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Gas vs. Diesel Motorhomes: What's Right for Me?

What’s the difference between a gas and diesel motorhome? Besides the obvious answer, the type of fuel that it uses, you may be wondering what advantages and disadvantages each type of motorhome offers. The showdown begins: gas vs diesel RV.

The Gas vs Diesel Motorhome Debate

If you are trying to decide between a gas or diesel motorhome, try to decide what features are most important to you. Also ask yourself what you are planning on using your gas or diesel RV for: are you going to take it on vacation and then store it for the winter, or are you going to use the motorhome as a permanent residence?

There are many areas where gas and diesel motorhomes tend to differ, though there are additional differences based on the manufacturer of the coach. If you’re looking for a definitive answer about whether gas or diesel motorhomes are superior, you won’t find it here, because there is no absolute answer. It depends entirely on what you are looking for.

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Some areas to consider when comparing diesel vs gas motorhomes:


The first consideration for many people shopping for a new motorhome is price. How expensive is the motor coach? First time motorhome buyers often decide to go with a less expensive gas motorhome than a diesel or luxury coach.

There are, of course, various degrees of quality within a category. Depending on what you are looking for, the best gas motorhomes on the market stack up against some lower quality diesel units. There is a profound and noticeable difference between the best luxury diesel motor coaches and the baseline gas recreational vehicles.

But for the most part, if you’re looking to save money but still get a great coach, you’re probably looking for a higher-end gas model. If you have been saving for retirement so that you can become a full-time RVer, you won’t be sorry spending more money for a luxury diesel coach. Diesel coaches also tend to retain their value longer than gas motorhomes.

Fuel Efficiency

When comparing a diesel vs. gas motorhome, diesel motorhomes are much more fuel efficient. That is partly because diesel fuel has a greater energy value than gasoline does. Its higher energy density means that diesel fuel can offer up to 10 percent better fuel economy by volume.

One primary concern for recreational vehicle owners is maximizing engine power and efficiency. We all know how expensive fuel is, and because powerful motorhome engines consume fuel at such a high rate, on a cross-country trip or while driving through terrain, owners want to be sure they are getting the most out of their fuel consumption. While diesel fuel is more expensive than petrol, depending on the model, it can be much cheaper in the long run to drive a diesel coach because of the improved fuel efficiency.

So if you are going to put a lot of mileage on your motor coach, driving it across the country and living in it full time, you probably want to choose a diesel motorhome. But if you are just taking it on vacation and testing out the recreational vehicle lifestyle, it probably makes more sense to choose a gas engine motorhome.

Comfort and Luxury

It’s natural to focus on the primary features when shopping for a motorhome. What type of chassis is the coach built on? Does the engine provide enough power? Am I getting the value I want at the right price point?

One thing you may overlook is the comfort that the interior offers. Many people have trouble focusing on the details until they’ve actually started to live in their coach. They think they’ve spent ample time checking out the electronics, the bedroom, the restroom, and the kitchen. But once they own the coach, they realize it doesn’t feel like home the way they thought it would.

This isn’t a problem with the top manufacturers, where even the gas motorhomes at the lowest price point seem like luxury coaches. Whether it’s a diesel or gas RV, you’ll probably be blown away the first time you set foot in a Newmar.

But in a more general manufacturer sense, a gas motorhome will probably offer less comfort and more little flaws – ones you don’t notice until you spend an extended period of time in the coach. Diesel motor coaches are often able to offer nicer interiors and better components, which is more important to a full time recreational vehicle owner than someone just getting into the RV lifestyle.

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