Thanks all for your input and advice!
I talked RVs with my wife tonight, and I've talked her out of the pop-up (she wants a real toilet and shower), and she's now open to the Winnebago Via. We're gonna try renting a 22-25' Class C and see how my wife feels about its spaciousness as a "preview" of the Via. I'm hoping she'll decide it's too cramped and open us up to a diesel pusher.
@GLArnold, I looked heavily at the Via, been inside them a few years ago (25T, 25R), but it felt cramped. I feel claustrophobia when RV beds are up against a corner, so the 25Q floorplan is better, but still so small. The 16-17 MPG sounds great, and my wife does sound like it's the only Class A she's not immediately fighting me on.
I heard MPG goes down to 14 MPG with a toad.
@Lofton, 10 MPG is awesome for a 42' tag axle DP! What RPM are you referring to, and what speed is that at the top gear? Is that with a toad, and if so, what? Ours will be a 2600 lb Fiat 500. Very promising indeed! I know Corvettes with their 5.7L V8s are capable of 29 MPG with low RPMs and cylinder deactivation.
@Avid_DK, I've looked at the Leisure Travel online, not in person, but since I find the Via cramped, a Class B won't work for me. I'm not a big fan of Super Cs, a lot of wasted length in the nose.
@Clayobx, thanks for the advice. I did what you did on paper; started with a tent, heard about pop-ups from a friend, and once I started researching pop-ups, moved up to researching TTs, then 5ers, then Class A DPs. My wife hasn't made that journey with me yet.
@GA Navigator, hahaha! I'll run your idea by her and see what she says about staying in a pop-up behind my 45 footer!
@Stealth01, my first choice would be an Essex for sure (also considering Entegra Anthem but I like Newmar's Comfort Drive and customizability), but only if I can talk the wife into it. No issues with maneuverability or getting stuck on narrow twisty roads? That's a concern for me along with the Class B License.
@Selah, yes, my wife and I are pretty far apart; I'd like to spend as little as possible, but I'm willing to spend up to $500K; my wife would like to stay under $100K. So I'm trying to find a happy medium! I have discussed the relatively minor impact of fuel economy on our overall decision with her, and she sees that, but she's still looking at the up front cost; she doesn't want to be wasteful.
@Road Dogs, I did look at 5ers quite a bit before getting obsessed about Class A diesel pushers. My wife is also more receptive to a 5er than to a large diesel Class A, but I'm leery of learning how to drive/back up with a trailer (I already back up horribly with a passenger car), plus I like the ability to use the RV while under way.
@Butte64, money is always an object to some degree; I looked at Palazzos too, again, my concern being not enough MPG advantage for the space lost, but that might be one of the Class As my wife might agree to before a 40-45 footer.
@GreaTOne65, listening to the wife is great advice, of course. I would never do it without her consent; I've made that mistake only once; she made me pay!
Ironic hearing "humble" opinions from someone whose handle is "GreaTOne". Luckily, I've already talked her out of the pop-up, so now I'm trying to talk her out of a 25 footer by spending a few days in one; I hope the rental has a tiny shower (she's petite, but likes a roomy shower)!
@Denniscw, thank you! That's exactly my concern about 5ers; maneuvering, especially backing up with one. The Serrano is another one I've looked at, but isn't that discontinued for now?
@MN_Traveler, 34-38 footers seem a good medium size, but at 40 feet (at least with Newmar), we get a tag! Still, if she says 34-38 is good, I'll be happy with that.
@Maladjusted, 10.3 MPG is awesome for a 40' pusher with toad!
@Barlow46, thanks for posting your experience!