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rv smackdown

RV Smackdown – Excursion vs Discovery, Why the Huge Price Difference?

On paper these two RVs look similar enough, so where does that extra $100,000 go?  Is it really worth the extra money?  Do I need all those extra features on an RV?

These are all common questions we get from new and seasoned RVers alike when it comes to purchasing an RV.  We’ve taken some of these questions head-on in the video below by comparing a 2015 Fleetwood Excursion 35E vs. the 2015 Fleetwood Discovery 37R…it’s what we like to call an RV SMACKDOWN!

We chose the Excursion vs. the Discovery because they’re both Fleetwood RVs that share lots of features, and when comparing these two RVs on the website they don’t seem hugely different.  They both have nice floorplans, they have all the standard stuff like beds, toilets, kitchens, etc.  They’re both rear engine diesels built on the Freightliner Chassis with Cummins engines.  The Excursion and Discovery may be similar enough but we feel its pretty easy to see the visual quality difference between these two RVs in the video.  To be clear its not that one RV will last longer or have less issues, its simply a difference of more expensive products and features that you get in the Discovery that aren’t offered in an Excursion (and there’s the extra 2 feet, but who’s keepin tabs?).

rv smackdown

Detailed Comparison and Floorplans of the 35E and 37R

There are plenty additional differences between these two RVs…way more than we can cover in a video or even in this article! Below I’ve included some of the major differences along with the floorplans of each of the Motorhomes we’ve compared in our RV Smackdown.
Excursion vs Discovery techdiscovery37r
excursion35e

 

Kinda cool to see it all side-by-side right? We really like our Excursion however, compared to the Discovery it’s almost like comparing a Toyota and a Lexus…which is where a good part of that extra cash goes!

The trick is not to just compare the same brand (like we’ve done in the video) but to take this concept and put different brands against each other.  Oftentimes you’ll find that similar quality RVs end up with similar MSRPs.  Take a look at the Fleetwood Excursion 35B vs. the Winnebago Forza 34T:  the quality of materials and products used are pretty similar as are the MSRP’s and the “street price” for each.  On the other end of the spectrum try and compare the Thor Palazzo 33.2 vs the Fleetwood Excursion 33D:  at first glance they seem pretty similar but dive deeper and compare the inverters, battery bank, wiring gauge, number of inverted outlets, wall thickness, fridge, bay doors, windows, TVs, etc. Now you can see what I’m talking about. Although the MSRP is similar the “street price” of the Thor is typically less.

We first dealt with this question when moving from our 2009 Damon Avanti to the 2011 Monaco Vesta.  I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the Vesta MSRP was $100,000 more than the Avanti.  Both RVs we’re Front Engine Diesel; The Avanti is 31 feet, the Vesta is 32 feet; interior design was similar enough, exterior profile is similar…it just seemed like so much was the same!  After owning and traveling in both RVs I can tell you that extra $100,000 was worth every penny!

So where did that money go?  To be honest most of the money goes into things you can’t see or wouldn’t notice at first glance when comparing the two RVs.  Here are a few of the many upgrades to the Vesta:  Tile floors, custom cabinets, more expensive counter tops, Villa furniture, upgraded faucets/fixtures, custom dash, upgraded steering wheel, integrated awning, two A/C units with heat pump, name brand TVs, air ride suspension, custom chassis with greater load/tow ratings, larger brakes, larger tires, inverter, batteries, thicker insulation in the walls, larger convection oven, better water heater, self locking pocket doors, the list goes on and on all the way down to the minor details like how the type of wallpaper and how it was installed.

This same concept can be used when comparing the 2011 Monaco Vesta (MSRP $226,000) to our 2014 Fleetwood Excursion (MSRP $192,000).  The Excursion is 1 foot longer, has 2 slides, Sony TVs, a Magnum pure sine inverter, washer/dryer combo, more closet space, drop down loft bed, and so on.  On the other hand the Vesta has the tile floors, better awning, upgraded water heater, more expensive faucets, thermostatic shower controls, Aerodynamic design, European style interior, MCD shades, fancier dash and steering wheel.  Its crazy where $30,000 can end up and how quickly these seemingly small features add to the MSRP.  Was the Vesta a better coach?  No.  Is the quality of the Excursion worse than the Vesta?  No, actually we’ve had less issue with our Fleetwood.  Do I miss some of the features of the Vesta?  You bet we do, especially the awning and water heater!

I feel like it’s almost impossible to explain in text, it’s difficult to see the difference just comparing websites and unless you can see the RVs side-by-side it can be a challenge to remember the minute details of each coach…throw in the dealer MSRP vs. Street Price game and it’s nearly impossible to compare 2 RVs (I think “they” like it that way).  So you’re probably asking “what’s the takeaway from these ramblings?”  I guess my point is:  Although two RVs may seem similar on paper it’s really important to spend a good amount of time looking at the minor details before simply purchasing an RV because it’s less expensive or has more discount incentives.  Remember that saying “you get what you pay for?”  From our experience this rings true more than ever when it comes to buying an RV or Motorhome.

So what do you think?  Are the fancy features of the Discovery worth the higher price point?  Have you done your own RV Smackdown when comparing multiple RVs?  Share the gritty details below, we’d love to hear your take (and I’m sure the RV Mfrs. would like to hear your opinions too).

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 (59)

  • Can you tell us more about this? I’d want to find
    out some additional information.

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  • Zeb

    I don’t see how you could compare these two motorhomes. The Excursion is not on the same playing field as the Discovery. With the Discovery you pay more for the chassis, engine, air system, generator, finish, quality. not to mention, you are comparing a 4 slide unit to a two!

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  • Bob

    Guys, We are first time buyers. We plan to run around the country until we find the perfect place to retire. I think we are sold on the Thor Tuscany XTE 34 ST. What are your thoughts on this coach?

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  • Javier

    You mention, “We feel the 30-33′ is the best size for balancing full-time living with ease of access”, I am looking at two motorhomes, one a 30’and the other a 33′, could you mention the differences I would run into with these two sizes? For example, with the 33′ would I usually be able to park in two parking spaces? Do you think you could do without towing for the 30’and the 33′? With these length are there issues getting in and out of some gas stations? What makes 33′ the ceiling would it be that much different than 34′ and 35′?

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    • Every additional foot behind you is one additional foot to look out for while navigating. For some campgrounds we run across, they have a 35ft limit and a “33ft” coach is really 34ft coach most of the time. So, it’s cutting it about as close as you can get sometimes. If you can, go test drive one of each and ask to drive it through a gas station. That way, you can make the right call for you. Good luck!

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  • Mike

    Hi Jason and Nikki, it’s fun to follow your adventures! I wanted to ask why you sold the Monaco Vesta? It looked like a great RV. I’m still rockin’ the ’85 Vanagon:)
    Happy continued travels!

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  • Tomaz

    Have you seen this one? :))
    Sale Price: $525,000

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QK6cyUVEes

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  • …Or you could get a Discovery that’s a year or so old and is selling for less than a new Excursion if you’re willing to pony up for a new Excursion. At least then someone has (hopefully) worked a lot of the bugs out for you.

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    • Totally Joe…although you’d have to go with a Discovery that’s 2-3 years old to make up that $100k.

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  • Jon Hyde

    Hey, Jason. Hope this is not too off topic, but your Excursion vs. Palazzo comment (which I appreciate, by the way) brought up something I’d value your opinion on, namely, the best size RV for those who expect to visit wilderness/remote places. By way of background, my wife and I are about 12-24 months out from selling the house and becoming full-time RVers even though we’ve never owned an RV before. We have been researching, reading your posts, and even though you might have already addressed this, would like to know your thoughts since at one point I remember reading you wanted to downsize from Wendy to get in and out of state/national parks. Apparently there are two issues: length limits at older park RV sites, and windy access roads with trees. We’ve made the decision to go with a Class A diesel pusher after viewing your gas vs. diesel smackdown (good work, thank you). As for size, most full-timers say to go bigger or you’ll regret it, which is counterpoised against the “you won’t fit in the state park” crowd. With you guys as a guide, we’ve decided to stay under 35’, and come up with the following possibilities:

    Fleetwood Excursion 33D 33’11”
    Newmar Ventana 3436 & 3437 34’10”
    Newmar Ventana LE 3436/3437 34’10”
    Tiffen Allegro Breeze 32BR 33’2”
    Thor Palazzo 33.2 34’8”

    I did not list the Tiffen Allegro Breeze 28BR (29’7”) but I’m curious. First, you guys did a video on your top three picks for RV’s under 30’ and second, you also did a post where you compared the Monaco Vista to the Allegro Breeze 28BR before you bought Windy (I think). So, what I’d like to know: is there a compelling argument for staying under 30’ that we should be thinking about, or, if we are full-timing, would it be wiser to go a little bigger? Your insight would be greatly appreciated, and thank you for all the wonderful information you so generously share.

    Jon Hyde

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      • Jon

        Funny, I told my wife this morning that we should book a chat. We plan on doing it after we have a few more questions. For now your comments have helped a lot. Thanks, and we will “chat” in the near future. (Just don’t sail off into the sunset before then.) Jon and Michelle.

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      • Do you think there is anywhere you can get a better deal on a used class A? We live in Eastern Washington but are traveling thru Oregon and California to AZ in November. We have a truck and fifth wheel to trade.

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  • John E. Baker III

    Uh… Jason? *I* am the only male who can drool over an RV dishwasher…

    …Just so you know. 😉

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    • Kinda sad huh?!? Since I’m the designated dishwasher of the household the thought of having a machine to do it for me sounds like heaven 🙂

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  • We have been planning to become full time RVers for the better part of a year, and have been dreaming about it for decades. We discovered your website a few months ago and it has been enormously helpful in our preparations and planning…and very entertaining too. Thanks so much! We are in only the second week of our adventure, but we do hope to run into you on the road sometime. We are passing through Sparks today on our way to Tahoe and noticed you were there last night. We have started our own blog at rvluckyorwhat.com because so many of our friends and relatives requested that they be able to adventure vicariously through us.

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    • Hey Mitch, congrats on the new adventure! We are thinking of heading to Tahoe in a couple of days! We may have to meet up there. Shoot us an email and let us know where you’ll be. We are staying near south lake Tahoe.

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  • Mike

    Once you own and drive a Luxury MH, you will never go back. On our older Holiday Rambler Crown Royal my wife has a reading lamp on her co-pilot chair and it goes on and on from there. If you see a coach with that lamp, buy it. An older model luxery coach will be much better than a cheaper/newer also ran.

    Buying a couple years old removes a lot of the confusion on price.

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    • Totally Agree Mike…only downside is if you want that 37′ Discovery its a brand new model, and that’s how they “get ya” 🙂

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  • Jim

    You’re absolutely correct that “they like it that way”. Anytime you can accurately compare two items it then becomes about price only – and that soon becomes a race to the bottom because people will always buy the cheaper of two identical anything. If you can convince customers that your item is not only desirable but unique then you are free to charge whatever the market will bear. This is why major retailers like Target and Best Buy often demand their own unique model numbers on extremely competitive items like TVs and computers. Obviously there are many, many legitimate reasons for price differences unfortunately the only way to evaluate them is to do a full comparison from the ground up. Then add in trying to research the manufacturers, quality and resale issues, weights, capacities… time for spreadsheets! We are going full-time and currently looking at both class A and fifth wheels right now. The selection is truly mind boggling, we are slogging through the task of comparing dozens of “similar-but-not” models to ensure we will remain happy with our final choice – well, happy for a little while anyway…

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    • Jim,
      My head was already spinning…but now it’s going to spin right off! I can tell you that our Excursion has treated us well, and for the price it’s hard to beat. Good luck, the purchase is the most difficult part of RVing.

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  • mderick

    Sure there can be lots of differences in quality and Features, but most importantly I think that one has to be realistic an honest as to how they are going to use their MoHo.
    Are you going to dry camp lots, thus requiring more batteries, better inverters, and insulation. If you are going to be in RV sites only on odd weekends then as long as you can plug in, none of the above is as important.
    In addition, if you are going to be putting lots of miles on larger tires, brakes, and engines, not to mention better chassis are very important.
    Be honest with your self as to how you are going to use a large investment, as they do depreciate, and quickly.

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    • So true, knowing your travel style is the biggest hurdle…although as a new RVer trying to guess can be difficult.

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  • Mike

    Great job, as usual, guys. Every manufacturer should be so lucky to have someone producing content for their brand like you all are. Keep it up.

    Not to nitpick, but the length of the Excursion 35E is 36’9″, while the Discovery is 38’8″.

    Thanks for posting.

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    • We did notate the actual size in the video and in the drop down comparison.
      We agree, every Mfr. should have someone that can put info out that is actually useful to the buyer. So sad it’s just Fleetwood for now (and Leisure Travel does a good job too).

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  • M

    I was doing a mental $ tally as you were doing the smackdown and in my view a $50K premium seems a lot more in line with the enhancements you get in the Discovery. After all, $100K is a LOT of cheese for the extras and seems like price gouging to me so unless there are a bunch of “unseen” enhancements like you wrote about I’d never pay that much more for the features that you mentioned in the video.

    Of course with my budget I’ll never buy a brand new RV (and even if money were no object I’d still buy a lightly used 3-5 year old rig to save 30-50% – OK, I’m frugal, so sue me:) so I’m probably a lot more price sensitive than most people.

    Anyway, thanks for the informative video and especially your written text since it gave me a lot of food for thought as I plan my dive into full-time RV living. I’ll definitely remember to include the unseen build specs in my buying decision!

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  • Angie

    We bought a 2014 Discovery. We absolutely love the floor plan and all of the bells and whistles. The problem is the construction of the Fleetwood. It has been in the shop constantly since buying it 4 months ago. Here are some of the problems…awning not working, slide out not retracting properly cause cracked tile, crown molding problems, windshield leaking and numerous other small problems. And the huge problem while driving, all controls go blank and then reset themselves. I expected better quality and better customer service from Fleetwood. Hopefully everything will get fixed and we will be able to enjoy our rv.

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  • James T

    Thanks for the smackdown! I personally like the Excursion better…simply because of the extra sleeping. We have a daughter and it always seems people are wanting to “tag along” when we are out and about. There is one thing that bugs me….and that is the dinette size. We have a 2013, 25 foot TT that sleeps eight comfortably, has huge bathroom and shower, lots of living area, and the dinette actually fits 4 adults….Does the excursion really hold 4 people in the dinette? Oh…our unit is a 2013 Cherokee 254Q…on the cheaper side but gets the job done beautifuly for our family…thanks wynns.

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  • mary van

    That is a lot of money for the amenities of the Discovery. I would definitely go for the upgrades if I could squeeze it into my6 budget! Do you plan to upgrade anytime soon?

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  • We have an Itasca Solei 34T with the mid entry. We would not give that up for anything. It would be nice to have the bells and whistles but we just did a 5400 mile trip in comfort. I guess you could invest the 100 grand but if money is no object why not.

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  • Mark Beresford

    In Britain resale values are also a big issue when it comes to RVs .Though most are half the size of US versions..

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    • Mark,
      In the US the pricing goes something like this:
      M.S.R.P. $100,000
      Actual Sale Price: $75,000
      3 Yr. Used Sale Price: $50,000

      Does that sound about the same as the European pricing? Just curious.

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      • Mark Beresford

        Similar Jason though prices are a lot more over here. .For example the largest practical motorhome over here would be 22-25 ft and new that would cost you the equivalent of around $100,000.. A large rig like yours would be very limited in areas it could go and many campsites simply would refuse entry…

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  • Julio

    It really pays to research and dig into the details to ensure the RV we select will compliment nicely the lifestyle we seek. Otherwise, no matter what one pays, it will be too high a price to pay.

    A couple of fundamental differences between the two coaches are the chassis, diesel engines and transmissions they offer. The Excursion is built on a Freightliner XC-S chassis, which typically yields less basement and pass-through space due to the straight rail frame location. The Discovery is built on a modular chassis that has bigger and more flexible storage compartments.

    At 300HP and 660 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 RPM with the Allison® 2100 MH 6-Speed transmission, the Excursion has an acceptable entry level diesel pusher power plant. But don’t be fooled by the 10,000 lbs hitch rating because your maximum combined vehicle weight rating (coach plus + tow) is 30,000 lbs. The maximum coach weigh rating is 26,000 lbs. You do the math once you take the loaded coach to the scales and see how much you can really tow.

    At 380HP and 1,150 lb-ft at 1,400 RPM (almost double the torque at lower RPMs) with the Allison® 3000 MH 6-Speed transmission, the Discovery has a powerful diesel pusher power plant combination. The maximum combined vehicle weight rating (coach plus + tow) is 43,400 lbs. The maximum coach weigh rating is 33,400 lbs. Even if the coach is fully loaded, the towing capacity is untouched.

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  • David

    The way I see it ,if you don’t like some of the hardware change !
    Spent a few thousand could save you tens of thosands .
    I build ing my 5th bus conversion and everyone is a improvement over the last one
    Remember. The Greener the better! Cheers

    .

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  • Although this was a great smack down, I’d like for you to do another comparison with different RV brands but it looks as though you are tied into the Fleetwood brand which is a great brand but I’m still not convinced it’s the right brand for us retired folks. Still looking though.

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    • We are NOT tied to Fleetwood (that is the best part about our lease, we have no obligations) and do plan to do more of these smackdowns with different brands this fall. It takes a lot of time to set up these videos and get approval to film them so starting with fleetwood was the simplest. Stay tuned and we will be back with more.

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  • Superslif

    In the lower price point (travel trailers) you could have lower quality materials for cabinets, hardware, counter tops, interior / exterior dated or modern designs, standard equipment.

    Looked at some tt’s with 20- 23 gallon fresh water tanks ( deal-killers) up to the 53 gallon we have in our newer 25′ Aerolite. Some, a manual gas hot water heater was standard, where others the gas/electric DSI was standard. Similar sized tt’s could have MSRP’s of $15k others $30k. You get what you pay for.

    Personally, the “floorplan / lay-out” is our #1 objective, #2 would be over-all quality of material, #3 updated design, #4 fresh water tank size. *** (Actually #4 could be the #1 deal killer even if we found the perfect RV)….

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    • Agree with your very simple breakdown, thanks for sharing.

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  • Great comparison video! Do you have any insights on how capably these two rigs would be for boondocking (any differences?) or going off pavement? I was wondering if either came with solar panels as well as how well they might handle a dirt road (I.e what is their underside clearance).

    It seems once you get up to a certain size, taking the beast off road becomes less practical. Do you think these two would safely go off pavement?

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  • My husband and I will never own any RV like the ones you’ve discussed. However, if Inwere doing what you are doing and actually living year ’round in a large motor home, I would definitely pay the extra $100,000.00 for that extra bit of luxury. And convenience. Do it up right, that’s what I say!

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    • Never say never Judy…you could hit the lottery one day 🙂

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  • Ray

    So what kind of issues did you have with the Excursion? I’m in the market and doing research.. Thanks

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    • Very few issues Ray, in fact we are filming a “Best and Worst” video this week on that very subject.

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  • Dave Campbell

    They both seem well appointed with differences in capacities and such. I guess it all comes down to preferences and needs. I think the Excursion has a lot more luxury to it — more slides, bigger capacities and some nicer points like a retracting power cord.

    Personally, I would go for the Discovery if I was looking at motor homes. I guess that’s because I’m cheap. It has more than enough for my wife and I and the kinds of camping we’d do.

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    • You swapped those, the Discovery is the higher end, but from the video, I agree with you. The luxuries are nice but the entry level diesel Excursion has everything we need and with the extra savings allows for more personal customization’s! Thanks for chiming in!

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