What Do RV Model Numbers Mean?

By: Quinn Larson
Posted On: June 14, 2018
To those who know how to decipher them, RV model numbers tell you the floor plan – vehicle length (many times this is the box length, not the overall length) – and option packages of the vehicle in question. The problem is that like much of the RV industry there is no universal way to do things, so there is no universal language for model numbers. Luckily, like the romance languages, if you can speak one model number language you can be generally literate in them all.

Those of you who are not into delayed gratification you can scroll down to the list of the 20 most common model number elements and their definitions below. For the rest of us, let’s start with why there are soooo many models of RV, sometimes from the same manufacturer. The simple answer to why there are so many models is public demand. Most manufacturers look at industry sales trends and build according to what is popular at the time. Some even try to foresee what the demand will be and design future units to stay just ahead of demand trends. Either way the factories build what sells, or what the consumer wants, same thing. The RV industry continues to attract a large and varied customer base from singles and couples who are outdoor enthusiasts, to families young and old, to the traditional retired and loving it folks who have been the lifeblood of the industry. With varied groups adopting the RV lifestyle in unique ways, the manufacturers have had to broaden their offerings. While still important in some respects the old days of how long is it and how many does it sleep, have given way to where does my kayak go or how do I make sure Fido is comfortable when we leave him in the RV all day.

Some manufacturers prefer to broaden their offering with multiple model numbers and some prefer to offer limited model numbers with a multitude of option packages, and some do both. Jayco, for example, offers a Jay Flight – Jay Flight SLX 8 – and a Jay Flight SLX 7. These three trailer lines combine to offer 27 floor plans, a Customer Value Package – Elite Package - Baja Edition - and a Rocky Mountain Edition giving us by my math roughly eighty-five bazillion different configurations. My math may be a bit fuzzy but you understand what I mean. The Jay Flight SLX is a lighter weight version of the Jay Flight and the 7 or 8 tell us the vehicles width in feet. So if we see a Jayco Jay Flight SLX 8 212QBW, you have a 21-foot living quarter light weight Jay Flight that is 8-feet wide and has a queen bed (the W stands for Western edition and means the unit was built in Idaho. Not very important but I am sure some of you were wondering). Newmar on the other hand offers one model number for each floor plan, but the ability to customize each motorhome built, to the extent that two identical model numbers may bear little resemblance to each other with the exception of the layout. A Newmar Ventana 4002 will always be a 40-foot 10-inch long diesel motorhome with a bath and a half and king bed. After that the ability to customize a Newmar built motorhome can create one of a kind vehicles.

Why would two of the biggest names in the industry choose such widely different approaches to model numbers? Once again it is based on consumer behavior. The Jayco Jay Flight has been the number one selling travel trailer for a decade and Newmar is at the top of the gas and diesel motorhome class year after year. They both sell an incredible volume of units, but the definition of an “incredible volume” differs for each manufacturer. Jayco’s definition dwarfs Newmar’s and the disparity is due solely to the percentage of RVer’s who camp in towables versus the percentage of RVer’s who camp in motorized units. Far more trailers are sold per year than motorhomes, not that one is inherently better than the other there are just more customers that can afford and justify the cost of a towable in comparison to a more expensive motorized RV. These trends drive not only factory production, but dealer inventory. If a dealership offers both motorized and towable RVs for sale, the vast majority of these dealers will have a significantly higher number of towable RVs in stock than motorized. Why? Because they sell more towables than motorized and just like any retail business you stock what sells. So for simple math let’s say a dealership sells towables ten to one compared to motorized. They should have ten trailers for every motorhome. (We really are about to answer the question as to why model numbers are not built the same, hang in there.) Another interesting observation is that most motorhome customers are upgrading from a current RV and a large number of consumers who purchase towables are making their first RV purchase. Customers who are making their initial purchase are eager to get the first trip under their belt. I can’t tell you how often a towable customer takes delivery and immediately embarks on their maiden voyage. A motorhome customer has a little more of a “been there done that” attitude, and while their love for camping hasn’t changed their eagerness to go right now is tempered. In summary a towable customer wants to take delivery of the RV they have purchased a.s.a.p., while a motorized customer may be more inclined to wait for a unit that has been specially ordered to meet their exact wants and needs. (Here we go with the long awaited answer.) This means that a dealership needs to have a large and varied towable inventory, but can have limited motorized inventory thanks to consumer behavior. So taking this information into context it makes sense for towable manufacturers to offer far more models than a motorized manufacturer would. The more models, the more likely to have in stock what the consumer wants. Since more consumers want towables it is good business practice to have more models of more towables, so to keep them straight a manufacturer creates more model numbers. It’s a bad analogy, but the more fish in the barrel the easier they are to shoot.

Hopefully that helps us understand why there are so many model numbers in the RV world. Now let’s take a look at what is and isn’t consistent across the various model number structures used by the myriad RV manufacturers. Most of the time when we encounter a model number it is during an Internet search. You search for Winnebago RV for sale and the Google results include the model numbers of the current motorhomes for sale in your area. If we think about online research as an onion the initial search for Winnebago RV for sale removes that weird brown papery layer, then identifying the model or models we are interested in removes another layer, and as we narrow the focus of the search more and more layers of the onion are removed. Come to think of it the model number could also be visualized as an onion, and reading right to left we remove layers of said onion. Most times we will see a model number as our Jayco example from above, Jayco Jay Flight SLX 8 212QBW. Jayco is the brown outer layer, Jay Flight is the next layer, SLX another layer, 8 a layer, 212 yet another layer, QB a layer, and W is the final layer. The majority of manufacturers follow this sequence, Manufacturer – Model Name – Option – Floor plan. Most floor plan identifiers are three or four character numeric sequence with the first two numbers being a rough estimation of the RVs length. Again this is usually the “box” or living portion when dealing with towables, not the overall length. That is your basic RV model number decoder ring, now we need some entries for the English to model number dictionary.

1. SLX, XLT, Xlite – A light weight offering of an existing floor plan or a light weight RV
2. BH- Bunk House
3. DB – Double Bunk
4. TB – Triple Bunks
5. WS – With Slide
6. S, SL – Single Slide
7. SS – Single Slide or Super Slide
8. DS – Dinette Slide
9. RS – Rear Slide
10. MB- Murphy Bed
11. QB – Queen Bed
12. CK - Central Kitchen
13. RK – Rear Kitchen
14. FK – Front Kitchen
15. IK – Island Kitchen
16. RL – Rear Lounge or Rear Living
17. FL – Front Lounge or Front Living
18. RB – Rear Bath
19. FB – Front Bath
20. FE _ Front Entertainment

These are some of the most common abbreviations but it might take two lifetimes to list and define all of the floor plan codes used by RV manufacturers today, luckily we have an abundance of folks here in all departments that are fluent in RV. So if you need some help determining what a model number stands for either on your current RV or your next RV call 1-800-283-9163, click or come by Guaranty RV Super Centers and ask for someone who speaks RV.

If you want to learn more about RVs and the RV lifestyle join us for one of our informative monthly RV Seminars the second Saturday of every month through October, at 10 am in the Guaranty RV Travel Center and RV Park 93668 Oregon 99, Junction City, OR. View the schedule and topics here. Please register by calling Tharon Wilson at 1-541-998-4285 or by clicking here. Seating is limited, so make sure you sign up early.

This information is current as of the day it was posted. Being the RV Industry it may not be current tomorrow. The only constant in our glorious industry is that nothing stays the same. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding model numbers or even just RVs in general please contact me via a simple web form.