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Why Many Small RVs Cost More Than Big RVs

RVs come in all shapes and sizes, from compact campervans to 40-foot big rigs. While you might assume that small RVs cost less than big RVs, you might start scratching your head when you start looking at relative sticker prices. When we first started RV shopping, we were surprised by how little size seemed to matter in overall price. While many big RVs can be expensive, we learned that the relationship between RV size and pricing isn’t always intuitive.

In this blog post, we will explore why many small RVs tend to be more expensive than big RVs. We’ll also dive into the factors influencing RV prices, the popularity of small RVs, and the pros and cons of both. We hope you’ll have a clearer understanding of what to consider when choosing the right size RV for your needs. 

Let’s begin. 

Smaller Doesn’t Always Mean Cheaper 

One common misconception about RVs is that smaller automatically means the RV is cheaper. While it’s true that some smaller RVs can have a lower base price than large ones, it’s often the other way around. This is especially true for motorhomes. For example, you might expect a 17-foot Class B to be significantly more affordable than a 40-foot motorhome because the manufacturers use fewer materials and there’s less living space. However, that’s not all that goes into price configuration, and several factors can make small RVs costly. These factors include luxury features, ease of use, and popularity.

small rv cost
Small RVs tend to hold their value better than large RVs.

How Much Do Small RVs Cost?

The cost of a small RV can vary widely depending on several factors, including RV type, brand, model, size, and features. On average, you can expect to pay from $50,000 to $200,000 or more for a new small RV. For example, the new Entegra Expanse class B has an MSRP of around $191,550. Small used RVs can be more affordable, with prices ranging from $20,000 to $80,000. However, they tend to hold their value better than larger RVs. Because of this, used small motorhomes tend to be much more expensive than one would think. 

While small travel trailers tend to be more affordable than campervans and Class Bs, some of their prices might surprise you. The 12-foot Arkto Camper starts at approximately $49,350. This is partly because it has durable materials for off-grid use. It’s another example of how expensive minimalist RVing can be. 

Pro Tip: Class B RVs are one of the most sought-after options on the market.

class c motorhome
Class C motorhomes vary in price, but the bigger they are typically the more expensive they get.

How Much Do Big RVs Cost?

Big RVs like Class A or large Class C motorhomes tend to vary in price depending on the brand, features, and luxury amenities. A new 30′ Class A Coachmen Pursuit typically costs just over $100,000, which is significantly lower than some tiny Class Bs on the market.

However, you can get as luxurious as you want with larger RVs. Some high-end motorhomes can cost over $2 million; just check out the Newell Motorhome we toured in the video below. There are also extravagant fifth wheels that top the charts at around $145,000, like the custom-made Spacecraft fifth wheels

Tour a $2 Million Dollar Luxury RV! | 2019 Newell Coach Walkthrough seen at the 2018 Tampa RV Show

Small RV Cost Vs. Big RV Cost

While you can find many examples where small RVs are indeed cheaper than big ones, there are a few observations that remain evident. 

Small RV costs go into things like the base van chassis, which is often built by someone else for another purpose. Then, RV manufacturers have to do some specialized design work to fit the components into that smaller vehicle.

It’s also just harder to fit things into small spaces, so special engineering and design need to go into small RVs. Take truck campers, for instance. While they are some of the smallest campers out there, some can still cost over $100,000 due to their specialized designs.

Big RVs, on the other hand, are usually intended to be an RV from the start. This allows for more modular components and easier assembly. For instance, RV electrical and water lines can be run before the walls are put on. Plus, with more space to work comes more flexibility in layouts. While many models may be different, components are more easily shared between models.

Additionally, you need to consider supply and demand. There are fewer affordable options for smaller RVs, especially Class Bs and Cs. Finally, there tends to be a larger demand for small motorhomes due to their maneuverability and ease of use. These factors are the reason why small RVs can often be more expensive than larger ones. Smaller motorhomes tend to hold their value better than large Class As.

camper van
Campervans and Class B RVs tend to be in high demand, making them more costly than other small RVs.

Small motorhomes may tend to be easier to drive than large ones, but many other factors make them popular. First, you’ll fit into more campsites with a smaller RV. If your RV is smaller than 25 feet long, you’ll likely fit into 90% of US National Park campgrounds. 

Furthermore, smaller RVs generally have better fuel economy than their larger counterparts. This is a significant consideration for budget-conscious travelers. They also tend to be more versatile than large RVs, and you can use them for weekend getaways or extended road trips.

There’s a feeling of freedom with all your living needs in one small space. The compact size of small RVs encourages a minimalist lifestyle, prompting travelers to focus on experiences rather than material possessions.

four winds class c motorhome
There are pros and cons to any RV, but size can make a big difference in maneuverability and fuel efficiency.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Small RVs?

Small RVs have various advantages, including maneuverability, fuel efficiency, versatility, and typically lower maintenance costs. However, there’s a give-and-take with any RV. 

Some disadvantages of small RVs include their limited space, especially for larger families. They have fewer amenities and storage options, and occasionally a larger upfront cost. Many people don’t like how cramped small Class Cs and Bs feel when they want to relax. They might prefer the high ceiling and large windshield of a Class A. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Big RVs?

While we’ve talked about why small RVs are popular, there’s a reason why many couples and families opt for big rigs. They offer spacious interiors that make them great for full-time RVing, Big rigs have more storage space and sleeping areas. They also have more room for enhanced entertainment systems that make your RV feel more like a home. When comparing dollars per square foot, larger motorhomes almost always take the cake. 

Nevertheless, some disadvantages of big RVs include higher fuel costs, a more challenging driving experience in tight campgrounds, and higher maintenance expenses. If you’ve ever bought new tires for a Class A, you know what we’re talking about.

So, how big of an RV is too big? That depends on your family size, lifestyle, and travel preferences. There are many factors to consider when determining how much space you need before you set out. Generally, 33 feet seems to be the most popular length for larger RVs. This length allows for plenty of space while fitting into popular campgrounds. 

Pro Tip: Find out the difference between a diesel pusher and a gas motorhome and if one has better cost savings.

RV Downsizing: Packing the Lance 1172 Truck Camper & Hitting the Road! | Go North Ep 3

Finding the Right Size RV for You

Ultimately, the decision between a small RV and a big one should align with your unique preferences and travel goals. Careful consideration of your budget, travel style, and comfort level behind the wheel will guide you toward the right choice.

RVs come in various sizes and configurations, so you can likely find a model that strikes a balance between space and affordability. Take your time researching and visiting dealerships and make an informed decision. It may lead to many unforgettable adventures on the open road. Whether you choose a small or big RV, the most crucial factor is that it fits your lifestyle and allows you to experience the joy of RV travel to the fullest!

Do you prefer larger or smaller RVs? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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