Gas Mileage in a Motorhomeby Richard Rowe
"In the human heart, there is a ceaseless birth of passions, so that the destruction of one is almost always the establishment of another." That quote from Francois la Rochefoucauld pretty well sums up what most RV owners already know: that the heart is a ceaselessly roaming thing, and there's plenty of room to roam. But roaming the world in an RV doesn't necessarily mean giving up your previous passion: saving money at the gas pump.
Motorhomes are divided up into three classes by size: giant Class A land yachts, smaller Class C motorhomes, and the smallest, van-based Class B cruisers. Yes, Classes C and B are backward. Class A motorhomes are usually motivated by either big-block V-8 gas engines, or diesels. Gas-engine Class A motorhomes will rarely see more than 9 to 10 mpg, and diesels will usually run 12 to 14 mpg. Smaller Class C motorhomes will generally do about 2 mpg better, though the newest generation of diesel engines -- particularly those made by diesel king Mercedes -- can see a stunning 18 to 20 mpg. Class B RVs will tend to run slightly lower than their regular van counterparts, perhaps 14 to 16 mpg on gas, and a bit higher than 20 with a good diesel.
While running your RV, remember that proper tire pressure is absolutely critical -- almost as much so as weight, which you can't do much about aside from regularly cleaning out the stuff you don't need. On the highway, where you'll presumably spend most of your time, aerodynamics play a critical role in fuel economy. Apart from lowering the vehicle with airbags -- always an option -- the best thing you can do here is to eliminate any roof racks or roof-mounted cargo containers, and generally smooth down the profile of the body. For instance, rather than using massive side mirrors, you might go for smaller, more aerodynamic mirrors and a side-view camera system to supplement them.
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