Best Features To Look For In Class A Motorhomes
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:
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.
Price of Class A motorhomes
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.
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:
Class A motorhome floor plans & length
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.
Motorhome warranty policies
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.
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
Try renting 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.