Choosing your RV can feel daunting once you’ve decided RVing is the right way for you to get out enjoying nature. One of the first questions you may have is “Should I buy a towable camper or motorhome?”
The answer to this common question may be different for you than it is for another RVer. At Bish’s we understand that it’s important to get the facts you need to make the right decision for you, especially on such a large purchase, so you don’t buy an RV you’ll later regret.
Here we’ll explain the differences between motorized and towable RVs and the pros and cons of each, so you can get a clear idea of which is better for you. With this information you can skip that 1st “oops” RV and skip to buying your 2nd RV the first time!
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What’s the Difference Between a Towable and Motorized RV?
The big difference between a towable and motorized RV is . . . you guessed it, the motor. But that’s not the only difference. Learn below what towable and motorized RVs have to offer to decide for yourself which is a better fit for you.
From tiny towable pop-ups to giant motorized Class A diesel motorhomes, towable and motorized RVs all serve a different purpose for different types of camping and outdoor adventures – let’s get you in the right one.
What’s a Towable RV?
A towable RV does not have its own engine and must be hitched to a truck or, possibly, another large vehicle, if you want to transport it somewhere.
How Big are Towable RVs?
Towables include smaller trailers like pop-ups, or teardrop trailers up to larger travel trailers and fifth wheels.
There is a huge range of sizes for towable campers. From 8’ to more than 40’ you can find almost anything to fit your needs.
|RV Type||Length||Weight (UVW)|
|Teardrop Trailer||8′ – 12′||600 – 1,200 lbs|
|Pop-up Camper||8′ – 20′||1,000 – 3,500 lbs|
|Hybrid Travel Trailer||16′ – 30′||3,000 – 6,500 lbs|
|Travel Trailer||10′ – 40′||2,500 – 9,000 lbs|
|5th Wheel||20′ – 45′||7,000 – 25,000 lbs.|
|Toy Hauler||20′ – 41′||5,000 – 18,000 lbs.|
How Much Do Towable RVs Cost?
The price range for towables is also quite enormous:
- A new towable RV will cost anywhere from $3,000 to $500,000.
- A used towable RV ranges anywhere from $500 – $450,000.
Towable RVs are usually less expensive than a similarly sized motorized RV. Keep in mind, however, you will need to also purchase a vehicle to tow the RV, if you don’t already have one. You may want to calculate that cost into your purchase price.
What Do I Need to Tow an RV?
You will need a vehicle and a towing hitch to pull your towable RV. The type of vehicle and hitch required will depend on the type and size of your RV.
- Some very small towables, this Bushwhacker 10HD, as an example, can potentially be pulled by a minivan or Jeep, depending on the vehicle’s tow capacity.
- Certain travel trailers or fifth wheels can be pulled by a half-ton truck. These often have “half-ton” or “HT” in the RV’s name. While these trailers are lighter, be aware that not every half-ton truck can tow every HT trailer. Always check your vehicle’s tow capacity before you purchase a towable RV.
- A larger, heavier travel trailer or 5th wheel will require a larger, beefier truck. The higher the tow capacity of your truck, the more options you have when you’re purchasing your towable RV.
Learn more about the ins and out of towing an RV from Josh the RV Nerd:
What’s a Motorized RV?
A motorized RV, also known as a motorhome, is pretty much just what the name says, a home with a motor.
Buying a motorized RV gets you the truck and the RV in one, neat package.
How Big is a Motorhome?
There are several types, or classes, of motorized RVs to meet a range of RV needs.
|Class B||16’ – 22’|
|Class B+||20’ – 25’|
|Class C||20’ – 35’|
|Super C||30’ – 45’|
|Class A Gas||26’ – 38’|
|Class A Diesel||30’ – 45’|
How Much Does a Motorhome Cost?
You can expect to pay more for a motorhome than you’d pay for a similarly-sized, towable RV.
- A new motorized RV ranges from $80,000 to $800,000+.
- A used motorized RV less than 10 years old ranges from $16,500 – $850,000+.
Learn more about what a Class C RV Costs and why.
PROS & CONS
Pros of a Towable RV
- Lower Price:
You can generally get more bang for your bunk with a towable RV because you aren’t paying for the engine/transmission related parts of a motorized RV.
No need to tow an extra vehicle to drive near the campsite. Once you arrive at your destination, you can unhitch the RV and use your tow vehicle to get around.
- Less Maintenance Required:
Because a towable RV does not include the engine, you won’t need to add vehicle maintenance on top of the needed RV maintenance.
- More Sleeping & Living Space:
Towable RVs, especially ones with slides, often have more sleeping spaces or room to live.
With a variety of types and floor plans there is a towable RV for almost every RVer. Motorized RVs are more specialized for a specific type of RVer.
Read about Fifth Wheels vs Travel Trailer for help deciding which towable RV is better for you.
Pros of a Motorized RV
- More Mobility:
A motorhome is generally easier for cross country touring.Towing a trailer for long, cross-country distances can be burdensome. A motorhome is usually easier to maneuver and simpler to move from site to site.
- Comfortable Long-Distance/Multi-Stop Travel:
In a motorhome, your vacation begins the moment you sit behind the wheel. The journey itself is comfortable and you have the conveniences of daily life readily available in your vehicle.
- Service Options:
Most motorhomes are built on a Ford or Chevy chassis that can be serviced by most car dealers throughout the country.
- Getting Stuck
If your motorhome breaks down on the highway or at the campsite, you’re stuck until it’s functional again. If a towable RV has a problem you can unhitch it and use the tow vehicle to get where you need to be.
Cons of a Towable RV
- Towing & Maneuverability Challenges:
Towing long distances or for long periods at a time can be cumbersome and tiring.
Making turns, parking, navigating tight spaces, and backing up are all more difficult with the additional length and weight of a hitched RV.
There are also safety concerns with towing. If your RV isn’t correctly hitched or your tow vehicle and RV aren’t well matched, you could risk an accident on the road.
- Destination RV:
Unlike a motorized RV, your vacation in a towable RV doesn’t begin until you’ve parked and set up at your destination.
Moving the RV from site to site is also a hassle, so most use their towable RVs for a single destination.
- Tow Vehicle Sold Separately:
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to purchase a vehicle with enough power to pull your towable camper. Calculate this cost into the price of your RV. Unlike a motorhome, however, your truck does serve many purposes.
Cons of a Motorized RV
- Higher Price:
A motorized RV is more expensive than a towable RV of similar size and features. The least expensive Class A motorhomes are around 150% more expensive than the least expensive 5th Wheels, as an example.
A motorized RV has its own engine, built-in transmission and suspension systems, and on-board generator, all of which add to the overall cost of the RV. It just plain costs more to buy the car and RV all in one.
- Storage Costs & Hassle:
Storing a motorhome at an offsite location may cost more than the cost to store a towable. This is because motorized RVs are often longer and taller than comparable towables.
Your motorhome will also need more attention while it is stored than a towable would.
It’s best to run the engine in your motorhome at least every two weeks to help circulate the fluids that are needed for a healthy engine.
Gas can also go bad. So, if you are putting your motorhome away for a prolonged period of time, you may want to consider using a fuel stabilizer to protect your gas tank.
- Extra Maintenance & Service:
A motorhome requires more maintenance to work well. You can expect to have all of the maintenance concerns and service issues you’d expect with a car or truck, plus the maintenance and issues you’d see with a camper.
- Towing a Smaller Vehicle:
Many new RV buyers think a motorhome will be easier and more convenient because they won’t need to tow.
But, often motorhome owners still choose to tow a smaller vehicle behind the motorhome. This smaller vehicle makes short trips once the motorhome is parked much easier.
Who Should Buy a Towable RV?
- Price Conscious RVer
If you’re working with less disposable income, a towable RV can get you more bang for your buck. Especially if you already own a truck fit to tow.
New travel trailers start close to $10,000 where a new, small Class C or B is over $30,000. For tens of thousands of dollars less, in every segment, you can get many of the same luxuries of a motorized RV for much less of your hard earned cash.
- 1st Time Buyer
A towable camper is often a better choice for a 1st-time RV buyer. Towables are also a good way to ease into RV life and find out if it’s a good fit for you and your family.
Many new RVers think a motorhome will be easier because they are intimidated by towing. But, the learning curve for a towable RV is not nearly as steep as it is for a motorhome.
A motorhome requires all the maintenance of a vehicle and an RV, where the maintenance of a towable RV is separate and simpler than a motorhome.
- Big Groups
Do you have a bunch of kids or friends planning to come along on your trips? While some motorhomes can sleep 8 to 10 people, most sleep closer to 4.
Towable RVs, especially travel trailers and 5th wheels, may have more sleeping accommodations.
If you’re bringing along the crew – a towable may be a more comfortable fit.
- Destination Travelers
I’m looking at you, weekend warriors. If your RV trips will be based around getting to a destination, spending the weekend or several days, and heading home, then a travel trailer may be your best option.
This is especially true if your favorite destinations are regional/local where you won’t have to tow overly long distances.
Sound like you? Check out towable RVs at Bish’s to see if we have the right travel trailer or fifth wheel for you:
Who Should Buy a Motorhome?
- You Have Disposable Income
You’ll find a higher price point or monthly payment on a motorized RV. If you have the disposable income to spend on a more expensive machine, then a motorhome may be a good option for you.
- Cross-Country, Multi-Stop Traveler
If you’re planning to be on the road going state to state – adding stickers to your window map – a motorhome is the way to go.
A motorhome is a great choice if you’re dedicated to traveling and you plan to spend a lot of time in the RV rather than taking simple, nearby weekend trips.
- Experienced RVer
Most motorhome owners are seasoned RVers. They’ve owned a towable of some sort. Whether it’s a pop-up or travel trailer, they’ve tested the waters and decided to dive in to the lifestyle.
- Smaller Group or Couple
Since motorhomes may have less sleeping space than similarly sized towables, they’re often better for a couple or a small group.
Sound like you? Check out towable RVs at Bish’s to see if we have the right travel trailer or fifth wheel for you:
Find Your RV
Finding the information you need to get the right RV the first time shouldn’t be a slog.
While there is no right answer for whether a motorohome or towable camper is better, one is certainly better for you. Now that you know the facts you can decide for yourself what is best for your travels.
Browse the motorhomes and towable campers available at Bish’s RV to see if we have the perfect RV for you.
Need help narrowing down your search? We know it can be overwhelming. This is why we have no-pressure RV experts to guide you to the best RVs for your budget and lifestyle. They love to help!
Learn Mores Before You Buy:
- How to get the best price for your RV and avoid hidden RV fees and dealer scams
- Learn about the 10 best-selling RV manufacturers
- How is Bish’s RV different from other dealers? Learn about our no hidden fees, 72 hour return guarantee, and Diamond Club perks.
Bish’s RV Content Writer & Editor
Thinks nature is great. Thinks it’s greater with a comfortable bed and working bathroom.