A Beginner’s Guide to Motorhomes With Tips From Consumer Reports

Nowadays, you have a ton of alternative travel trailers options to house you as you venture off-road. But if you want a more traditional way to go glamping, a classic RV, aka motorhome, is ideal. Here’s what you should consider before purchasing your first motorhome.

Why go with a traditional RV?

Two models are standing in front of the Morelo Palace 90 SE motorhome RV
The Morelo Palace 90 SE motorhome RV | Henning Kaiser/picture alliance via Getty Images

Traditional RVs are essentially the coziest way to travel. As Consumer Reports highlights in a recent user guide, motorhomes are the “all-inclusive” way to travel with many of the same comforts and conveniences as with an actual house. Whether you want to explore a campsite or visit family, an RV is a versatile means of transportation. 

While RVs are enticing, they are some drawbacks to consider. Though they can carry many passengers, they don’t offer the same safety features you would have by riding in an SUV or truck. That said, you might want to consider using a pickup or SUV to tow a travel trailer if you plan on traveling with small children in car seats. 

A white and long Ford Transit van is shown parked against a grassy area.
The Embassy Traveler Sports RV is based on a Ford Transit | Embassy Specialty Vehicles

On a brighter note, CR notes that RVs are becoming safer. Newer motorhomes have safety features, including backup and side cameras, to minimize blind spot areas. Additionally, companies like Ford have developed a new chassis that adds functionalities such as automatic emergency braking and hill start assist. CR recommends that you look for motorhomes with these advancements or even upgrading a used model with these assists. 

Finding the right RV for you will take time and research. It’s essential to think about how you want to use an RV. And with so many sizes and available, it’s necessary to set a budget to pinpoint your best options. 

Class A motorhomes can be incredibly luxurious 

A Newmar Corp King Aire RV has all its storage compartment door open on the bottom of the bus.
2021 Newmar King Aire | Newmar Corp.

Class A RVs are the bus-like models. These types of models are powered by either a gas or diesel engine. The diesel options are typically more lavish and expensive, while the gas options are more affordable and require less maintenance. Class A models range from 25 feet to 45 feet long and can sleep up to eight people.

Popular companies in the large RV space include brands like Newmar. CR says these typically cost anywhere from $90,000 to $400,000. The main cons to be aware of regarding Class A vehicles is that they can be challenging to park and aren’t very fuel-efficient. 

Class B options are solid 

A Sync Vans conversion on a Mercedes Sprinter van
A Sync Vans conversion on a Mercedes Sprinter van | Sync Vans

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Compared to Class A and Class C RVs, Class B options are more uniform. CR says that Class B motorhomes are the safest thanks to their van-based structure. Class B motorhomes are easier to maneuver because they’re shorter in length, but the tradeoff here is less living space. Ford and Mercedes are popular in this space. Sometimes you can sleep up to four people in these vans, but they’re more suitable for two. Depending on the size, you can expect to pay $85,000 to $150,000.

Class C motorhomes are the cheapest 

A black and white RV sits on a shore line with the awning deployed on a sunny day.
The Fuse RV | Winnebago

Class C motorhomes like Winnebagos are the least expensive and range from $70,000 to $200,000.They can also vary significantly in length and interior space. These models are based on a van or truck framework, with the rest being your cab space. Some downsides to consider are that the cab areas can be narrow, and the most affordable engine options are limited.