Explore different RV types and hit the road in your dream vehicle.
Explore different RV types and hit the road in your dream vehicle.
Think long and hard about what kind of RVing you want to do. How many people do you want to travel with? Do you like to cook? Would you like the ability to go off-grid for extended periods, or do you prefer the convenience of a public RV park with water and electric hookups? Do you want all the comforts of home while on the road, or are you willing to sacrifice some luxuries to make room for other priorities? Do you own (or are you willing to purchase) a vehicle capable of towing an RV trailer?
There are literally thousands of different floor plans available. While obviously a larger RV will give you more space to customize the way you want, interior layout may be even more important in a smaller RV. Make sure you choose a design that makes you feel comfortable, uncrowded and unencumbered. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time in this vehicle.
There are lots of questions to ask yourself before buying an RV. How much RV can you afford? Will you buy new or used? And how will you pay for it?
One RV financing option is a U.S. Bank RV loan. With our easy online application, you could have a decision the same day you apply.
There’s a huge variety of different RV styles, designs and floor plans. The dividing lines between categories can sometimes become blurred, and many RVs available for sale today share features and attributes from multiple different types. That said, we’ll explain the most common classifications.
RVs fall into two broad categories: drivable RVs and towable RVs (trailers that require a separate towing vehicle).
Built on existing or specially designed truck or van chassis, drivable RVs are powered by an engine and drivetrain. Unlike with trailers, the living area of the RV is accessible while in transit.
When you picture a luxury RV, this type is likely the image that comes to mind. Class A RVs are the largest class of drivable RV, resembling a decked-out bus with a flat front, vertical windshield and multiple side windows. They typically come equipped with water tanks and electricity built in, although some can also be connected to facilities at an RV park.
Inside, you’ll find lots of space – often including one or more private bedrooms and slide-out sections that further expand the interior – and comfort that rivals that of a conventional home. Luxury options abound: sleeping berths for as many as 10 passengers, a generous kitchen with full-size appliances, a bathroom and standing shower, even laundry facilities and entertainment systems.
Class A motorhomes are big, heavy and unsurprisingly, some of the priciest RVs out there. They’re also expensive to fuel and insure, and can be challenging to maneuver and park due to their size. But for road-tripping in style with a large crew, it’s hard to beat a Class A.
Also called camper vans, Class B motorhomes are essentially just that: smaller RVs built on an extended van chassis with a lowered floor and raised roof to permit standing inside. They’re ideal for solo travelers or couples, though some models can seat and sleep as many as four (albeit tightly) via couches that convert into beds.
In a Class B motorhome, you’ll find a surprising number of amenities, though not as many nor as fancy as in a Class A. Most will have a small kitchen area and some form of “wet bath” supplying basic sink and toilet facilities.
Drivability and versatility are strong points of the Class B motorhome. Nimble and agile yet equipped to be off-grid for a few days at a time, a Class B can go places larger RVs can’t. And their superior fuel economy means you can explore farther for less.
Think of a Class C motorhome as a Class A, but on a smaller scale. They’re easy to identify, built into a standard truck chassis with a telltale compartment extending over the cab (usually used for sleeping quarters or additional storage). Most Class C motorhomes can safely transport and sleep between 2 and 4 people.
Surprising luxury awaits inside. Most Class Cs will have a substantial kitchen area with full-size or compact appliances, along with a full bathroom with stand-up shower. You may even opt for indulgences like an entertainment system or gaming station.
Because it’s essentially a large truck, a Class C is less intimidating to drive for many people than a buslike Class A. You’ll also likely pay less to insure a Class C motorhome, and less in fuel costs, too.
Each of the RV styles in this category requires a separate towing vehicle. What kind of towing vehicle you’ll need varies depending on the size and loaded weight of the trailer. Some smaller, lightweight trailers can be towed by a family-size sedan or compact SUV, whereas something larger like a Fifth Wheel trailer will require a ¾-ton or 1-ton pickup to tow safely. Also, bear in mind that it’s illegal in most states for passengers to ride in a moving trailer on the road, so be sure you have a roomy enough towing vehicle to seat your travel party on the road.
These expandable trailers cater to those who want to experience nature firsthand. They come in two basic types: pop-up and hard-sided.
A pop-up camping trailer (also know as a foldable trailer) is lightweight and folds down into a compact trailer, making it easy and relatively energy-efficient to tow. Its low profie when packed also makes it more maneuverable, should you want to set up camp in a remote location. When parked, the camper’s canvas-and-mesh extensions expand to create an environment much like a tent, but with plenty of room for sleeping, cooking and hanging out. Before you can decamp, though, you’ll need to manually collapse the trailer – also much like a tent.
A hard-sided camping trailer has an exterior of metal or fiberglass and features fold-in compartments that swing out to provide more interior room at the chosen site. Hard-sided campers have the advantage of better protection from heat and cold. You’ll sacrifice some of that “sleeping under the stars” feeling, but in trade, you’ll be able to stay comfortable overnight year-round. They are heavier and stand higher in transit, however, so they’re not quite as maneuverable as soft-sided popup trailers.
Destination trailers are designed to provide all the comforts of home wherever you choose to stay, for a week, a month or a whole season. They are self-contained, with standard water and sewage tanks and battery power, but can also be hooked up to utilities at a commercial campsite if desired. Large and heavy, a destination trailer will typically require a 1-ton or larger tow vehicle.
Inside, you’ll find appointments similar to those in a Class A motorhome: tons of space and plenty of storage, sleeping quarters for the whole family, full bath with stand-up shower, and a large kitchen with residential appliances and maybe even a kitchen island. You can think of a destination trailer as a way to take your vacation home with you anywhere you travel.
Fifth wheel trailers are among the largest and most spacious of towable RVs. So named because they connect to the towing vehicle via a special hitch located in the front of the truck bed, fifth wheel trailers offer better on-road stability and maneuverability than a trailers attached via a standard rear ball hitch. You’ll need a large, powerful truck, 1 ton or more, to tow one of these babies.
The added section that overhangs the bed of the truck significantly extends the interior. This provides a multilevel, almost residential feel and serves to enhance the privacy of the bedroom that’s usually located there. Fifth wheels typically also provide higher ceilings than most trailers and extra “basement” storage below the main floor. You’ll many of the same creature comforts of other large RVs: ample seating and sleeping accommodations, a large kitchen, full bath, entertainment systems and more.
Also called sport utility RVs, toy haulers are made to accommodate the needs of those who want to bring their motor toys along for the ride. They take many shapes, all with one common feature: a large, garage-like space in the rear with a back panel that folds down into a ramp to provide ready access to motorcyles, ATVs, dirt bikes and the like.
In addition to oodles of storage space, toy haulers can come equipped with a variety of comfort features: sleeping for as many as eight people, large, a well-appointed bathroom with separate shower, an expansive kitchen, laundry facilities and more. And even if motorsports aren’t your bag, the garage space in a toy hauler can be converted into an extended living area or a loft for additional sleeping capacity.
The most popular category among towable RVs is also the most varied. Travel trailers come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, from tiny “teardrop” models that can be towed behind a family sedan or small SUV to the iconic, aluminum-clad Airstream “silver bullet” trailers that have defined the high end of this category since the 1930s.
As such, there are as many floor-plan options as there are models, so finding the right one for your needs will require some research. Depending on your needs and budget, you’ll find travel trailers that sleep from as few as 1 or 2 to as many as 10 people. Larger travel trailers typically come with a large bathroom, a shower and a generous kitchen. Some even feature one or more slide-out compartments for additional storage.
Unlike other RV trailers, truck campers are not technically “towed” so much as “hauled.” A truck camper is designed to mount, semi-permanently in most cases, onto the bed of a pickup truck. Like a Class C motorhome, a truck camper is characterized by an overcab compartment that provides additional square footage and is typically used as a semiprivate bedroom. Like camping trailers, truck campers are available in both pop-up and hard-sided varieties.
Elsewhere in a truck camper, you’ll find many of the same amenities as in other RVs. Bathrooms with showers, kitchens with sinks and multiple appliances, and dining areas for as many as four people are common. And because they’re fully self-contained with water tanks and onboard electricity, truck campers can take you off-grid for several days at a time without access to facilities.
Mounted on a four-wheel-drive pickup, a truck camper can go anywhere the truck can, making it ideal for remote adventuring. And because the truck’s hitch remains free, you can easily tow other motor toys behind you.
When buying an RV, there are good reasons to consider both new and used. Let us help you decide.
U.S. Bank Vice President Jen Wendt discusses the considerations that went into her family’s decision.
Still undecided? You can explore all kinds of new and used RVs available now from our participating dealers in our RV marketplace. You’re sure to find one that inspires the adventurer in you.