Why Are RVs So Ugly?

If your favorite colors are brown and beige or you reminisce about designs from the ’70s or ’80s, you probably have no issue with the looks of today’s RVs. After all, not much has changed, and those who loved RVs then still love them now. But a growing population of RV’ers thinks recreational vehicles are just plain ugly.

From their swirly, tribal-based designs to their bland color schemes, they miss the mark in style and lag behind the times. And they all look the same, so dull on their lots just begging for someone to Scooby-Doo them up a bit. Some people wonder why RVs are so expensive and poorly made. Others wonder why RVs so darn ugly.

Road-tripping with recreational vehicles

RVs are a popular option for getting out on the open road or even tailgating at a game. Take them camping and enjoy the convenience of having all the amenities of home and at least some of the comfort wherever you land. Some people even live long-term in their RVs (let’s hope they at least redecorate a bit). Even more impressive if true: Some people believe RVs can heal the nation

They come in all shapes and sizes, hitch-able or drivable, and multipurpose. Though they have a reputation as gas-guzzlers, there’s another thing going against them. They generally scream ugly. Sure, not all RVs are unattractive, but most are. As one Reddit user said: “There seems to be a rule that an RV has to be the ugliest, tackiest-looking thing imaginable.”

Why are RVs so ugly?

Curbed has a few thoughts on why RV exteriors are so unsightly. Thinking of their appearance as a safety measure might help their case. Their trademark swooping paint jobs can distinguish them from other large vehicles on the road since they’re similar in shape to buses and trucks. Another theory: The design prevents birds from crashing into a plain exterior. 

Aside from safety, Curbed also theorized RVs’ design is to signal fun and tell the world the family inside was on vacation. At an industry trade show, attendees mused there might only be one graphic designer in Elkhart, Indiana, where most RVs are made. One thread commenter on CheapRVLiving.com blamed it on the elderly: “RV dealers are selling to old people. They are mainly blind, legally or otherwise.” That sentiment doesn’t hold up, though: Curbed reports millennials make up the largest group of campers and are moving from tents to campers in droves. 

The interiors are worse. Dark wood and various shades of brown itchy upholstery. Weird plastic moldings with cheap hardware. Ugly! — Reddit commenter

The interiors don’t get much love either, but at least they’re consistent in their hideous design. No, not all RVs are as appalling as these classic ones, but it’s taken a long time for any improvement. As for RVs’ unpleasant interiors, the manufacturers are doing themselves a disservice. People aren’t buying the design department’s lackluster efforts and are begging for something more modern. A commenter on the RVnet forum said it best: “I have never in my life seen such a collection of ugly mud-brown cabinetry, dirt-gray floors, and black trim. If I had 10X the money, I wouldn’t buy a single one of the new RVs I saw on that floor.”

Ouch. Take note, RV makers. 

Would you consider traveling in an RV?


Why Are So Many RVs Made in Indiana?

If convenience and comfort are key, a traveling home’s appearance shouldn’t really matter. RVs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and there’s still a market for them. Will manufacturers get with the times and heed the passive-aggressive demands for more modern designs and less rustic vomit, or will they keep with what’s been working for decades? Familiarity sells, that’s for sure. Would you consider traveling in an RV, or are they just too awful to be seen in? Surely, there’s a camper van out there for everyone.