Whether you are contemplating purchasing your first RV or are in the midst of upgrading, it is helpful to go through the process of evaluating which is the right RV for you. This is especially true given the large number of choices available. In this two-part article, I will provide some advice for those wanting to make more educated choices.
To begin with, let’s examine and discuss the features of each type of RV, as some readers may not be familiar with the type designations:
Class A motorhomes are available in gas or diesel models, with diesels being far more expensive. However, diesels also tend to be of higher quality and grade, and the chassis are more heavy duty than their gas counterparts. Class A motorhomes historically have the lowest sleeping capacity of all RV types, and usually have a maximum sleeping capacity of 6-8 people. Class A units can have high-end amenities such as washer/dryer units, fireplaces, etc. These units range in length from about 29 – 45 feet. Some people are not comfortable driving these coaches, so be sure to consider this before buying.
Class B motorhomes are sleek and easy to drive and maneuver. However, regardless of the number of seats in a Class B van, do not try to travel or sleep with more than two adults. While these units are enjoying increasing popularity, they offer cramped living quarters, even for two people. However, they do offer all the fundamental equipment of their larger counterparts, including sink, toilet, and kitchen. These are of course on a much smaller scale. Class B vans are also very expensive. I recommend this type of vehicle only for couples who can cope with very cramped living and working spaces. Vans are available in gas or diesel models.
Class C motorhomes are great for larger families, as the sleeping capacity tends to be quite high, thanks in part to the bunk above the cab. These units range in length from about 21 – 32 feet, although there are longer units available. Class C units are very popular motorhomes, as they tend to be the least expensive motorized units, especially when considering used units, and offer plenty of floor space and sleeping capacity. As with the other motorized units, they are available in gas or diesel models. I always recommend purchasing a diesel motorhome if possible, as they are much more fuel efficient, last longer, have more durable chassis construction, and the price of diesel fuel tends to be lower than gasoline with less fluctuation.
Travel trailers come in a wide array of lengths and floorplans and are very popular, especially for those on a limited budget. The primary consideration when purchasing a travel trailer is the towing vehicle. While small trailers can be towed with a car, larger trailers require a full-size SUV or pickup. When considering a towable unit, be sure you know the weight and purchase the appropriate size towing vehicle. Trailer floorplans allow for a wide variety of layouts and can offer large sleeping capacity. Therefore, they are often the unit of choice for larger families.
Fifth-wheel trailers are also available in a wide variety of size and layout. The primary advantages to a fifth-wheel over standard travel trailers is the towing stability and additional space provided by the goose-neck area above the kingpin. These units range from basic to extravagant and are utilized by both part time and fulltime RVers.
Other RV types include pop-up (tent trailers and hybrids) and slide-in (camper) units. These units are popular with those who are on a very limited budget, enjoy a more rustic experience, or are slowly transitioning from tenting to RVing. Pop-up trailers often lack full kitchen and toilet amenities and I like to refer to these as “tenting off the ground”. The main disadvantage to these are the increased setup time, lack of amenities, and canvas care requirement.
Stay tuned as we will continue with some more pros and cons of each type of unit and some things to consider when making the decision to purchase.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.
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