Fuel expense plays a massive role in RV trip budgets. If you own an RV or are thinking of buying one, gas mileage is a constant topic of discussion.
What RVs have the best gas mileage? Which brands are fuel-efficient yet comfortable? What can I do to lower fuel costs?
The questions go on and on!
To get to the bottom of RVs versus miles per gallon (MPG), I put together this giant guide with information about:
- Why RVs have lousy gas mileage
- Which RV type has the highest fuel economy
- Which RV brands deliver high MPG models
- What features you should look for to aid in lower fuel expenses
- Ways to increase fuel efficiency in your RV
As an RVer with a vintage Class C that gets a whopping 6 miles per gallon, I know how important this subject is.
I always appreciate any tips to save on gas, and I’m sure you do too, so let’s get moving!
Why Do RVs Have Bad Gas Mileage?
Reason #1: Weight
The most obvious reason anRV gets lousy gas mileage is the weight. Even a smaller camper is much heavier than a standard automobile.
An engine must work harder to move more weight, burning up extra fuel in the process.
The RV weight only increases when you fill your gas and water tanks and add in your camping gear, clothing, and food for a trip. All the supplies equal lower gas mileage.
Reason #2: Size
Obviously, the bigger the size of your RV, the lower your MPG.
Not only will a larger size increase the weight of the rig, but it also gives you lots more space to fill with personal belongings.
The bigger your RV, the more wind resistance it creates, causing a drag on the RV that reduces fuel efficiency.
Reason #3: Shape
A RV’s shape will either help it cut through the wind while driving or hinder it, significantly impacting gas mileage.
Many people don’t consider the impact the front-end shape makes when buying an RV and are more interested in the interior features and spaciousness.
Which RV Type Has the Highest Fuel Economy?
A Class B RV will have the highest fuel economy, with an average 17 MPG across all models. This number takes into account both gas and diesel fuel engines.
As Class B is the smallest of RV options, many RVers will require a larger camper.
Read on to learn what is the average gas mileage for RVs and what impacts their performance.
Class A RV Gas Mileage Facts
Class A RVs get the worst gas mileage due to size and shape, especially the front end.
The tall and boxy cab area creates the most wind resistance while going at highway speeds, even if it provides the best driving visibility.
The heavier weight of the rig also reduces MPG. The average weight of a Class A is 23,000 pounds!
When driving in stop-and-go traffic, the engine has to work extra hard to get all that bulk moving.
Expect to achieve the best gas mileage while cruising at an even pace on the highway.
For a new buyer, assume that any Class A RV will average 6-12 miles per gallon and compare models from that bench point.
Class B RV Gas Mileage Facts
Class B RVs are thinner than other RVs and have a sleek and highly slanted front windshield and cabover area that cuts through the wind while driving.
The lighter weight of the smaller chassis also increases gas mileage. The MPG range will vary in different traffic and terrain conditions, just as it does with every RV, but overall, this RV class wins for the best fuel economy.
For a new buyer, assume that any Class B RV will average 10-25 miles per gallon.
Class C RV Gas Mileage Facts
Class C RVs have a wide range of gas mileage averages due to the array of sizes. Models can be over 30 feet long or as short at 18 feet, which determines overall weight.
Aside from size affecting MPG is the shape.
Older Class C coaches have a bulky over-cab that creates a massive amount of wind resistance. Many newer models have a unified front end that eliminates the gap between the front windshield and the upper cab, which helps increase mileage.
For a new buyer, assume that any Class C RV will average anywhere from 8-16 miles per gallon.
25 RV Models That Deliver High MPG
Class A RVs with the Best Gas Mileage
Class A RVs are fuel hogs, but these models perform the best for average miles per gallon:
|MODEL||MILES PER GALLON, MPG|
|Forest River FR3 25DS||10.2|
|Newmar Dutch Star||9.5|
|Winnebago Grand Tour||9.2|
|Forest River Berkshire||9|
|Holiday Rambler Navigator||8.5|
|Coachmen Mirada 35BH||8.5|
|Tiffin Open Road Allegro 32 SA||7|
Class B RVs with Best Gas Mileage
These are the best Class B RVs for average gas mileage:
|MODEL||MILES PER GALLON, MPG|
|Roadtrek Sprinter RS Adventurous||20|
|Winnebago Travato 59G||20|
|Airstream Interstate Grand Tour Ext||19|
|Midwest Automotive Design Passage 170ExtMDP4 Lounge||19|
|Airstream Grand Tour Twin||17|
Class C RVs with Best Gas Mileage
Here are the best Class C RVs for average MPG:
|MODEL||MILES PER GALLON, MPG|
|Thor Freedom Elite 24FE||13|
|Forest River 3010DS||9|
|Forest River Sunseeker 2420 MSF||7.5|
What Features Aid in Lowering RV Fuel Expenses
Understanding RV fuel consumption is an important first step when you want to lower fuel expenses.
RV Fuel Source
What type of fuel your RV runs on will be the first feature to consider.
Is a diesel engine more efficient than a gas engine?
Diesel is always a more efficient fuel source in any RV.
The fuel is so common in massive Class A motorcoaches that many people in the RV world commonly referred to them as a “diesel pusher.”
According to research, diesel provides between 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline, which means they can deliver a 20% to 35% increase in driving distance over gasoline-fed engines.
That saving is unfortunately offset by diesel pricing being higher than gas in many areas. Locating an RV-friendly gas station that offers the fuel can sometimes be challenging.
Installing a Fuel Economy Chip in the RV
A fuel economy chip is a feature you can add to your RV to improve gas mileage. Many RV repair centers can install the part.
The chip works with your engine’s computer sensors to optimize torque, so the engine runs much more efficiently, decreasing fuel consumption.
Some devices allow the driver to select between different drive settings while on the road to increase horsepower during inclines or run the engine idle at a certain level, further increasing the fuel economy.
RV Fuel Tank Size
A bigger gas tank on your RV may cost more to fill over a smaller one but will increase fuel savings in the long run.
I can tell you that a small tank (my Class C is 22 gallons) means many more trips off the highway searching for a gas station.
When you need to stop every hundred miles to ensure you have enough fuel to find the next gas station, you’re wasting miles and draining fuel that could take you that many more miles down the highway instead.
Cruising at 55 also uses up way less gas than the stop and go necessary when getting off the main roads to reach a filling station.
Always look for the biggest gas tank you can find when shopping for an RV.
Simple Ways to Increase Fuel Efficiency in Your RV
Even if your RV gets terrible gas mileage, you can help it along by taking some steps to increase efficiency.
The best ways to save fuel in an RV include:
- Keeping up with routine engine maintenance
- Packing less into your camper
- Paying attention to tire pressure
- Slowing down
Don’t Slack on RV Service Visits
Engines run best when they are clean, lubed, and tuned up, so skipping visits for service can detract from fuel economy.
Gummy, dirty oil reduces efficiency, so make sure you get those oil changes in on time. Also, make sure you are using the correct weight synthetic oil for your size RV and the climate you are driving.
Clogged filters can impair airflow that is crucial to keep your engine running smoothly. Dirty filters can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10%, so don’t forget to put this on your important RV service checklist.
Stop Overpacking Your RV
Just because your GVWR on your RV is high, it doesn’t mean you should cram in everything you want until you hit this number.
In reality, about 50% of RVers exceed their GVWR or other critical ratings on the daily. Most owners never bother to take their RV to a weigh station for an accurate reading once the camper is packed for a trip.
Another place where people fail when loading an RV for a trip is to include the weight of the occupants.
A family of six can add 500 pounds or more to the camper, and you need to count this number toward the GVWR total.
Only pack what you truly need. Less clothing, tools, sporting equipment, and fewer heavy canned foods can lower overall weight by hundreds of pounds, improving gas mileage.
Always take time to sort and purge items in your RV on a regular basis. Just like in your home, it’s easy to collect or save items “just in case”, but those will only decrease your fuel economy once you hit the road.
Another tip to increase gas mileage is to stop filling up your freshwater tank before long road trips. A full 50-gallon tank adds 400 more pounds of drag on your RV.
Only fill enough to flush the toilet or wash hands a few times during travel or use gas station or rest stop restrooms instead. If you’re boondock camping and require a fresh water supply, fill up the tank just before reaching your destination.
Check the Tire Pressure on Your RV Often
Underinflated tires create more friction with the road and reduce gas mileage and fuel efficiency by up to 3%, according to a USA Today article.
It’s smart to either install a tire pressure monitoring system on your RV or manually check the tires at every fuel fill and before leaving on any trip to or from a campground.
The less rolling resistance your tires have with the road, the less fuel your RV will use, so keep those tires properly inflated!
Keep Your RV in the Slow Lane to Increase Gas Mileage
Excitement to reach your camping destination can encourage you to hit the pedal to the metal. Increases in highway speed limits can also push your RV faster than it should for the best gas mileage.
The best speed for any RV is 55 MPH, which can greatly increase fuel-efficiency and is worth the extra time it takes to reach your destination.
So slow down, set your RV on cruise control (which also increases gas mileage), and enjoy the ride!
RV Gas Mileage Wrap-Up
When your RV’s most significant expense after initial purchase is fuel, getting the most out of your gas mileage is critical.
I hope you find the information in this guide concerning RV gas mileage useful when considering your next RV purchase or planning your next RV vacation.
When you select the most fuel-efficient RV from the examples above and follow the tips to boost gas mileage, you can increase the distance you can travel on a tank of gas and save more money at the pumps!