How we got to our choice

> RV Purchase Journey

Getting to where we are now in our RV purchase decision has been a fun discovery. Nights are spent pouring over RVTrader.comRVUSA.com and RVT.com showing each other the latest find. We then jump over to Youtube and watch the RV Whisperer in Elkhart and the sales team at Guaranty in Junction City, Oregon to view their walkthrough of our RV du jour.

So, what type of RV will we buy? We were both in agreement right away that we had no interest in towing anything. We liked the idea of the house attached to the cockpit. We want the ability to go from driving space to living space without having to exit the rig. Also, our plan is to be mobile and nimble. A fifth wheel is big, clunky and terrible to move around in busy areas - even worse to find parking. We immediately ruled out all travel trailers and fifth-wheels.

Of the various driveable RV classes, we have surpisingly only ruled out two choices.

CLASS B - Way back when, we first walked into a true Mercedes Benz Sprinter Class B at a home show in Eugene Oregon. We were wow'ed! We both thought that this would be the perfect vehicle for our 'getaway'. It had everything contained into its original footprint: bed, bath, table, cab, storage... everything we needed!
These are RV's created completely on a standard van chassis. There is no 'box' behind the driver area. The manufacturer didn't cut away the back of the van. Small and maneuverable as a city van, with everything we need all contained in a rig that was under 24'.
Once we walked inside, we quickly knew that they were too tight of a fit for us. There was no place to put one, much less - two desk spaces. We also learned that the shower space was almost non-existent. While we still love the thought of owning one, we expanded our research and found the next level of RV's.

CLASS C - Next we found a couple of Class C's that we really liked. The floorplan that became our 'must-have' came from the first Class C's we discovered.
The Class C motorhomes take a van chassis, frame and engine and drop the entire RV living quarters on top. You get the best of both worlds: The smaller size of a B with the benefit of addtional features found in the Class A's.
We thought we were done. We found our floor plan and got the added space and areas of separation we were looking for. We visited a couple of local RV dealers on the weekend and tested them out. We were done!.... only, not so fast!

CLASS A Hybrid - One Sunday in August, we walked through a Class C at a nearby dealership. Afterwards we drove over to Camping World, just to window shop and get another view of what we were about to get ourselves into. In the parking lot we found something new: a hybrid between a Class A and Class C. Thor markets these as RUV (Recreational Utility Vehicles). The Vegas/Axis models look and drive like a Class A, but set on a Class C chassis. This give you a Class A RV that is as small as 24'! That was cool!
One week later we were sitting inside a Vegas 27.7. It had a sleek Euro-style interior, a cool Millenium Falcon-esque front windshield and the same floorplan we liked on the Class C. It was under 28' and had a great turning radius. We loved sitting higher off the road. We were now above the other cars.
We were done!... or so we thought! Soon we were stepping into other Class A's and were learning about many more choices.

CLASS A - We were enjoying discovering new favorites every couple of days. Now we were sold on the RUV. However, digging a bit deeper we soon found more Class A's with our floorplan and size criteria but were now sitting on a RV chassis instead of a van chassis.
We toured a HR Ramber 28A and a Coachmen Pursuit Perfection 27DS. A week later at a Winnebago dealer we got inside a Winnebago Vista 27PE.
It became apparent that there was a big difference between the Winnebago and Thor. Winnebago creates their own cabinetry and furniture. Each piece is designed with that space and floorplan in mind. Other manufacturers buy their interiors from third parties. It looks good and functions well, its just that the fit and finish isn't there.
The Vista 27PE became our new favorite. It's under 30'. You sit up high. It's a gas, Ford engine. It has the floorplan. It has the quality build. Once again, we thought we were done. Only we now find ourselves going (almost) full circle back to where we started.

CLASS B+ - After a couple of weeks of finding the RV that is THE perfect fit for us, we began looking back - discovering new options that we either didn't consider or know about just a month before.
One place we kept glancing back at is the original Class B rigs. There was something special and pure about downsizing and keeping it as simple as possible. While we won't purchase something this small, we did stumble on the Class B/C hybrids that are real cool.

Class B+'s are motorhomes built on a Mercedes Benz MB3500 Sprinter Chassis or on a Ford Transit (F150) chassis. The van back has been replaced with a molded fiberglass Class C house. These are sleeker, cleaner and smaller than the bulky Class C builds put on the Ford E450 frames.
I really like the clean, Euro-style look of the MBS models. Their smaller overall size is a huge plus for city driving. The MB diesel engine is known for is longevity and mileage. We discovered a few models with features and floorplans that hit our target list of 'must-haves'.
Where this class falls short is on space. We found models with walk-around queen beds and some with the dinette, and one with a recliner that has a removble table, but we can't find one that has both options. The other space issue is the outside storage, which is typically around 35 to 40 cubic feet. The Class A's and larger Class C's have storage upwards of 70 cu ft.

One of our new favorites is the 2020 Leisure Travel Vans 25RL. With a very unique layout on a Class B+ chassis, this is the van we would have built if we designed one! Production begins in November, 2019. Maybe we'll be ready to buy one in a few years.

FLOORPLAN: We love this floorplan. It has become the main criteria for all models we consider.
Key features of this floorplan are:Combination Dinette/Sofa across from each other. On most models, this requires a slide-out. We like the two spaces across from each other. When on the same side of the rig, they are too separate. The across combo option makes it feel like a "great room".Full Queen/Full/King Bed with walk-around spacing. No corner beds or twins. We want to be able to make the bed daily and be able for both to get in and out without crawling over one another. For the size models we're looking at this usally means the bed is on a slide.

Leprechaun 260DS floorplan
Our budget however will likely put us into one these Class B+ finalists, or a under 30' Class A starter:

Class B+ Finalists
Class A Finalists

Here's the pro and con for each:

Class B+: Small and nimble. Engine longevity. Classy Euro styling on the models we like. Molded fiberglass body. Best gas mileage. We can find models with our floor plan. We can drive this around town and park in most places.

Saftey - Airbags are standard in the cab.

Class A: Larger (we're undecided if the Class B+ is too small, or if the Class A's are too large)! More storage. Elevated seating. Roomier interior. More options. More service options.


Class B+: Is it too small? Maintennce may be costly (must use Mercedes technicians). DEF contamination issues, Filters, Lack of external storage.

Class A: Drivability. Will it drive like a box? Will we need to upgrade with anti-sway bars? This will limit us where we can park when in towns.
Style? We love the Euro-style of the Class B+'s. While there are sleek looking Class A options, they aren't the greatest made.
Safety - There are no airbags. There are also more structural issues with the frame.

CONCLUSION: Ultimately we don't have an answer yet. That's part of the fun! We have two years to go, and will finally make a selection, someday.
The Class B's are just too small and the Class C's are too ugly.
We want to go small. Since this is our main driving vehicle and no-tow, we are leery of starting this adventure in a RV that is too large for us to get around efficiently. This rules out the Class A's. However, in the future, if the Mercedes series proves to be too small, we would move to a small Class A.
In the end the standard Class C's just looked like something old people drive. They bored me. Though they are the most cost-effective option, they look like something my uncle drove around in during the 70's.
So, we are moving forward with a Euro-style molded body Class B+ on a Mercedes chassis. It will have the dinette (desk) and recliner option in front and a full queen or full-size walkaround bed in back. The biggest loss is exterior storage space..... BUT.... We're also still keeping the Class A's in our sights.

Tags: RV, Class A, Class B, Class B+, Class C, Tiffin, Winnebago, Coachmen, Thor, Motorhome, Full-time, lifestyle

Created: 15 September 2019
Updated: 19 Oct 2019