Fifth Wheel vs. Motorhome: Which is the Best Choice for You?

Fifth wheel vs Motorhome

If you’re looking for the perfect recreational vehicle for your travels, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. With so many options out there, it can be tough to know where to start.

One of the decisions to make is between a fifth wheel vs. motorhome. While both provide unique benefits, it can be challenging to determine which type of RV is most suitable for your travel needs.

This article aims to present a comprehensive comparison of the pros and cons of fifth wheels and motorhomes to help you make an informed decision.

Fifth wheels are towable RVs that attach to the bed of a pickup truck. They offer a spacious interior with ample storage, making them an ideal option for extended trips.

Motorhomes, on the other hand, are self-contained vehicles that provide the convenience of having everything you need in one unit. They are available in various sizes, from small Class B models to large Class A motorhomes.

By exploring the features, advantages, and disadvantages of both types of RVs, you can determine which one is best suited for your travel preferences and budget.

Fifth Wheel vs. Motorhome – Pros and Cons

When considering the choice between a fifth wheel and a motorhome, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Fifth wheels use less fuel and are easier to maneuver, making them a good choice for those with a tighter budget, solo travelers, and anyone who needs easier maneuvering. However, fifth wheels offer fewer amenities and are not as comfortable for larger groups or families. They may also not provide the full RV experience that some travelers are looking for.

On the other hand, motorhomes offer more space and amenities than fifth wheels but are more expensive and have lower fuel efficiency. They are also harder to drive, which could be a factor to consider if you are new to RV travel. Motorhomes are a better choice for larger groups, long-term trips, and those who want a more luxurious experience.

Ultimately, the decision between a fifth wheel and a motorhome will depend on your personal preferences and needs, as well as your budget and travel plans.


In evaluating the two types of recreational vehicles, it is important to consider that having more amenities and a larger space does not necessarily equate to a better choice for every traveler, as individual needs and preferences vary. For some, a fifth wheel may be a better option due to its lower cost and better fuel efficiency. On the other hand, a motorhome may be preferred by those who prioritize luxury and comfort over cost and fuel efficiency.

To further compare the two types, a cost comparison, and fuel efficiency analysis can be conducted. Fifth wheels tend to be less expensive than motorhomes, with prices ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. Motorhomes, on the other hand, can cost upwards of $100,000. In terms of fuel efficiency, fifth wheels tend to be more efficient due to their lighter weight and being towed by a vehicle with better fuel economy. Motorhomes, on the other hand, have lower fuel efficiency due to their heavier weight and larger engines. Ultimately, the choice between a fifth wheel and a motorhome depends on individual preferences and priorities.

Overview of Fifth Wheels and Motorhomes

When it comes to choosing an RV, two of the most popular options are fifth wheels and motorhomes. Both offer unique benefits and amenities that cater to different lifestyles and preferences. Fifth wheels are designed to be towed by a truck with a special fifth-wheel hitch, whereas motorhomes are their own self-contained unit with a built-in engine and living space. In this article, we will compare and contrast these two types of RVs to help you make an informed decision on which one is best suited for your needs.

Benefits of Fifth Wheels vs Motorhomes

Concerning RV travel, there are two main options for travelers: a fifth wheel or a motorhome. While both options have their own unique benefits, fifth wheels stand apart with its ability to provide larger living spaces, ample storage space, and ease of towing. Let’s dive into the top 5 benefits of choosing a fifth wheel over a motorhome.

1. More Living Space: One of the biggest benefits of fifth wheels is its ability to offer more living space. As compared to a motorhome, fifth wheels have higher ceilings and more floor space, which translates to more room for furniture, appliances, and amenities. This extra space is particularly important for full-time RVers, families, or travelers who like to entertain.

2. Cost-Effective: Cost is always a consideration when purchasing an RV, and fifth wheels typically offer more value for your money. Fifth wheels cost less than similarly-equipped motorhomes, and owners don’t need to invest in an entirely separate vehicle to tow them, which can save thousands of dollars.

3. Convenient Storage Space: Fifth wheels offer an often-overlooked benefit: convenient storage space. Because fifth wheels are able to utilize a truck bed for extra storage, they provide more options for owners to pack outdoor equipment or other belongings. In contrast, motorhomes are more limited in their storage space, meaning that owners often have to leave some of their belongings behind.

4. Ease of Towing: Another huge advantage of fifth wheels over motorhomes is the ease of towing. Fifth wheels are hauled by sturdy trucks and are easy to maneuver, making them a great option for first-time RVers or those who don’t have experience driving larger vehicles. Towing a fifth wheel lets drivers use their own truck, which might be more familiar and comfortable to drive than a larger motorhome chassis.

5. Many Amenities: Fifth Wheels offer a surprising number of amenities, such as kitchens with islands, master bedrooms, and even office space. Because of the space afforded to designers within a fifth wheel, these amenities often feel roomier and more comfortable than those within a motorhome. Fifth-wheel owners can also customize their rigs with a variety of floorplan options to make them fit their specific needs.

Choosing a fifth wheel over a motorhome provides several benefits for travelers. The expanded living space, ample storage opportunities, cost-effectiveness, ease of towing, and many amenities all combine to make Fifth Wheels an excellent choice for both long and short trips. For those who want to upgrade their RV experience, a fifth wheel might be the perfect choice.

Living Space

Living space is an essential consideration when choosing an RV, whether it’s a fifth wheel or a motorhome. It’s important to ensure that the RV has enough living space to accommodate your needs and those of your travel companions, whether you plan to live in the RV full-time or take extended trips. Depending on your lifestyle and requirements, different RV types offer varying degrees of living space, which we’ll explore in more detail.

Living Space in Motorhomes

When it comes to living space, motorhomes offer a variety of options depending on the class of the vehicle. There are three main classes of motorhomes – Class A, Class B, and Class C – each with its own unique features and advantages.

Class A motorhomes are the largest, most luxurious, and most expensive of the three classes. These vehicles typically range from 30 to 45 feet in length and offer spacious living areas with high ceilings, multiple bedrooms, and large bathrooms. The kitchens are equipped with full-size appliances and there is plenty of storage space throughout the vehicle. Some Class A motorhomes even include extras like a fireplace, theater seating, and washer/dryer units.

Class B motorhomes, also known as campervans, are much smaller and more compact. These vehicles are typically built on a van chassis and offer a cozy living space that includes a bed, kitchenette, and small bathroom. Class B motorhomes are ideal for solo travelers or couples who want to travel light and have the flexibility to move around easily.

Class C motorhomes are a combination of the two, offering more space than Class B but not as much as Class A. They are built on a truck chassis and typically feature a sleeping area over the cab, a full kitchen, and a bathroom with a stand-up shower. Some Class C motorhomes also come equipped with slide-outs that expand the living space when parked.

In terms of amenities, Class A motorhomes are the most luxurious, offering high-end appliances, large bathrooms, and plenty of storage space. Class B motorhomes, on the other hand, are more minimalistic and designed for a simpler, more rustic lifestyle. Class C motorhomes fall somewhere in between, offering a comfortable living space with basic amenities.

One advantage of motorhomes is their combined living and driving space, which allows for easy access to the things you need while on the road. However, this also means that when you park your motorhome, you’ll have to break down your living space in order to drive it. In comparison, the fifth wheels are towed by a separate vehicle, which allows for a separate living and driving space. This may be an advantage for some travelers who want the flexibility to park their vehicles and still have access to their living space.

When it comes to affordability, motorhomes can be expensive upfront, and operating costs can be high due to high gas prices and maintenance costs. However, many people find that the cost of owning and operating a motorhome is offset by the convenience and freedom it offers. Overall, whether motorhomes represent good value for the price is a decision that depends on individual needs and preferences.

Living space in motorhomes varies greatly depending on the class of the vehicle. Class A motorhomes offer the most space and amenities, Class B motorhomes offer a more minimalistic and rustic experience, and Class C motorhomes provide a comfortable compromise between the two. While a motorhome’s combined living and driving space may be advantageous for some, others may prefer the separate living and driving space offered by a fifth wheel. Ultimately, the value of a motorhome depends on individual needs, preferences, and finances.

Living Space in Fifth Wheels

When it comes to spacious living, 5th wheels have a lot of advantages over motorhomes. With multiple levels of living space and increased interior living areas, fifth wheels provide a more residential feel with plenty of room for features like kitchen islands and larger bedrooms.

One of the main advantages of fifth wheels is their increased interior space, which allows for more home-like equipment to be included. Many models boast features such as residential refrigerators, washers & dryers, and even dishwashers. These amenities truly make you feel at home while on the road.

The multiple levels of living space also provide an unparalleled feeling of openness and luxury. You can retreat to the large master bedroom on the upper level for privacy while the lower level provides ample space for entertaining guests or relaxing with your family.

This aspect also makes fifth wheels the perfect option for full-timers or reasonably-priced stay-in-place vacation homes. They offer all the comfort and amenities of a regular home but with the added flexibility and mobility of an RV.

All in all, fifth wheels go above and beyond when it comes to living space. With a residential feel, increased interior living space, kitchen islands, and home-like equipment, fifth wheels are perfect for anyone who desires a luxurious, mobile lifestyle.

Cost Comparison

One of the biggest considerations when it comes to choosing a recreational vehicle is the cost. The initial price, maintenance, and fuel expenses can all add up quickly, so it’s important to carefully consider your budget and what type of RV will meet your needs. In this section, we’ll compare the cost of fifth wheels vs motorhomes, including factors such as purchase price, fuel efficiency, and overall maintenance expenses. Let’s take a closer look at the cost comparison between these two popular types of RVs.

Initial Cost: Motorhome vs. Fifth Wheel

When it comes to choosing between a motorhome and a fifth wheel, one of the first factors to consider is the initial cost. Generally speaking, motorhomes tend to be more expensive than fifth wheels due to the added luxury and amenities they provide. However, fifth wheels are still more than capable of providing a comfortable living space at a more affordable price.

According to industry experts, the average cost of a new fifth wheel is estimated to be around $45,000. Used models can start as low as $4,000 and some higher-end models can reach upwards of $100,000 depending on their size, features, and overall condition.

As for motorhomes, there are three different classes to choose from Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A motorhomes are the most luxurious and expensive, with prices starting at around $100,000 and easily exceeding $1 million for top-of-the-line models. Class B and Class C motorhomes are generally more affordable, with prices ranging from $60,000 to $92,000 on average.

Ultimately, the initial cost of a motorhome versus a fifth wheel depends on a variety of factors such as size, features, amenities, and overall luxury. While motorhomes may offer more premium options, fifth wheels are still a great choice for those seeking a comfortable living space at a more affordable price point.

Long-Term Cost: Motorhome vs. Fifth Wheel

When it comes to the long-term cost comparison between motorhomes and fifth wheels, there are several factors to consider. One of the most significant costs beyond the initial purchase price is maintenance and repairs. Both motorhomes and fifth wheels require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition, but motorhomes are generally more costly to maintain due to their complex engine and chassis systems. Repairs for these systems can be expensive, and labor costs are often higher for motorhomes.

In terms of fuel expenses, motorhomes typically have worse gas mileage than fifth wheels. This is because motorhomes have an additional engine to power the vehicle, while fifth wheels are pulled by a tow vehicle. This can lead to higher fuel costs for motorhomes, especially if they are driven frequently or for long distances.

Resale value is another important factor to consider when comparing long-term costs. Fifth wheels tend to have better resale value than motorhomes, as they are not subject to the same wear and tear as motorhomes’ engines and chassis. This can make a significant difference in the long run, as a higher resale value can offset some of the initial purchase prices.

It’s also important to note any hidden costs associated with owning either a motorhome or a fifth wheel that RVers may overlook. For example, motorhomes may require more expensive insurance coverage or roadside assistance programs due to their size and complexity. Additionally, fifth wheels may require the purchase of a tow vehicle, which can add to the overall cost of ownership.

All in all, when comparing long-term costs, fifth wheels may be a more cost-effective option for those who are budget-conscious. However, motorhomes may offer more convenience and amenities for those who are willing to pay the extra maintenance and fuel costs. Ultimately, the decision between a motorhome and a fifth wheel will depend on individual preferences and budget constraints.

Storage Space

When it comes to RVs, storage space is a crucial factor to consider, especially for full-time RVers or those planning extended trips. Both fifth wheels and motorhomes offer various options for storage, whether it be exterior storage compartments or interior closet space. In this article, we’ll compare the storage space offerings of fifth wheels and motorhomes to help you make an informed decision on which option is best for your needs.

Storage Space in a Motorhome

Storage space is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing a motorhome, as it determines how comfortable and convenient your living experience will be on the road. Compared to fifth wheels, motorhomes offer a different kind of storage space due to their design and layout. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the storage space available in a motorhome.

One of the key advantages of a motorhome is the abundance of storage compartments both inside and outside the vehicle. Inside, you can find various cabinets, overhead compartments, and drawers strategically placed for optimal functionality. For instance, the kitchen area usually has many cupboards and drawers for storing cooking utensils, pots and pans, and food items.

The bedroom area of a motorhome also has ample storage space with wardrobes and cabinets for clothes, shoes, and bedding. The bathroom area comes equipped with medicine cabinets and additional storage space for toiletries, cleaning products, and towels.

Another significant advantage of motorhomes is the extra storage compartments outside the vehicle. Some motorhomes come with exterior storage bays large enough to accommodate outdoor equipment, such as hiking gear and bicycles. These compartments are designed to be accessed from the outside of the motorhome and save space inside the main living area.

Unlike fifth wheels, motorhomes come equipped with furniture, fixtures, and appliances, which can limit the storage space available. However, most manufacturers design furniture and fixtures with storage space in mind. For example, some motorhomes come with a kitchen island that also serves as a storage unit.

Several modifications and upgrades can be made to motorhomes to increase the storage space available. For instance, you can add additional cabinets or shelves to the interior or exterior of the vehicle, or even get custom-made furniture that serves both storage and functional purposes.

In summary, storage space is a vital factor to consider when purchasing a motorhome. It determines how comfortable and convenient your living experience will be on the road. While fifth wheels might offer different storage options, motorhomes provide ample storage compartments both inside and outside the vehicle. The type of furniture, fixtures, and appliances in a motorhome can impact the storage space available. However, modifications can be made to expand the storage options further.

Storage Space in a Fifth Wheel

Fifth wheels are known for their ample storage space both inside and outside the vehicle. The interior space of a fifth wheel is designed to maximize functionality while ensuring that every item on board has a designated spot. This leaves you with plenty of room to carry along everything you need for your RVing adventure.

One of the unique features of fifth wheels is the large basement storage areas that they usually come with. These areas are designed to provide you with additional storage options, allowing you to bring more along for the ride while staying within the maximum allowed weights for both the RV and the truck. This ensures that you have everything you need without having to sacrifice anything.

Some of the most popular fifth wheel floorplans come with multiple levels of living space. This means that the area beneath the upper level remains available for storage purposes. This extra space can be utilized to store items that are bulky or need to be kept out of sight, such as outdoor chairs, folding tables, and spare parts.

However, there are limitations that come with using a fifth wheel. The most common limitation is related to truck bed space. Since fifth wheels use a wheel hitch that attaches to the truck bed, they require a larger truck with a specific weight capacity to tow effectively. This can limit the amount of space available for storing additional items on the back of the truck.

In summary, fifth wheels offer an abundance of storage space both inside and outside the vehicle, allowing you to bring along everything you need for your RVing adventure. The large basement storage areas and multiple levels of living space allow you to organize your belongings efficiently, while the limitations, such as the dependence on truck bed space, need to be taken into account for an enjoyable RVing experience.

Kitchen Islands and Other Amenities

When it comes to cooking and entertaining on the go, both fifth wheels and motorhomes come with various kitchen amenities. One popular feature is the kitchen island, which is a countertop that provides an extra workspace and often includes a sink, cabinets, and additional storage.

In terms of kitchen islands, fifth wheels are known for their relatively larger and more spacious kitchens. Most fifth wheels offer kitchen islands with plenty of counter space, storage options, and added features like a stovetop or a wine fridge. However, it’s important to note that when the slide-outs are in, the space in the kitchen can be limited, including the area around the kitchen island. This can result in more restricted movement and may be disadvantageous for larger families.

Apart from the kitchen island, other interior amenities that can be found in both fifth wheels and motorhomes include bunkhouses, which are perfect for families with kids, and residential fridges that replicate the refrigerator experience of a traditional home. With regard to space, another crucial consideration is the ceiling height and the number of slides. Higher ceilings can provide more headroom and make the RV feel more spacious and less cramped. Meanwhile, more slide-outs mean expanding the living area and creating more room for comfortable furniture layouts.

In conclusion, both fifth wheels and motorhomes offer various kitchen amenities, including kitchen islands, as well as other features such as bunkhouses, residential fridges, ceiling height, and slides. While the particular advantages and disadvantages of these amenities may vary depending on the RV type, careful consideration and research can lead to selecting an RV that best suits your needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost difference between a fifth wheel and a motorhome?

In general, fifth wheels are typically less expensive than motorhomes due to the fact that they require a separate towing vehicle. Motorhomes, on the other hand, are self-contained and include a built-in engine, which increases their cost. Other factors that can affect the cost difference include the size, features, and brand of the RV.

When comparing fifth wheels and motorhomes, the average cost difference depends on factors such as size, amenities, and financing options. Generally, motorhomes are more expensive than fifth wheels, but financing options can vary.

Can a fifth wheel be towed with a standard pickup truck?

Whether a standard pickup truck can tow a fifth wheel depends on its towing capacity and hitch compatibility. It is important to ensure that the truck can safely handle the weight of the fifth wheel and that the hitch is compatible with the fifth wheel’s kingpin.

Are there any safety concerns when driving a motorhome on the highway?

Yes, there are several safety concerns when driving a motorhome on the highway, including:

  1. Size and Weight: Motorhomes are larger and heavier than regular vehicles, which can make them difficult to maneuver, especially in tight spaces or in heavy traffic.
  2. Visibility: The size and height of a motorhome can also limit visibility, particularly when changing lanes or turning.
  3. Wind Resistance: The large size and flat surfaces of a motorhome can make them more susceptible to wind resistance, especially when traveling at high speeds.
  4. Braking Distance: The weight of a motorhome can also increase braking distance, which can be dangerous in emergency situations.
  5. Tire Blowouts: The weight and size of a motorhome can put extra strain on tires, increasing the risk of blowouts, especially if they are not properly inflated or maintained.
  6. Driver Fatigue: Long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue, which can impair judgment and reaction time.

To ensure safe travel, it is important to follow all traffic laws, including speed limits, and to properly maintain your motorhome, including checking tire pressure and regularly inspecting brakes and other systems. It is also a good idea to take frequent breaks and switch drivers if possible to avoid driver fatigue.

How much maintenance and upkeep is required for a fifth wheel or motorhome?

The cost comparison and long-term durability of maintaining a fifth wheel or motorhome depend on factors such as usage, upkeep, and repairs. Regular maintenance and inspections can prolong the lifespan of both types of recreational vehicles.

Are there any restrictions on where you can park or camp with a fifth wheel or motorhome?

Campground regulations vary and may restrict the size of RVs allowed. Boondocking options offer more freedom but also require responsible use of public lands. Research each location’s rules and guidelines before parking or camping with a fifth wheel or motorhome.

About the author

Latest Posts

  • Ultimate Guide to Full-Time RV Living for Beginners 2024

    Ultimate Guide to Full-Time RV Living for Beginners 2024

    Introduction to Full-Time RV Living for Beginners Full-time RV living for beginners can be an exhilarating experience, offering a unique blend of freedom, adventure, and simplicity. This lifestyle attracts individuals and families desiring to break free from the conventional, seeking a closer connection with nature, and those who wish to explore the vast landscapes and cultures across…

    Read more

  • The Ultimate Guide to Van Life with a Baby: Tips and Gear

    The Ultimate Guide to Van Life with a Baby: Tips and Gear

    You’re about to embark on a thrilling journey – vanlife with a baby. It’s not just an adventure, it’s your life on wheels. But fear not, you’re not alone. We’ve gathered all the essentials you’ll need for your journey. From selecting the ideal van to weather adaptations and space management, we’ve got you covered. So buckle up, it’s time to…

    Read more

  • Exploring the History of the Volkswagen Westfalia Campers

    Exploring the History of the Volkswagen Westfalia Campers

    For many, the Volkswagen Westfalia camper represents the ultimate symbol of freedom, adventure, and escape from the daily grind. This iconic vehicle has become synonymous with the road trip culture, and it continues to inspire a generation of travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. The history of the Volkswagen Westfalia is a rich and fascinating journey that…

    Read more
Skip to content