We’ve traveled, lived, and worked in a Class A motorhome for nearly two decades now. Our first rig was a 2002 39’ Fleetwood Bounder Diesel (model 39Z if you’re really curious), and our current home is a 2005 43’ Newmar Mountain Aire. We never considered small motorhomes because we knew that we wouldn’t just be traveling part-time in our RV, but we’d be living and working in it full-time.
We appreciate the space, the layout, the comfort, and the ride. And since Peter was a professional motorcoach operator, and Safety & Training Manager for one of the largest bus companies in North America, we had no qualms about maneuvering a big rig just about anywhere.
But bigger isn’t always better. Smaller rigs are easier to maneuver, fit in smaller campsites, get better fuel mileage, and are almost always less expensive. As a result, our standard recommendation is to buy the smallest RV you think you can be comfortable in. If we were ever to replace our current rig, it would absolutely be smaller.
With downsizing being so popular these days, we thought it might be a good time to feature some awesome Class A motorhomes that are far smaller than ours, easier to drive and park, but plenty spacious and comfortable.
So, today we’re taking a look at five motorhomes that offer it all, but in a smaller package, (with a slightly bigger bonus idea at the end, complete with initial impression and follow-up video tours). Let’s get to it!
- 1) 5 Small Motorhomes that Are Big on Style
- 2) 1. Jayco Alante 26X
- 3) 2. Forest River FR3 30DS
- 4) 3. Thor Axis 24.1
- 5) 4. Winnebago Intent 26M
- 6) 5. Thor Vegas 25.6
- 7) Why You Should Consider a Small Class A Motorhome
- 8) Are These Small Motorhomes TOO Small For You?
- 9) Conclusion
5 Small Motorhomes that Are Big on Style
The following five motorhomes are big on style but smaller in form than full-size Class A motorhomes like ours. In fact, all of the motorhomes on this list are at least 10-15 feet shorter than our Newmar. That’s a sizable difference when you’re driving and parking the rig, but once inside these beauties, you’d quickly see that there’s nothing missing other than a bit of space.
1. Jayco Alante 26X
About the Jayco Alante
Built on the Ford F53 chassis and powered by a 350 hp 7.3L Triton V8 engine, the Jayco Alante 26X is 28′ 5″ long, 101″ wide, and 12.5 feet high (exterior). The interior height is 7’. The Alante has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 16,000 pounds and a hitch towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
Holding tanks are well-sized for boondocking with the following tank sizes:
- 53-gallon fresh
- 40-gallon grey
- 32-gallon black
- 16.5-gallon propane tank (with LP quick-connect hook-up for your BBQ)
The Alante 26X sleeps five and has two slide-outs. On one side of the motorhome, a rear slide-out serves the master bedroom, providing ample room for a queen bed. The second slide-out on the opposite side of the RV serves the centrally placed living room sofa and dinette area, opening the living space considerably.
The galley offers an 8 cubic foot double-door refrigerator and a three burner cooktop with an oven and convection microwave oven. The deep, wide sink adds to the galley’s convenience.
Jayco’s exclusive legless dinette table is easily operated, and both the sofa and dinette provide additional sleeping spaces. A drop-down overhead bunk and theatre seating are optional.
An exterior entertainment center offers an LED TV under a 13’ electric awning adding to the outdoor living area, and the interior living space sports a wall-mounted 39” television. A bedroom TV is optional.
Jayco’s Alante 26X offers an impressively sizable shower in the full bath at the rear of the motorhome.
Climate control features are typical with a 15,000 BTU AC unit and a 30,000 BTU furnace.
The Alante offers an Onan Marquis Gold 4000-watt generator.
Notable Features of the Jayco Alante
In addition to the sizable holding tanks, of note in this motorhome is the large full bath with 24” x 40” shower, a very impressive 69 cu. ft. basement storage area, and an 80-gallon fuel capacity. Another feature that’s unique to Jayco is their “JRIDE” that provides a computer-balanced driveshaft, jounce bumpers, heavy-duty front and rear stabilizer bars, and SACHS shocks for a smoother, quieter ride.
The Jayco Alante Is Best For
This small but impressively spacious Class A motorhome is best for small families or couples with occasional guests.
2. Forest River FR3 30DS
About the Forest River 30DS
The Forest River 30DS is built on a Ford F53 RV chassis and is powered by a 350 HP V8 engine. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is 18,000 pounds.
The 30DS is 31’ 8″ long, 101″ wide, with an exterior height of 12’ 5″ and an interior height of 84″. The body is made of aluminum with fiberglass sidewalls. It has two slide-outs, a 16’ power retractable awning with LED lights, and 4-point hydraulic leveling jacks.
Total tanks capacities are:
- 52-gallon fresh
- 42-gallon gray
- 42-gallon black
- 24.5-gallon propane
The motorhome has residential vinyl flooring covering its front-to-rear flush floor (no step-up in the cockpit area). A comfortably-sized dinette defines the living area and becomes a bed that is part of a sleeping capacity of up to 8, along with a drop-down power bunk bed over the front seats, a king-size master bed, and a convertible jackknife recliner sofa bed. The master bedroom is located at the rear of the RV and has a full sliding door for privacy.
The kitchen has a four-door electric/propane RV refrigerator, a three-burner stove with an oven, and a residential microwave.
The bathroom is sizable with a porcelain toilet and a 36” x 30” shower.
Climate is controlled with dual ducted air conditioning units (the front A/C is also a heat pump for added heating versatility) and a 35,000 BTU propane furnace. Hot water comes by way of a six-gallon propane/electric water heater.
The Forest River 30DS offers two televisions on the inside and one in an outside entertainment center.
Notable Features of the Forest River 30DS
Of note is the comfortable size of the bathroom that includes a porcelain toilet, a comfortable passenger workstation, a fairly large pantry, and the king-size bed by way of the rear slide-out.
The Forest River 30DS Is Best For
This Class A motorhome is also best for families and couples who sometimes travel with guests, but with the added sleeping capacity, can support larger families (though many sleeping options might be best left to the kids). If you want many of the same features, but a slightly shorter overall length, look for the 2019 Forest River FR3 29DS on the used market… and save a few dollars on fuel. ????
3. Thor Axis 24.1
About the Thor Axis
The Thor Axis 24.1 is one of the two smallest Class A motorhomes on the market. Thor considers it an “RUV”, or Recreational Utility Vehicle, because it has driveability features similar to those found in an SUV. These Class A motorhomes (the other model being the Thor Vegas, noted below) are intentionally small to encourage confidence behind the wheel without giving up much in the way of comfort.
Built on the Ford E-series chassis with a 7.3L 350 horsepower V8 engine, the Axis is powerful enough to accommodate whatever it hauls with its 8,000-pound hitch. And it has plenty of power to take its occupants up mountain passes with relative ease.
The Axis is a highly versatile motorhome available in five unique floorplans, each with a nicely finished Euro-style interior. Luxurious seating options quickly convert into beds, and there’s even a drop-down overhead bunk to increase sleeping space.
The Axis 24.1 seats & sleeps up to five people comfortably and has an interior height of 6’10”. The “24.1” is a bit deceiving, though, as the length of this motorhome is actually 25′ 8″ (seriously, why don’t RV manufacturers make their model numbers actually match the total vehicle length?!). It has a gross weight of 12,500 pounds.
Tank capacities for the Axis are:
- 42 gallons fresh
- 40 gallons grey
- 30 gallons black
- 40 gallons propane
The Axis boasts a 15,000 BTU house air conditioner and a 30,000 BTU propane furnace for the benefit of controlling temperatures to comfortable levels, no matter the time of year or ambient temperature.
Notable Features of the Thor Axis
Notable features include the inclusion of a power drop-down bunk, a rear bedroom with two twin beds that convert to a California king, and, depending on the floor plan, the availability of an additional bunk over the cab.
All Thor Axis models are equipped with convection microwave ovens and double-door refrigerators, as well as two integrated 32” televisions (living room and bedroom).
Axis showers are comfortably sizable at 27” x 27”, and every unit includes a 6-gallon direct-spark ignition (DSI) gas/electric water heater.
Every model of the Thor Axis offers plenty of interior seating room, optional factory-installed solar, Thor’s Rapid Camp+® multiplex system for control of multiple RV features right from your smart device, and an Onan QG 4000-Watt gas generator.
Of note, the welded aluminum roof is vacu-bonded laminate, and the integrated Winegard ConnecT 2.0 WiFi router, 4G hotspot, and TV antenna keep you connected (and entertained) on the road.
The Thor Axis Is Best For
Couples with occasional guests or small families. As the smallest model in this lineup, its size, easy maneuverability, and comfortable living space will make it an awesome getaway vehicle!
4. Winnebago Intent 26M
About the Winnebago Intent
Even though it was discontinued after the 2020 model year, the Winnebago Intent offers loads of features and fun in a compact package. Since it’s now only available as a used motorhome, it’s even more affordable. And since not everyone is in the market for a new RV, this could be a great option for you and your family.
The Winnebago Intent 26M is built on Ford’s F-series super-duty chassis and is powered by a Triton V10 gas engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Intent 26M is 26’ 10″ long, 101″ wide, and 12’ high with interior height at a comfortable 7’.
At 80 gallons the Intent’s fuel capacity is huge for a small motorhome. And with a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, you can bring a good-sized tow vehicle along on long-range vacations.
Holding tank capacities are generous:
- 48 gallons fresh
- 45 gallons gray
- 31 gallons black
- 60 gallons propane
The Winnebago Intent is constructed of aluminum and fiberglass and has two slide-outs or a full wall slide-out depending on the model chosen. Each has a 19-foot awning, as well as front and rear power leveling jacks.
The interior finds vinyl flooring, a three-burner stove and oven in the galley, and a mid-size electric/propane refrigerator.
The Intent sleeps up to five people, with a queen-size master bed, a powered loft bed in the living room, and a convertible dinette. The master bedroom is located in the rear and has an accordion-style door and a full-size wardrobe. The shower is a 25” x 30” “garden style” and sits across the hall from the lavatory near the Master bedroom.
A 15,000 BTU house air conditioner and a 30,000 BTU furnace see to the climate control needs of the Winnebago Intent. The 6-gallon propane water heater comes with electronic ignition.
Notable Features of the Winnebago Intent
Of note, the double slide-out impacts how interior space is appointed, offering sufficient expansion in the bedroom and fairly significant expansion in the living room area.
The 26M sports a comfortable dinette and offers entertainment in the form of a satellite-system-ready 32” television.
All floor plans include swivel cab seats and a table capable of adjusting to several positions to accommodate extra guests and multiple uses.
The stainless steel double sink and generous pantry offer easy cooking and cleaning in the galley.
The Winnebago Intent Is Best For
The Winnebago Intent 26M is best for small families or couples with occasional guests. The Intent is a great option for anyone in the market for a used small Class A motorhome, as Winnebago discontinued the Intent in 2020. But that just means you get all of the features and comfort… at a lower price! ????
If you’re not interested in a used motorhome, be sure to check out Winnebago’s current lineup of Class A motorhomes. They still have models with floorplans as short as 28′ 6″ (the Vista and the Sunstar offer the 27P floorplan) that are worth taking a look at!
5. Thor Vegas 25.6
About the Thor Vegas
The Thor Vegas 25.6 is built on Ford’s F-Series chassis and is powered by a 7.3L V8 engine. It has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 14,500 lbs and a Gross Combined Vehicle Rating (GCVR) of 22,000 lbs. Like its sister model the Axis (listed above), Thor labels this an “RUV” (Recreational Utility Vehicles) because of the driveability features that are similar to those found in the SUV market.
Intentionally small to encourage confidence behind the wheel without giving up too much comfort, the length of this motorhome is 26′ 9″ (not including the ladder). The exterior height (including the AC unit) is just 11’, while the interior height is a spacious 82″ (or 6′ 10″). The rig is rated to tow 8,000 pounds.
As with the Axis, large tanks capacities for this size RV include:
- 39 gallons fresh
- 41 gallons gray
- 30 gallons black
- 40 gallons propane
Combining the large propane tank with the 6-gallon electronic ignition gas/electric water heater, you should have plenty of water for showers.
The Thor Vegas 25.6 sleeps and up to 4 people. Interior climate is controlled by a 15,000 BTU air conditioner and a 30,000 BTU propane furnace.
The unit has an 18’ powered patio awning, a fuel capacity of 55 gallons, and an Onan 4000 gas generator with an automatic generator start. Exterior storage is limited to 36.2 cubic feet.
Like the Axis, the Vegas has a welded tubular aluminum roof that is vacuum bonded laminate. It has a one-piece fiberglass front cap and a one-piece roof.
In the galley, you’ll find a double-door gas/propane refrigerator, a two-burner gas cooktop, and a convection microwave oven.
The master bedroom includes a queen-size bed and 32” television, while the living room offers a 39” television on a swivel.
Like the Axis, the Vegas offers the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 WiFi with 4G and an integrated TV antenna to keep you and your family connected as needed, along with Thor’s Rapid Camp+® multiplex system for control of multiple RV features right from your smart device.
Notable Features of the Thor Vegas
The Vegas 25.6 model is supported by an electronic stabilizing system.
It has a full-wall slide-out, opening up the living space considerably, and the queen-size bed can flip up, revealing cushioned seating underneath, making the bedroom like a second living area during the daytime.
A 38” x 73” drop-down overhead bunk adds to the sleeping capacity of the rig, as does the 76” “Dream Dinette” that forms another bed.
The inside shower is 32”x32”, and there’s an outside shower available as well.
The Thor Vegas Is Best For
The Vegas is best for a small family (of up to 4) or a couple with occasional guests as well. Like its sister model the Axis, its easy maneuverability makes it a great option for those on-the-go families that want to see and do it all in comfort.
Why You Should Consider a Small Class A Motorhome
There are many reasons to consider a small Class A motorhome, not the least of which is considerable luxury and comfort despite the diminutive size when compared with large Class A motorhomes like ours.
The comparative ease with which smaller Class A motorhomes can navigate roadways and parking as compared with their bigger siblings is an excellent reason to consider them.
And while buyers of small Class A motorhomes may sacrifice little in the way of luxury, they gain considerably with a lower price tag and higher fuel mileage.
Are These Small Motorhomes TOO Small For You?
If the motorhomes we’ve introduced here are a tad too small for your family, or not luxurious enough for your style of travel, we’ve got another suggestion for your consideration – the Newmar New Aire.
This elegant and spacious Class A motorhome is far smaller than the 43′ behemoth we drive, but larger than the RVs listed above. Keep in mind that not only is the New Aire larger and more luxurious than any of those smaller rigs, it’s also a diesel. All of these features of course make it far more expensive than the others. But we wanted you to know that even in the diesel pusher market, smaller options are available.
So, if you’re looking for a smaller-than-average motorhome, but want to retain the quality and amenities of a high-end luxury rig, have a look at our videos on the Newmar New Aire:
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In addition to starting 4′ longer than the largest option listed above (the New Aire comes in both 33′ and 35′ floorplans, although we understand that they will be 35′ only for 2022), with a starting price of over $400,000, the Newmar New Aire is in a different class than these other small motorhomes. Newmar’s target demographic with this model is older RVers who have already owned a large, luxurious Class A motorhome, want to stay on the road, but need or want a smaller RV that’s easier to handle.
But that doesn’t mean younger buyers with disposable income shouldn’t consider the New Aire!
Or, what if small Class A motorhomes aren’t your style at all? Check out our post about Super C RVs… maybe they have what you need?!?
Anyone who’s in the market for a large Class A motorhome may wish to consider having a look at some of the small motorhomes that are on the market today to get a sense of the features they offer in smaller, more maneuverable packages. Especially if you want your travel plans to allow you the greatest amount of flexibility when planning visits to state and national park campgrounds (trust us, you want to be 35′ and under).
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Monday 14th of March 2022
Ha, I got to the "end," and was about to complain about your omission of the New Aire. But, while scrolling to the comment area, there it was, the New Aire! Thank you for the interesting article AND for including the New Aire. All that remains is deciding whether I fit the targeted "olderRVer" market. 😉 But that is my deal, not yours. 🙂 Thanks again and safe travels!
Monday 14th of March 2022
We're still dreaming about a New Aire, Neal!
Thursday 19th of August 2021
I wish there were even smaller class-A motorhomes available today, like in the 70s made by Winnebago, that are around 20ft long and can park in a regular parking spot.
I like the wider width of a class-A over a class-B to make it easier to sleep right to left instead of front to back, especially for families, and the bigger front window for everyone to look out of, even rear passengers.
But it seems like no one makes these anymore, which I think is a missed opportunity. I don’t want anything longer than 22ft and the shortest motorhome listed here is 25′ 8″.
Other features I’d really like to see that no one seems to offer (I’ve told Winnebago about these multiple times since their 1975 D-20 Brave with 3 seats up front, seating for 9, sleeping for 8, all in a length of 20’5" is very unique by today’s standards, especially with its big rear window and rear lounge area too) include:Front-Facing Seating for Non-Front-Seated Passengers where their Seats are Raised Higher than the Front Seats so they get great views of the scenery out of the large front-window too. Large Windows All Around, including the rear, for openness. Entry Door NOT directly behind the front passenger seat so that non-front-seated passengers get great views of the scenery out of the large side windows on each side. Seating for at least 6 and ideally 8-9. Sleeping for at least 6, but ideally 8-9.
Does all this sound impossible? Well, it is not. Please look up that 1975 Winnebago D-20 Brave yourself. It would be nice to have a modern version of this with raised 2nd-row seating and seat belts at every seat.
Friday 20th of August 2021
That was, indeed, an amazing combination of features in that D-20, Klaus! We like to hope that, as with bell bottoms & shag carpeting, all things old are new again one day! There's a lot of features we'd love to see included in modern RVs... that just never seem to be "in vogue" for current floorplans. Fingers crossed.
Sunday 11th of July 2021
Cute rigs. They remind of the matchbox series of collectable toy cars. I wonder how they handle with the short wheelbase?
You guys are right about needing a short rig for the major parks. Most of which were built long ago for station wagon and pickup campers. We had trouble in Yellowstone with our old 30' 5-wheel. But we also had a 21' long dually pickup.
Sunday 11th of July 2021
A 30’ 5th wheel with a 21’ dually! I think you’re bigger than we are! LOL
Sunday 11th of July 2021
Hi guys. Lots of great info here. I just wanted to point out some errors regarding the FR3 30DS, since I happen to be familiar with it. There are only two TVs inside, not three (the third one is outside). There is only one radio, not two, and there's no CD changer. And there's no outdoor kitchen. But we love it anyway! :-)
Sunday 11th of July 2021
Hi Chris! Thank you so much for a fact checking us. During editing, the model we featured got some features conflated with a different model. We have updated the post accordingly.
Sunday 11th of July 2021
This is a good article and reading the comments already posted you answered some of the questions that I would have expected.
Although years ago I thought going from a 4000 sq ft house to a 1100 sq ft apartment was a huge step, but it was actually quite easy. ONCE we disposed of a lot of stuff we really did not use or need that is.
But when RV shopping the 45' DP really caught my eye as I wanted certain things that only the larger DP's seem to have at the time.
Now that we've become accustomed to a 400 sq ft coach we know it would be easy to trade it in for a really good 35' Class A. The only hesitation is basement storage. But there again I've got stuff down there that I don't REALLY need or use that often.
My wish list from years ago is the same: stackable washer/dryer, full size fridge, on demand hot water, heated floors. So basically the one you like as well. If I win a huge lottery I'll order two and 'donate' one for you to test out for 16 years. Deal?
Sunday 11th of July 2021
Hi John. Since we know that there are many different needs and wants in choosing an RV, we decided to focus on a popular type that might not be the one for us personally. Our list also includes stackable washer/dryer and residential fridge, along with a king-size bed. The 35' New Aire is pretty damn sweet, including a rather amazing amount of basement storage. The price is out of our league though. So yes, your offer sounds workable! LOL