Motorhome vs Fifth Wheel Challenge

A motorhome vs fifth wheel which should you purchase for full-time Rving? What's the best RV if you plan to travel a lot? These are questions we hear all the time.

There are many people who wonder about the facts when it comes to a motorhome vs fifth wheel showdown. You long to experience the excitement of the open road but you want a vehicle that will provide you with comfort, safety and convenience. RVs are well known as a fun and popular form of transportation for many people across the country. But what if you plan to live in your RV?

Motorhome vs Fifth Wheel

These vehicles offer individuals the chance to combine their transportation needs with functional living quarters that can be used in almost any type of setting. No matter what type of activity you have in mind an RV can be your portable home for cross country travel, mini-vacations or camping. So what is the right choice for you in the motorhome vs fifth wheel decision?

While many people tend to think of an RV as only being the very large bus type models, they actually come in many different shapes, sizes and price ranges. The more elaborate motor homes are much more expensive but they do create a true home on wheels no matter where you are traveling. If you have more modest needs and demands then you can check out the advantages and disadvantages of the motor home vs fifth wheel camper trailers. The fifth wheel is a compact unit that can be towed behind your vehicle and used as needed. They are smaller and more limited than their larger relatives, but still provide you with a lot of bang for the buck. Let's look at some more comparisons for you to think about when deciding on motorhome vs fifth wheel.

True Motor homes are classified as A, B or C grade models and these all have different features. Let's take a quick look and see how the motor home vs fifth wheel competition stacks up.

Class A Motor Homes
These vehicles are those large, bus-like units that are frequently seen on the highways and at RV parks. They weigh between 7-15 tons and can be 40 feet long and are often likened to a house on wheels. The RV's support is generally the same chassis structure you would find on a large truck, and these models range in price from $50-750K. Many people will select one of the lowerBye Ya' All priced models shown on the RV sales lot, but if you want a customized RV then the price will escalate accordingly. This high cost can be a distinct disadvantage in the motorhome vs fifth wheel head to head showdown.

In the Class A motor homes there are full size couches, beds and recliners. Even the driver and front passenger seat are large, plush and extremely comfortable. There are completely equipped kitchens and bathrooms and it is not unusual to have 6 to 8 people sleeping in RVs of this type. Some of them even have expansion units that are automatically controlled. This feature lets the owner add another extra room when needed and when not in use the width of the motor home is not affected. These RVs have LP gas tanks, toilets, heating, air conditioning, cabinets, large windows, plug in electrical systems and even satellite television hook-ups.

Class B Motor Homes
When an RV is a Class B it is properly called a conversion van and it is the smallest motorized recreational vehicle on the market. These are built atop the chassis of a van and have additional space that is created by increasing the height of the roof. Most of these RVs weigh about 3 or 4 tons and they are less than 20 feet long. The advantages to owning one of these motor vehicles includes cheaper operating and purchasing costs, lower insurance rates, and the ability to use it as a standard mode of transport if required. 

Many drivers find that these are much easier to drive and handle especially when compared to the Class A models. In a Class B unit there is sleeping and living space for up to 4 people and this makes them ideal for small families or couples. These RVs have tanks to hold waste water and additional tanks for fresh water. You will have folding beds, a sink, small refrigerator, cooking area, heat and air, private toilet, electrical hookups and propane cylinders. There are additional features that can be added such as satellite television, GPS navigation systems and more. These Class B RV models can be purchased at prices ranging from $35-90K. If you want one of these conversion vans that is highly customized the price can go even higher. Now onto a Class C in our motorhome vs fifth wheel challenge.

Class C Motor Homes
Class C Motorhome These RVs are smaller versions of the Class A models and they weigh about half as much. Most of the Class C units weigh 5 or 6 tons and are no longer than 31 feet. You will notice that the design is very comparable to an enlarged van with extra space that stretches out in the rear of the vehicle. There is also extra head space thanks to the elevation of the roof. There is a sleeping room in the rear of the Class C RVs and a bunk that is created in the small area that extends forward over the driver's seat. Some models even include the slide-out expansion rooms that can add more living space when required. The features are scaled down versions of those found in the Class A selections and include bathroom and kitchen accommodations. A Class C unit can cost between $40 and $200K depending on options and layout. In the motorhome vs fifth wheel challenge here are some advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of a Motor Home vs Fifth Wheel

  • Spacious Interior
  • Full Size Furnishings
  • Nicely Equipped Kitchen and Bath
  • Convenience
  • All In One Design Lets Driver and Passengers Interact
  • Minimal Setup Time
  • No Separate Towing is Required

Disadvantages of a Motor Home vs Fifth Wheel

  • High Cost and High Insurance Rates
  • Can Be Awkward to Drive
  • Requires Maximum Upkeep
  • Loses a Great Deal of value in the First Few Years
  • Full-Size Vehicles May Not Be Allowed in Many Smaller RV Parks
  • Steep Operating Costs, Especially with Gas and Oil

When someone mentions a Fifth Wheel RV camping trailer they are talking about one with a front extension area that fits over the vehicle that is towing it. These RVs have a van style chassis and four wheels that support the rear of the unit. There is also a horizontal attachment that resembles a 5th wheel, and this is how the trademark term originated. How does it measure up in the motorhome vs the fifth wheel comparison?

Fifth Wheel Slides Out You will find that this design increases the ease and balance when the unit is being towed. Most of these portable RVs are pulled by pick up trucks that use gooseneck hitches. With a fifth wheel you will have cooking, restroom and sleeping quarters that are separate from the driver's area. The usual price for these types of RV units is in the $10-$75K price range, although the cost will increase depending on the features you select. When it comes to basic features the motorhome vs fifth wheel competition becomes very tight. In the motorhome vs fifth wheel challenge this is how we think they stack up.

Advantages of the 5th Wheel

  • Lower Cost and Lower Insurance Rates
  • Ease of Handling
  • No special Permits Needed
  • Convenience

Disadvantages of the 5th Wheel

  • No Access Between Driver's Compartment and Unit
  • Driver Must Know How to Tow the Unit Properly
  • Not as Roomy as Larger Motor Homes
  • Fewer Full Scale Comforts of Home
  • Requires Time to Detach from Towing Vehicle

Your decision will ultimately decide on what you're comfortable living in and driving. Will it be a motorhome vs fifth wheel or vice versa? It is a very personal decision and should be based solely on your unique circumstances.

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