Recreational vehicles, or RVs, are great for summertime getaways or long term travel. However, when planning your adventure, it’s essential to consider how far the gas in your tank will take you. There are several classes of RV, and some get better miles per gallon (MPG) than others.
What is the average mpg for an RV? The average MPG for an RV depends on the RV’s class, check it out here:
- Class A RVs get 7 MPG
- Class B RVs get 16 MPG
- Class C RVs get 12 MPG
For towed trailers, the MPG depends on the vehicle used to pull it.
When buying or renting an RV, a huge consideration is the number of miles to the gallon it gets. Recreational vehicles (RV) include motorhomes, campervans, pop-ups, and more, all of which with different components that affect the MPG. In most cases, the MPG depends on the size, engine type, and age of the vehicle.
Table of Contents
What Affects an RV’s MPG?
The miles per gallon that a vehicle can get depends on many factors. Common factors that alter your vehicle’s MPG include:
- RV Type & Gross Weight
- Road Conditions & Terrain
- Engine Type
- Vehicle Age
Some of these factors are beyond your control, but others, such as the kind of roads you take, are. By making modifications, from the way you drive to what accessories you use while driving or how often you have your RV serviced, you can actively improve your RV’s fuel economy.
What Kind of Gas Mileage does my Class C RV Get? >> Check out the video below:
RV Types & Gross Weight
The lighter the vehicle, the better your fuel mileage. The bulk of your vehicle’s weight is going to come from its size or class; for example, a Class A motorhome is going to weigh more than a Class B campervan.
RVs can be split into two groups:
- Motorcoaches: vehicles that have their own engine and driving chassis
- Trailers: a rig that is towed by a vehicle
Related reading: How to Choose the Right Size Travel Trailer: An In-Depth Guide
Within the motorcoach group, there are three classes based on the size and shape of the RV: Class A, B, and C.
- Class A: Class A RVs are the closest to a full home on wheels. Sometimes called motorhomes, these RVs are the largest and most luxurious. Unfortunately, the fancier your ride gets, the lower its MPG is going to be. If you plan on driving less and being parked more, then a Class A vehicle is a good option.
- Class B: RVs in this class are often called campervans. They are semi-integrated, which means there is a designated driver’s cab, but the living area can be accessed without exiting the vehicle. The smaller size of this class means it has better maneuverability. Navigating twisted mountain roads or backing into a campsite is much easier in a Class B RV. If you care more about being in a scenic location than the amenities inside your vehicle and want to have the lowest MPG for an RV, a Class B rig is the way to go.
- Class C: If you are more comfortable driving a truck than a bus, then a Class C RV is a better option. A Class C RV provides the best of both worlds: comfort for an extended stay and mobility for adventures. When it comes to MPG, Class C vehicles usually fall in the middle between Class A and B.
|Average Gas Capacity
|High-Rated RVs with High MPG
|Newmar Dutch Star – 8 MPGForest River Berkshire – 9 MPGThor Palazzo – 10 MPG
|Airstream Interstate Grand Tour Ext – 19 MPGWinnebago Travato – 20 MPGRoadtrek Sprinter RS Adventurous – 20 MPG
|Winnebago View – 16 MPGTiffin Wayfarer – 14 MPGWinnebago Navion – 18 MPG
Trailers & MPG
Recreational vehicles don’t always power themselves; sometimes, they hitch a ride. There are several types of towable trailers, including:
- Fifth Wheels: largest towable trailer, have similar amenities to Class A RVs, requires a pickup truck
- Travel Trailers: a large variety of styles and sizes, a small SUV can tow some, while others require a truck
- Pop-Up Trailers: a tent on wheels, can be towed by a wide range of cars, SUVs, and trucks.
Since RVs in the trailer category are not motorized, the MPG is dependent on the vehicle towing them. The added weight will decrease how many miles per gallon the vehicle/trailer gets compared to the car on its own.
Just like MPG, the amount of fuel the vehicle holds is going to depend on the make and model.However, most vehicles equipped to tow RVs can hold 15-30 gallons of gas.
Other Factors Affecting Weight
Additional weight comes from the things you bring along as well. If you decided to haul a car, multiple bikes, and recreational equipment, your RV is going to weigh more than when it’s empty, which will impact your final MPG.
Road Conditions & Terrain
The roughness, texture, and stiffness of a road all impact your RV’s MPG. You are going to get better fuel efficiency on a well-maintained highway than a pothole-ridden gravel road.
The landscape you are in can either boost or decrease your MPG as well. If you are coasting down a gentle slope, your engine requires less fuel; conversely, if you are pushing the pedal to the floor to get up that slope, then your MPG is going to be lower.
When deciding which type of RV will suit your adventure style, MPG isn’t the only thing to consider. You must choose between a vehicle that has an engine that runs on diesel or one that takes gas. Unfortunately, in the debate between diesel and gasoline, there is no clear winner.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “diesel engines are more fuel-efficient.” Diesel is denser than gasoline, so less fuel is required to provide the same power as gasoline. In addition, diesel engines located in the back of a vehicle provide stronger torque, which makes going through a steep mountain pass easier, which can help your MPG.
While diesel may get the point for fuel efficiency, gasoline is a win for your wallet. RVs run on gas are:
- Less expensive to buy or rent
- Cheaper to fill up at the pump
- Less expensive to maintain
Gasoline engines also have higher RPMs than diesel engines, which allows them to accelerate faster.
If you are torn deciding between a gas and diesel RV, consider how you plan on using your RV to decide. For example, if you plan on going for long excursions while pulling a car, a diesel engine will give you the strength you need. On the other hand, if you want a campervan for short weekend escapes, then a gas engine will get the job done.
As new technology is discovered, more modern vehicles get better MPG than previous models. If you decide to purchase or rent a used or old RV, it will probably have a worse fuel economy than a new RV of a similar make.
A used RV will also have some wear, even if it was serviced regularly. The more wear it has, the less efficient it is going to be.
How to Improve Your RV’s MPG
The way you drive and care for your RV is something you can alter to maximize your RV’s MPG, no matter what kind of RV you have or plan to rent. Here are a few tips for improving your RV’s MPG:
- Be Calm – Anyone can get irritated with other drivers, but aggressive driving on your part does more harm. The U.S. Department of Energy states aggressive driving (rapid acceleration and braking) can decrease MPG by up to 30% on the highway.
- Go the Speed Limit – As you increase your speed, wind resistance also increases. This means your RV uses more fuel to move.
- Don’t Idle – If you are stuck at a draw bridge, waiting for a ferry, or pulling over for directions, turn the engine off. If you aren’t moving, then there is no need to be using fuel.
- Accessory Use – While the ability to run a refrigerator, blast the AC, and listen to music while on the road might seem like magic, it’s all thanks to your fuel tank. The more electrical accessories you use, the less fuel mileage your RV is going to get. Only using AC when on the highway or opening the fridge less are small ways to boost the MPG.
- Maintenance – An engine that isn’t cared for isn’t going to run efficiently. Your RV’s brakes, tires, and air filters also need TLC. Making sure your vehicle is well maintained will let it use fuel more efficiently.
Related reading: Do RV Rentals Include Mileage? (Free Unlimited Miles)
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few common questions people often have about MPG:
1. Which RV Gets the Best Gas Mileage?
There are so many great things that come with traveling with an RV. Unfortunately, as you probably well know, gas mileage isn’t usually one of them. Since the big RVs tend to only get a few miles to the gallon, filling these giants up can get super expensive — and whack up your carbon emissions.
Of course, different kinds of motorhomes will give you different gas mileage. Generally, the larger it is, the worse the gas mileage will be. Plus, the shape can play a part in this whole game too.
Let’s look at some examples, shall we?
Class A Motorhomes
These guys are the biggest and therefore shove out a load of gas over a super short range. Not only does their flat, “I’m a bus” shape not help them here, neither does their massive weight (17.5 tons!). Their average miles per gallon is between 7 to 13. Yup, not fab.
However, if you are looking to get a big ol’ boy like this, these are the ones you should get to keep your carbon emissions (and costs) as low as possible:
- Monaco Vesta (10.7 mpg)
- Newmar Dutch Star (11 mpg)
- Thor Palazzo (10 mpg but can reach 12.9)
Class B Motorhomes
Class Bs tend to have the best MPG out of them all. They’re light and have a shape that lends itself to long, efficient journeys. You should expect to get around 16 to 25 miles per gallon with one of these.
For the best of the best though, take a look at the following:
- Winnebago Travato 59G (20 mpg)
- Roadtrek Sprinter RS Adventurous (20 mpg)
Class C Motorhomes
These have extra trailer space, which means they (sadly) get a poorer gas mileage than their Class B cousins. But their shape is akin to the aforementioned Class B RVs which allow them to scrape back some brownie points where carbon emissions are concerned.
If this class is your dream RV, try to get one of the following for the best gas mileage:
- Itasca Navion Motorhome (18 mpg)
- Winnebago View 24V (16.5 mpg)
- Fleetwood Pulse 24A (15.2 mpg)
2. Is Diesel or Gas RV Better?
There isn’t a set in stone rule here — it all depends on what you want out of your RV experience. In all honesty, neither is “better” than the other but rather one may be more suitable for your needs than its counterpart.
Before you read any further, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you planning to be a full-time RVer?
- Do you want to use your motorhome for a whole season at a time?
- Are you just wanting to use it at the weekend and vacations?
- Are you going to be driving in flat or mountainous terrains?
- How often are you going to drive the RV?
- Do you want to tow with it?
- Are you buying a motorhome to save money on holidays?
- How often do you want to be filling up?
- When maintenance check-ups are due, where are you going to be?
- How big (or small) do you want your motorhome to be?
Now that you’ve considered all of the above, it’s time to take a look at the pros and cons of diesel and gas RVs individually so you can effectively match your wants and needs. Ready? Excellent!
Pros of a Diesel RV
- Long lifespan — they almost always outlive gas RVs
- Higher resale value
- Can be driven longer before maintenance — great for full-timers
- Great low-end torque — perfect for towing and driving on mountainous terrains
Cons of a Diesel RV
- Cost more than gas
- RPMs drop away in the higher range
- Added DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) expense
- Maintenance more expensive than gas
Pros of a Gas RV
- Cheaper to buy, repair, and maintain
- Easy to find places to service them
- Cost less than diesel
- Gas more widely provided in service stations
- No need to think about DEF
- Work better at high altitudes
- Resistant to cold
Cons of a Gas RV
- Need more regular maintenance than diesel
- Aren’t as efficient as diesel
- Lower torque — hard to climb
- Not as much power as diesel
3. How Much Does it Cost to Fill Up RV?
How much does it cost to fill up RV? On average you should expect to pay somewhere between $62 (for small Class B motorhome) up to $600 for a Class A motorhome. However, gas (and diesel) prices are always changing so it’s pretty hard to give a set in stone rule about this.
Not to mention that it depends on the service station you use, how often you are driving, how big your RV is, and how far you’re driving.
Having said this, we will still give you a rough estimate based on the class of motorhome you have purchased.
Class A Motorhomes
Class A RVs tend to hold around 100 to 150 gallons. Generally, fuel costs between $2.50 and $4.00 so to fill up the tank you should expect to pay somewhere between $250 and $600. This should take you 800 to 1,500 miles.
Class B Motorhomes
The tanks on Class B motorhomes are much smaller than both Class A and Class C. In fact, they are pretty similar to your standard van, holding roughly 25 gallons (although this will depend on the manufacturer and model). Therefore, it will cost between $62.50 and $100 to fill up.
Class C Motorhomes
These guys usually hold around 30 to 70 gallons. So, looking at the general prices of gas that we explained earlier, this will translate to between $75 and $280 to fill up the tank. In theory, this will get you roughly 250 to 550 miles.
4. Does Cruise Control Save Gas?
Does cruise control save gas? In short, yes, using cruise control whenever you can is a sure-fire way to reduce fuel consumption and keep the costs of traveling down. It is a well-documented fact that dramatic accelerations, speedy start offs after traffic lights, and driving over the speed limit drastically drain your tank.
Back in the day, cruise control wasn’t really all that effective in doing, well, anything, to be honest. However, it has rapidly increased these days thanks to the brand-spanking-new technology that has graced the world.
Nowadays, it is a device controlled by the ECM (otherwise known as the Electronic Control Module). It not only keeps your RV at a constant speed, but it also does save gas by regulating the engine’s output.
You will notice that there is no longer a bumpy ride associated with cruise control and the increase or decrease of highway gradients. Instead, manufacturers have placed a preset tolerance known as The Droop Settings which lets the vehicle gain a bit of speed without reacting. In some cases, the cruise control will even add a little power when going uphill!
Of course, this isn’t the only thing that can save gas. You should also try to do the following to save yourself even more cash:
- Always check your tire pressure before you head off
- Pack lightly (the heavier the vehicle, the harder the engine has to work)
- Make sure your vehicle is balanced (put heavier items on the floor, balance it out across the front, middle and back too)
- Only use the air-conditioning when necessary
- Stay longer at each destination
- Plan your route with a gas-mileage calculator before you go
5. Does Increasing Horsepower Increase MPG?
Does increasing horsepower increase MPG? Yes, increasing horsepower will definitely increase mpg. In average adding 50 horsepower will increase your mileage by 1 to 3 MPG. However, this is a widely debated topic among the RV community since it depends on the make, model, and fuel type that it uses.
Therefore, this is not an easily answerable question. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to give you some sort of explanation.
Taking your RV to a performance improvement service is incredibly effective for increasing both horsepower and miles per gallon. Depending on who you take your prized possession to, they can add 50 to 60 horsepower to the back wheels and increase your mileage by 1 to 3 MPG.
Essentially, they are performing two different things here since many people forget that air is also a fuel when injected properly. In this case, the increased horsepower does ramp up the MPG because of how the service guys and gals input air and tune your engine.
Equally, you could purchase a good fuel economy chip which will allow you to pick from several driving options at any time. Depending on the one you pick, your RV will experience more horsepower and a higher idle run which will boost its miles per gallon.
6. What Is The Average Gas Mileage of a Class C Motorhome?
Earlier, we dove into the best gas mileage of each class. However, you might already have a Class C RV that we didn’t talk about — and that is absolutely okay! You don’t need to have the “best” MPG to have a great time using your RV (you might just pay a bit more for that great time).
What is the average gas mileage of a Class C motorhome? On average, you should be getting roughly 16 to 22 miles per gallon from your Class C motorhome. If you are not achieving this, you must make sure you keep up with your maintenance and consider taking it in for a performance and engine tune. Trust us, this will really benefit your bank account in the long run.
If you have been keeping up your maintenance schedule, then consider trying the following to see if you can up your MPG yourself:
- Use cruise control
- Don’t leave your engine on when you’re not driving
- Lighten your load
- Drive a little slower
- Plan your route
- Make sure you have a backup route if unforeseen circumstances happen
Whether you’re just renting an RV for a one-time expedition or want to own one for future trips, you can easily find one with a great MPG that won’t break the bank. Just know that when thinking about fuel economy, you should consider the RV’s size/class, weight, and engine/fuel type.
To max out your chosen RV’s MPG, make sure you mind your driving habits and the type of roads you travel on, and get your vehicle maintenance done regularly.
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