RV Shopper Series – Small Class A Gas
One of the most popular styles of class A motorhomes has got to be the small (under 30ft) entry level gas RV.
It seems nearly everyone we talk to that’s looking for their first RV is considering one of these affordable little guys. Which is why this article is the first of many in our new RV Shopper Series!
In this video we bring you along as we inspect what we found to be the best sellers, new-to-the-market and most popular small gas RV’s. We point out our top three likes and dislikes of each coach. There are a lot of options out there and we couldn’t and don’t want to try and cover every small class A gas RV, but we hope you have fun shopping with us!
There are several other RVs in this segment including the Trek (we love the new Trek bed and walk-in closet but it wasn’t available for filming), Fleetwood Storm, Coachman Pursuit and the Jayco Precept among others. But at the end of the day, we thought these four were a good representation of the small class A gas coaches. Here are the results from our shopping experience listed in order of favorite to least favorite:
- Forest River FR3 25DS – 3 thumbs up
- Fleetwood Flair 26D – 3 thumbs up
- Thor ACE 27.1 – 2 thumbs up
- Winnebago Vista 26HE – 1.5 thumbs up
Who is this RV made for?
A small family, a party wagon for tailgating friends, someone on a strict budget or a weekend warrior. We feel the small class A gas RV is made for the occasional traveler, someone who isn’t interested in full-time travel or long extended trips. Sure, you can use this type of coach far beyond what we are suggesting here but they aren’t really designed for super heavy use. It’s great for the person that is considering a class C motorhome but wants to get some of the luxuries of a class A motorhome. You’ll find these RVs are fairly basic in design and finish and can sleep multiple people. Remember, buying an RV is an extremely personal experience, so our least favorite may end up being your top choice based on your needs and wants.
How much does this RV cost?
It’s difficult to translate the MSRP into the “Street Price” you might expect to pay. The MSRP listed in the video for the Flair is the special launch price so it’s likely to go up in the near future. The Vista is built to compete with the budget brands so there’s probably not a lot of wiggle room in the pricing. In general the FR3 and ACE seem to list their MSRP higher so you feel like you’re getting a better deal, I’ve seen the FR3 and ACE we’ve compared here listed online for less than $70,000 new.
What to look for when shopping for this type of RV.
- Gelcoat vs. Paint – Sure a paint job costs more but it’s going to last longer and provide more of a ‘motorhome’ finish, plus paint won’t peel off like a vinyl sticker.
- 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.
- Inverter and Batteries – Most RVs in this segment won’t have an inverter so wild camping may be difficult. If you plan to add solar make sure to check for roof space and an extra storage compartment for adding more batteries and an inverter.
- 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.
- Exterior – Some of these RVs have the exterior walls that are paper thin and applied by giant rollers to save money, the Flair and Vista are made with much stronger and thicker fiberglass.
- Insulation – Most of these RVs aren’t made for extreme hot or cold weather so it’s important to know in advance. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it just might not be a pleasurable experience.
- 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.
I think that about sums it up. If you have questions, comments or have personal experience with one of these small class A gas RVs, please share with us in the comment box below. We know the search can be exciting and exasperating at the same time but we hope this RV shopper series helps, even if it’s just a little.
If you’re considering buying an RV and haven’t checked out our article and video on the Shady Truth about Buying and RV, you may want to click over to that next.
Disclaimer – Of course we’re generalizing with a lot of this information, but by sharing our experiences we hope it helps others target which RV is 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 in 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.