The Class A Motorhome is the top of the food chain for RVs. They cost more, they’re bigger than other RVs and they are just macho cool. The amenities in a class “A” make it a condo on wheels. Multiple large screen televisions with surround sound systems are common. Combination washer/dryers are available as well as a separate stacked washer and dryer. Electric residential refrigerators are available on many newer coaches. Almost all have combination convection and microwave ovens. Slide-out rooms provide more square footage for living aboard. Built-in central vacuum systems are common options. How about an electric fireplace under that large flat-screen? Basement storage is an advantage common to both gas and diesel motor homes. There are doors along both sides that open into storage compartments to hold gear you don’t need inside the coach. Depending on the chassis, there may be pass-thru storage accessible from either side. Almost all class “A” coaches will have either hydraulic or electric jacks for leveling the coach.
Diesel Class A Motorhomes (Pro’s)
OK, I’ll start at the top. The Class “A” diesel pusher motor home was our choice when we started and we haven’t changed our minds. A key point is lots of storage and basement space. We have almost four thousand pounds of available cargo carrying capacity. That’s a lot of grills and lawn chairs. The diesel chassis provides air brakes and air bag assisted suspension. This makes for both safe and comfortable driving. A side benefit to this is an air chuck tied to the on-board air compressor for airing up tires. It also has the ability to handle four slide-out rooms. I’ve even seen five on one rig. I was told by the tour guide at the Winnebago plant that each slide room can add as much as one thousand pounds of extra weight to the coach. That big motor provides plenty of torque to move all that weight up hills. An exhaust brake or a mechanical engine retarder is provided to help save the service brakes going down those same hills. Another benefit with the engine in the back is very low noise when driving, although there are some front engine diesel entry level motor homes on the market today. Typically, a diesel coach will get a little better mileage than a gasoline engine Class “A”, but the currently higher price of diesel fuel may offset this. An exciting new development in diesel motor homes is the introduction of shorter wheel base, aero-dynamic shaped designs that get better fuel mileage. Time will tell about the popularity of these smaller coaches.
Diesel Motorhomes (Con’s)
On the down side, diesel engine maintenance is more expensive and complicated than a gasoline engine motor home. Oil changes require about 20 plus quarts of oil plus replacement of a fuel/water separator filter. The recommendation is that this two hundred and fifty dollar service be performed annually. The heavy-duty transmission in the pusher requires fluid and filter changes to the tune of about three hundred dollars every several years. There are driers in the air brake system that will need replacement every few years as well. Most diesels, and now the larger gas coaches, have 22.5 inch wheels with tires in the five hundred dollar plus each range that must be replaced every five to seven years. The cost of this maintenance must be figured into your budget.
Gasoline Powered Class AMotorhomes (pro’s)
Next up is the Gasoline engine motor home. In recent years, these coaches can have up to a twenty-six thousand pound gross vehicle weight chassis. This is the same as many lower end diesel coaches. They can have as many as four slide rooms and boast most of the amenities of a diesel coach. These are front engine designs using mostly Ford large displacement truck based motors. A big advantage is that they can be serviced at most Ford dealerships. Periodic oil changes are much less expensive than on a diesel coach. They are typically about forty thousand dollars less expensive than a diesel coach of similar size.
Gasoline Powered Motorhomes (Con’s)
Negatives about gas coaches are poor hill climbing ability compared to the high torque diesel coach. Fuel mileage is also typically several miles per gallon less. Both the last statements are magnified when towing the extra weight of a car. Cargo carrying capacity, or the stuff you want to put into the coach, is typically less in a gasoline chassis. I haven’t seen any gas rigs with air suspension or air brakes either. At the end of the day, your choice of Class A Motorhome is largely subjective.