Why Buy a Class A Gasoline Powered RV versus a Class A Diesel Pusher

One of the most common questions we receive at Lichtsinn RV is why should I buy a Class A gasoline powered coach or a Class A diesel pusher? Here we break down the two and include a few questions that guests chatted in during a recent live monthly video webcast we hosted.

Most guests will opt for a Class A diesel pusher for the following reasons:

  1. Increased torque or power, if needed.  Our Winnebago and Itasca diesel pushers range in torque from 700 – 1,250 lbs ft of torque or power, compared to 457 in Ford Class A gasoline powered coaches
  2. Increased towing capacity beyond 5,000 lbs, if needed.  Many of our diesel pushers will pull 10,000-15,000 lb
  3. Air ride suspension and air braking capability
  4. The quietness of the ride, which simply stems from the fact the on a Class A diesel pusher the engine is in the rear of the coach, nearly 30-40 feet behind the cabin area.  However, Ford’s evolution of its five speed Torqshift transmission has allowed for shifting at lower RPM points, driving down engine howl compared to previous powertrains
  5. Resale value of a diesel pusher is typically stronger than in a Class A gasoline powered coach

In a recent webcast, we compared the Itasca Sunova 35G to the Winnebago Forza 34T. Both are similar in length and floor plans (both have the InLounge Sectional).

One main difference you will find will be the difference in price point. You can find that diesel will add $50,000 to upwards of $100,000 depending on type. Of course, with some of the diesel pushers, you’ll see the very high-end, luxurious  finishes as seen in the Winnebago Tour/Itasca Ellipse and the new Winnebago Grand Tour and Itasca Ellipse Ultra. Upgrades include true hard woods used throughout and generally more luxurious finishes.

A consideration will also be maintenance and operating costs. Typically gas coaches are less expensive to service and maintain. Many “do-it-yourselfers” might take on service projects with a gas coach but when you have a diesel, it’s more likely you’ll seek out a diesel mechanic for your service. Diesel mechanics can be more difficult to come by whereas there are many Ford locations for servicing your gas coach.

The difference in rides can be what pushes someone towards a diesel. The air ride suspension and many times the independent front suspension that comes in a Tour/Ellispe and Grand Tour/Ellipse Ultra can make for a very smooth ride.

The brake system is different between the gas and diesel pusher, although no different when comparing gas to diesel in a Class C or B van. However, in Class A diesel, air is used for braking. A drum brake with a spring is applied; whereas in gas, disc brakes are used.

All diesel coaches are required to use DEF which allows the coach to burn cleaner. This was mandated in 2010 so you will see it in coaches that are 2011 or newer. DEF tanks range in sizes where as most are 13 gallons or so in a Class A. The typical RV’er travels about 10,000 miles a year, so most Rv’ers will need to fill it about 3 times a year. You don’t need to fill it every time you fill the gas tank. Many diesel truck stops have it at their dispense stations. It’s actually easily accessible.

Fuel efficiency will actually be about the same averaging 7-10 mpg with either.

A question was chatted in about having a 12’ garage door. The nice thing about Diesel pushers, is you have about 2-4” that you can drop the air and probably make it under that door.

The ride was addressed again and GVWR was compared. Gas GVWR ranges from 18,000 lbs to 26,000 lbs. In a diesel pusher it will range from 26,000 lbs to 45,660 lbs.  our tires in a gas will be 19.5-22” and always 22.5” in a Diesel Pusher.

Keep in mind the location of the engine. With a diesel pusher it will be quieter as the engine is in the back. In a gas, you will have the “doghouse” due to placement of engine in the cab area.

In a diesel pusher, one will have 55-60 degree turning radius.

Not a whole lot difference between fuel economy. 7-10 mpg on both. Dual fuel fill is available in the diesel pusher models. Gas is only available on one side and  location of fill varies depending on model.

Exterior storage is much different too – You’ll find a substantial amount more in diesel pushers and that’s mostly due to the dropped chassis rails used on the Freightliner Maxum chassis.

Longevity with gas versus diesel: diesel is more long-lasting. There’s a reason transportation / delivery type vehicles are diesel and that’s because the engines can run for 100s of 1000s of miles. Resale on a diesel will also be better.

Towing might be another consideration. On gas models you’ll find towing to be at 5000 lbs.  With a diesel pusher, that towing capacity is upped to 10,000 to 15,000 lbs.

Maintenance and Operating Costs

  • Beyond purchase price, the overall maintenance and operating expense of a gas coach is also generally less expensive than that of a diesel. However, you may do less maintenance with a diesel pusher
  • Cost of parts and service work is less — less complex
  • It can also be more convenience to find Service Locations (i.e. Ford vs Freightliner/Cummins)

Fuel Considerations

  • Cost of diesel is generally higher than that of gasoline
  • MPG — should expect average of 7-10 with either
  • Class A Gas Fuel Fill – 80 Gallons, Single Location, Different on Each Coach
  • Class A Diesel Fuel Fill – 90 to 150 Gallons, Dual Fuel Fill, Each Side of Cab

Engine Longevity

  • Class A Gas – 6.8L Triton V10
  • Class A Diesel – 6.7L ISB
  • Because diesel engines run at lower RPMs than gas, there is less strain on the engine
  • Diesel engines are designed to run hundreds of thousands of miles

Horsepower

  • Gas: 362
  • Diesel: 340/360/380/400/450

Torque

  • Gas: 457
  • Diesel: 700/800/1150/1250/1250

Transmission

  • Gas: Torqshift 5 speed automatic overdrive with tow/haul mode
  • Diesel: Allison 6 speed automatic (2100-2500-3000 series)

Towing Capacity

  • Gas: 5,000
  • Diesel: 5,000-15,000

Ride

Gas-Diesel

 

Cab Area

  • Gas: Tilt Steering Wheel, Stationary Pedals, Doghouse in Cockpit
  • Diesel: Tilt & Telescope Steering Wheel, Adjustable Tredal Style Pedals (some models), No Doghouse Area

Generator

  • Gas powered: 4.0-5.5KW, side of coach
  • Diesel powered: 6.0-10.0KW, front of coach

Depreciation

  • For these reasons, diesel powered coaches hold their value better than gas
  • Plus they are more sought after in the pre-owned market