The Winnebago Solis – Taking A Closer Look


A Class B van is an RV that is easy to drive and park yet has many of the features of a full-sized RV. One limitation of a Class B van is sleeping is usually limited to two, but the Winnebago Solis has solved that with their pop-up sleeping area. So does the Solis from Winnebago live up to the hype?

The Solis is an all-season camper van that sleeps four. It is insulated and has a galley kitchen and a heated bathroom. The solar panel mounted to the roof provides off-the-grid power. The most affordable of the Winnebago Class B lineup, it features many small details camper van enthusiasts will like.

Read on as we tell you about the Solis. We will talk about the inside features, chassis, and mechanical details, and make sure you have information about dimensions.

The Winnebago Legacy: A Quick Overview

Winnebago has been making travel trailers, RVs, and now camper vans for over half a century. When the company began in 1957, John Hanson, the founder of the company, opened a dealership that sold travel trailers. The next year he switched over to building them.

Due to limited success, in 1960, he renamed the company Winnebago Industries and focused on the design and manufacturer of RVs. In 1966, the first Winnebago RV was sold. Today Winnebago sells Class A, B, and C motorhomes, as well numerous fifth wheel and travel trailers.

Sadly for some, you won’t see a truck bed camper anymore; however, you will find the Winnebago Solis.

What Is the Winnebago Solis?

The Solis is a Class B van or camper van that sleeps four because of the pop-top roof. Winnebago sells five camper vans, and the Solis is the most affordable. It is one of two that is gas-powered—the Travato is the other. The Travato costs around $15,000 to $20,000 more, and for that price, you get features like a better sound system, a high-definition TV, and an air conditioner.

However, the Solis has one feature that sets it apart from other camper vans—it sleeps 4, thanks to its pop-top.

The Solis Pop-Top

The Solis pop-top is Winnebago’s first camper with the pop-top feature. When raised, the fiberglass pop-up becomes a sleeping loft designed for two. Since this is a much-talked-about feature, we will start our discussion with it.

Raising the pop-top is straightforward—you release the safety latches on either side and then the clamps. Pushing it up is made easier by the hinges and gas springs, although you might have to give it a strong push to get it started. Then the gas springs take over.

The ladder needed to climb up is stored above the cab in two pieces. Connecting them is straightforward, and then just hook it onto the ledge, and it’s ready for you to climb up.

Note: You will need to push the driver’s seat forward to put the ladder in place.

The mattress in the loft is firm and measures 52 by 79 inches. The pop-up loft has three half windows—one on either side, and one facing forward–with blackout curtains that can be zippered into place if it’s raining, or a little chilly, or you need it dark. A small pop up vent is located on the ceiling.

You also have easy access to a 12-volt port and two USB connections to charge up the phone while you are sleeping. We like that convenient touch. There’s also light so you can climb down at night.

The pop up pulls down easily, and the latches can be put in place without a fuss.

The Murphy Bed

Winnebago calls the bed in the rear of the Solis, a Murphy bed. Most people would call it a fold-down bed. A sofa bed is optional, which adds additional seating and sleeping room. Check out the floor plans here.

It’s a pretty simple design. On the driver’s side is a small sitting area. The “Murphy” part of the bed is on the driver’s side. You pull it down, unfold the mattress, and you have a bed.

We like that the cushions are connected, which eliminates gaps and keeps them from sliding around.

The bed size is 59×77 inches, which is just a tad smaller than a full-sized queen. Even so, there is more room than a standard full-sized mattress, which is 54×75 inches. When the bed is down, you will have space to store some gear.

The Kitchen

Along with a place to sleep, you will want to be able to cook. The Solis has a galley style kitchen that features a two-burner propane stove, a sink with hot water capability, and a small refrigerator. Let’s go through each feature below.

Refrigerator

The refrigerator is a 12-volt compressor unit, which is great because you will not need gas for it, and you do not have to worry about your Solis being level when you park it. The energy required to run it is equivalent to a 40-watt light bulb. The fridge is not large, but it does have a small freezer and several shelves.

Winnebago decided that rather than forcing you to stand in the narrow galley and bend over to get things out of the refrigerator, they would have it face forward. Some people rave about this feature because it allows them to access a cold drink without having to climb into the Solis, which is a great way to keep dirt out.

Stove

The propane stove has two burners with push-button ignition. The lid hinges back and provides a backsplash. Underneath the stove is a pull-out countertop extension.

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Sink

The sink is on the small side, but the faucet is high enough that you can comfortably fit pots underneath. Best of all, Winnebago added a water recirculation feature that allows you to heat water without wasting cold water. It pushes cold water back into the tank, so the water that you heat comes out first.

Since water supplies are limited, especially if you are off the grid, this feature helps you conserve water. It also helps keep your grey water tank from filling up quickly.

While we’re on the subject of water, it’s easy to track how much water you have, because of a glass tube next to the cabinet under the sink. The tube is marked with gallon increments so that you know exactly how much water you have remaining—a vast improvement over camper vans that give you an approximate amount.

Water Capacity for the Solis is as follows:

  • 21 gallons of fresh water
  • 5 gallons of black water
  • 20 gallons of gray water

Storage Space

The galley has plenty of storage—a large space under the sink, several cabinets along the ceiling, a small spice rack above the sink, and a small drawer. The doors on all drawers have slam latches, and the doors on the cabinets along the ceiling stay up with the help of strong magnets. This way, you get a clear view of what is in the cabinets. Also, you do not have to worry about banging your head against the doors as they go all the way to the ceiling.

Seating

The Solis has two seating areas. The first one is behind the driver’s seat. The second is a small moveable table that can be placed in the rear.

Solis and Winnebago users have dubbed this the “Instagram” table. It is a small, square table with a single leg on one side that latches onto the Murphy bed slats when it is folded up.

You can put the “Instagram” table anywhere along the slats of the Murphy bed. So if you want to be in the middle of the Solis because looking out at the view would be too distracting, you can do that. If a beautiful view would inspire you, then put it at the back. Or, if you plan to have a barbeque or tailgate party, put it down, and you have a surface for drinks and food.

The other seating area is upfront. Both the driver and passenger seat are bucket seats that can be turned around. Against the bathroom wall sits a bench seat for two. In between is an oval swivel table that is removable and stores behind the bench seats.

Bathroom

The insulated bathroom is cold-weather ready with a hot shower. It has a swiveling cassette toilet and a heat vent inside the bathroom that can be used as a hanging dryer for something like a wet suit or ski clothes.

You can shower in the bathroom, but if you prefer not to, the bathroom walls have ledges that you can use as brackets for shelves, giving you additional storage space.

The cassette toilet has a 5-gallon capacity.

The Annex

Winnebago calls the space just outside the back doors, the annex. Here’s why:

When you open the doors, you can connect a pair of poles that will hold the doors open. The bars function as a clothes rod or shower curtain. Winnebago has a black panel that you can attach to the bars and create a shower curtain for taking an outdoor shower.

You can also connect the black panel to the van’s roof to create an awning of sorts.

The Chassis

The Solis sits on a Ram ProMaster chassis. This is not the extended ProMaster, which means that the Solis is under 20 feet long. Although that reduces the amount of room you have, it means easier maneuverability.

Here is the breakdown of the chassis components:

  • 280 horsepower
  • 3.6-liter V6 engine
  • Automatic transmission—6 speed
  • All four wheels have ABS brakes

In addition, the trailer hitch can handle 3,500 pounds with a maximum torque weight of 350 pounds. Connections are easy due to the 4-pin connector.

Size Info

The Solis is easy to maneuver at 19′ 9″ long and 6′ 8″ wide. Height is 8′ 11″ so you should have no problem making most clearances.

If you are taller than 6′ 2″, then you will have to lower your head when walking through the Solis. Because the side walls have insulated panels, the interior width is 6′ 4″.

You will need 24 gallons for a fill-up, and you should expect about 15 mpg.

Solar Features

If you are thinking of going off-grid or do not want to rely on outside power, you are in luck. The Solis has a standard 220-watt flexible solar panel on the roof. Your battery storage is 210 amps, and there are ports to get an additional 300 watts of solar power. This is more than enough to keep your refrigerator humming, your water hot, and your devices powered up.

Warranty

The warranty comes in two parts—a 12-month/15,000-mile warranty that covers the basics and a second warranty that covers the chassis. For more details about what is covered, you will need to contact the dealer.

Winnebago Solis Pros And Cons

Pro:

First, the pop-up sleeping area gives people options—you can sleep four or take along more gear and sleep two. We also like the front seating space. The ample storage space is good, and the Solis has a rugged feel. It seems like an excellent camper van for active people who want the comfort of a camper van but the feel of camping.

We also like the thoughtfulness that has been put into the camper van. For example, the window by the seating area has a window well to give you a little elbow rest and also a thermal break when you put the window treatment up. Another small detail is using zip-up window treatments. Although that might seem too simple, it also eliminates the noise of curtain blinds.

The water lines are inside the coach, making it suitable for all-season use. Your water will not freeze, and the insulation will keep you warm when you travel up in the mountains for some skiing.

Con:

Lack of air conditioning, not even available as an option on the Solis. While this may be a sticking point for some people, there is a bedroom ventilator fan to help keep the air moving.

Still, on humid or rainy days, it could be a bit of a challenge keeping everyone comfortable, especially if you have your 4-legged friend along. You could always open the door to get a breeze, maybe a good option if you have bug screens installed.

So here are three things given up for the ability to have extra sleeping space:

  • An air conditioner
  • An awning
  • A rack for the roof

Some are happy to have the added space, they sleep in the pop-up and use the back of the camper van for extra storage space.

No 4WD

The Solis lacks 4-wheel drive capability, which means you will only be able to drive so far off the beaten path. With that in mind, was the Solis specifically designed for Overlanding? I don’t think so.

If you see yourself driving in snow or far off-road, look to the Winnebago’s Revel, which uses a 4 x 4 chassis by Mercedes, has 4-wheel drive, and a 3-liter turbo-diesel engine. And if you want air conditioning and more luxury, step up to the Travato.

Winterizing the Solis

Purging the Solis means flushing out any fresh water from the water system so that you do not have to worry about freezing water damaging your Solis RV. You will be using compressed air to purge the water lines.

To accomplish this, you will need to:

  1. Level surface. Park the Solis on a level surface
  2. Set valves. On the water control panel turn the controls to the winterize positions (which are clearly labeled)
  3. Turn off. You will need to turn off both the water pump and the combi system for both hot water and the heating
  4. Drain. The water lines need to be drained. You will access them underneath the dinette seats at the front of the cab. There are three water line valves that need to be opened.
  5. Clean strainer. The water pump is located in the galley area, tucked under the floor in one of the small storage cubbies. You will need to remove the strainer, clean it, and then replace it.
  6. Blow out plug. At the water control console in the rear, there is a space for a blowout plug, which you need to attach before you connect an air hose. Your air pressure should be limited to 30 psi.
  7. Remove excess water. The water needs to be removed from both shower locations—the inside and the back, as well as the sink and the water lines going into the toilet. Do not forget the faucet in the galley—it will also need to be removed.
  8. Wastewater. Drain waste water and toilet cassette.

Replace the outside cap to make sure you don’t have dirt or little critters sneak in. The process should take you about an hour.

Bottom Line

In Latin, the word Solis means sun, and the Solis is intended to be used for “fun in the sun.” If you want a coach van that you can take off the grid, up in the mountains, or to the beach, the Winnebago Solis should be on your list of vehicles to check out. Although you can find more expensive camper vans, the Solis is the lowest-priced Winnebago.

Even if it does not have all the bells and whistles of the Boldt or Travato, it has what you need from a camper van. Some people may wish it came with an air conditioner, but remember it does have the ability to sleep up to four.

Don

I prefer the southwestern part of the USA with its mountains, high plateaus, deserts and red rock vistas. However, I still enjoy visiting the countless beautiful and dramatic places that abound across the country.

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