You’ve seen Instagram photos and Tik Tok videos of your co-workers venturing off for the weekend in their RVs. You’ve decided that’s the life you want, too. But you’re scared to death about driving a huge motorhome.
Are all RVs difficult to drive?
Or maybe the better question is, which RV is easiest to drive?
Let’s take a look at several different types of RVs so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Are RVs Easy to Drive?
With practice and over time, you can learn how to safely and enjoyably drive an RV. However, it doesn’t start that way.
Especially if you’re only used to driving a Toyota Camry, hauling a 30-ft travel trailer may seem impossible. The bigger you get, the harder it is to drive.
Towable RVs have their own challenges that are different from drivable RVs. Let’s look at what makes each type of RV difficult to maneuver (at least initially) and which class is easiest to quickly learn how to drive.
What Are The Different Types of RVs?
If you’re new to the RV world, there are several different types of RVs. First, there are two distinctions: drivable and towable.
Within those types, there are even more differences. Let’s look at each of these different types of RVs before we jump into what makes them difficult to drive.
Class As are what many people think of when they imagine an RV. They’re the big motorhomes. Although they range in length, most of them will average 35 ft. Some can even be as long as 45 ft. They’re also going to be the most expensive. The cheapest new models will be around $100,000.
Class As are big, drivable RVs averaging 35 feet in length.
Class A motorhomes are drivable RVs. They have their own engine, either gas or diesel, and rest on a commercial bus or truck chassis. They often look like tour buses going down the road. Sometimes you’ll see a car towed behind a Class A so the RVers can get around town easier once they set up camp.
Although layouts vary, most Class A motorhomes will have a rear bedroom with closet space, a full bathroom, and a cozy kitchen and living space behind the cab. They’re fully contained, which means they have tanks to hold waste and provide water and batteries or an electrical system to provide power.
Of the drivable RVs, the Class B van is the smallest. Often, RVers who choose a Class B van are looking for off-grid camping. They want to get into tight spaces and travel over rocky terrain or into dense forests. Usually, solo travelers and couples who enjoy hiking and adventuring enjoy the Class B van.
A Class B ranges from 19 to 25 ft. The size is very similar to the length and width of a pick-up truck. This is helpful when driving around town. RVers who have Class B vans love how versatile it is. They can go to the grocery store or squeeze into a small primitive site at a national park with no problems.
Class Bs are easiest to drive in tight spaces, like a small campsite or around town.
But just because it’s smaller doesn’t mean you don’t get all of the amenities. Most Class Bs come with a kitchen and living space behind the cab and sleeping space and a bathroom in the rear. Some will have full amenities in the kitchen like stoves, microwaves, refrigerators, and freezers.
Most Class B baths are wet baths, which means the shower, toilet, and sink are in the same space. This is the best way to save space in a tiny RV.
Per square foot, the Class B is the most expensive RV. On average, they can cost $100,000. This price can fluctuate, though, depending on the size and amenities.
They’re durable, better on gas mileage, and built on a van chassis. Unlike the Class A, the Class B living space is built directly on the van chassis. This means production takes longer, which leads to a higher price point. The quality of the materials is also better than most motorhomes.
The last of the drivable RVs is the Class C motorhome. These are recognizable for their bed over the cab. They range from 19 to 40 ft. On average, a Class C is around 30 ft.
Like the Class As, you can find either a gas engine or diesel engine in a Class C. You can buy a new Class C starting around $75,000.
The layout of a Class C often includes the cabover bed for additional sleeping space, a center kitchen, living, and dining space, and a bedroom and bathroom in the rear. The biggest distinction between a Class A and Class C is the cabover space.
Class Cs tend to have better fuel mileage than Class A because of their smaller size and weight. They also tend to be easier to drive and cheaper.
Class C motorhomes tend to be easier to drive than their Class A counterpart.
These are the cheapest options of all types of RVs on this list. However, you also have to have a vehicle that can tow them. A travel trailer, also called a bumper pull, attaches to the hitch of an SUV or truck. Once you’re at a campsite, the vehicle unhitches from the travel trailer, and you can use it around town.
Travel trailers might have the greatest variety of all of the RVs. Lengths, weights, layouts, and the number of slides affect the price point. You can buy a new travel trailer for $35,000, or you can buy one for $70,000. With so many options, the price varies tremendously. But the advantage of having so many options is owners can find their perfect RV.
When attached to a tow vehicle, travel trailers can be extremely long. If you’re towing a 30-ft travel trailer with a 20-ft truck, that’s 50 ft of length to maneuver around. This makes a travel trailer one of the most difficult RVs to drive.
Travel trailers are one of the most difficult RVs to drive due to the length they add to your tow vehicle.
The second towable RV on the list is a fifth wheel. However, you tow this type of RV much differently. A fifth wheel requires a fifth-wheel hitch in the bed of a truck. You can’t tow these with an SUV. These hitches are expensive, so it’s an added cost when purchasing a fifth wheel.
However, the fifth wheel hitch creates a much smoother towing experience. There’s more stability because the hitch sits over the truck’s rear tires and not behind the truck. The turning radius is also tighter. So even though a fifth wheel is a towable RV, it’s not as difficult to drive as a travel trailer.
A fifth wheel is hitched differently than a travel trailer, making it more stable to tow.
Like travel trailers, fifth wheels come in various lengths, weights, layouts, and number of slides. Depending on amenities and size, a new fifth wheel can range from $50,000 to more than $100,000.
The most recognizable feature of a fifth wheel is the front cap. This is where the RV extends over the truck’s bed and connects to the hitch. Sometimes there’s a bedroom or living room in this space.
Fifth wheels often provide more living space and storage space than travel trailers. Their ceiling height is also taller. This is one of the biggest advantages of a fifth wheel. And since stairs lead up to the front space, you get additional storage space.
What Makes an RV Easy to Maneuver?
The only RVs that are easy to maneuver are small ones. Towing a small Casita or driving a 20-ft Class B makes turning at traffic lights or driving down a narrow city street much more comfortable. When you’re driving a 35-ft Class A motorhome or towing a 42-ft fifth wheel, you might wind up white-knuckling it.
Driving down the interstate is another story. As long as the tow vehicle can pull the weight of the travel trailer or fifth wheel, the ride will be fairly smooth no matter how large the RV.
Class A and Class C motorhomes are also easy to drive down the interstate. The trouble comes when you get off at your exit. Pre-plan your route to avoid unexpected challenges.
Which RV Is Easiest to Drive?
The Class B van is the easiest RV to drive.
The Class B van is the easiest RV to drive because of its size. It’s very similar to driving a minivan or cargo van.
You don’t have to worry about height clearance.
You don’t have to worry about tight turns at stop signs.
Also, you don’t have to worry about backing into a tight space.
The ease of travel is what makes Class B vans so popular.
Are Other Types of RVs Difficult to Drive?
Class A, Class C, travel trailers, and fifth wheels all come with a learning curve. If you’ve never driven anything longer than a standard car or truck, or if you’ve never towed anything, you’re going to have to learn how to drive these RVs.
Going to an empty parking lot is a great idea. Take your RV to a school on the weekend and learn the turning radius. Practice backing up. Also, practice backing up with a spotter. Communication is very important when you arrive at a campground, so practice signs and communication techniques that work for the two of you.
It will take several camping trips to get comfortable with your new rig. But it’s certainly possible to be confident and relaxed when driving an RV of any size. It just takes practice.
Get Something You Can Drive
If you’re new to the RV world and are looking for a rig, don’t just focus on layout. Consider where you’ll be going, how long you’ll be staying, and how comfortable you are with driving an RV.
A fifth wheel isn’t your best option if you want to get into primitive sites or go off-roading. Even if you have a family, consider a Class B or a smaller option.
However, if you’re looking to visit Jellystone Parks or want family-friendly campgrounds with many amenities, a Class A or larger option will suit your needs. Just make sure you take some practice drives before heading out. Don’t endanger yourself, your loved ones, or other drivers by not taking time to learn how to drive your rig.
Do you already have an RV? How long did it take before you became comfortable driving it?
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