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Motorhome versus Fifth Wheel

Motorhome versus Fifth Wheel? This is a decision that has perplexed many an RVer, especially those bound to be fulltimers.

The bottom line is that there is no "right answer". The pros and cons need to be weighed with consideration given to the type of RV lifestyle, individual preferences and priorities.

For instance, in comparing a Class A motorhome versus fifth wheel RV, here are some of the factors to mull over:

Class A Motorhome versus Fifth Wheel Considerations:

Class A motorhomes usually offer more convenience and comfort going down the road - large captain's chairs look out over great views through an expansive front windshield. You have easy access to kitchen, living and bathroom facilities while going down the road or for quick roadside stops.

Class A motorhomes usually mean you need to tow a car to do errands and sightsee - so now you have two engines/transmissions to maintain. With a fifth wheel and truck, you may avoid some vehicle maintenance expenses.


And then there is the subject of gas mileage. Yes, the motorhome will use a lot of fuel. But so will a big truck. Compare potential MPG for the long trips to take the RV from point A to point B.

But don't forget the day to day travels about town once you have reached your destination - now you will be comparing the tow truck vs. the dingy you choose to tow behind the motorhome.

More Motorhome versus Fifth Wheel Factors:

Fifth wheels typically seem to have more living space, and more of a "homey" feeling. That distinction may still hold in many cases, although the 4-slide motorhome is pretty spacious.

Motorhomes tend to have narrower slides than fifth wheels for the simple reason that people want to be able to move around in the motorhome even while the slides are retracted. There is less of a need to move around in the fifth wheel while the slides are in. As you make comparisons, it's worth considering how things look inside (including access to cabinets, fridge, etc.) when the slides are retracted.

We have found motorhomes tend to offer greater carrying capacity and storage space - but this may depend on the type and size of motorhome and fifth wheel being compared. There are all sorts and sizes of motorhomes and 5th wheels, with continual design changes and innovations.

As you shop around, be sure to make storage space an important point of comparison - and check that the RV has adequate capacity limits to safely use the space.

Depending on your lifestyle, you may also want to consider toy haulers. There are some creative design choices that allow you to have your toys and bring them along with you.

Motorhome versus fifth wheel and truck - what's easier to drive? That depends on the size, weight, quality and design of the vehicles being compared and typically is a matter of individual preference. We have heard arguments on both sides of the fence.


We have also heard the general characterization that a motorhome is better for those RVers who move frequently, and that a fifth wheel is better for those who stay put for a longer period of time. This may or may not be true for everyone. However, as a practical matter... if your regular routine is to park the RV for months at a time in a single location, think twice about paying to maintain a motorhome engine. Motorhomes are designed to be driven.

Stairs may be important as you ponder a motorhome versus fifth wheel. So consider the entry steps, handrails and so forth. Remember that you can always use an auxilliary step stool or platform if you need an extra first step into the RV. Once in a motorhome, things are usually all on one level. Most fifth wheels will have a couple stairs to get to the bathroom/bedroom area.

Motorhomes and a tow vehicle are typically more expensive than a fifth wheel and truck. But again, it all depends on how fancy you get with your RV and tow vehicle.

Other things to compare include height clearance, capacity for towing and carrying belongings, holding tank capacity, generator and the quality and reputation of the manufacturer. There is a wide range of designs, brands and models within each type of RV: motorhomes, fifth wheels, trailers, truck campers and so on.

What might be suitable for occasional use may be problematic for more frequent and longer travel. The weekend trip is different than a cross-country journey or the fulltime lifestyle. Do not underestimate quality as you make your choices. And definitely do your homework in comparing motorhome versus fifth wheel, brands and models . Avoid the pitfall of being "penny wise and pound foolish".

Back to the question of motorhome versus fifth wheel. The best advice we can give is to carefully consider your sort of RV lifestyle. It is the key factor in deciding on the best choice for you.

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