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Old 08-05-2021, 09:49 AM   #1
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MH Driving ease for 72 year old Mother?

I am a first time RV'er looking to purchase a motorhome for my family to use during the summer months, and for my retired mother to use during the winter. My use case would be going to horse shows and races (our hobbies) as well as vacations to state parks, campgrounds, etc. Her use case would be driving from Western NY down to Florida to her second home by herself, and then short trips around Florida over the winter with friends.

Right now we are looking at a number of options, everything from a Mercedes based small C, to a midsize e-450 based C, to some of the small to mid range 30ish foot gas As, and even some older smaller end DPs.

All these options will function for the base use case, but are obviously very different. The e450 Cs will allow me to tow more. The Sprinters are really maneuverable, the As have the most room, etc.

My biggest question is, what are they like to drive? I am used to big trucks and rigs (our gooseneck horse trailer, etc) but my Mother is not. We rented a small cruise america C she got to drive for a bit, and did fine, but otherwise this would all be new to her. She is a very good car driver, but did have some issues when she had a boat recently (grounded the propeller a couple times, had trouble docking, etc) Just how difficult are these to manage for a retired 72 year old driving alone?

I know the sprinters are most maneuverable and most car like, with the short wheelbase, small turning radius, etc. How does that really compare to a 27ish foot C for driving down the highway comfortably? How much harder are they really? Then same for the A's, are the A's harder than the Cs or easier? How much harder are they than the Sprinters?

I know this is a pretty wide open question, but I am looking for what people have experienced with different styles, and how difficult they really are to drive relative to each other. Specifically, some of our top options we have been looking at right now are an Entegra Qwest / Winnie Navion B+, Jayco Greyhawk/Entegra Odyssey Cs in the 27ish range, and a Jayco Precept 31u with the 22.5 tires.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 08-05-2021, 11:01 AM   #2
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

I think your mom would adapt quickly to a smaller Class A, maybe 32-35'. It might be worthwhile to rent one for a week and let her try it out!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:22 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.

Maybe rent a couple of different rigs for a short weekend trip and see how she does and what might work for her.

Good luck.
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:40 PM   #4
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Can't really hold boat driving issues against her ,some boats/props slow speed and reverse maneuvering can be poor too.
There was a recent shared vid had some amazing tricks and info/training on MH driving. I thought I bookmarked it but can't find it.
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:54 PM   #5
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I'm not as old as your mother (late 50's hubby mid 60's), but I do drive our Class A 36RBS when I need to or just to keep my hand in so to speak. Hubby does most of the driving. Have solo towed 2 horses in box with it as well for about 4 hours each way, through long and tight construction cones to horse shows for daughter when she was younger. Did it, but didn't like it.

I'll be honest I don't particularly enjoy driving it at all, but keep at it here and there to know in an emergency I could get us home if need be safely but somewhat slower than hubby LOL.

I think excellent advice for your mother to try driving the different types/styles and see how comfortable she is for a good distance and different types of roads/terrain. Also to consider tow capacity weight etc depending on what you need.

Welcome to the family, I see this is your first post. Happy Travels.

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Old 08-06-2021, 04:42 AM   #6
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ThothTP-

As far as I know, Sprinter-based coaches are limited to the low 4,000-pound range for horizontal towing capacity, and I don't know what for tongue weight.

In contrast, later-model Ford E-450 Super-Duty-based Class C chassis are rated to tow 7,500 pounds horizontal. Beware, though, that the coach manufacturer sets the ratings (hitch horizontal and vertical, GVWR, GCWR and axle), and they often can be lower than what Ford lists. Some manufacturers have listed high horizontal towing ratings, with low vertical ratings, which is not a problem if you tow a car four-down but is clearly a potential problem if you tow a trailer. As I said, beware.

Note: There are a few Class A coaches built on the E-450 chassis. Thor makes one.

I should think a Class C or Class A built on the E-450 and 25 to 30 feet long would suit both uses you list. We had a 27-foot Class C (for three years) and it was about as big as I'd consider having without a car in tow; any larger and it gets difficult to park it "in town."

The advice to try before you buy is sound. Also, not offered yet is the advice that floorplan is important- in small coaches, even more so.

<edit>It just occurred to me to advise you to check any association rules that may be in force at your mother's second home in Florida. Some associations prohibit parking RVs alongside the house, or limit parking for a certain duration, such as 24 hours. If they do allow RVs, it has to fit in the driveway and allow room for a car, if that's the plan.</edit>
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Old 08-06-2021, 08:38 AM   #7
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All great advice!

My only comment is that due to Covid, MH supplies at most dealers are down and prices way up. If I were you, I would try to rent this year and buy next or watch for a sale by owner. Otherwise, you may be paying way more than normal.
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Old 08-06-2021, 09:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
ThothTP-

As far as I know, Sprinter-based coaches are limited to the low 4,000-pound range for horizontal towing capacity, and I don't know what for tongue weight.

In contrast, later-model Ford E-450 Super-Duty-based Class C chassis are rated to tow 7,500 pounds horizontal. Beware, though, that the coach manufacturer sets the ratings (hitch horizontal and vertical, GVWR, GCWR and axle), and they often can be lower than what Ford lists. Some manufacturers have listed high horizontal towing ratings, with low vertical ratings, which is not a problem if you tow a car four-down but is clearly a potential problem if you tow a trailer. As I said, beware.

Note: There are a few Class A coaches built on the E-450 chassis. Thor makes one.

I should think a Class C or Class A built on the E-450 and 25 to 30 feet long would suit both uses you list. We had a 27-foot Class C (for three years) and it was about as big as I'd consider having without a car in tow; any larger and it gets difficult to park it "in town."

The advice to try before you buy is sound. Also, not offered yet is the advice that floorplan is important- in small coaches, even more so.

<edit>It just occurred to me to advise you to check any association rules that may be in force at your mother's second home in Florida. Some associations prohibit parking RVs alongside the house, or limit parking for a certain duration, such as 24 hours. If they do allow RVs, it has to fit in the driveway and allow room for a car, if that's the plan.</edit>
Thanks for this. Yeah, I have done a ton of research in to the towing requirements - the sprinters can "tow" 5000 pounds, but the room above the GVW to the combined is only 4000 pounds, so 4000 is the max without eating in to cargo capacity. With cargo capacity in the 900 pound to 1200 pound range, they can't realistically tow 5000 pounds. On other vehicles I also often see 8000 pound hitches with 500 pound tongue weights, meaning they can't actually tow an 8000 pound trailer since you need 10% minimum on the tongue. Thor is especially bad at this. Most of the E-450s are 7500/750 though, so they actually can.

My race vehicle on a flatbed is about 5000 pounds, so not really realistic to tow behind the sprinter - however that is a nice to have not a dealbreaker, as we could always tow it behind our truck and drive both vehicles. The Class As with 22.5 wheels would handle that no problem, and the class Cs with 7500 I could throw the golf cart on the trailer as well. These aren't primary concerns though, more nice to haves. Primary use will be horse shows (nothing to tow since we have the truck and gooseneck going as well) and vacations.

For her house, she does have restrictions on parking in her neighborhood, but she has a place nearby she can store it.
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Old 08-06-2021, 10:06 AM   #9
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ThothTP-

To answer your original question, from experience, the Class C we owned and the Class A we own were/are equally difficult to drive. The former had a Ford E-450 chassis with V-10 engine and four-speed transmission. The latter has an F-53 chassis with V-10 and five speed transmission. Both were/are trucks and drove/drive like a truck. I can't speak to the Sprinter experience.

To me, the major driving difficulty is that you must constantly survey your surroundings and be ready to respond very quickly to changes in same. You know this from towing your trailers. It can be a lot to lay on an aging person, used to driving a car.

Other tasks in RV ownership may require physical activity, such as lifting or bending, that may be more difficult for someone older or less strong. Here are some sample questions:

1) Are the tank dump controls located under a slide-out?
2) Are levelers built in, and if so, will they require pads under them to work well in the sites where one expects to stay?
3) What is the largest and/or heaviest item to be put into/taken out of a storage compartment?
4) How easy is it to load groceries into the cabin?

You get the idea.

A fit 72-year-old with sharp reflexes should do OK at solo runs in a motorhome. My wife and I are (on the average) 72 years old. The elder has more trouble than the younger, but we both are not as sharp as we were seven years ago, when we started RVing. Mostly situational awareness/decision-making, with some eyesight problems mixed in. I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to get out there just because the calendar says I'm no longer young, but at the same time it's reasonable to assess the risk-vs.-reward. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" and "Your mileage may vary" apply.
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Old 08-06-2021, 11:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
ThothTP-

To answer your original question, from experience, the Class C we owned and the Class A we own were/are equally difficult to drive. The former had a Ford E-450 chassis with V-10 engine and four-speed transmission. The latter has an F-53 chassis with V-10 and five speed transmission. Both were/are trucks and drove/drive like a truck. I can't speak to the Sprinter experience.

To me, the major driving difficulty is that you must constantly survey your surroundings and be ready to respond very quickly to changes in same. You know this from towing your trailers. It can be a lot to lay on an aging person, used to driving a car.

Other tasks in RV ownership may require physical activity, such as lifting or bending, that may be more difficult for someone older or less strong. Here are some sample questions:

1) Are the tank dump controls located under a slide-out?
2) Are levelers built in, and if so, will they require pads under them to work well in the sites where one expects to stay?
3) What is the largest and/or heaviest item to be put into/taken out of a storage compartment?
4) How easy is it to load groceries into the cabin?

You get the idea.

A fit 72-year-old with sharp reflexes should do OK at solo runs in a motorhome. My wife and I are (on the average) 72 years old. The elder has more trouble than the younger, but we both are not as sharp as we were seven years ago, when we started RVing. Mostly situational awareness/decision-making, with some eyesight problems mixed in. I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to get out there just because the calendar says I'm no longer young, but at the same time it's reasonable to assess the risk-vs.-reward. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" and "Your mileage may vary" apply.
All good things to think about.

Everyone is different. My 82 year old Mom has a short BT Cruiser (believe it's abut 23 feet long) that she drives. She does ok with it but she would never think of going too far without having someone to go along to help with dumping, leveling, etc,,,.

To be honest, I wouldn't feel good about my Mom, even is she were younger, driving hundreds of miles in a motorhome by herself. Besides dealing with the routine RV stuff, there's the better possibility of things going wrong in a motorhome that would cause her to need outside assistance.
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Old 08-12-2021, 12:26 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone! I think we have, after a very very roundabout meandering journey of several months, settled on a sprinter based class C. To my Wife's credit, she said this is where we would end up pretty much day one, but it took a while to bring my Mother (and myself) around to this being the best option.

Last weekend we managed to get a dealer to offer some test drives, so first we drove a 34 foot class A that she had fallen in love with. She did fine, maneuvering around a tight parking lot, but you could tell it was intimidating. After that, we went to another location and test drove a sprinter, a Winnebago View. I fully expected her to drive that and instantly see how much easier it was, and decide right away that was what she wanted. Instead, she says "Wow, this is SOOOO easy, I could drive something way bigger than this!" Not exactly what I had in mind. But after we looked at more options, and talked everything through, we both decided that something like that is the ideal option for her, and it is close to ideal for us as well. I will have to load VERY lightly to tow, but otherwise the maneuverability and versatility will be a huge benefit for our small family and the kinds of adventures we want to go on. Now that we have a model and floorplan, the hunt for our exact RV begins!
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Old 08-12-2021, 05:04 PM   #12
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Old 08-13-2021, 07:11 AM   #13
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My wife and I are both 72 and neither of us find driving our 34' gas class A a challenge. We had a 24' class C on the F 450 chassis and that was pretty easy as well, just didn't have the room for full-timing. You really can't judge ability by age because some people stay in great shape and others do not.
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