Dave Solberg

Gas vs. Diesel RV: Which Is Right for You?

Dave Solberg
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Duration:   2  mins

When it comes to gas vs. diesel, which one is better? There’s a been long-standing disagreement between those who believe gas-powered RVs are superior and those who favor diesel. About 10 or 15 years ago, it wasn’t really worth the added expense to invest in diesel unless you were partaking in a very specific type of travel. Towing a trailer through mountainous terrain, for instance, would be good cause for the upgrade to diesel. Harder work requires more torque, and gas-powered RVs simply did not have sufficient torque to get the job done.

Within the past decade, however, the gap between diesel and gas capabilities has narrowed, which means the debate has only intensified. Whichever side of the gas vs diesel RV debate you represent likely depends upon several unique factors. Means of use, specific capabilities and cost are chief among them. In this lesson, we teach you about the most important factors, and discuss some of the distinguishing characteristics of gas- and diesel-powered units that should sway you in one direction or the other.

Making the Choice: Gas vs Diesel RV

To help you pick a side in this great debate of gas vs diesel RV, our in-house RV expert Dave Solberg compares the capabilities of each type of RV and highlights some of the downsides that might persuade you. He begins by talking a bit about the standard gas option, which is typically mounted on a Ford Triton V10 chassis, operating at 362 horsepower, and then fills you in on the most common diesel models.

Next Dave takes a deeper dive into the debate by explaining why certain types of towing and travel are best suited for diesel RVs. He highlights the components and capabilities that make diesel vehicles much more expensive (we’re talking thousands, here), and discusses some of the reasons why diesels are less affected by wind and side shear. A heavier chassis, increased airbag protection, larger tires and a more powerful engine with greater torque means a smoother and safer ride. Additionally, the more substantial diesel chassis also allows you to invest in heavier amenities such as marble counters and tile floors. If you’re leaning toward a smaller coach that runs on diesel, definitely do your research to see whether the steep price jump is worth it.

Whether you’re considering a gas or diesel vehicle for your cross-country travels, Dave has some advice for making the decision. The upgrade choice should take into account both the benefits and the costs. If the former outweigh the latter, then take the plunge. It could be the happiest decision you ever make!

Remember that the choice should never depend upon cost of fuel or fuel efficiency, because on these factors the diesel vehicle will almost always lose out in the long run. That’s just the nature of the beast. Per Dave’s advice the decision should, however, depend upon your specific needs. Know what you’ll be doing when you hit the road, the kinds of roads you’ll be traversing, and what you’ll be bringing, and then make your pick!

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4 Responses to “Gas vs. Diesel RV: Which Is Right for You?”

  1. David Russell Jacobson

    Please remember the "change of seasons" linked to winter's shoulders (spring, fall), create troubles with #2 diesel "gelling" (as occurred with my VW Diesel Rabbit) yearly. My first wife didn't appreciate " towing" the Rabbit back home where I'd change the fuel filters. #2 Diesel fuel's wax build-up on cold days would precipitate out the wax, occluding the paper filter's flow of fuel. ALWAYS use #1 when available in cold weather (esp. < 15 F) to prevent this occurrence when your vehicle hasn't an heated fuel line/tank. As far as torque, the quality of your vehicle's transmission (exampled as 10 spd's better than 6; as available in newer cars) maintains the "sweet spot" of your ICE's torque curve very nicely. The French Citroen was a 1 hp vehicle, yet the transmission made it capable of incredible feats due to its' numerous gears. The Citroen was able to carry 4 adults w/o too much trouble!

  2. Jim

    Are the same points valid for Class C RVs?

  3. Jay

    We bought our first Class A this year. We test drove both gas and diesel coaches. This whole gas versus diesel discussion is really kind of silly. It's apples and oranges. The diesel equivalent of the gas coach we were looking at was close to $80,000 more. The way some talk about this decision is like it's a flip of a coin. The easy answer is, if you can spend $170,000 +/- then by all means get the diesel pusher. It is superior in all aspects. We simply could not justify the expense at this time in our lives regardless of the benefits. So we paid about half the cost of the diesel pusher for a 36' gas coach and added some upgrades including $4,000 to fix the handling and sway issues gas coaches are known for. We're very happy with our gas coach and the $70,000 we saved buys a lot of gas, steaks on the grill and Moscow Mules!! Cheers!!

  4. Wayne

    Diesel gives you more power for less cost if you factor in the endurance of a diesel over years of travel. New turbo gas engines narrow the power advantage and get more from a smaller engine. Ford is developing almost “diesel” gas engines that are efficient. Stay Tuned!

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