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A common question we get asked is “How do we like our gas RV and did we consider getting a diesel?” The short answer is yes, we did explore getting a diesel coach – they are considered superior for many reasons (performance, ride, comfort etc) which is why they also have a much higher price tag which can be a premium of $100K or more than a similar gas coach. That’s a lot of moolah and far more than some of us are willing or able to spend on what we all know is typically a depreciating asset. Ultimately, we chose the coach that was a perfect fit for OUR needs – based on floorplan, layout, quality, build and the price we were willing to pay –and it happened to be a Tiffin Allegro Open Road, a gas coach with a Ford V10 engine built on a 22,000lb chassis.
Now, whether you’re already an RVer or an RVer wannabe, you probably also follow Gone With the Wynns – Jason and Nikki Wynn have been on the road as full-time RVers since 2011. They have mostly been driving diesel Class A motorhomes but recently published a video sharing their thoughts and experience driving a gas coach – test driving a Fleetwood Bounder during their Alaskan adventure. They covered the performance, noise, ride and fuel economy and while we thought they did a terrific job with the video, we did feel their message also pretty clearly conveyed they weren’t a fan of gas coaches. Upon hearing how noisy squeaky their coach was while driving, we wouldn’t be either! But, to be fair, remember they ARE driving on Alaskan highways, so perhaps that exacerbated their experience.
Our gas coach experience has been quite different to the Wynns, which inspired us to take you on a drive with us while we honestly share our experience and opinions on driving a gas coach compared with a diesel.
Having owned our pre-loved gas coach (2o12 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 35QBA) for almost 18 months now, we are still extremely happy with our choice – how it drives, the quietness of the engine (Ford V10) and the performance – while certainly incomparable to a diesel – is perfectly sufficient for our needs and we imagine for many others as well who can find other things they would rather spend their extra $100K on!
In this video, we share our experience of our gas coach, including:
- what is the performance like?
- how long does it take to get from zero to 60 miles per hour?
- what is our fuel economy?
- how is the noise while driving?
- plus tips for optimal driving.
We hope you enjoy the video and that it helps you narrow down your choice of whether a gas or diesel RV is right for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong, no better or worse, it’s all about finding the RV that is the best fit for YOUR needs and budget, based on how you like to travel.
And to finish up, we recap on Marc’s driving tips, as shared in the video.
Marc’s Top Tips for Driving a Gas RV
- Drive in tow/haul mode most of the time because it has better shift points for the transmission and will automatically downshift when you use the brakes which will help you slow down faster
- Use the cruise control on flat roads only, don’t use cruise control on hills – it will work the engine too hard
- Shift down to a lower gear before commencing your descent down a hill to keep your speed lower and thus reduce the load on the brakes
- Shift down to a lower gear before commencing your ascent up a hill to help it hold speed and avoid a crazy cruise control downshift
- For maximum fuel economy, drive at about 55-60mph, your MPG suffers dramatically above 60mph
- Plan your route in advance and know that if you’ll be driving at elevation or curvy roads, it’s going to take you longer (and perhaps consider an alternate route)
- Take recommended speed warning signs seriously – don’t try to tackle curves at a higher speed than advised
- Take your time driving and don’t push your coach to it’s limits, it’s not a race – remember it’s about the journey, not the destination
20 thoughts on “Driving a Gas RV: Our Experience, Advice & Tips”
Marc, I have a couple of questions about when you talked about your RV’s performance at altitude.
1 – What is your definition of ‘at altitude’?
2 – Are you talking about how your RV performs climbing and descending only or how it performs climbing, descending and cruising on flat roads at altitude?
I’m considering going from no-time to full-time RV’ing and focusing my travels in the western states which are at considerably higher elevations and with larger elevation changes than my current home in Columbus, Ohio. There aren’t any miles-long steep climbs anywhere nearby that I could take candidate motorhomes to for testing their mountain-climbing abilities.
Safe travels and thanks for your time and advice,
Hi Roy, Having lived most of my life (al of it until heading out full time RVing) in Colorado. When I speak of altitude, I am talking about 6,000 – 10,000 feet as compared to much of the country that is lower elevations. Naturally aspirated engines (non-turbo) see significant losses in power when operated at high elevations. I believe it is 3% per 1000 feet of altitude. That adds up when you have an RV that is already a bit heavy for it’s engine. Julie and I sometimes disconnected our tow vehicle on days that we knew we had big climbs. But if you are patient, your RV will probably make it up most hills. The biggest safety factor is the steepness of the grade (and the length.). There are roads out west that will have 6% grades for 15 miles. And we have seen grades over 10%. It just requires a bit of extra research for trip planning. You mentioned you will be going full time. I feel it is worth mentioning that during our 6+ years of full timing, I would estimate that at least 80% of our driving was on relatively flat, and lower elevation roads. So, while having the power to handle hills is important. It is even more important in my opinion, to consider how much time you will spend living in your RV, versus driving your RV when making a decision about the type of RV. We probably only drove a few hours for every 100 hours of living in it. We have driven and lived in many different types of RVs over the years. Ours we owned, ones we borrowed and ones we rented. Wishing you every success and joy in your coming adventures. -M
Same coach but 2011….We have a few squeeky spots in the floor as we walk over it. Do you have that in your coach..Any comments or suggestions…..thanks
Hi Tim, We had a couple minor squeeky spots in ours but was not significant so we didn’t bother trying to address them. So, sorry… no suggested fix for you.
We just purchased a 2014 Allegro 31SA. Reading the manual it stressed having the levelers down before opening slides. Is this truly mandatory or a suggestion? Have never had to do this with previous RV’s.
Every coach has a different process for slide deployment and leveling. We almost always leveled our coach before putting slides out, and would highly recommend doing so. It is much easier on the slide mechanism when level. IF not level, you could risk jamming it, or overloading the small electric motors. Slide repairs can get expensive, so it is best to be careful when opening and closing them.
Hello! We have a holiday Rambler Admerial V10 gas.
We love it ,I find it good on fuel, we pull a 24 foot race trailer, it pulls with no problem, I keep the water tank filled on travelling, and I fine it keeps the RV very stable on the road.
Great to hear. Thanks for sharing!
We have a 2013 QBA and we love it. We see no reason to upgrade to a diesel. If we were full-timing like you guys, maybe? But the cost is really too high.
I have two questions, where do you get your chassis serviced? Most RV dealers are not certified by Ford for warranty work. Next I am considering the Sumo springs as well. At what mileage do you think you could justify upgrading to them.
Hi there, yes we are super happy with our gasser as well, even as full timers. Re getting the chassis serviced we did a Google search for Ford chassis dealers and called a couple, some didn’t do RVs so we asked for recommendations and ended up at a place referred to us by another Ford chassis (non RV) shop. We were very happy with their service, even did a video on it (Hill’s Garage in Port Huron, Michigan). We are also considering the Sumo springs, have heard great things about them. Hope to install next month or so. Don’t think the decision to install Sumo Springs is related to any mileage at all, just a personal decision. It’s not an expensive upgrade if you can install yourself which we hear is pretty simple – about $1,000 for the springs and good to go!
We have a Triple E Embassy. Last year we installed a Banks System and front end stabilizers. It really made a difference. We’re passing the big boys on the steep hills. We’ve driven from Bisbee Arizona to Fairbanks Alaska. Then Fairbanks To Flagstaff since October. We also have snow tires that have been a godsend more than once.
Joan and Gerald
Thanks for sharing your experience Joan!
My husband and I bought a Tiffen Allegro 34tga so this blog was perfect for us. Great to hear you’re very happy with your Tiffen. Thanks for the video and thank you, Mark, for the good top tips on driving a gas RV.
Glad it was helpful! We love our Tiffin!
In my experience the Ford V-10 has more than enough horsepower and torque for smaller class A motorhomes. I agree with most of the points made in your video. The power does fade at about 7,500 ft., but how often does that happen. Nor is the noise objectionable. Of course I am in a 30′ Thor MH on a 16,000k chassis. I am also deaf in one ear so what do I know?
Haha very funny Brian. Yes you are quite right – it’s perfectly sufficient for our needs and we rarely drive at high elevations, if we do it’s for a short period anyway and we simply plan accordingly. I think up to about 36′ (which we have) gas is just fine, we prefer keeping the extra $$$ in our pocket or more accurately, having a lower payment!
Thanks for the video and write-up! I too saw the Wynn’s video a while ago and thought “boy, our Tiffin sure has a lot less rattles”! While we are completely happy with our gasser, we found that the aftermarket Five Star Tune gave us a lot better engine performance (and better cruise control shifting), and aftermarket Sumo Springs made the ride a lot more stable. We love our floor plan, and like you, we drive for a few hours and stay someplace for a week or two.
Also, your comment about handling downgrades with a lower gear made me think of a good article I read a while ago (when we were preparing to buy our Allegro) about how to avoid overheating your brakes on a steep downgrade: https://www.fmca.com/motorhome/motorhome-news/3074-mountain-driving-let-your-engine-do-the-work.html … the most important bit is the three steps listed about halfway down the page, i.e. don’t stay on the brakes when going downhill or you’ll overheat them.
Thanks Mike – yes we have actually been looking at the Sumo Springs and plan to install them soon. Had not heard of the Five Star Tune though. Thanks for sharing the article link. And glad to hear you love your floorplan (the 36LA is a great one) and that it’s not as noisy either! In fairness, I think those Alaska roads probably gave the Wynn’s Fleetwood a good shakedown, sounds like they lost a few dash screws or something! See you on the road, hopefully one day!
Thanks for your interesting view regarding gas vs diesel. I too had seen the Wynns video and their coach sure did have lots of squeaks and rattles, and your Tiffin was much quieter. I have always heard good things about Tiffin’s and your video seems to show how much tighter they are built. I too, am considering a gas coach because I can get a much better floorplan which will provide more comfort while stationary. Like you, I envision staying in one place longer(months at a time).
One question. Have you had to deal with many repairs, brake downs, etc? I have had past experiences full timing with an older diesel, and swore I would NEVER get a diesel again, because every brake down would cost a fortune to repair and finding a good diesel shop was next to impossible while on the road. Diesels are incredibly expensive when it comes to repair work.
Thanks again for the video.
All the best,
HI Ken, yes choosing a floorplan that works for you and knowing how you will travel – ie. staying in places longer – really is the most important thing rather than gas vs diesel. We love the floorplan of ours as we have two dedicated workspaces that do not impinge on our living area. High value for us. And yes, Tiffin does take extra care with the caulking, seals, solid cabinetry which makes a huge difference to quality and reduced noise. In fact, we were just saying last week we are impressed that our coach is still in as good condition as when we bought it 18 months ago and we are the 3rd owner! I think that’s a reflection of the quality too (as well as how we take care of it).
In answer to your question, we have never broken down while driving. Maintenance wise, we have serviced the engine twice (once we took it to a shop, the other time a mobile service guy came to our campground). No issues with tires, brakes or anything else at all. Mechanically it’s been super reliable and we’re happy with it. Only major repairs really have been either cosmetic (fixing a crack on the sidewall which Tiffin covered under their fiberglass warranty), and replacement of furnace and water heater – both of these were covered under our extended service contract. We have heard diesels are expensive to maintain, which was one of the other reasons we went with a gasser. But honestly, floorplan and price were our two biggest decision-makers in the end. One more thing we would add is if you are considering a gas coach, don’t go for one too old as the engines on some of the older ones are not as good as what we have today with the Ford V10 – this was advice from one of the dealers we visited several times. He thought the newer gas coaches actually represent better value for money as they are so much better than they used to be.
And as Marc says, consider what used to be available and what is around today. eg. used to have choice of GM Workhorse and Ford V10 engine, now all gas coaches are built with a Ford V10. We figure the better product probably won out in the end.