By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
Given that I spend a good deal of time working on RVs, I’m often asked who makes the best of “whatever category RV a person might be seeking.” Not an easy question to answer as I do not believe there is a single answer. There are, however, some things to consider — the most important of which is price.
Simply put, you never get the same things in an entry-level RV you find in a high-end one. There really is a reason some things cost more than others, and an entry-level product, regardless of manufacturer, is intended to be sold based on price, not quality. In my experience, it may look good when new but the “new” is short-lived.
For example, the shine quickly fades on the exterior as the gel coat is very thin. The carpet quickly looks matted down, and the cushions in the furniture sag and look worn out almost overnight. The reason, of course, is because they are made as cheaply as possible in order to meet an impossibly low price point. The same things hold true of axles, frames, sidewall construction, and all the things folks either cannot see or do not know how to assess. Manufacturers, by the way, acknowledge in private that their more expensive products wear much better and require much less maintenance than their entry-level models for these exact reasons.
For occasional seasonal use, entry-level products do just fine. They also are not a bad choice if the owner is willing to perform regular maintenance. For serious campers, however, I question the wisdom of buying at the lowest price points.
How do you tell quality? You start off by doing plenty of shopping so you know what you are seeing. With some practice you’ll be able to tell thick versus thin gel coat and the quality of slide seals, and know the difference between photographed vinyl finish on woodwork versus real wood.
In the end, you’ll quickly discover there are real differences between manufacturers and product lines. When you are able to tell the difference, you are ready to buy. Until then, getting taken in by an inferior product is never far away. By the way, you really are much better off buying a high-end pre-owned product than an entry-level model off the dealer’s lot. If you can, try to stay within five years of the current date to be up-to-date with technology.
photo courtesy Columbus RV Show