October 12, 2020

Should We ‘Right Size’? or ‘Downsize’? – A Great Question! (Part 2)

By: Rob Lowe

Our Lifestyle Intervened:

Our lifestyle had developed into selecting a destination or area to visit, loosely planning a travel route, choosing a place to stay for a while, then exploring the area in our tow car. We returned to our RV each day. We might stay a week, weeks or even a month or more in one park, interacting with other RVers and exploring at a leisurely pace. Our RV was really a moving home with everything on board to support our lifestyle. The RV we had tentatively purchased was not going to provide that lifestyle. We would be more likely to use it to explore, then move on to another place of interest. In other words, travel was the focus. Each lifestyle has its benefits. We wanted to continue to travel, recognizing that there would be times when we preferred to stay in one place and explore locally. We thought we could adjust to a more travel orientated lifestyle since there were many places that we still wanted to see and experience. Ultimately, we concluded that an ‘either – or’ approach really was not what we wanted to do. Couldn’t we find a suitable RV that allowed the travel experience, as well as the ‘staying’ one? That RV would not require such a dramatic change in our RVing lifestyle. Travel would still be part of our newly modified lifestyle and reduce the need for greater changes than we really wanted to make. We decided that this ‘downsized’ RV was not for us.

Now What?

That decision brought us back to evaluating our RVing priorities once again. We needed to get the RV size down below the limit that required the special driver’s license, since any minor change in health could result in the loss of the license to drive our RV. We tend to keep our RVs for many years, thus a decision to buy a new one that we knew would be predicated upon maintaining a specialized driver’s license was not a wise decision. We needed a more compact RV that would allow a simpler owning and driving experience. It had to accommodate our desire to stay in one place, day tripping when we chose to extend our stay and yet be able to accommodate trips to numerous destinations, as part of an extended trip.

We concluded that a Class B coach was off the table at this juncture, as was a Class C. That left us with a selection of smaller Class A coaches with the ability to tow a vehicle for exploring and shopping. Selecting such an RV, which are shorter in length and weighed less, would eliminate the special driver’s license and in certain situations, allow my wife and I to share the driving, when desired. This revised thinking provided us the opportunity to select a RV large enough to ‘live in’ while still being small enough to ‘travel in’, to places that limit RVs over a certain length. We had already eliminated the option of going to a travel trailer with a pick up truck to tow it, for a number of reasons: Limited space to park a truck at our home, the need to keep only one vehicle, which would necessarily be large enough to pull a suitable trailer, yet be much larger than needed when we were not travelling.   


The Search was On

A search for late model, previously owned RVs, showed us that this choice was not giving us the selection of RVs to choose from. We learned through that searching, that our earlier departure from a gas-powered Class A RV into a diesel pusher, seventeen (17) years ago, had moved our focus away from the suitable Class A gas RVs over those years. We were out of touch with what was now available, together with the significant changes that had occurred and were occurring in the gas-powered RV market segment. The Ford F53 chassis with a V10 engine continued to dominate the Class A gas powered RV market. While this chassis has performed well over the years, it is a twenty-five (25) year old design. Since we had last been in the market, RVs have changed significantly, having grown longer, taller and wider with multiple slide out options. The venerable V10 is a high revving motor, which makes its presence known when power is needed. Besides the additional cargo and carrying capacity, a smoother, air cushioned ride, the diesel engine performance and rearward location were reasons, we had selected a diesel pusher. There was plenty of power throughout the driving rev range, with little noise.


Changes Everywhere!

We both understood that a return to a gas-powered coach was going to be a step down in ride and handling quality with diminished cargo capacity. We had to come to grips with that. We discovered that a lot of the features and benefits which used to be only available in a diesel coach, had become part of the features on many gas RVs. Over the years, the chassis competition had dwindled; forcing some upscale RV makers to modify the F53 chassis suspension, by adding components to compensate for some of the apparent weaknesses. Additional insulation was also incorporated to dampen the noise of the high revving V10 engine.

RV makers had juggled their RV lineup, moving some of the previously utilitarian models upscale, while others had either disappeared or had been downgraded to compete in a much different segment of the market. We learned early on, that our preconceived ideas about certain RVs brands and models, we had considered in the past, were not accurate. We needed the assistance of a knowledgeable salesperson, in addition to doing a lot of online research, since trying to decipher the changes over the intervening years was difficult, especially with the many new entries and brands now in the market. Reconciling our prior knowledge with the current reality was difficult without good guidance, especially during the pandemic when dealership visits were difficult to schedule, especially given the new demand for RVs.

(To Be Continued)


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