After weighing all your options, you’ve decided on a Class A motorhome—now to answer the age-old question: gas or diesel?
As with all things RV, there’s no right answer. Each has pros and cons in various categories. That said, if you can figure out what’s most important to you, the choice gets much easier.
Here are a few things to consider:
Purchase Cost—Winner: Gas
Let’s get right to one of the chief drivers of your decision. All other things being equal, a Class A diesel motorhome is going to cost more than a Class A gas motorhome.
The reality is, most other things aren’t going to be equal. In today’s RV market, Class A diesels are typically outfitted with higher-end finishes and features not found in gas models.
Bonus tip: Consider depreciation and resale value. Historically, diesel motorhomes have maintained their resale value much better than their gas counterparts.
Gas Mileage—Winner: Diesel (Maybe…)
If we’re going off strict MPG, diesel is the winner.
That said, fuel prices fluctuate. In recent years, diesel fuel has consistently cost more than gas, so the actual fuel cost per mile is much evener.
Newer diesel engines also use Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) to help the diesel burn cleaner. Not technically fuel, but it is a recurring cost to keep in mind. Fortunately, most gas stations that offer diesel fuel also offer DEF, especially on major highways and interstates.
Bonus tip: If time really is money, Diesel is the winner. Filling a diesel tank from a fast-flow nozzle can take 25% or less of the time it takes to fill a similar size gas tank at a standard auto fuel pump.
Diesel engines have higher torque at lower RPMs. This means more available power when climbing hills and mountain roads—something RVs notoriously have trouble with. Diesels also handle better when descending.
Gas engines do offer faster acceleration, but with RVs, this usually isn’t an issue. Careful, measured driving is the goal.
Class A diesel motorhomes almost always come with air braking, which is more reliable and will stop a heavy vehicle more quickly than the standard disc brakes that come with Class A gas motorhomes.
Another thing to consider: gas engines tend to perform better in cold climates and higher altitudes.
Bonus tip: The rear engine in the majority of Class A diesel motorhomes makes for a much quieter driving experience. In gas motorhomes, you’re often sitting right on top of the engine—not always the most relaxing place to be.
Maintenance costs on gas engines are lower than diesel engines. Just like on a car, owners may be able to perform some basic maintenance tasks. If you do need help, repair shops and techs are widespread, and almost always carry a lower hourly rate than diesel techs.
However, diesel engines typically require less maintenance than gas engines. Running at a lower RPM means parts wear our less often and problems occur less frequently. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to service your own diesel engine, and parts may be more expensive and take longer to come in.
Bonus tip: Oil changes for a diesel engine can be pricey. They’re huge and take much, much more oil than a gas engine.
Thinking about a toad on your travels? The high torque at low RPMs means diesel engines have the power to pull more weight.
Class A Gas Motorhomes usually max out at around 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, while diesels can often pull 10,000-15,000 pounds.
Bonus tip: Take into account your hitch rating, overall weight ratings, and more when you’re calculating what you can tow. Here’s a post we put together on some best practices for towing.
So which one is right for you? It depends on how you want to RV.
If you’re out a few weekends a year, a Class A gas motorhome might be worth the savings. If you’re full-timing, a Class A diesel motorhome might be a better fit.
Staying in cold climates? Stick to Gas. Lots of climbing? Diesel is the way to go.
No matter which type of Class A you choose, Camping World has the perfect motorhome for you. Browse our selection online or stop by your local Camping World today!