The Motorhome Price is Right
Want a full-size coach without paying in excess of six figures?
There are more Class A motorhome choices out there for less than $100,000 than you might think.
And while all are gas-powered and most are characterized as “entry level” in RV manufacturers’ lineups, they are not without many of the amenities you’d expect to find in more expensive motorhomes — solid-surface countertops, multiple slideouts and full-body paint.
Those are available standard on some coaches and as options on others.
Most builders of affordable motorhomes also pay attention to the storage needs of today’s RVer, borrowing from their European brethren who have been building compact coaches for years.
The under-$100,000 crowd primarily falls into the 29- to 30-foot range, although there are exceptions, such as 35-foot floorplans in the Forest River Georgetown VE and Thor Motor Coach Hurricane and Windsport. For those looking for more compact floorplans, there’s also a 26-foot Winnebago Vista and an Itasca Sunstar.
One thing they all have in common is their Ford F53 Super Duty chassis mated to a 362-hp Triton V-10 engine — the largest gas power plant available for motorhome chassis. The gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr), however, ranges from 16,000 pounds to 22,500 pounds.
Winnebago Vista/Itasca Sunstar
The Winnebago Vista and Itasca Sunstar feature two floorplans — the 26-foot Vista/Sunstar 26P built on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 16,000 pounds and the 30-foot Vista/Sunstar 30W that is mounted on the Ford platform with a gvwr of 18,000 pounds. A large wardrobe with drawers highlights the bedroom in the double-slideout Vista/Sunstar 26P, retailing from $90,745 to $90,943. Dual living room slides and a large under-bed storage area with curbside exterior access are featured in the Vista/Sunstar 30W, retailing from $96,844 to $97,202.
Forest River Georgetown VE Series
A 19.5-foot full-wall slide in a 30-foot floorplan is one of six layouts in the Forest River Georgetown VE series, which the company calls “The Elegant Alternative.” With base prices ranging from $86,300 to $91,000, Georgetown VE’s 28- to 35-foot floorplans are built on the Ford platform with a gvwr from 18,000 to 20,500 pounds. At its price, the Georgetown VE has a lot of amenities, including 77 cubic feet of pass-through storage beneath the rear bedroom. Standard features include stainless steel sinks, 32-inch LCD TVs and solid-surface countertops and sink covers.
Thor Motor Coach Hurricane/Windsport
Thor Motor Coach’s less-than-$100,000 lineup includes six 31- to 35-foot floorplans with up to three slideouts in the Hurricane/Windsport. Built on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 15,700 pounds or 18,000 pounds, the Hurricane/Windsport features one-piece fiberglass front and rear caps, automotive-style dashboard with flip-out computer tray for the passenger, rotocast plastic storage compartments, Onan Microquiet 4.0 kW gas generator, leatherette furniture and captain’s chairs, china bowl toilet, and cherry or glazed-maple cabinetry. Base price is $89,865.
Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite Class A
Two 32-foot floorplans are now available in the 2012 Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite Class A, a new low-profile aerodynamic coach built on the Ford chassis with a gvwr of 18,000 pounds. Designed with 100 cubic feet of exterior storage, the Aluma-Lite single-slide 32PBS and dual-slide 32SBD floorplans are equipped with hardwood cabinets throughout, a 32-inch LCD TV, U-shaped booth dinette, 62-inch-long convertible sofa, full-height kitchen rollout pantry and queen-size bed with large wardrobe. Base price is $95,660.
Two dramatic exterior packages and three interior décors distinguish the 2011 Monaco Riptide, two floorplans of which — the 31-foot single-slide 30PBS and 34-foot triple-slide 32SBT — fall into our under-$100,000 category. Both are assembled on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 18,000 pounds. The two floorplans are equipped standard with 5,000-pound hitch receivers and 4.0 kW generators and feature pass-through storage, a booth dinette, convertible sofa, plush carpet, hardwood cabinets and 19- and 26-inch LCD TVs. Prices start at $92,424.
Designed to sleep as many as eight travelers, the Fleetwood Storm has three 29- to 31-foot floorplans. The double-slide 32BH is equipped with two dinettes, one of which converts into a mid-coach drop-down bunk bed. All floorplans, built on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 16,000 pounds or 18,000 pounds, feature a second Hide-a-Loft queen-size bed that descends from over the cockpit. Amenities include glazed hardwood cabinet doors with hidden hinges, full basement storage and Flexsteel furniture. Base price is $82,000.
Thor Motor Coach A.C.E.
The new 29-foot A.C.E. motorhome from Thor Motor Coach is an evolutionary unit that combines aspects of Class A and C motorhomes. Built on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 16,000 pounds, the A.C.E. (an acronym for Class A & C Evolution) cockpit is more akin to Class C’s with a modest eyebrow above the windshield that houses an electric drop-down bed. With a base price of $88,853, A.C.E. has optional full-body paint and is equipped with a kibble station in the hallway for pet food, residential linoleum, and leatherette cockpit seats and convertible sofas. (For a more in-depth look at the A.C.E., see our test review.)
Forest River’s Coachmen division offers three 29- to 34-foot Mirada Class A double-slideout floorplans with base prices ranging from $95,982 to $99,995. The 34-footer is built on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 22,000 pounds — the heftiest in the under-$100,000 class — while the other Miradas have a gvwr of 20,500 pounds. Standard features include 6.5 kW generators, Corian countertops, rear- and mid-coach pass-through storage and a Dream Dinette, a gas strut-operated dinette that converts into a bed.
Considered a crossover between a Class A and C motorhome by its maker, the Fleetwood Terra, with a $99,000 base price, is available in two 31- and 34-foot double-slideout floorplans on a Ford chassis with a gvwr of 22,000 pounds. Each is equipped with Fleetwood’s Hide-a-Loft drop-down bed over the cockpit. A queen-size bed in the rear bedroom along with a convertible dinette and sofa up front create a sleeping capacity for eight adults. Standard features include hardwood cabinet doors, Corian countertops, a soft-touch ceiling and basement storage.
Thor Motor Coach Daybreak
A 27-foot-long full-wall slideout opens up the living area and bedroom considerably in Thor Motor Coach’s 35-foot Daybreak 3370 floorplan, one of four Daybreak models beneath the $100,000 threshold. Available in 29- to 35-foot lengths, the motorhomes are equipped with full basements and are built on a Ford platform with a gvwr of 18,000 pounds or 22,000 pounds. Features include Villa Comfort Fit furniture and a gas-strut-powered Dream Dinette to make conversion to a bed easier. Also, Thor recently debuted an outdoor kitchen option for the single-slide 35-foot 34SS floorplan that includes an LP-gas grill, mini-fridge and integrated stainless steel sink. Base price is $95,965.
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