Why We Downsized Our RV

The crash was a terrible experience that we hope to never repeat.  But it did have one silver lining: it was essentially a “do over” that allowed us to buy a new RV after having one month experience on the road.  We could look for a new RV that had all those things we liked about our old RV, and avoid those things that we didn’t particularly like.

Our old RV was a Class A motorhome.  Our new RV is a Class C motorhome that’s about 3/4 the length and 2/3 the weight of the old RV.  One of most-asked questions after we bought our new RV was, “Why did you buy a smaller RV?” 

Our new RV in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

It’s a fair question, because most people go bigger for their second RV.  For example, after the crash when we were looking for a replacement RV, we noticed a couple of used 2012 RVs on the lot for sale.  We wondered, how could a 2012 model be considered “used?”  The salesmen explained that people would buy an RV, take it on a trip or two, then exchange it a few weeks later for a different RV.  The reason most often cited was, “It was too small.”  But in our case we went the other way. 

RVs epitomize the concept of compromise.  With a larger RV, you have more room to relax, move about, and store your stuff.  But larger RVs are typically more expensive, consume more gas, and have more restrictions on where you can camp.  Ideally an RV would be like Hermoine’s bag from Harry Potter.  It would be the size of a normal car, but when you went inside it would have multiple rooms and tons of storage!

At first we assumed we’d just buy a newer version of our old Four Winds Hurricane.  But when we stepped inside, Theresa and I both kinda “freaked out.”  Perhaps partially because it reminded us too much of the RV that was just destroyed.  But mostly because the Hurricane seemed so HUGE.  Class A motorhomes range in size from about 28 feet to 45 feet, and our Hurricane was a relatively small 31 feet.  But even at 31 feet the RV was a beast.  It would lumber down the road, consuming most of the lane and requiring our constant attention to keep it centered.  It was a challenge to get gas and find a parking spot at the grocery store.  It was like driving a bus or semi truck.  We decided we wanted something smaller

Next we looked at Class B’s, which are essentially vans customized into RVs.  Surprisingly, these are more expensive than many Class A motorhomes because they are custom-made.  When we stepped inside our first Class B, we immediately became claustrophobic.  And when we saw that the shower and toilet were one and the same, we knew it was time to move on.

We also looked at fifth-wheels and travel trailers but decided against them because both would require the purchase of a large, powerful, gas-guzzling tow vehicle, and we wanted to keep our nimble Toyota RAV4 and its 28 mpg fuel economy for our trips to the local grocery stores and remote hiking trails.

So if the Class A’s are too big, and the Class B’s are too small, maybe the Class C’s are just right.  Class C motorhomes are similar to the U-Haul truck that you rented when you moved out of your college dorm and into your first apartment.  You can recognize Class C’s by the sleeping quarters over the cab, as shown in the photo above.  The 25-foot Class C we purchased had just enough room for our stuff but not too much room for our new minimalist lifestyle.  It had a queen-sized bed, full bathroom, kitchen, refrigerator/freezer, microwave oven, 3-burner range top, four-seat dining room table, and a couch just like our old Class A.  The only thing missing that we really wanted was an oven.  But we can make pretty much anything in a microwave these days.

The Class C was also lacking a slide-out room, hydraulic jacks, and automatic entry stair.  At first these may seem like a loss, but these were features that actually added a lot of stress and hassle when setting up and breaking down camp and travelling.  Our new RV is much simpler, and that leads to less stress on the road.  It’s also much easier to drive, park, and navigate the tight corners found on many park roads.  But best of all, our smaller Class C allows us to fit into many more tight roadside camping spots that would likely be unreachable with our big ol’ Class A.

We’ve had our new Class C motorhome for nearly two months and love it.  We are very happy with our decision to downsize our RV.  Following is a table that compares our old and new RVs:

  New RV Old RV
Make Coachmen Four Winds
Model Freelander Hurricane
Year 2012 2006
Type Class C Class A
Engine Ford 6.8L V-10 Ford 6.8L V-10
Length 25’8” 31’2”
Width 8’4” 8’4”
Height 11’6” 10’10”
Unloaded Weight (lbs) 10,058 15,470
Loaded Weight (lbs) 12,500 18,000
Max Weight (lbs) 18,500 26,000
Tow Capacity (lbs) 5,000 5,000
Fresh Water (gal) 50 65
Grey Water (gal) 28 54
Black Water (gal) 25 44
Water Heater (gal) 6 6
Fuel (gal) 55 75
LP Gas (lbs) 68 83
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