RV Gas Mileage: How to Get the Most Bang For Your Buck – Part 2

Last week we talked about fuel efficiency and your next RV purchase. Obviously there is more to consider than just how many miles per gallon you’ll get—it’s important to think about your unique lifestyle, how one floor plan may work better for you than another, how much flexibility you need in terms of space, how you plan to use your RV, etc. This week we’re going to continue our discussion by looking at different types of RVs in terms of getting the best possible MPG.

Pop-Up (or Folding) Campers: The Ultimate in Affordability & Fuel Efficiency
Pop-up campers are popular among RVers for all kinds of reasons: you can tow them behind mid-sized vehicles (no pickup required), they can accommodate up to 10 people, and they’re handy to store when you’re not using them. New models are also a breeze to put up and take down. And best of all, because they’re lightweight and can be towed by fuel efficient vehicles, they’re the ultimate fuel economy RV, so it’s pretty much a win-win. Folding campers are a particularly great option for families who want to get close to nature, but appreciate the availability of a comfortable bed, hot water and a refrigerator.

In this category, we particularly like folding campers made by Forest River. Take a look at their Rockwood line of pop-up and folding campers. The A-frame style Rockwood A122 is lightweight, environmentally friendly and excellent for small families. If you need more room, opt for the somewhat larger 2280 models; you’ll get nearly as good gas mileage on your tow vehicle with room for the whole crew.

Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels
In general, the larger the travel trailer or fifth wheel, the fewer miles per gallon you’re going to get on your tow vehicle… but in the modern world, new manufacturing processes mean there are both travel trailers and fifth wheels that are towable by half-ton pickups, so you can use a much more efficient tow vehicle than in days of old.

In travel trailers, we suggest looking to manufacturers like Keystone, Jayco and Lance for the best models when it comes to fuel efficiency. For instance Lance’s 2295 and Jayco’s White Hawk Ultra Light give you that ultimate lightweight body for economy, but you still get deep slide-outs for extra interior space and amenities that you’d only expect to see on larger, heavier travel trailers. Similarly, Keystone’s Cougar trailers come with those big slide-outs and enclosed and heated underbellies for a wealth of storage space, but are easily towable by a half-ton pickup.

Jayco also makes an excellent lightweight fifth wheel in their Eagle line, coming in at under 8,000 pounds with options such as the Glacier Packages that will turn your lightweight fifth wheel into an all-season RV. We also recommend looking at manufacturers like Heartland and Northwood if you’re in the market for a fifth wheel. In particular, take a look that Heartland’s ElkRidge Express line and Northwood’s Fox Mountain models for the best floor plans, luxurious amenities and use of space.

Motorhomes: Luxury vs. MPG
Ask anybody who knows anything about RVs and they’ll tell you that if you’re looking for fuel efficiency in a motorhome, you’re going to want to look at the Class B models first. Built on Sprinter or other camper van chassis, these are the motorhomes for the frugal RVer, the boondocker and the urban driver. In some of the best brands of Class Bs, you can expect to get easily double the gas mileage you’ll get in a larger motorhome. You’ve probably heard us tout our favorite manufacturers in this motorhome class before—we’re big fans of Roadtrek and Pleasure-Way. These two award-winning manufacturers produce some of the highest quality camper vans on the highway today, with top of the line amenities, a variety of floor plans to choose from, luxury where you want it and fuel efficiency that can’t be beat. Class Bs are also easy to park in a regular garage and are much nicer for city driving than any other motorhome. For a couple or a very small family, this motorhome style is an excellent option.

However, if you have a larger family or otherwise need more interior space, you’re going to have to go up in size. You’ll lose some of that savings in fuel economy that you would have gotten with the Class B, but you might be surprised at how efficient a Class C motorhome can be. Because they’re built on a heftier chassis to accommodate the extra size, you’ll have more room for extra beds, a larger kitchen, a full dry bath, much more storage and residential style furnishings. Again, we suggest looking to manufacturers who have been building the best motorhomes for a long time; Winnebago and Thor Motor Coach are two that we turn to time and again for quality, economy and long term value. Be sure to take a look at the Winnebago Navion and the Cambria, as well as Thor’s Four Winds line. Built on rugged chassis and equipped with extraordinarily efficient engines, these Class Cs consistently get 15 MPG and up.

With all this concern about fuel efficiency, you might think that a larger Class A motorhome can’t possibly compete. While that might have been true back in the day, the world of motorhome manufacturing has changed considerably with new innovations and possibilities. For instance, recently we’ve been talking about Thor Motor Coach’s Vegas RUV, a Class A motorhome that drives like a Class B camper van or your favorite SUV. This “Recreational Utility Vehicle” is just six feet longer than a Chevrolet Suburban, but still provides you with luxurious amenities and the extra living space of a Class A. Don’t take our word for it, come down and drive one of these new RUVs yourself!

If you have your heart set on a luxury Class A motorhome that will accommodate a 24/7 RV lifestyle, but you also want to be conscious of fuel economy, be sure to explore our Class As. Diesel pushers are some of the largest motorhomes on the highway, but diesel engines are much more fuel efficient than their gas counterparts and a diesel engine can last twice as long as a gas one. For snowbirds and other lifestyle RVers, that can make all the difference.

Whatever your perfect RV, being conscious about fuel economy lets you save money at the pump and enjoy your vacations more. Fuel efficiency, when considered carefully with the RV lifestyle that works best for you, is increasingly possible as RV manufacturers find new ways to lighten RVs without compromising on quality or amenities. And, of course, what that means is more camping adventures and vacations!

If you have questions about the right RV for you, or how to choose a fuel efficient RV to match your family’s needs, be sure to give us a call. Or come on by Junction City and stop in to say hi; we’re always happy to talk RVs.

Photo: Grand Canyon National Park

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