Motorhome vs 5th Wheel

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It’s officially summer, and that means it’s road trip and camping season. If you want to combine the best of both worlds and ride in style, you need the right vehicle for the job. To help you decide, we’re going to discuss the differences between a motorhome and a 5th wheel camper today and the pros and cons of each.

First, we’re going to give a brief definition of them both. Most campers, motorhomes, and trailers fall within the broad category known as recreational vehicles or RVs.

A motorhome is precisely what the name implies. It’s a self-propelled vehicle with a living space inside. Motorhomes generally have kitchens, bathrooms, and beds.

A 5th wheel camper, on the other hand, is a trailer. It offers a living space similar to a motorhome, but you need a vehicle with which to pull it. Because of the size of a 5th wheel, one-ton trucks are best for the job, and they require a specific hitch. 

Also Read: Pop Up Camper VS Travel Trailer

Whether a motorhome or a 5th wheel will suit you better depends on your wants, needs and circumstances.

Residential-Style Furniture

The best part of traveling and camping in an RV is the benefits of bringing the comforts of your home with you on the road. Comfortable residential furniture can be one of those comforts, but you’re probably going to need a 5th wheel if you want to enjoy it.

Generally, 5th wheels include more comfortable furniture than motorhomes. Often, it’s the exact furniture you would find in a house rather than something explicitly designed for an RV.

Cost of Maintenance 

The 5th wheel comes out on top in terms of the cost of maintenance too. Motorhomes are vehicles in and of themselves, which means a trip to the mechanic involves the entire home. For a 5th wheel, you just have to take in your truck. 

Kitchen Space

When you’re going somewhere in an RV, you want space and amenities in your kitchen. Both motorhomes and 5th wheel trailers have a kitchen space.

In most cases, 5th wheels will once again triumph in this regard. Many even include an island for extra counter space. If you have your heart set on a motorhome, don’t let this discourage you. Newer motorhome models often have spacious kitchens. 

Onboard Generator 

If you want an onboard generator to produce electricity, you’re going to want to go with a motorhome. While older models might not come with one, most motorhomes built within the last ten years will. 

Most 5th wheel trailers don’t come with an onboard generator, although you can install one. This is an added expense, though, and you may not want to deal with it.

Maneuverability to Small Spaces 

We’re calling this category a tie.

Because you can detach your truck from your 5th wheel trailer, we generally consider 5th wheels more maneuverable in small spaces, unless you need to take the entire rig with you.

In that case, the motorhome might be the better option. They’re essentially large cars. A 5th wheel, on the other hand, is a trailer and comes with all of the associated issues trying to maneuver a trailer brings. 


Vehicles are notorious for depreciating. Both a motorhome and a 5th wheel trailer depreciate a similar and significant percentage. 

To determine which depreciates less, we have to turn to the initial sticker price. Generally, 5th wheel trailers are more affordable. However, you also have to purchase a truck to tow your new 5th wheel if you don’t already have one. Trucks also, unfortunately, depreciate rapidly. 

Unless you purchase an extremely high-end, luxury motorhome, the amount of depreciation you see will be about the same. A 5th wheel trailer may depreciate slightly less when you look at total values. 

Riding vs. Driving 

We’re declaring this category a tie as well.

Some people don’t particularly care where they’re sitting when they drive. They’re happy. That’s true whether they’re in the cab of a truck towing a 5th wheel or at the wheel of a motorhome. Other people like the feeling of driving a motorhome.

If you have a 5th wheel, you should know that some states prohibit passengers from riding in the trailer. In these states, your passengers might find a motorhome more comfortable. 

Towing vs. Toad

If you’re new to the world of RVs, you might be wondering if we’re about to make an amphibian-related pun. We are not. The word “toad” is what a car towed behind a motorhome is often called.

If you’re thinking a motorhome will free you from having to tow anything, you’d be wrong. Most of the time, you’ll want to take a car alone to give yourself more freedom of movement. 

Also Read: How To Increase Towing Capacity?

We’re declaring the 5th wheel the winner in this category. Yes, towing a trailer can be inconvenient, but you can still back it up. If you’re towing a toad, you can’t.

Motorhome vs. 5th Wheel: Which One Should You Buy? 

Looking at these features, we’re inclined to recommend buying a 5th wheel trailer rather than a motorhome. However, don’t let this article be the deciding factor for you. 

You know what you want, and you know your circumstances. If one of these factors has more weight to it than another, take that into account. If there’s another factor we didn’t discuss that you value more, consider that. 

For more information, check out the rest of our blog or get in touch with us today.

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