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Old 12-30-2013, 06:10 AM   #1
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Class C or 5th Wheel - Trying to Decide

We've been struggling with this decision for a month now and my head hurts.

Do we get a 5th wheel and a Ram 2500 - we'll have more luxury but will pay more for gas when pulling the RV and driving the truck around without the RV.

Do we get a Class C (around 8-10 mpg) that but save money driving a smaller towed vehicle around town?

Has anyone had experience with both? Would we get better mileage with a Class C (and towing a small car) or pulling a 5th wheel with a Ram 2500?

Either RV will be about 31 ft.

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Old 12-30-2013, 07:12 AM   #2
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That is like asking which cost more $.50 or half a dollar. Seriously, there is not gonna be much difference one way or another. With a diesel ram and fifth wheel you're gonna average 9.5-11 mpg depending upon speed and terrain. A gas ram will get you 7-9 mpg same conditions. A class c on ford with v10 engine will get u 6-8 mpg towing small car. Of course you could get slightly better or slightly worse depending upon many factors. Keep in mind on class c you will probably run generator to keep ac on while driving on pretty warm to hot days and that will take about a half gallon an hour of gas. That will further drop your mpg a little.

I have had travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes and several of each. In my opinion a motorhome is the best way yo travel. When I say travel, I mean moving quite a bit and not staying places long at a time. If your gonna go one place and stay long periods of time, get the fifth wheel. You will have lots more room. Motorhome is more convenience. You stop to eat lunch or for nap or for night, you just turn around and your there. Fifth wheel you have to get out walk back, its probably hot in summer or cold in winter so you'll be grabbing fast food while traveling. Longer to hookup when leaving campground, etc, etc, etc.
The pros and cons can go on and on and ultimately it's your decision and your dollar. But read and do your homework and do not rush into a decision because you found a "good deal" and hopefully you will make the best choice first and not get beat up trading later.

If you have specific questions you can PM me I will be glad as others would to help best we can. I have camped almost 20 years and learned one or two things. However I do not claim to know it all. Good luck with your decision and safe travels.


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Old 12-30-2013, 07:35 AM   #3
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Humm - agree this is a close call. How will you use the rig? If you want to see the country I would think a class C would be better. If you want to live in it after you see the country then a 5th wheel would be better.

When I analyzed everything we went with a truck and 5th wheel. I did not want a toad plus I like having a truck for hauling firewood, other trailers, kayaks, lumber, etc.

Like I said before there is no perfect (or easy) way to do this.

I forget - are you going full time?
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:58 AM   #4
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With a larger class C, I doubt if you will get over 8 mpg, especially when pulling a dinghy.

For winter living, the C's cab will be cold as it is pretty much not insulated. The large C's on the gas chassis has a limited cargo carrying capacity. The super C with a diesel engine will have more carrying capacity and get better fuel economy.

If you are living in the RV and you have a mechanical problem with the chassis, your whole house goes to the shop. With the 5er, you can get the trailer parked to live in it and get the truck to a Dodge Ram shop.

You specifically list a 2500, 3/4 ton truck. I hope it is a diesel, but a 3/4 ton truck will limit your trailer due to the lower GVWR and the higher pin weight of a 5er. For most 3/4 ton trucks, you will reach your limits with a 5er on about 32' actual length. With some of the "Lite" series trailer, you might be able to get a bit larger trailer. But with a Lite series trailer, they are really not meant for long term or full time use.

There are a number of sites that discuss in detail, the weight definitions and issues of trailer and trucks. Study them, learn all of the terms and read the fine print in the trucks "maximum tow capacity".

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Old 12-30-2013, 01:28 PM   #5
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Here's an estimate of possible mpg scenarios you'll be looking at for a Class C or 5th wheel

Class C+toad
Best: MPG 10w/toad
Toad MPG (small car) 35
AVG MPG (70%toad; 30% RV)= 20.25MPG
Worst: MPG 6w/toad
Toad MPG (small truck) 22
AVG MPG (70% toad; 30% RV)= 14

5th wheel + 2500 Gas or diesel
Best MPG: 12 Towing
18 Not Towing
AVG MPG (70% not towing; 30 Towing)= 15MPG
Worst MPG: 6 Towing
14 Not towing
AVG MPG (70% not towing; 30 Towing)= 10MPG

In conclusion if you're more concerned with MPG over all else then the class with a diesel and small car is your best option. Actually just the small car as a toad is your best route
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:54 PM   #6
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I debated that same issue when we got back into RVing too. I decided that we needed to tow something either a dingy or a trailer. Will for me I decided on the 5th wheel since I could use the pick-up bed for hauling items when needed for the house with a small car will no.That was the deciding factor for me. I also purchased a diesel since the fuel mileage when towing is better than a gas model truck.

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Old 12-31-2013, 02:02 PM   #7
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You can debate this issue all day. First thing I see is your idea of a 2500 is simply not going to be enough for much over a 28-30 foot fiver. IS that where you want to be at? I think you really need to sit down, decide the absolute maximum length of each type you feel comfortable with then go shopping. Pick as many floor plans of each type you can find and start playing house in them. You will probably find a fifth wheel offers way more actual living space for the dollar. Do you plan to sit for more than a couple of days? Fifth wheel. Do you plan to move every day or so? Then a MH. You really are asking an open ended question with no right answer. You have to look and make a decision on your own.
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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I have only had class A. But in watching others a 5th wheel looks like a lot more effort to set up and tear down.

We tow a jeep. Even for an overnight it is easy and quick to setup. And also easy to disconnect the jeep if we want to go out to eat or shopping.
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Old 12-31-2013, 03:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 450Donn View Post
You can debate this issue all day. First thing I see is your idea of a 2500 is simply not going to be enough for much over a 28-30 foot fiver. IS that where you want to be at? I think you really need to sit down, decide the absolute maximum length of each type you feel comfortable with then go shopping. Pick as many floor plans of each type you can find and start playing house in them. You will probably find a fifth wheel offers way more actual living space for the dollar. Do you plan to sit for more than a couple of days? Fifth wheel. Do you plan to move every day or so? Then a MH. You really are asking an open ended question with no right answer. You have to look and make a decision on your own.
We pull our 40' 5th wheel with a 2012 Silverado Duramax with an Allison transmission. We've pulled over the Rockies with it. We stay stationary sometimes for a week, sometimes a month, sometimes a day.

There's no one answer. We looked at everything from TT to Class A before finding the layout that meets our needs as full timers. What works for us may not work for you. Good luck!
Paul & Martha
Live so you can say "remember when" not "I wish I had".
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:09 PM   #10
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One other consideration. Do you need some kind of truck anyway to haul stuff home from Home Depot; pull a boat; plow snow; etc? In my case, I'll always have some kind of pick-up truck for those other uses. So I have a big truck instead of a smaller one to tow the 5th wheel.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:20 PM   #11
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Here's a thought before you lay down your cash on either.

If we were at the stage you are at trying to decide which would be better, don't worry or rush into it. As already said do some internet searches and find out all you can. Look very critically at all photos of each model you wish to review (I say photos rather than the real thing because you don't have any salesmen breathing down your neck and pressuring you into a sale, at least until you narrow things down some). Think of all the things you would like to take, where you think you would store them etc. Each type of rv has very different storage options and parameters both inside and outside.

Will you camp without hookups? We have also checked out a lot of new RVs and the latest thing is that they are installing residential grade refrigerators (watch out for this if you dry camp as they need a power source to run, they do not run on propane).

Maybe the best thing to do would be to rent one of each type and try it out for a week or so. You would get a good idea of how each type performs albeit may not be your exact floor plan of your choice, but try and match size as best you can. Try each of them over similar terrain, mountainous and flat.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:42 PM   #12
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OK, I've posted this on some other Forums so I'll post it here too. Everyone wants to say how hard it is to unhook, setup, then tear down and reconnect a 5er. Well with the new breed of 5ers with auto-leveling hydraulic jacks the process is just a quick as a MH and maybe even a little easier than getting that toad hooked up and the aux braking unit put in and functioning.
For an overnite stop we generally don't disconnect, just put the jacks down manually to stablize and plug in the electric.
So don't discount a 5er for short stays.
We run 9.5 to 11.5 towing 40' of 17000 Lb 5er. Running around town 14 to 15, on the open highway 17.5 to 20 depending on actual speed. This is all with a 3500 Diesel Dually.
2011 Chevy Silverado 3500HD LT Ext Cab 4x4 Duramax/Allison, 2016 Redwood 39MB, Disc Brakes, Mor/ryde IS, GY 17.5" H tires, 5.5K Onan, Dual ACs, auto level, auto sat dish, stacked washer/dryer, residential fridge, King sleep number. Michelle & Ann
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Old 01-01-2014, 08:18 PM   #13
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Don't know if this will help, but we typically enjoy between 14 and 15 miles per gallon of diesel fuel with our Winnebago Itasca Navion iQ while towing a Ford Escape (4-down). Usually travel about 62-63 mph.

It's not 31 feet long, but with a rear slide it has a "real" bedroom with a queen bed. Probably more like 29 feet long with the slide out (has another side-slide, too). Very comfortable for two. Great Mercedes chassis.

Just more to consider. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:23 PM   #14
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Takes me no more than 15 mins to unhook, get water, electric, level, patio out, slides out on my 5r.
Honestly, I don't care if it takes me 30 minutes.... I mean, what's the hurry? You need to get some where quick?
We go with a 5r and always will unless we get to old to do it any more.
We like the extra room and flexibility of not having to depend on another vehicle. Cuts down on insurance, maintenance hassles like oil changes etc...
As far as if you were on the move daily, you don't need to unhook from the truck. So I don't see any difference there.
Good luck with your selection! Have a blast!! Jim & Trina

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