Motorhome VS 5th Wheel – Who Wins?

A motorhome vs 5th wheel comparison is the heavyweight title match between RVs. These are the big boys of the RV world. And usually those who are making this comparison want lots of space and conveniences.

There is a real fascination with RV minimalism these days. And a lot of RVers turn to a quality travel trailer like Airstream or a Class B RV to fit that need. But when you start to compare fifth wheels and motorhomes, you are probably looking for much more. And these larger style RVs can deliver in spades.

So which of these type of RVs is best for you? That’s hard to say unless you look over the advantages of each one and compare it with your needs and wants. And what you need in an RV may be completely different from what most others desire. So make the choice that is best for you and your circumstances alone. If you do, you can’t go wrong!

So here is my list of the best advantages of each in this motorhome vs 5th wheel showdown.

Reasons Why You Should Buy A Motorhome

Motorhome vs 5th wheel - a motorhome
A diesel pusher motorhome that compares well with a 5th wheel

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When we are talking about motorhomes, we could be talking about any RV that has a motor for driving built into it. But in this article, when we say motorhome, we are talking about a Class A RV. Simply because that is the size of motorized RV that best compares with 5th wheels.

So here are some of the best reasons why buying a Class A motorhome is a good idea:

  • Probably first on my list is that everything is done for you. You don’t have to match a trailer with a tow vehicle and make sure that all of the weight considerations match. As long as you can verify that there is plenty of cargo storage in the motorhome, the rest of the weight matters are handled already.
  • Motorhomes are super convenient for traveling. Passengers can even use the bathroom while going down the highway. My wife loves this feature!
  • Motorhomes usually have more storage capabilities. At least the larger diesel pushers do.
  • Set-up and tear-down at campgrounds is a breeze in a motorhome. If the weather is bad when you arrive, just put the jacks down and fire up the generator. Then wait until better weather comes to hook up your water, electric and sewer. In the meantime, have a convenient cocktail!
  • Speaking of generators, the ones that come standard in a Class A motorhome are usually perfectly mated to your rig. This is a big advantage over installing one after you buy a 5th wheel RV.
  • Campground maneuverability is usually better in a motorhome too. It saves having to know how to back up a towed vehicle. Especially if you aren’t used to that sort of maneuvering.
  • All the living space in a motorhome is usually on the same floor. Rarely do you encounter any stairs in a Class A.
  • Your driving-around-town vehicle that you tow can be much smaller and fuel efficient. 5th wheel tow vehicles have to be big and bulky. And they aren’t very fuel efficient for everyday driving either.
  • If a dangerous situation arises around your motorhome, just fire up the RV and drive off. There is no need to go outside and expose yourself and others to the danger. This is not a scenario that happens very often, but if it does, you may appreciate this kind of security.
  • The expansive view while driving down the highway in a Class A motorhome is a joy to behold. If it is a diesel pusher, it will be quiet and cool too since the engine is in the back. And there is plenty of moving-around room for occasional stretches.

Reasons Why You Should Buy A 5th Wheel

Motorhome vs 5th wheel - a fifth wheel
A 5th wheel that compares favorably with a large motorhome

So that list of Class A motorhome advantages sounds pretty good, huh? Well, there are plenty of 5th wheel benefits too. And here they are:

  • First on the list is that 5th wheels usually have more room and living space than motorhomes. This is because the slides on a fifth wheel are deeper and make the RV wider when they are deployed.
  • The ceilings are also higher in a 5th wheel. This gives the feeling of even more roominess. In fact, the living room in a 5th wheel often feels like you are living in an apartment. If space is important to you, this is huge!
  • The initial purchase price of a fifth wheel is much lower than a comparably sized motorhome. This is true even if you factor in the tow vehicle as well. A well-appointed new 5th wheel along with a solid tow vehicle will cost about $100,000 – $150,000. A similarly well-appointed new motorhome will often cost $175,000 – $300,000.
  • If you ever have to get your engine repaired, you can still live in your 5th wheel while it is being done. A motorhome will require you to stay elsewhere until the repair is finished. Sometimes the repair facility can make arrangements for you to stay in your motorhome on-site. But don’t count on it.
  • Repairing the diesel engine in your tow vehicle will usually be easier to arrange and cost less. A motorhome’s diesel engine will usually have to be repaired by a facility that specializes in those commercial engines. Whereas most garages and dealerships can handle the repairs on a Chevy, Ford or Dodge diesel truck.
  • Whoever does the cooking will probably appreciate having a kitchen island in a 5th wheel. These are rarely found in motorhomes.
  • There is a great variety in the floor plans that you can get with a 5th wheel. With all of that space to play with, the RV designers can really get their creative juices flowing.
  • If you want to change your RV living area, you can just sell the 5th wheel. You don’t have to sell your tow vehicle as well. But if you sell a motorhome, the whole package goes together and you lose all the mechanical maintenance you have done on it.
  • Highway safety is better with a 5th wheel too since the tow vehicle will most likely have airbags. Most motorhomes do not have these safety features built-in.

Reasons For Either A 5th Wheel Or Motorhome

There are several areas where the comparison of motorhome vs 5th wheel is just simply a tie too. In other words, the advantages and disadvantages are about the same for both. Let’s take a look at some of these now:

  • The cost of vehicle insurance for motorhomes is greater than a fifth wheel to be sure. But you have to insure two vehicles with a 5th wheel (including the tow vehicle) so it’s basically a wash.
  • Fuel costs for both motorhomes and fifth wheels are similar too. Both use big engines that haul lots of weight. So they both burn a lot of fuel.
  • They both depreciate at about the same rate. Of course, the cost of a motorhome is usually higher. So you will lose more money overall in depreciation with a motorhome.

Results Of A Motorhome VS 5th Wheel Comparison

So which one is best for you? Well, it all depends on which advantages mean the most to you in your RV travels.

I recommend taking plenty of time to visit RV dealers and sample both motorhomes and 5th wheels in person. Look at lots of them. See which features appeal to you the most. Ask lots of questions. Imagine yourself in both types of these RVs. Usually you will find that a clear winner becomes apparent after a while of doing this kind of on-site research. That’s what we did and we are happy with our purchase.

I wish you well in your RV search and I hope that these tips and ideas have been helpful. Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter to get more in-depth RV comparisons and information like this. I promise to treat your email inbox with the utmost respect. No spamming here!

Do you have more ideas that can added to this discussion on motorhomes vs 5th wheels? Then please comment below and tell us which features of these rigs are important to you!

As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!

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