Diesel Vs. Gas Motorhomes


Prospective recreational vehicle buyers face a major decision when it comes down to selecting a rolling vacation home of choice. Like heavy-duty pickup trucks, RVs are available with gasoline or diesel-powered engines. Each represents a significant part of the market, and choosing the RV that best fits your needs can hinge on this decision.


  • Once distinct subgroups of motorhomes, diesel-and gas-powered RVs have changed over the years. As of 2010 both Class A (full-chassis) and Class C (van-chassis) motorhomes are available with a choice of gasoline or diesel engines. When it comes to deciding which is "better," there is no clear-cut advantage. The chief differences between gasoline and diesel RVs are cost and capacity. In brief, gasoline-powered motorhomes cost less to purchase and maintain than comparable diesels, while diesels have more power and more cargo and towing capacity. A closer look and a test drive are recommended to find the vehicle of your dreams.

Consider Convenience

  • Amenities are chiefly a function of cost rather than power choice, and both gasoline and diesel motorhomes are available with a full complement of home's comforts. When it comes time to service the mechanical parts, diesels have a longer service interval and require less, though the service itself usually costs more. Out on the road, diesels have more hill-climbing torque, and return better fuel economy.

Consider Familiarity

  • Gasoline-powered RVs have the benefit of being similar to gas-powered heavy-duty trucks. Most mechanics will have a good idea of how to work on them and troubleshoot problems. Service on a diesel RV, on the other hand, will have to be performed by a dedicated motorhome or diesel mechanic, as the corner garage is not equipped to handle even an oil change on these machines.

Consider Comfort

  • Large diesel RVs feature a "pusher" layout, meaning that the engine and drivetrain are mounted at the rear of the coach, as in a charter bus. The considerable weight of the engine and transmission requires a sturdy, bus-like frame as well. This translates to less interior noise when driving. Diesel Class A motorhomes are equipped with air brakes, which require practice to build familiarity.

Consider Cost

  • Gasoline-powered motorhomes are less expensive to purchase and maintain than their diesel-burning counterparts. The diesel's efficiency advantage is offset partially by the higher cost of diesel fuel and, in the case of large Class A coaches, a larger fuel tank.

Which is Best for You?

  • Diesel motorhomes tend to be the choice of RVers who plan to spend a lot of time on the road and are willing to accept the additional expense. Gas-powered motorhomes lend themselves well to vacation use. Both offer the chance to see the country in a new light, and adventure is around the corner no matter what kind of fuel your motorhome burns!

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