Updated: Jul 5, 2021
If you've ever been to an RV sales facility you know that there's many choices for the buyer. Being educated and aware of your choices and required features makes a huge difference towards making the right choice. As I'm sure you already knew the 'best coach' really depends on your needs, and a bit on your budget. I like to think of RVers as falling into three distinct categories
Weekender Usage, Long weekends.
Extended trips, Weeks or months at a time. Snowbirders fit into this category.
Fulltime, no fixed home location.
Of course things can always be a hybrid of any of these, but understanding your usage pattern will help answer the 'what's best' question. Keep in mind that your needs likely will change, ours did. We originally envisioned ourselves as extended weekends, or seasonal long trips, but never fulltime, at least not in the beginning. I remember an RV salesman once told me that most 1st time RV buyers end up coming back within a year and purchasing a higher end unit with more features. This doesn't mean go out and buy something beyond your needs and budget, but it does emphasize the importance of figuring out what are your needs. Not always an easy goal.
One way to 'get a taste' is to rent an RV the first few times. Unfortunately I'm not a big proponent of this approach. There's plenty of Class-C RV rentals available thru several vendors, but very few Class-A (Motorocoach) rentals and they tend to be very expensive, as expected. The Class-C commercial rentals are truly bare bones. If I were to rent one of these as my first experience, I doubt I would have gotten into RVing. Unfortunate but true.
So which coach is right for you? Lets' talk about features for a minute. There's certainly coaches with nicer features than others, but with nicer features comes complexity, cost (maintenance, storage, etc) and comfort. When we were deciding our first motorcoach we built a spreadsheet to compare features and cost and value.
Be sure to read my other post titled "How to Buy a Motorcoach" where I describe the spreadsheet technique and provide an example. Which features do you really need?
Let's talk about a washer/dryer for a paragraph or two. If you're going on more than a week-long trip, this is a nice feature, but not essential. Most RV sites have communal washer/dryer machines, but it's sure nice to just start a load in your own machine and take off for the day to explore the surrounding area without taking up 1/2 your day babysitting a tumbling drum in a communal wash room.
What about a refrigerator. Are you a leftover person and likes to load up at Costco with lots of frozen items? If so, a full-sized residential refrigerator is high on your needs list. These are the only option in higher end motorcoaches, but as you lower your coach pricepoint (or even step out of a Class-A level RV) you'll start to see more of the RV refrigerators instead of the fullsize residential fridges. The RV fridges are smaller in size (watch yourself at Costco), but require less power and can even run on propane when not connected to shore power. If the creature comforts of home are important to you, the fullsized residental refrigerator is likely important to you. These units are just like what you buy for your brick and mortar home, just installed in your motorcoach.
Goldilocks & the Three Bears
There are numerous features to consider when deciding which motorcoach is right for you, but I'll touch on one more for this blog. Beds. How many people do you need (want?) to allow to sleep in your coach. We like to joke that our coach can accomidate 6 for happy hour, 4 for dinner, and sleeps 2. That's right, there's only 1 bed. Our daughter has slept on the couch a few times when home from college, but it's not a good long term arrangement as she will tell you. Some RVs accommodate sleeping for families with bunk beds for kids, but as you go up in features/price, you'll find less accommodations for sleeping large families. This is likely due to the fact that those that purchase higher end motorcoaches tend to be retired and no longer have kids at home. But what about grandkids? Maybe an air mattress on the floor will suffice? Even high end coaches sometimes come configured with bunk beds, but the downside is these are dedicated space that seems wasteful if only used periodically for infrequent guests. With RVs being so small one must really allocate space according to how much it's used. The concept of a spare bedroom for infrequent guests is hard to justify when your entire home only has 350 sq-ft. Some RVs have a pullout couch in the main salon (aka: living room) that can be a very good solution without taking up dedicated space like a bunk bed. Some of these pullout couches are air inflated mattresses that are quite comfortable. Our first motorcoach had a pullout bed that was not comfortable and not good for more than a few days, at least that's what our daughter told us when she visited. Bottom line, think about your sleeping needs, frequency of guests, type of guests (grandkids, or crazy brother-in-law). Perhaps the local Marriott is an even better option for the visiting brother-in-law. Keep in mind that an RV, even the big motorcoaches are still small compared to your brick and mortar home, and you'll be very physically close to whomever is staying over.
As you can see we've touched on only a few features that need to be considered, there's many more. I've provided a more compete list of these features in the spreadsheet attached to the "How to Buy a Motorcoach" blog.
Before we close, one of the most important decisions in selecting a motorcoach is whether to go diesel or gas. This is probably the most fundamental question that drives so many other parts of this decision process. Initial price, comfort, longevity, etc. I cover this topic at length in another posting titled "Diesel or Gas?".
With this information and ideas, you should be well equipped to start working towards an answer based on your own needs and budget as to which really is the 'best' motorcoach.