RV Shopper Series – Midsize Class A Gas

If you’re looking for a motorhome that’s a BIG step up in quality from the entry level gas RV, but not as expensive as a diesel RV, then a midsize Class A Gas RV may be in your future!

In this RV Shopper Series video we bring you along as we inspect what we’ve found to be the best sellers, the new-to-the-market and the most popular midsize gas motorhomes. We walk through each coach and point out our top three likes and dislikes, and while we can’t cover every detail about each of these RVs, we can share a few of our personal thoughts and concerns about them. We hope by sharing our shopping style it will help with your own motorhome search.

If you haven’t seen The Shady Truth About Buying An RV, check it out before you start any wheeling and dealing.

There are several other RVs in this segment including the Thor Miramar, Newmar Bay Star, and the Forest River Georgetown XL just to list a few.  Since we’re only comparing four motorhomes in this shopper series we feel these are a good representation of the midsize class A gas RV. Here are the results from our personal shopping experience listed in order of our favorite to least favorite:

  • Holiday Rambler Vacationer 36DBT – 3 thumbs up
  • Fleetwood Bounder 35K- 3 thumbs up
  • Winnebago Sightseer 35G – 2 thumbs up
  • Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36LA- 2 thumbs up

Midsize Gas RV

Who is this RV made for?

We think the 35′ midsize Gas RV is perfect for the person that wants a quality build but doesn’t need or want diesel power. The RVs we’ve reviewed are a big step above the entry level gas RVs, but they’re not the top-of the-line gas RVs (if you want to go a step further in luxury you might consider the Newmar Canyon Star, the Winnebago Adventurer, or the Fleetwood Southwind). Many of these RVs will sleep 4 or more and all offer 1.5 or 2 bath options. The build quality should should stand up to full-time use if you plan to sell everything and hit the road for good.

How much does this RV cost?

It’s difficult to translate the MSRP into the actual “Street Price” you might expect to pay.  I’ve seen the Bounder and the Sightseer listed on a “fire sale” for around $100k on MHSRV and La Mesa RV. In general you might plan on getting 20% – 30% off MSRP depending on location, time of year, options and supply. All of these brands offer pretty similar quality so we personally feel you can’t go wrong with any of them, so if you see a great deal on the perfect floorplan then go for it!

What to look for when shopping for this type of RV.

  • Residential Fridge – Some of these RVs offer a residential fridge, for us it’s a catch 22: More storage space with zero maintenance but it sucks up power like the Cookie Monster inhales cookies! Personally I prefer the residential fridge but if you plan on doing any wild camping we suggest you have a minimum of 600AH of battery and 600 watts of solar power on the roof.
  • Inverter and Batteries – Some of these models offer a 2000 watt puresine wave inverter which is huge if you plan on wild camping a lot. Some offer four 6 volt batteries producing around 400 amp hours of battery power. None will offer sufficient power for boondocking with a residential fridge unless you plan on installing solar or running the generator.
  • Tank Capacities – Make sure you understand the fresh, grey and black tank carrying capacities of each RV, it will vary greatly between manufacturers, models and floor plans.
  • Insulation – In general these RVs are going to have better insulation to protect from the elements, but they’re still not considered “4 season” coaches so when you’re camping in freezing temps you will need to be cautious of bursting pipes. On the other end of the spectrum camping in 100 degree weather means those A/C units will be running non-stop!
  • General Build quality – Take note of the quality of the things you’ll use daily such as windows, storage bays, entry door, cabinets, bed, bathroom, faucets, sinks, fridge, seating comfort, A/C, heater, awning, etc. Remember some things can be swapped easily afterwards while other items like window shades may cost a small fortune to replace.
  • GVWR, GCVWR, GVWR, OCCC – All these acronyms add up to provide EXTREMELY valuable information about your RV: how much stuff you can carry; how much towing capacity you have; how much water you can load into your tank.  Make sure you ask for this info on each RV you consider purchasing.

That’s it for now, if you have questions, comments or personal experience with one of these midsize class A gas RVs, please share in the comment box below. For the RV shopper the search can be exciting and exhausting at the same time but we hope this RV shopper series helps, even if it’s just a little.

Disclaimer – We’re generalizing with a lot of this information, but by sharing our experiences we hope it helps others target which RV might be right for their needs.  These are all our opinions so take ‘em for what they’re worth and then do more research!  The different RV dealerships didn’t compensate us nor are we affiliated in any way, but we are thankful they let us tromp around and film inside their RV’s. None of the RV manufactures featured here compensated us either.  All opinions expressed are our own and based on our RV’ing experience.  At the time of filming we traveled in a Fleetwood Excursion.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (40)

  • Angelia Waite

    Thank you, thank you. So informative. I follow you on YouTube and Instagram. I just happened onto this article. Nice surprise. If your our anyone of your knowledgeable followers would like to chime in as to what I should do it would be appreacheated.
    I’m full timing in a 38ft 1998 Elite RV. A classic beauty. While she’s to big for me to drive confidently, I’m looking for a 25ft 2015 or newer one I can easily handle behind the wheel, im an avid cook, with a cook book coming out soon so a larger kitchen is important to me. Id for fit the living space for more kitchen cooking and prep area. Also a decent bathroom/shower that I can bend over in. Last but not least I need an RV that gets good gas or diesel miles because I’ll be driving three times a week.
    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely, angelia at Vestal_voyager

  • Paul & Joanette

    Thanks for all your information…we have enjoyed all the videos and blogs!
    We are wondering if you looked at the Georgetown Forest River 33C? We notice your new RV – Bounder has the same floor plan. What did you like more about the Bounder versus the Forest River?
    We are putting our house up for sale in a couple months and after it sells becoming Full Time RVers! You video and blogs have been extremely helpful to us and we can hardly wait to be on the road and see more of America and our kids, relatives and friends! We are one of those couples (baby boomers) that are tired of working for the house and property and are letting it all go for some more free time together ! Thanks again for all your info.

  • Paul & Joanette

    We are looking at the Georgetown Forest River 33C and watched your new show and saw you have the same layout in your Bounder as the Forest River. We are just wondering if you saw any big differences between the two? And what you liked better on the Bounder?
    By the way we love your blogs etc….very helpful…informative and fun!
    We are putting our house up for sale in a couple of months and plan to be Full Time RVers after our house sells…plus work part time here and there. Thanks for all your help!

  • Steve

    I am not a fan of the slide out on the same side as the entry. It feels a bit awkward. Also the awning set up is a definite deal killer for me. I love spending my time outside. Last but not least, I thought the concept of double sinks was so that both could get ready at the same time?? Two people in the bathroom at once….really? One larger sink would be preferred. Seems like the RV manufacturers are making changes that really aren’t necessary just for the sake of changing. They need to offer something different.

  • Mike

    I’m 6’5″ and the L shape couch is two small and the extension is just a simple thin cushion. The entertainment area is to small. I could not see spending any comfortable time watching net flex movies. IMHO
    We do enjoy your blog. Maybe the younger crowd would enjoy the flair or now the cross over class .

  • Mike

    We have a 2015 34t bounder and we love it. It has a large bathroom area with a sink off the shower and one in the water closet. Twin opposing slides in the living room. Residential refrigerator with sony smart TV. Nexfix while your camping. Love the floor tile and if on gets damaged easy to replace . The light leather with grey is very much in these days. It has all the new stuff that in the past only a diesel offered. Love your site be safe out there.

    Mike & Bonnie. Retired.

  • George Stankiewicz

    Very surprised that Tiffen, which is considered by many to be a quality coach, had such a sub standard electrical system. Also, I would like to see an review on what its like driving a gas coach compaired to a diesel. With the gas coach it would be the power and the noise going down the road. With the diesel, it would be the power and the diesel smell when driving and when running the generator when stopped. Looking forward to see what the new coach you choose.

  • Georges Labrecque

    Could see the Wynns in such a nice coach ! Smart approved!

  • John Caruana

    Hi guys – for what it’s worth, I’ve always liked the wall mounted electrical outlets on the Tiffins. I wish all manufacturers would do this. I get tired of extension cords hanging down from the bottom of the cupboards. By the way, great job on all your articles.

  • Rod Reichardt

    I have really enjoyed the “RV Shopper Series”. As an Allegro 36LA owner I agree with your electrical system criticism. It has not been an issue for us but I would have preferred something a little beefier. The tall fridge is also a pain for me. I’m 5’6″ and getting anything off the top shelf is an adventure. Our favorite feature of the 36LA is the living area with the L-shaped sofa and the TV fireplace combo. The extra half bath is nice as well. We bought it last May and have put over 11,000 miles on it since. We do a lot of boondocking and run the generator a lot. We’re close to 600 hours on that now. Ours has the optional 7000 watt Onan so we can run everything with no issues. I think only Tiffin and Newmar offer that option. The only option ours didn’t have was the driver’s side door. I would have liked to have that but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

    My biggest issue with the coach is putting fuel in it. Finding a gas station that fits the MH with tow vehicle can sometimes be a real hassle. With the fuel fill all the way in the rear, knowing where to stop can be difficult as well. These are issues common to all F53 gassers and some people don’t seem to mind them as much as I do.

    Fleetwood offers a similar floorplan in their new for 2015 Expedition 38K DP so we will be keeping an eye out for those as prices go down near the end of the year. Our dealer is asking a nearly $100,000 premium over the cost of our Tiffin to buy the very similar Expedition. Not sure we will like it that much more. That’s a lot of money just for diesel and air suspension and breakers. I would absolutely recommend the 36LA to anyone in that market.

    I hope you guys are able to do an entry level large DP (not tag axle) that would compare the less expensive coaches such as the Fleetwood Discovery versus Expedition. Maybe throw in some of it’s natural competitiors like the Forest
    River Berkshire. I have rally enjoyed most of your videos

  • Rick

    Nikki & Jason – Great shopper series. I’d like to add to the diesel vs. gas debate. At the end of 2014, I sold my 2004 Winnebago Journey 32T, which was a short diesel pusher at just over 32 feet. This was my second diesel coach. Both had air ride suspension. The ride on both coaches, as you know, was like floating on air. The air ride suspension makes the ride very comfortable, almost cushy. I had no problem driving four or five hours at a clip. I just started looking at new gas coaches, which is why your shopper series is timely. All of the gas coaches I have looked at so far (like all of the gas coaches you have profiled) are on the Ford F53 chassis. I am amazed at how rough the ride is with this chassis, which uses a typical leaf spring suspension. I even drove a Jayco Precept gas class A that has what Jayco calls JRide. The JRide package includes: • Hellwig Helper Springs • Rubber Isolation Mounts • Bilstein Shock Absorbers • Stabilizing Sway Bars • Balanced Driveshaft. I give Jayco credit for trying to make up for the rough ride of the F53 chassis. But, honestly, I did not notice that much of a ride difference.

    All this to say that no matter how much you spend on a class A (putting aside those crossover As on the Sprinter chassis for now), you’re stuck with that rough riding Ford F53 chassis. Yes, you can go to great lengths to improve the ride of the F53 (like Jayco has), but you will not get close to the ride comfort of a diesel pusher with an air ride suspension. I have backed off looking at a gas class A because I cannot get past the rough ride of the F53. After a 20 minute test drive, my hands are tingling because of all of the vibration that comes through the steering wheel. Maybe the longer heavier gas units have a better ride, but I’m looking for a unit no longer than 32 feet so I can fit into a camp spot at most state parks.

    It’s too bad that the RV industry as a whole has not put more pressure on Ford to improve the ride quality of a chassis that has been around largely unchanged for a long time. But, hey, with Chevy gone, Ford has a monopoly in the class A gas arena. If ride quality and comfort is a major consideration, a coach with air ride suspension may be your only option. Ride quality is one reason some opt for a fifth wheel coach. I’ve started looking at the truck camper option. And I may take a second look at the crossover As with the Sprinter chassis option. For now, any unit with the Ford F53 chassis is off my list. (In fairness, you can add air ride suspension to an F53 chassis, but this is a very pricey option and you need to live near a specialty shop that can do that type of chassis upgrade.) A used 32 foot Tiffin Breeze diesel pusher is looking better all the time, but the air leveling gives me pause. Even though Windy was a 32 foot front engine diesel (Fred), she had air ride suspension. That air ride suspension really is a game changer.

  • RJ

    Hi, I’ve been watching your videos. I realize that the RV Smackdown videos are filmed mostly at Los Angeles dealers. Are there benefits to buying an RV in Los Angeles, CA rather than some dealer in Texas or Washington? Are there dealers that are better — meaning should you buy an RV from a dealer who can service the vehicle?

    Thanks. RJ

  • Neal

    Great stuff (as always!); thanks! I can’t begin to thank you guys sufficiently for taking the time to educate people (e.g., me) on how to critically look at an RV as an informed, experienced shopper. THANK YOU! (sorry, I couldn’t contain myself; I’ll stop shouting now)

  • Debbie G

    Thanks for all the continuing information. My husband retires in 3 1/2 years and we are hoping to downsize to a smaller home and also purchase a RV. The RV will probably be purchased later this year as our children and grands are 8 hours away and we travel with 3 cats.

  • Great comparison, and I couldn’t agree more about the “dated” look of all the Ford V10 dashboards! As a Tiffin 36LA owner, I wanted to chime in on one thing in particular that drew us to this coach for full-timing. It’s the only one of the four here that’s built on a 24,000 lb. GVWR chassis. All the others use a 22,000 lb. chassis. It’s really easy to get “overweight” quickly when full-timing, so the extra cargo carrying capacity helps a lot (as well as the 200+ cu. ft. of pass-through basement storage, more than even most diesel pushers). The inverter (as you mentioned) is the biggest drawback for us in the Tiffin. -Mike

  • Crystal Fritts

    Love these videos, great to see different RVs with your thoughts. I was sort of surprised that the Newmar Bay Star (NOT the Bay Star Sport) wasn’t one of the ones you considered. Otherwise, keep them coming!

  • curt

    I love the idea of a curb side dinette, i would never consider an RV that didn’t have this feature, for exactly the reasons you mentioned, i’d rather look out on to my patio/lounge area than my neighbors, I also liked the idea of the opposing slides to really expand your living space.
    we love getting your tips and info. it will help us make a smart choice for our step up from a travel trailer to a class A

  • Another great shopper installation. Nicely put together and presented!

  • We absolutely love our Bounder 35K for all the reasons mentioned. Although, I would like to say that I have had to fix the main slide twice because the bolts on the motor shaft are not strong enough to pull in the slide with the bays being weighted substantially. But that is just life on the road! We also really like our L shaped sofa but recently I found out we can fit a Lazy Boy Pinnacle reclining sofa in it’s place. The research is still being done on making that move or not. As I am sure you two know the sofas and dinettes start out pretty comfy but it doesn’t take long until it feels like you’re enjoying a nice movie sitting on plywood and metal. Still, the floor plan is the best feature in this RV. We use the extra half bathroom for our cat room. It’s out of way yet still functional if we need it.

    • Hey, thanks for chiming in with an owners point of view! I am with you on the furniture. They all seem to only last about a year or two before the padding starts giving way.

  • Steve

    To be honest i don’t like any of them. I think they are dated and cheap looking. Compare what you are getting for your money to what is available in Europe from the likes of Hymer, and Niesmann+ Bischoff. For similar money there is no comparison.
    this is the interior of the N+B Arto Everything is customisable and top quality.

    • Well, if you poke around a little more, you will notice we agree with dated design! We are always so disappointed with the designs on the inside and out of all of the class A motorhomes. All the manufactures produce a lot of the same over and over. We have been voicing that opinion to all of them for some time now. We are really hoping to see some changes in that over the next year. You can see our review of our coach here with some of those thoughts:

    • I totally agree with you, Steve.

      There’s ought to be a solution for having at least a small segment of the market that offers something less prehistoric in terms of design that those monstrous Mc Rv’s! Unfortunately, there will always be bad taste products, specially in the ostentatious high-end of the market, but at least if we could see some good examples, like in the nautical industry, where you have a bling bling market but also some well built contemporary yachts. Agree that N+B is interesting in the high-end motorhome market in Europe. There’s also Ketterer which offers RV derivatives of their horse-riding or race track contemporary mobile villas‘continental’-puts-the-competition-to-shame/

      See also the thread in the Small Diesel pusher story (February 21, 2015)
      How come big A class RVs are so ugly? Is it simply the reflection of bad taste of the average consumer or the lack of interesting RV manufacturers with the desire to innovate?…

  • Toni

    We’re you able to look at a Forest River Georgetown 364TS 2 Bath model? That looks like a very practical layout if you’re into family and or friends traveling with you.
    By the way if you ever want someone to test drive these coaches I’ll happily volunteer.

  • David

    Can you do a video for class B and C as well?

  • Art

    I think you guys are very informative and I truly enjoy reading your post ,I would like to know your thoughts on this motorhome. Bentley Diesel Pusher 34B Class A Motorhome:

  • Kate and Mike White

    Thanks so much Nikki and Jason for all the information you share. My husband and I are planning to go full time this summer and because calling ourselves complete newbies is actually an understatement (yikes!), we love getting your blogs and learning from you.

    Hope to see you on the road:-)

    Kate and Mike


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