a longer term review of the Winnebago Fuse 23A we purchased back in February 2016.  We have had it for 5 months and have 6800 miles on the odometer.  We have made day trips, overnight trips and have taken several longer trips that have lasted as long as a week.

The long and short of it is we love our Winnebago Fuse 23A.   Though not perfect, it is about as close as perfect as we expect to find in an motorhome.

The Winnebago Fuse is built on a Ford Transit Chassis. So far the Ford Transit chassis has had no issues.  We have only done routine maintenance.  We have been getting 15-17mpg in pretty much all situations.  The mileage seems to be mostly dependent on speed as opposed to conditions.

It is great to drive.  It handles great.  Need to make a U-turn (I hate apple maps sometimes), no problems.  Try that in any other motorhome.

You can park it wherever you see people with long bed pickup trucks park since it is so compact.  The driving experience is more like a large SUV than a large pickup or panel truck.  It handles large semis passing by and wind gusts pretty well.

 It is very comfortable to drive. I just set the cruise control and bebop down the road.  The most we have driven is 560 miles in one day.  This was through the Appalachian mountains on mostly nice roads.  It was not tiring in the least.  Much easier than in a car since you are sitting up above the traffic and have great visibility to the front.

I did have to learn to use the mirrors since everything behind your shoulders is a blind spot.  That is just the way it is with pretty much any motorhome.   I have gotten pretty good after just this amount of time at backing into spots.  Because of the nice compact size using the mirrors and backup camera, backing into spots is easy (and at many campgrounds,  a back-in spot is cheaper and easier to get particularly at the last minute.).

The only issue so far relates to ground clearance.  The Fuse sits close to the ground.  We have scraped the stair supports going over a large speed bump.  We have also scraped the rear coming out of a driveway onto a crowned road.   We now look for these situations and are more careful.  If the Fuse was another 2-4 inches higher it would help a lot.  This would probably destroy the mileage and handling on the downside.  If the rear was angled up slightly like on some motorhomes that would help as well.

Living Area:
The floorpan for the Fuse 23A is perfect for us.   Two people and a beagle fit perfectly.  We have spent several nights with 3 adults in the Fuse.  This works but is a little tight.   With the slide out and the couch made into a bed everyone fits.  We have traveled with 4 adults, but 4 adults can not sleep in the 23A. (A tent was brought along.)

We wanted a motorhome with a floor plan that allowed us to take naps and relax while traveling.  With the slide in everything in the coach is accessible.  With the slide out a large amount of space is added but is not necessary to be comfortable.  We have spent the night on multiple occasions with the slide in because we were just going to go to bed and did not need the extra space.

The Fuse 23A has what I would describe as an open floorplan.  It is very airy.   No obstructions to  interfere with the sight lines so you can see end to end without obstruction.  There are lots of windows and the designers made sure there was lots of natural light. We love this open feel.

There is plenty of storage for the two of us to go on a 10 day trip without having to do laundry. We have added containers to help organize things.

The kitchen is small but functional.  The burners heat up the coach, so during the summer I have decided to avoid them while it is so hot out.  The microwave/convection oven works fine and has been used plenty.  The refrigerator has been a pleasant surprise.  I was concerned that it would not stay cold.  I was concerned the freezer would not freeze.  It has worked fine.  I make sure we turn it on the night before we leave for a trip to get down to temperature.  We make ice in the freezer and it has kept our food cold.   We run it in all 3 of the modes it has with good results.

Sleeping Area:
The beds are very comfortable and my 6 foot frame fits on the passenger side bed fine.  I believe that the Froli sleep system that is installed helps immensely.  We keep our beds made up during the day.  We are using standard twin bed sheets.

There is plenty of storage for clothes and personal items in the drawers under the beds and the cabinets above the beds.  We have a lot of storage that is still not consumed or is just partially filled.

We watch the TV in the bedroom almost exclusively.  The heads of the beds can be tilted up and that makes it ideal for TV watching and relaxing.   I have run a headphone extension cord from the TV to the head of the passenger side bed so I can watch TV without disturbing Sonya while she sleeps.

The bathroom is tight but workable.  The sliding door adds to the open feeling of the coach. This is a big deal while moving down the road.

The shower is a nice space.  We have not been using it for taking showers but have been using it for storing the clothes hamper, drying towels and the place for the beagles water and food bowls.

We have not been bringing many hanging clothes so the closet is plenty big for our purposes.  We have had it mostly empty during our trips so far.

We have had no major issues with any of the mechanicals.

Noise is one issue where Winnebago should do some improvement.  The air conditioner from the outside is very quiet.  That was a complaint I heard from View/Navion owners but it is very quiet outside on the Fuse.  On the inside the A/C is noisy.  A lot of air noise is present and the compressor noise is also present. It is no louder than you have in an older house with a window A/C.  It can be slept through so I guess it is not too bad but there is room for improvement.

The generator is where I think Winnebago should spend the most effort.  When running, it is noisy inside and out.  There is mechanical noise that I have addressed some of.  There is exhaust noise that I have somewhat addressed with a resonator.  But when running you are going to disturb your neighbors and the noise is not much better inside the coach.

The generator is only available as LP.  I wish it was diesel so it would feed off of the main tank.   It would just make me feel more comfortable.  So far this has not given us any problems since LP gas has been available many places including at every campground we have stayed.  It does consume .6 to .7 gallons per hour while running the A/C.  This allows you to run for 15 hours before needing to refuel.

To be honest, if you do not need to run the A/C, you really do not need the generator running for any long periods of time.  Winnebago has made everything in the coach other than the A/C, microwave and front TV powered using DC from the battery system.  We have followed this approach and purchased items and adapters that are DC powered where available (Fans & CPAP).

The summer heat coming into the coach from all of the glass is an issue we are working to address.   We love the open feel from all of this glass. The AC needs help when in the upper 90s, so we deploy the window shades and close the bathroom door.  This will keep the coach in the low 70s when the outside temps are over 100.   We will probably apply clear ceramic film to some windows to block the heat even better.

What we have learned about RVing:
So far we have been have been having a good time.  This is a new thing for us and we had some trepidation on how we would like it.  So far so good.

We thought we might need satellite TV when we purchased the Fuse.  We have not to this point.  There has been cable TV in all of the campgrounds.  We have also looked while parked and in most places there has been a dozen or more TV channels available over the HD antenna.

We have kept the Sirius/XM satellite radio subscription.  That has been great while driving. It also provides access to all of the news outlets,so you do not have to be disconnected from current events unless you want to.

We found that our style of camping is fairly minimal.  We only hook up power and cable TV when setting up at our site.  We add water to the tank and dump every few days as necessary and that has worked out well. I have not found a need to connect the water and sewer when we set up camp.   In order to keep the weight down (and improve mpg) we only fill the water to 1/3 to 1/2 of a tank.  We find that sufficient to last us a couple of days.

We love our Winnebago Fuse 23a.  We would buy one again without thinking twice.  There are some changes I would like but nothing is perfect.  Winnebago has been listening to the users and has made several changes such as a higher capacity tow package and a better Ford stereo.  I think it is great that the vendor is paying attention.


  1. Don I enjoy reading your reviews. I learned a lot from you. Heading out first trip Second week August waiting for defective cloth on canopy to come in.

  2. Hope they get it fixed for you. I am just passing on what I am learning. I hope it helps. I also find the Facebook group really good where everyone is participating. I have been surprised by all of the folks willing to chime in.

    It was a 2 year process for us to pick out a motorhome. I relied on lots of input like I am providing. I think that all the different information helps.

    1. Very much appreciated. I am wondering about the Ford service schedule and costs. In your two years research did you look into Thor Gemini & Compass models?

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  4. Nice review, Don. Tell me more about the "ceramic film" for the windows. Here in Central NY, we haven't seen 100, but certainly 90s. At that temp, with bright sun, I've noticed a lot of heat coming from the front cabinets, especially the two on either side of the TV. Not sure if there's any way to better insulate them. We keep the front & side window covers in place & that helps a little. BTW, we have the 23T.

  5. There are several films/tints that can be applied to windows per my car buddies. One is called 3m Crystalline that is not ceramic but has the same properties:

    The other is ceramic based. I do not have a link for that one. Per my car guys that have in installed on their cars, it is great and does not interfere with radio/cell reception.

    They both claim to reject 60% of the heat and 80% of the IR and 99% of the UV and can be had in clear. I was going to go ceramic and then heard of the crystalline. Now doing more research. I have seen both in person and the demo is with a heat lamp. One through normal auto glass and one with the film. The Film cuts out almost all of the heat.

  6. Don what type of routine maintenance and at what mileage did u do it

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  8. I have added DEF, checked the oil, checked the tires, checked water in the coach batteries, checked air filter, etc.

    I am about to change the oil in the generator-Currently at 18 hours (due at 20) and want to replace with synthetic. Some say synthetic helps with the noise.

    I am about to do standard service on chassis - Oil change/etc - waiting on computer to say so or will do at 7500. Ford says to wait for the computer to tell you to do it. Should tell you when 10% life remaining on the oil. Some are saying change at 5000 but Ford says it might be as long as 10000. All depends on the vehicle and how it is driven.

  9. Wow, microwave runs on battery? I've never seen that before....

  10. The Microwave runs on 110v power not battery. It might not have been clear, but everything OTHER than the A/C, microwave and front TV uses the batteries. On later Fuses even the Front TV is tied into the DC system.

  11. Great review Don! We're thinking of getting the 23A...
    What would give, if one attempted to trim bottom of the back overhang? I'd say a wedge starting just after the exhaust pipe and ending with 4" extra ground clearance at the end. Any structural members, tanks?
    I'd appreciate your insight.
    Cheers, JaKoBay.

  12. I checked and stuff is in the way. the storage compartment on the passenger side and black tank on the drivers side. At most there is only an inch or two

    1. Thanks. That's too bad, Winnebago will have to fix this for next year when enough people complain. Also, the dark brown paint is also sick -- why would anyone want anything but white or silver?... OTOH, there are similar layout Transit based C-classes on the way -- we'll just wait and see.
      Thanks again Don,

  13. The Transit 23D is a near clone of the layout of the Fuse 23A. Not as much outside storage but the floor plan is the same. As far as the color, The drown is fine. Hides the dirt pretty well. The newer Magnetic is darker and I have not seen one to tell how well it does. I agree that lighter colors are better at least down here in the South to help with the heat.

  14. Don I own a 2008 21ft rv and now looking at the 23a, we wanted to put a small motorcycle on the back of ours but no solid frame holding hitch, and the length of rv if we go over dips the bike would bottom out.. can the frame on yours hold a small motorcycle if the hitch angled up? Thanks for posting info you have answered lots of questions I don't think I would believe from dealer...Jerry Jones

    1. We had looked at the 23A. Love the layout, nice and open. I also like the 23T for the fact that it has the 3 burner stove and oven, but not crazy about the bed being on the slide.
      As we plan to head out for long adventures, our plan was to carry a small motorbike of some sort. We would have to pull a small bike trailer instead. Hoping they will do some changes to the suspension soon.

  15. Don't know. I know the trailer hitch that comes with it is good for 350lbs tongue weight. I would ask on the Facebook group. There have been a number of discussions about the chassis and some people now have their PHDs in suspension technology. I would also look at something like SumoSprings to keep the rear end from bottoming out with the extra weight.

  16. How do I find th Facebook group?

  17. If you log into Facebook you can find it as the "Winnebago Fuse Owners" group

  18. Hi guys, I am in the market coming from a Cummins Diesel Lance Truck Camper for 20 + Years. I have read horror stories about another manufacturer who has major issues with the EGR system after 100,000 miles. And a super high cost of maintenance. We would plan on wintering in this unit, so my question is what was the overall cost to buy ,and I’m thinking I might be better buying a bigger used unit for long term living. We did fine for 3 months together in the truck camper, I just need to stretch out to relax.
    Sorry for being so vague.

  19. The Fuse is small but fine for 2 adults. It uses the ford diesel that has been around for a while and seems to be pretty solid.