Diesel or gasoline? It’s one of the oldest debates in the recreational vehicle industry. Which is better, and why? Today, we’re taking a deeper look at the benefits of diesel class A motorhomes – what makes them stand out, their fundamental differences, and more.
What Is a Diesel Class A Motorhome?
As the name implies, a diesel class A motorhome runs on diesel fuel, as opposed to gasoline. Some diesel class A RVs are front-engine models, and others are rear-engine, better known as diesel pushers.
Diesel Class A RVs are generally larger in both length and weight, and typically come with more luxury amenities than gasoline motorhomes.
What Does Diesel Pusher Mean?
Diesel pusher is slang for a rear-engine diesel Class A motorhome. This name comes from the fact that the diesel-powered engine is in the motorhome’s rear, essentially pushing the RV down the road rather than pulling it.
Benefits of Diesel Class A Motorhomes
There are many benefits of diesel class A motorhomes. From more power to (typically) more luxury amenities, let’s take a look at them here:
Torque is a measure of an engine’s rotational force, but it can be referred to in layman’s terms as ‘pulling power.’ Diesel engines produce more torque than gasoline engines. This is especially helpful for driving in the mountains, pulling a tow vehicle, and handling all the weight and amenities that usually come in a larger RV.
Better Braking & Air-Ride Suspension
Diesel RVs have air braking and air suspension. You’ll have a much smoother ride when it comes to suspension and braking in diesel RVs than you will in their gasoline-powered counterparts.
Quieter Cockpit in Diesel Pushers
Diesel pushers’ engines are in the motorhome’s rear, resulting in a much more comfortable ride than a front-engine RV. The engine’s roar is so loud in many gasoline RVs that it can be difficult to have a quiet conversation or listen to music. With a diesel pusher, the engine noise stays in the back.
Can Pull More Weight
Diesel engines are stronger and can tow more than gasoline engines. A class A diesel pusher’s towing capacity is typically between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds, while its gasoline counterpart is more likely to be limited to an average of 6,000 to 8,000 pounds, with some maxing out at 10,000 pounds.
Diesel engines can easily last twice as long as their gasoline-powered counterparts, if not longer. A diesel engine’s higher compression ratios, efficient burn rate, and lubricating properties improve the engine life significantly. Along with their higher torque and towing capacity, this is why diesel engines are so well suited to heavy-duty truck applications.
More Efficient with Better Fuel Mileage
Diesel fuel burns much more efficiently than gasoline, and diesel fuel contains about 10% to 15% more energy. Consequently, a diesel class A RV can go about 20% to 35% farther on a gallon of fuel compared to a gasoline RV.
Less Frequent Maintenance
Diesel engines usually require less frequent routine maintenance than gasoline engines do (although as an RVer, you may reach the time interval for maintenance before reaching the mileage interval). Although maintenance and repairs on diesel engines are usually more expensive, the RV’s engine will likely need fewer repairs. Diesels are built to go the distance, again, another reason why they’re ideal for trucking applications.
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Larger Motorhomes Mean More Storage and Interior Room
Since diesel class A RVs can handle more weight, the RVs usually have considerably more interior space for both living and storage. Also, diesel Class A RVs usually have ample exterior storage in bays along the bottom of the coach for more camping gear than you could possibly need! That’s because the chassis that a diesel RV is built on is typically a raised-rail chassis, which allows for basement storage that spans from side-to-side (typically called pass-through storage).
More Luxury and Amenities Than Gasoline Motorhomes
Diesel RVs are more expensive and usually more luxurious. In a diesel class A motorhome, you’ll often find the best of everything – design elements, upholstery, cabinetry, countertops, flooring, tech, lighting, fixtures, washer and dryer, residential fridges, and much more. All are made possible by the increased carrying capacity of the larger chassis and robust power a diesel engine provides.
Are Diesel Class A RVs Better Than Gasoline?
Here we have one of the ultimate debates in the RV world: Are diesel class A RVs better than gasoline RVs?
If you’re considering the torque, ride comfort, efficiency, and luxury of a diesel class A RV, the answer would be a resounding yes. But as with most things, all of those upgrades come at a higher price point. Diesel RVs cost more to purchase and maintain than gas rigs. So it’s up to each individual RVer to determine if those added benefits are worth the extra cost.
If you plan to live full-time in your motorhome, and/or if you plan to drive a lot of miles (particularly in mountainous terrain), the benefits of a diesel motorhome may outweigh the added cost. But if you’re planning to be a weekend warrior… or only travel seasonally… that extra cost may not be worth it to you, and a gas class A motorhome could be a better fit.
Are diesel RVs for everyone? Absolutely not! The perfect RV for you will depend on your lifestyle and budget. Just because many people will tell you that diesel RVs are better doesn’t mean they’re best for you.
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