What are Your Favorite Class A Motorhome Features?
In the process of doing the research to determine the best Class A motorhomes for 2021, I looked at dozens of websites and I talked to numerous RVers about their Class A motorhomes.
I looked at the best Class A motorhomes for couples, Class A motorhomes with slides, diesel coaches, affordable Class A motorhomes, and sites that used many other variables to sort their lists of best of class. In this process, I noticed a lot of overlap in best-of reports and the following list are the RV manufacturer brand names that repeatedly appeared on these lists, in no particular order:
Forest River, Tiffin, Entegra, Newmar, Thor, Jayco, Fleetwood, Winnebago.
But how can anyone pick out the five best Class A motorhomes when everyone has different needs, wants, and must-haves? Class A motorhomes are all big square box-like living spaces on wheels, but they each have many unique and distinguishing features.
Class A Motorhome Prices
All the 2021 Class A motorhomes come in different lengths, on different chassis, with different power plants, features, floorplans, and price tags.
- You can buy a 2021 34’ Forest River FR3 with two slides and two bathrooms for $105,000;
- Or you can buy a 45’ Newmar King Aire with three slides and two bathrooms for $1,296,000.
In between those two extremes are a wide variety of Class A motorhomes, and each one will have its own set of unique attributes.
Let’s start with the two biggest differentiation in Class A motorhomes: price and power plant. RVs are not an investment. They depreciate like cars, so you need to be able to afford the “loss” when you spend money on an RV.
What about gas versus diesel motorhome prices?
Therefore, the most impactful attribute is the price tag, and that price will be significantly impacted by the power plant and chassis. Generally speaking, diesel motorhomes are more expensive than gas motorhomes, but even within this narrow criterion of diesel vs gas, there are vast differences in price, so the first attribute that will inform all the rest of your choices is your budget.
The second biggest distinction of Class A motorhomes is the power plant. Is a diesel or gas coach right for you? Is the power plant a desire or a deal-breaker? If it’s a deal-breaker, then you know you can narrow your search for the perfect fit to either diesel or gas coaches within your budget.
Popular Youtubers Gone With The Wynns share their thoughts on the diesel vs gas motorhome debate in this video:
Length and floor plan matters too
The third and fourth distinguishing features of Class A motorhomes are length and floor plan. If a 45’ motorhome is just too long, or a 35’ coach is too short, and you think a second bathroom is a deal-breaker, then you know you need to narrow your search to coaches in the length you want that still have the half bath.
The rest of the distinguishing characteristics will start to sort themselves out once you settle on the price, power plant, and length. A bed over the driver’s seat, a dishwasher, double stainless sinks, heated floors, leather upholstery, an outdoor cooking area, retractable TVs, and a side-by-side home-style refrigerators, are all appointments that will impact the price and the livability of a new RV, but they are features and benefits that you can find in many different floor plans from many manufacturers and price ranges.
Consider a motorhome warranty policy
The next step is very important, once you have settled on the price, engine, and length. At this point, you need to shift your thinking to ownership issues. Consider the unseen attributes that will have an impact on your enjoyment of your new motorhome. You will need to investigate the motorhome’s engineering and each manufacturer’s reputation for standing behind their products.
For example, will the manufacturer stand behind your purchase? What is their warranty policy? Do you need to take the coach back to the factory for warranty work, or can any authorized dealer do warranty work? One of the brands listed above only does warranty work at their factory. If you’re 1,000 miles away, that’s not convenient.
What can you learn about the quality of the workmanship and parts that go into the coach? Is the brand likely to be in business in 5 or 10 years? What is the warranty on the chassis, drive train, and body construction?
Here’s the bottom line: you’re going to spend some serious money on your motorhome and the research you do before you make that decision could save you an untold amount of aggravation down the road.
Our experience shopping for a Class A motorhome
We went through this very process in September 2019 when we bought a new RV (one of the brands listed above). But before we settled on the manufacturer and motorhome that was right for us, we had numerous conversations with independent RV technicians to learn what they had experienced when working with different brands.
Several repair techs told us that one of the brands listed above was extremely difficult to work with. The manufacturer wouldn’t supply parts for warranty work and engaged in protracted disputes for every warranty claim. Another brand listed above was the exact opposite. They provide a personal representative with the sale of every new coach. The buyer is given the representative’s phone number and email and the new owners are encouraged to call their rep if they have any problems.
Good engineering is massively important, and a manufacturer that will stand behind their products is even more important. Once you have your own preliminary list of the best Class A motorhomes, go out to parks and campgrounds and talk with owners of these brands.
Read the reviews, do your research. Look beyond the beautiful showroom displays and think about the way all the systems work. Ask owners what they like and dislike about their RV. Most owners are happy to share their personal experiences.
More motorhome things to consider
Here is a recap to help you determine the best class A motorhomes that satisfy your needs:
- Establish your budget
- Decide on the engine type
- Decide on the ideal length
- List the features that are deal-breakers
- Research brand integrity, longevity, customer support, and engineering
Should you rent a Class A motorhome first?
Buying a new RV is a big decision. Remember to take your time, ask good questions, think logically, and listen to other owners of the RVs that are on your shortlist.
If you’ll follow these steps carefully, you will be much more likely to be happy with your RV in the long run. Before you buy a Class A motorhome, you may also want to consider renting one through a service like RVShare.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com
So which RV company provided the good service and which one provided the bad service?
Debra Rohm says
I’d sure love to know the answer to that too!!
Robert lengyel says
Robert lengyel wants to know which mh manufacture has the best (honered) warranty
Is the kitchen big enough to cook a meal in or will you be eating out all of the time???
Michael Callahan says
You mentioned that some of the “Above” manufacturers are better than others for various reasons.
It would have been helpful to share that info in this article… just sayin’.
Jeffrey P Bennett says
so who would not supply parts etc.
Frank Kistner says
I suggest that the buyer first determine the amount of space needed for living area and storage (length, GVW) and towing capacity needed, and let these two factors determine the type and horsepower rating of the of power plant.
Next for me are safety features that help the driver, such as side cameras, lane departure warnings, obstacle detection, and systems controls (lights, wipers, HVAC) that are easy for the driver or co-pilot to access (voice command or touch screen).
Then a logical, useable coach layout. For example, in our coach, you can only access the pantry when the slide is out (dumb design).
Linda Venable says
Buy a used class A, and buy a warranty. New doesn’t make it better or have less issues.
Wynn’s have left the RV world and last heard are sailing in a catamaran some place in one of the major oceans. Would have been nice of you to use someone who is at least still RVing and paid their own $$$ for their unit.
I am also interested in who would not supply parts, as well as who supplies a contact phone number.
Jenny Simpson says
I started out in the fall of 2018 in a brand new 35′ Newmar Ventana 3412 diesel pusher. I drove from WA state to Florida solo woman age 66. Because of severe health issues I ended up flying home to WA state and hiring someone to drive it home to WA state. I was in the coach for less than a year and I am selling it now. Traveling solo is not for everyone. It can be lonely at times. I met some really super folks in my journey. Always happy to help, if needed. If I had it to do over I would probably go with a a smaller class C. We have a beautiful country to go see! I would also buy a lightly used rig rather than a new one. A lot less money up front. Join the various rv groups, they have so much information to share with you. Hope this is helpful. Jenny S.
James Smith says
NEWMAR. I have owned two over 30 years and fixing to buy my third. The personal factory rep. Is a very big plus. To be honest I have not had any serious problems with my newmar coaches.
Mr.J79Engine (Google) says
We purchased a 2005 used SunVoyager in 2010 and have had only minor problems. Example; stalling or low power on hills till we discovered we should have upgraded our gas to 93 from 89 due to towing a toad. Once we did, no more problems. We recently had a bumper to bumper service and repaint our front cap, cost cost 10k. Just need to replace 6 tires now on our 3 slide 38’ king bed MH.
Dr. Mike says
This article left a lot of openings that even Columbo could not figure out (“One of the brands listed above only does warranty work at their factory.”). But I can also see the liability issue too.
If this article’s intent was to educate, then more information must be provided such as:
– Everything is negotiable
– Be prepared for taxes (ours were over $15,000)
– If this is your first coach, be prepared to spend at least an additional $3,000-$5,000 for additional items.
– Think of storage. Renting can get a tad expensive.
– Go to several campgrounds with a notebook and speak to owners.
There is so much more to add, but I think this is a good beginning.
Dr. Mike- good points all!
Keith Nichols says
You stated you can buy a range of Class As from a 2021 34’ Forest River FR3 with two slides and two bathrooms for $105,000 to a 45’ Newmar King Aire with three slides and two bathrooms for $1,296,000. You considered these as two extremes to establish a range for consideration.
Several MFGs offer Class A RVs as short as 25-26′ and for many, this is perfect. A 35′ FR3 i in the middle, not the bottom end.
Misses the most important features such as water and propane capacities, degree of four seasons insulation, and access to winterize. Also to make sire you are not being ripped off with a residential fridge.
Ask some people who have back rounds in the rv industry….not hair dressers and who-knows-what. There’s functional aspects with every floor plan- some makes sense and many dont.
Raymond Graff says
We had the same luck with warranty with Forest River. My money is on them!! Had to hire an attorney they finally took it back to the factory and did repairs !!
Rick Hubert says
So which RV manufacturers are good – which are bad? How are the bad ones ever going to improve if they are not called out??
Let me help. As a prior RV tech, as soon as you said that 1 manufacturer fought claims, offered little customer support, etc, I knew exactly which one you were talking about – Thor. The dealer I worked for eventually refused to work on that brand because we could get no help, parts or tech info from them. They always just said – “go to one of our dealers”.
Conversely – As a Winnebago owner I know that they are totally opposite. They are helpful when I call them, they offer tons of on-line brochures, manuals, drawings and tech info, and they willingly sell parts directly to customers.
But for this review to have any validity it should have been much more specific. Not to mention that there is so much not even covered in Class A considerations that should have been. You barely scratched the surface.
Tony Sheffler says
I have nothing bad to relate to the 2 different Winnebagos we have owned, a 40′ Class A in `93, and now a 34′ Journey Express diesel pusher in 2018 adapted to provide an outside lift for my partially paralyzed wife. The maintenance by anyone other than a Winnebago dealer is like shooting craps in a dark room, they claim to be good, but never stand up to their boasts.