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Old 01-11-2017, 05:52 PM   #1
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THOR #6114
Motorcoach newby - looking. Model and pricing make no sense to me.

Hello:

As a kid we went from the Republic of Panama to Washington DC in a VW pop-top camper. Then we sent the camper to Europe and traveled the world between my dad's assignments in the military.

I guess I want to do the same type of travel with my wife when the kids are on their own. I tried to do instill the camping gene into my kids with a 29ft travel trailer when my kids were small.

We sold the TT eight years ago because although we used it extensively, as the dad I needed a vacation from the "vacation" after towing, backing, hooking up, leveling dumping, cleaning, fixing etc. One weekend or week at a time took a toll and the kids got into sports, scouts etc.

Now we have one in college and one a Jr in High School and our plans of traveling together in motorhome (wife and I and 2 small dogs) are getting closer.

So now I am shopping it is surprising that prices mean NOTHING in the traditional sense. In the Thor world (our TT was a Forest River and it was OK), you have the Axis/Vegas < ACE < Hurricane etc etc. I think I like the Axis/Vegas because of the size, but dang if it I could not get much more room and features for almost the same money and go bigger.

It seems to me that there is modest or no price difference between these three models.

I know the Axis/Vegas are smaller and on the E-450 chassis versus the other gas coaches on the F-53 but it seems cost is not really a factor between these models. I know the F-53 models are bigger but often they have even better specs, like auto-levelers. I can find ACE models at almost the exact price of the smaller coaches. Hurricane slightly more money.

I have NEVER driven a motorhome of any kind so the E-450 vs F-53 is hard to grasp. I KNOW I do not want a white-knuckle ride for sure.

I want my wife to be able to drive some and I want to be able to get into gas stations and camping spots with relative ease.

Before I dive in, help me figure out what I should be considering.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:05 PM   #2
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My advice is go to a dealer and drive an Axis and an ACE. There are also companies that rent them so you could take one on a week trip. The ACE is about a foot higher, 5" wider and (depending on the model a foot to several feet longer. The F-53 chassis had 22.5" wheels while the Axis has 16" wheels which means there is an extra step up into the ACE (something my wife did not like). The E-450 can be serviced by Jiffy Lube type places and normal FORD dealers while many smaller dealers will not touch an F-53. You are right that the price difference may not be that great and if the total square footage inside is most important, then the ACE is probably for you. We balanced that against the smaller exterior size, maneuverability and ease of finding a parking space and camp site and decided against upgrading from our 2014 Vegas to an ACE. We bought a new Axis instead. Others are very happy with their ACE or Hurricane.
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TowJumper
I have NEVER driven a motorhome of any kind so the E-450 vs F-53 is hard to grasp. I KNOW I do not want a white-knuckle ride for sure.
If you've ever driven a full-size van (especially a Ford) then you already know, to some degree, how the E-450 Axis/Vegas units ride/drive (they are just slightly larger than your average full-size van).

If you do go test drive one (be it an E-450 Axis/Vegas or an F-53 based larger unit) keep in mind that the unit your test driving most likely has no suspension modifications and probably has not been aligned. So don't completely rule out a unit or line simply based on a single test drive (unfortunately).

There are various options available to make them drive easier (starting with an alignment). Some people like to put a bunch of suspension mods on and others are happy as is (for myself: An alignment was all it took--even the wife is comfortable driving our Axis).
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:22 PM   #4
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THOR #6114
Thank you Oneilkeys and JamieGeek for the replies.

It is apparent that the real issues are just as you two have indicated, size and maneuverability versus features and space. That is kind of amazing - price is secondary.

On your advice, I went to my local CW and drove both an Axis and an ACE this afternoon. Big pressure sales there - I could smell the car dealership type pressure. I also knew the two units I looked at better than she did, which is to be expected thanks to place like this forum and its users.

I could drive both comfortably and was surprised they did not feel HUGE but the difference in "feel" was substantial. The ACE felt more truck-like and the Axis more SUV-like. I have a truck and love it, not an insult to the ACE but the wife would probably adapt to the Axis more quickly.

The Axis DEFINATELY felt tiny inside compared to the ACE which had an enormous slide. Of course, as kids we went thousands of miles in the VW Westy. She might say "get the big one" and then never drive it which is not optimal for me.

I am trying to avoid buying small then wanting big, or buying big and hating driving the RV. Still torn.

Going to get interesting.

Again, thank you for your replies.
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:41 PM   #5
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If you didn't mind driving the ACE you might also try a Hurricane or Windsport, two of the smaller class A rigs. My wife and I downsized from a Tuscany to a Windsport due to storage problems. We like that the Windsport still has a roomy interior, of course not like the Tuscany, but still plenty of room to be comfortable. With children or grandchildren the drop down bunk is great! Look and drive a little more before you decide so you'll be happier in the long run! Our 29M is easy to drive and park, at just under 31 feet it's easy to maneuver. Don't let size intimidate you or your wife, after a few miles it feels as easy to drive as a car. Some dealers give driving lessons, inquire about that too. Good luck with your search no matter what you decide!
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TowJumper View Post
...
I could drive both comfortably and was surprised they did not feel HUGE but the difference in "feel" was substantial. The ACE felt more truck-like and the Axis more SUV-like. I have a truck and love it, not an insult to the ACE but the wife would probably adapt to the Axis more quickly...
Definitely the difference in chassis showing there - from the F450 to the F53... I have no issues driving the F53 based Hurricane (33 foot) - can maneuver it places that surprise people that haven't driven it. I find the Class A's have a tighter turning circle than the same size C's...
Only challenge has been tight gas stations when towing a toad '4 down' (takes away reverse as an option) - just needs a little more thought to leave room to swing around - or choosing a different station in some cases.

I've done all the driving on this one (over 10K miles) - but that is more due to DW's health rather than willingness to drive it. She did drive the last rig - also on F53 chassis - with no issues.

Floorplan and storage are probably biggest factors in picking right model - having the room to do what you want and store what you need will likely drive your decision... If the Axis/Vegas provides what you need - its a great choice. If you need more room/more storage - the larger F53 based choices would be right for you.
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Old 01-12-2017, 12:08 PM   #7
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On the large slide issue, you might want to search slide problems on this form and read some of the problems that some owners have had with large slides - especially the slides containing large appliances. That is one thing that turned me away from some of the larger motor homes. I have had three small slides in motor homes and have never had a problem, but there are others out there who do not want a slide at all.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:27 PM   #8
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for me, with my perspective tainted by the boat industry, I find RVs are much less price sensitive to size. Once you settle in on a manufacture/model, the prices for the various floorplans and lengths are not too different. Contrast that to a boat where the price can jump 30% to add 2 feet of length.


In an RV, there is almost as much stuff in a 30' coach as there is in a 36' coach, just add some more cabinets, walls, roof, floor, and chassis length. The main cost jump I saw was the second AC and 50 amp service.


For drivability, admittedly I drove my first RV an hour before signing the paperwork, so I don't have a long experience, but an 8' wide, 12' tall vehicle is big, regardless of length. Unless you are comparing 10 - 15 feet differences in length, I don't think it would effect me until you get to close quarter maneuvering.
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:28 PM   #9
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In looking at boats, when you added 5' of length, you doubled the interior volume of the boat. Because the width of an RV does not change with additional length, thus rule of thumb does not apply. Driveability is one thing and I think that you are right in that the driveability of an E-450 vs an F-53 may not be that significant on a 4 lane highway. When you go to find a parking space or a campsite or turn it around in a tight gas station or restaurant space, that's when you feel the difference. Again, I think it goes back to how you are going to use your coach. If you are a KOA type of person who travels primarily on interstates, then a 30' F-53 may be for you. If you like to dry camp in National Forests and Parks and take the back dirt roads in Alaska, then a 25' E-450 may better meet your needs.
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Old 01-13-2017, 12:15 AM   #10
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THOR #6114
Too much on the menu.

Great responses thank you all!

I am going to see about renting an RV, starting with and F-53 to see how we like it over Spring Break. I also found a couple Axis/Vegas models for rent but they are a bit of a drive just to get to the coach.

On the boat/RV comparison - bingo! That is precisely why I struggled to understand the RV pricing structure. Now it makes more sense.

One the plus side, if size is not really the determining financial factor (as it is in a boat purchase), I guess I should count my blessings because more options are available to me.

Of course, now I have the "too much on the menu"problem.

Thanks again.
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Old 02-27-2017, 02:20 PM   #11
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Class A seems smaller

Had 2 GKs which was fine in my Greyhawk but didn't work when the count reached 5. I was amazed at how much better my new Windsport 34J drove than the Greyhawk and really amazed at how much better I could see out in the Windsport. Yes, the Windsport is bigger than the Class C but it is so much easier to drive that it seems smaller! Now if I could just get it out of the warranty repair shop so I could use it! Thanx
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:41 AM   #12
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THOR #6288
Bought our 2016 Hurricane 31s new last July. Now 10k miles later, what we love is how easy it is to drive. Have not made any adjustments to SB, etc. Need to check that out more.
What we hate is the dealer/mfg'r approval, completion process. It takes months not days to get sh.. done. Grrr.
All in all we would do it over again. A month home and we plan where to next, cause we do love it so much.
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Old 02-28-2017, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighMobious View Post
Bought our 2016 Hurricane 31s new last July. Now 10k miles later, what we love is how easy it is to drive. Have not made any adjustments to SB, etc. Need to check that out more.
What we hate is the dealer/mfg'r approval, completion process. It takes months not days to get sh.. done. Grrr.
All in all we would do it over again. A month home and we plan where to next, cause we do love it so much.
Glad you like your 31S, we have one coming in March. I was worried about the ease of driving. We have the Vegas now and I have that so it handles like a SUV.

Kev
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:15 PM   #14
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You've been given a lot of good advice, I want to talk about $$$
and service.

I live in Colorado and after looking & pricing MH's here I went on
line and found that I could buy the same MH that CW wanted $$$$$
for in Texas for almost $20K less. And that is what I did, we drove
750 miles to Motorhome Specialties in Alvarado TX to purchase our
Hurricane 34E.


Talk about low pressure, we showed up they gave us a golf cart to
drive around their property and said when you find what you want
or have questions come get me (salesman).

Now service, in Colorado CW is the ONLY authorized Thor dealers.
So when I needed a few things fixed I went to them. Talked with
the service manager and here is what he said.

Yes I will work on your MH for it's warranty work, BUT I will take
care of my own customers first. It took 3 weeks to get an
appointment, but they did the work correctly.

I've also read stories on this forum of people who have been turned
away from dealers because they did not buy from that dealer.
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Old 02-28-2017, 04:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TowJumper View Post

.....cut....

I know the Axis/Vegas are smaller and on the E-450 chassis versus the other gas coaches on the F-53 but it seems cost is not really a factor between these models. ...cut....
I think most people would be surprised to know that Ford list the E-450 as more expensive than the entry-level F53 -- at least as they list it on Ford's website.

The E-Series chassis is more sophisticated and therefore probably more expensive to manufacture. No doubt the F53 is stronger and designed for heavier loads, but that in itself doesn't add much cost. A few hundred pounds of steel go a long ways towards making chassis rails longer. As you get bigger with F53, I expect price to go up rapidly and surpass the E-450. Bigger axles, switch from 19.5 to 22.5 tires, aluminum rims, etc. probably adds cost.

You are right though that adding size doesn't add much cost, which is probably why there are so many large motorhomes. In fact, when you go down to Class Bs (van campers) you can often expect to pay more than the cost of much larger Class As and Cs.

My personal preference would be for a small Class A (Euro style) not much larger than the largest Class Bs (just wider), but there isn't enough demand for such a motorhome in the US because of the pricing issue you raised. Plus our really cheap gasoline makes large MHs viable.
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighMobious View Post
Bought our 2016 Hurricane 31s new last July. Now 10k miles later, what we love is how easy it is to drive. Have not made any adjustments to SB, etc. Need to check that out more.
What we hate is the dealer/mfg'r approval, completion process. It takes months not days to get sh.. done. Grrr.
All in all we would do it over again. A month home and we plan where to next, cause we do love it so much.
Very Happy to hear you love your coach!!!
If you do the CHF you will love it even more, like driving a different coach only better!!!

Hope you enjoy many more safe and happy miles!!!
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:33 PM   #17
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Towjumper, many of the smaller Class A coaches have 19.5 inch wheels. The F53 chassis is less sophisticated than the 450 and 550 and I suspect less expensive to build. You may find some of the smaller Class A coaches less expensive than the Class C. Find a floor plan you like and go from there. 2018 models will be coming out soon and deals on 2017 models will probably get better if that makes a difference to you.
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Old 03-01-2017, 01:36 AM   #18
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Consider a Sprinter Based RV

Since its going to be just you and the wife, you might consider a Sprinter-based RV like the Synergy or Siesta. (Similar to Navion/View by Winnebago). Try find a place that will let you and the wife test drive the Vegas/Ace/Synergy. We were on the cusp of buying a Vegas until we drove the Synergy. The handling of the Synergy was significantly less stressful.
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Old 03-01-2017, 11:33 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puppypaws
We were on the cusp of buying a Vegas until we drove the Synergy. The handling of the Synergy was significantly less stressful.
You must have test drove a unit that was badly misaligned or something. I've found our Axis quite a pleasure to drive. Even my wife will drive it (she wouldn't go near the drivers seat when we had trailers and the 5er).
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:39 PM   #20
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Kev
Do you have the Windsport or Hurricane coming. I think you have the 50 amp and two A/c right? Very curious how it works out for you.
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