Why are 5th wheel trailers cheaper than motorhomes?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Why are 5th wheel trailers cheaper than motorhomes? We will explain why buying a motorhome may be a better choice than buying a 5th wheel trailer!

Why are 5th wheel trailers cheaper than motorhomes?

The main reason why 5th wheel trailers are cheaper than motorhomes has nothing to do with the durability or the quality of materials used! Fifth-wheel trailers require a full-size truck to be towed and are generally heavier to manoeuvre and park than most motorhomes. 

We will discuss more on the differences between a fifth-wheel trailer and a motorhome in the next section of the article. But first, how much cheaper are 5th wheel trailers? 

RV Prices in America (2021 data*)

Type of RVPrice for new (MSRP)Price for used 
Class A RV$50,000 – $200,000 $25,000 – $150,000
Class B RV$80,000 – $140,000$35,000 – $90,000
Class C RV$50,000 and $100,000$25,000 – $70,000
Super C RV$100,000 – $250,000$40,000 – $150,000
Truck Campers$8,000 – $40,000$1,000 – $25,000 
Travel Trailers$11,000 – $35,000$3,000 – $17,000
Fifth-wheel trailers$75,000 – $100,000$30,000 – $50,000
Pop-up campers10,000  – $20,000 $5,000 – $15,000

*Source: the RV Industry Association.

Reasons to avoid 5th wheel trailers

  1. Separation of the driving space and the living space. Probably the most common complaint about fifth-wheel trailers is the fact that the driving and living areas are separate. This can create a multitude of problems. 

If you are connected to the living space, someone can give you food, water, or whatever you need while you are driving. This is not an option if you are in a truck and your passengers are in the fifth wheel.

Another major concern is security. In a motorhome, you can switch from where you were sleeping to the driver’s seat and drive away. This is not an option in a fifth-wheel trailer. You have to get out to get into the truck. This decreases the safety of the RV.

  1. You need the right truck to pull it. Another big concern is finding the right truck for your fifth wheel. Fifth-wheel trailers are heavy. The heavier they are, the more limited your truck options are. Plus, whatever truck you have, it will be your local form of transportation when you drop off your fifth-wheel trailer.

This means that if you need a huge, powerful truck to haul your fifth wheel, you’ll have to drive it around town, even if that’s not what you prefer. This won’t get you the best fuel efficiency for your local trips, and the option of a small car towed behind an RV might be much more appealing to you.

  1. Requires a large storage space. Motorhomes all take up a lot of space and fifth-wheel trailers can be very long, which means you’re going to need storage space that covers a motorhome of this size.

This is one of the things that is often overlooked when looking to purchase a motorhome. If you’re not careful, you can store your RV in a dangerous environment, which will ruin the vehicle you’ve invested a lot of time, care, and money in.

So make sure you have space to store an RV before purchasing one. This applies to both fifth-wheel trailers and motorhomes, but it’s a big enough issue to be on both lists.

  1. Difficult to manoeuvre and park. Fifth-wheel trailers are large and are two separate vehicles. They are firmly connected but it is still difficult to move them. The turns are okay, but the big problem is when trying to squeeze through small spaces. It can also be difficult to separate the truck from the fifth wheel.

If you ever have been on a campground, you probably had to watch a guy with a fifth-wheel take 10 to 20 minutes to finally park his vehicle. Add to that the time required to hook up specific parts of the fifth wheel, as well as to fill and pump your various water tanks, and you will understand the difficulty.

  1. Not great for stopping and going. The last negative point we will highlight for fifth-wheel trailers is their difficulty in stopping and leaving. Fifth-wheel trailers are built to be put down and enjoyed like a house that can move around.

However, if you plan to take frequent breaks or have to stop for some reason, the fifth wheel is not the best option. In particular, the difficulty of attaching the fifth wheel to the truck each time you separate the two can be a struggle.

Why are motorhomes better than 5th wheel trailers?

  1. Connected cabin. One of the main advantages of motorhomes is the connection between the driving space, the cabin and the living space. This allows the exchange of all the resources the driver may need with those in the rear of the car.

Food, water, conversation and whatever the driver needs can be passed on straight away. This is very convenient, but it also adds some security to the motorhome, because in case of danger you will not have to worry about getting out. This can be useful in bad weather or if you meet unsavoury individuals. This advantage allows you to get up and go in peace.

  1. Driving experience. One of the main reasons we’ve seen other people promote the switch to a motorhome is the feel of the driving experience. We’re talking about the cosy cabins of Class A motorhomes here or even the iconic cabin of Class C motorhomes. There is something about being connected to others.

There is something about being connected to others while driving that makes the experience real. Add to that the feeling of having an entire house right behind you and the experience is amazing. If you like the pleasure of driving in the cabin of a motorhome, this option is ideal for you. It’s not quite like the feeling of driving a truck that is just hooked up to a hitched motorhome.

  1. Manoeuvrability. Motorhomes are basically long cars when it comes to the way you handle them. This means that once you get used to the extra length, you treat them like normal cars. You can move them around tight spaces quite easily and line them up for hitches or additions without much difficulty.

They’re pretty easy to handle once you’ve been in the cabin for a while.

  1. Can stop and start again. Motorhomes also perform better than fifth wheel trailers due to their ability to stop and start again. Unlike the fifth wheel where you have to detach and reattach the cabin from your living space, the motorhome will always be one piece.

It also has a few drawbacks, but the main advantage is that you don’t have to worry about setting everything up. Want to hit the road? Great, detach everything in your rest area and go! It’s as simple as that.

  1. Large storage capacity. Just like the fifth wheel, you’ll have plenty of storage capacity that you can use to your advantage. In particular, there is often space between the cabin and the living area or around this area where you will have a lot of overhead storage.

There isn’t really a clear winner when it comes to storage between the 5th wheel and the motorhome, as they both make good use of space. This aspect is excellent in both cases! There is a slight added benefit to the motorhome, however, as it has an integrated motor and is therefore built to pull the weight of its frame.

The truck you have for a fifth wheel may not be built to pull your fifth wheel, so you may need to worry a bit about that if you are using a fifth wheel.

  1. Autonomy. One of the main advantages of the motorhome is that everything is autonomous. It goes beyond the concept of safety and having a connected driving and living space. One of the difficulties with a fifth wheel is that you have a truck and your fifth wheel, which means all engine maintenance has to be done on the truck.

In a motorhome, you must perform maintenance on the motorhome itself. It can be difficult, but it gives you a second engine if you are towing another car. All in all, it’s great if you have your motorhome in one place you need to worry about and can keep your car somewhere else.

  1. Space to sit Finally, when you are on the road, you can get into the motorhome. This is not always an option in a fifth-wheel trailer. Therefore, there are plenty of seats in a motorhome to sit on that you won’t have in your car.

The seats are also often more comfortable. So if you have a large family and need extra seating, maybe you should turn to an RV.

Final thoughts 

There is a lot to compare between these two RVs, but if we were to boil down to one idea we would focus on how often you and your family plan to stay in one place versus how often at which one you want to move.

If you intend to make frequent trips back and forth, your best option is the motorhome. They have a long take-off time, you don’t have to worry about a hitch to attach and they are easy to park.

If you are planning to stay in one place, because you are on vacation or whatever, then your best bet will be the fifth wheel. This way you have a nice house that you can drop off that outperforms what you would get from a motorhome.

So, for those of you who want a place to live while you’re on the road, a motorhome is perfect. For those of you who want a home, you can move around, go for the fifth wheel.

References