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Rig Roundup: 7 Fuel-Efficient RVs to Stretch Your Gas Mileage

Fuel-efficient RVs can keep you and your family traveling even when gas prices fluctuate. While motorhomes and travel trailers may be viewed as gas hogs, there’s a lot of variation within the industry, making it easy to find models that help stretch your gas mileage. 

How much does it cost to fuel an RV? There’s no simple way to answer this question due to the variance in rig types and models. For pull-behind campers, some estimates show that towing reduces your vehicle’s gas mileage by as much as 30 to 40 percent. For motorhomes, gas mileage ranges from 8 to 23 miles per gallon. Then you need to factor in the tank size. Larger tanks cost more to fill up but require fewer stops.

With gasoline averaging between $2.50 and $4.50, and diesel averaging between $3 and $5, in recent years, it’s easy to see why fuel efficiency matters. However, even when gas prices aren’t at their peak, usage is a concern. Fossil fuel usage contributes to environmental pollutants and global warming, and there isn’t an endless, accessible supply of crude oil. Buying a fuel-efficient RV helps your wallet, as well as the planet.

Let’s take a look at important features to consider and some of the best fuel-efficient RVs.

Important Features to Look for in Fuel-Efficient RVs

Class

Class As and Class Cs are generally gas guzzlers due to their size, shape, and weight, while petite Class Bs have the best gas mileage, with some matching or beating typical SUVs or pickup trucks. 

Fuel

When buying a motorhome, you’ll need to decide between gasoline- and diesel-powered models. While gasoline currently costs less per gallon, diesel vehicles usually get significantly more miles per gallon, and at times, diesel costs the same as or less than gasoline. The future of RVing will likely include more electric-powered options; however, few of these models are on the market today.

Weight

Heavier vehicles and trailers use more fuel. Aside from the obvious weight difference caused by size, weight is also affected by building materials. Manufacturers use terms like “ultralight” or “lite” in model names to signal that lighter or fewer materials are used in interior and exterior construction. And keep in mind that while slide-outs open up floor space, they increase weight.

Aerodynamics

Some motorhomes and travel trailers are distinctively boxy, while others are curved with lower profiles. Aerodynamics affects your gas mileage. Look for rounded front caps, which reduce drag.

Fuel-Efficient RVs We Love

Ranging from travel trailers to various classes of motorhomes, here are seven of the best fuel-efficient RVs to help stretch your gas mileage.

A couple loads gear into the hatchback opening in a small, trendy travel trailer RV.
Photo courtesy of Happier Camper

Happier Camper HC1 

Weighing in at 1,100 pounds, the fiberglass Happier Camper HC1 is one of the lightest travel trailers on the market, especially when you specifically look at hard-sided, non-popup designs. Plus, you can stand up inside, and it’s adorable thanks to the color options. Light trailers like this make it possible to tow with a smaller SUV or pickup truck, adding another way to increase your gas mileage while RVing.

SPECS
UVW 1,100 pounds
GVWR 3,500 pounds
Hitch Weight 100 to 150 pounds
Exterior Length 13 feet, 5 inches
Exterior Height 7 feet, 8 inches
MSRP Starting at $34,950

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

You don’t have limited floor plans to pick from; instead, the modular interior system allows you to create your own design.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


A small, space-age silver Airstream travel trailer RV sits among mossy trees.
Photo: Ashley Rossi

Airstream Basecamp 16

One look at an Airstream—and considering the literal meaning of the name—-will tell you that these RVs are meant to be more aerodynamic. Airstream claims its design improves gas mileage by as much as 20 percent. The Basecamp is Airstream’s newest travel trailer, offering iconic styling in a smaller, updated package.

SPECS
UVW 2,650 pounds
GVWR 3,500 pounds
Hitch Weight 410 pounds
Exterior Length 16 feet, 2 inches
Exterior Height 8 feet, 8.75 inches
Fresh Water Tank 21 gallons
Black Tank 24 gallons (shared with black tank)
Gray Tank 24 gallons (shared with gray tank)
MSRP $46,000

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

The rear hatch opens, allowing you to store gear like bikes and kayaks inside the trailer. And the Truma Combi Eco Plus provides instant hot water on demand.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


The floorplan for the Venture RV Sonic Lite SL160VBH shows double bunks, a convertible sofa bed, a full kitchen and bath, and ample storage space.
Photo courtesy of Venture RV

Venture RV Sonic Lite SL160VBH

If you want a fuel-efficient travel trailer with space for the kids, check out the Sonic Lite 160VBH. It weighs nearly 3,500 pounds while offering a convertible front bed and a set of bunks. Plus, the rounded shape increases the aerodynamics.

SPECS
UVW 3,590 pounds
GVWR 4,250 pounds
Hitch Weight 510 pounds
Exterior Length 21 feet, 3 inches
Exterior Height 9 feet, 11 inches
Fresh Water Tank 38 gallons
Black Tank 30 gallons
Gray Tank 30 gallons
MSRP Unavailable

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

The convertible front lounge gives the family space to gather when not made up into a bed. This model has significant storage space for a smaller, lightweight rig.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


An interior view of a Class B motorhome showcases the RV's light and bright interior decor.
Photo courtesy of Roadtrek

Roadtrek SS Agile 

The nimble Roadtrek SS Agile is built on a shorter Mercedes Sprinter chassis but still packs a bed, kitchen, and bathroom inside the 19-foot length. This fuel-efficient diesel Class B offers a rear sofa that can be converted into a king-sized bed or a pair of twin-sized beds.

SPECS
GVWR 13,500 pounds
Hitch Weight Rating 5,000 pounds
Fuel Type Diesel
Chassis Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Fuel Capacity 24.5 gallons
Exterior Length 19 feet, 5 inches
Exterior Height 19 feet, 5 inches
Fresh Water Tank 20 gallons
Black Tank 10 gallons
Gray Tank 20 gallons
MSRP Starting at $185,010

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

From the outside, this doesn’t look like a typical RV, thanks to the solid, muted coloring and lack of graphics. Add on-demand all-wheel drive if you want to go off the beaten path.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


A rugged, black Class B RV stands at the entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado.
Photo courtesy of Winnebago

Winnebago Travato

With four diverse interior floor plan options, the Winnebago Travato offers something for every type of traveler. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient Class B motorhomes, topping out at 22 miles per gallon in ideal conditions. 

SPECS
GVWR 9,350 pounds
Hitch Weight Rating 3,500 pounds
Fuel Type Gasoline
Chassis Ram ProMaster
Fuel Capacity 24 gallons
Exterior Length 21 feet
Exterior Height 6 feet, 3 inches
Fresh Water Tank 18 gallons
Black Tank 11 to 12 gallons (depending on floor plan)
Gray Tank 12 to 14 gallons (depending on floor plan)
MSRP Starting at $152,504

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

A swing-arm-mounted table quickly transforms the front seats and the passenger seats into a dinette on some floor plans. Various storage system options make it easy to carry your gear.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


The interior of a small motorhome showing sink, fridge, two beds, and bathroom in the rear
Photo courtesy of Coach House

Coach House Platinum III 250

Built on the Ford Transit 350 chassis, Coach House’s Platinum III 250 claims to reach up to 20 miles per gallon under the best conditions. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient Class C motorhomes thanks to its aerodynamic shape and one-piece fiberglass body. 

SPECS
GVWR 11,000 pounds
Fuel Type Gasoline
Chassis Ford Transit 350 HD 
Fuel Capacity 31 gallons
Exterior Length 25 feet, 6 inches
Exterior Height 10 feet, 5 inches
Fresh Water Tank 31 gallons
Black Tank 19 gallons
Gray Tank 28 gallons
MSRP $174,156

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Two floor plans are available, featuring twin-sized beds with a mid-coach power sofa bed or convertible dinette. Add the optional solar power system to take this fuel-efficient Class C off the grid.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


The floorplan for the Thor Motor Coach Palazzo 33.5 showcases the size and scope of this lengthy RV, which offers numerous slide outs that add extra floorspace.
Photo courtesy of Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach Palazzo 33.5  

The Thor Palazzo 33.5 is a fuel-efficient Class A motorhome, boasting an advertised 13 miles per gallon. This fully outfitted Freightliner diesel RV is packed with luxurious amenities and features.

SPECS
GVWR 26,000 pounds
Hitch Weight Rating 10,000 pounds
Fuel Type Diesel
Chassis Freightliner
Fuel Capacity 90 gallons
Exterior Length 34 feet, 11 inches
Exterior Height 12 feet, 1 inch
Fresh Water Tank 95 gallons
Black Tank 40 gallons
Gray Tank 40 gallons
MSRP From $344,250

FEATURES AND OPTIONS WE LOVE:

Fuel efficiency doesn’t mean you have to give up interior space. The Palazzo even has room for a washer and dryer, bunk beds, and a drop-down cab-over bunk, providing sleeping space for up to seven people.

More information on this fuel-efficient RV can be found here.


Roadtrippers is part of a joint venture, partially owned by THOR Industries, Inc., of which Airstream, Thor Motor Coach, and Venture RV are subsidiaries.