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Lowmiler

Why HDT + 5er vs Class A + Toad?

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I posted this same question on another RV forum and they directed me here to get the scoop. I'm currently a 17k GVWR 5er with a 1 ton pickup, and maybe someday doing the full time gig:

 

Just curious why the 22k+ GVWR  class of 5er exists?

When you get to that weight of a 5er, a 1 ton is being pushed to its limit and you start seeing Heavy Duty cabs towing them with
on-board Smart Cars (as you guys here know).

What is the allure of that size of 5er over a
full feature Class A?

Combined price would be about the same, comparing new to new or used to used.

Square footage about the same.

But dealing with the toad has to be a ton easier with the Class A, as well as the ability to have a larger toad (can't load up a Jeep on the back of an HD cab).

I love doing online tours of these Luxe, DRV, New Horizons, and Landmark 5ers, but since they really are pushing the capability of a pickup, I wonder in what areas these trailers really have an advantage over a
full feature Class A setup? 

 

Thanks for any insight,

Todd

Edited by Lowmiler

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Your price comparisons are a bit off.  If you stick to the lower end Class A diesel pushers, then you are correct the pricing would be about the same, but still usually cheaper for the HDT/5er.  If you do an apples to apples comparison then the 5er and HDT will pretty much always be cheaper.  I just bought a brand new DRV 42 foot fiver loaded to the gills with optional and custom equipment.  I am into is for under $130,000.  I bought a used HDT with a number of customization's done to it for under $50,000.  I would be hard pressed to find a new diesel pusher equipped as well as my rig in the $180,000 price range.

When looking at a custom built New Horizons or Spacecraft and comparing that to a comparably equipped diesel pusher, you are into the $400,000 and up costs (usually) for the diesel pusher (and these are the middle of the road upper end diesel pushers - they can be a lot more expensive than this).  You could buy a brand new custom 5er and a brand new HDT and still be under $400,000.  You could be under $300,000 for a high end non custom 5er and brand new HDT.  When you really look at what you get for the money, the HDT/5er usually wins - especially when you buy a gently used HDT.  This isn't always the case, but it usually is.  Also, the 5ers tend to be more "homey" feeling than a diesel pusher (this is an opinion, but it is one I hear expressed over and over again).  

It really comes down to personal preference.  I like the big diesel pushers and what they offer, but I prefer the living space of a large 5er over a diesel pusher.  I agree the really big custom 5ers push or exceed the limits of a pickup, but there are good tow vehicle options out there that can handle them quite easily.

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18 minutes ago, Lowmiler said:


But dealing with the toad has to be a ton easier with the Class A, as well as the ability to have a larger toad (can't load up a Jeep on the back of an HD cab).

This is incorrect.  There are several members on this forum that do just this.  I personally prefer to keep my HDT wheel base short, so I just tow my jeep behind my 5th wheel.

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OK, so what you are saying is that it is price that pushes people to the HDT/5er combo. Nothing to do with functionality (other than maybe the more homey feeling)?

 

9 minutes ago, Chad Heiser said:

This is incorrect.  There are several members on this forum that do just this.  I personally prefer to keep my HDT wheel base short, so I just tow my jeep behind my 5th wheel.

In a tandem config? Obviously that is a state by state consideration regarding legality...

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I like the lay-out of a 5er over a MH any day. In MY opinion the inside of a MH looks and feels like a bus. There is no steering wheel, drivers compartment, etc inside my 5er. 

Also, If my truck needs to go to the shop, I can live in the trailer for as long as I need to. If, for some reason, the trailer needs to go to the shop, I can stay a few nights in the campground using the truck. With a MH, whether house or mechanical, an over night stay in the shop puts you in a hotel unless you find someplace kind enough to let you sleep in it while they work on it. 

Just curious why the 22k+ GVWR  class of 5er exists?

Why does a $500,000 to a $1,000,000 class of MH exist? 

Overall I am not sure I understand the reason for your question. It is like that old Ford vs Chevy question. Ultimately it boils down to one thing....what do YOU want (or what does the wife say you want). 

Edited by Big5er

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1 minute ago, Lowmiler said:

OK, so what you are saying is that it is price that pushes people to the HDT/5er combo. Nothing to do with functionality (other than maybe the more homey feeling)?

 

In a tandem config? Obviously that is a state by state consideration regarding legality...

While I think price is a consideration, I don't know if it is the deciding factor.  It is just one of many factors that people use to make their decision.  I pointed it out above because I think a lot of people unfamiliar with HDT's think they cost a lot more than they actually do.  A new HDT is going to push over the $100,000 mark for sure, but that truck will outlast its owner in RV service.  A nice used HDT can easily be had for less than the cost of a new dually and an older, good condition HDT can usually be found for less than a used dually. 

For me personally, the decision was based on the more home like feel of a 5er vs a diesel pusher than price.  My wife has asked about DP's several times, then we go to shows and spend some time in them and she always comes back to the 5er.  The taller ceiling heights always (in our opinion) make the 5er feel more like home.  We are not full timers (and in fact still work full time) so we do not spend nearly as much time in our rig as others do.  Even still, we really like the more "open" concept of most 5ers vs diesel pushers (again personal opinion).  There is also usually more counter space in a large 5er vs a diesel pusher.  This adds to the more home like feel for us and not having the cockpit in your living space also adds to that feeling of home (again a personal opinion).

 

As to double towing vs hauling the jeep on the truck, you are correct, there are some states that do not allow double towing.  Because we do not full time, this has not been an issue for us.  All of the states we visit currently allow double towing.

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51 minutes ago, Lowmiler said:

I posted this same question on another RV forum and they directed me here to get the scoop. I'm currently a 17k GVWR 5er with a 1 ton pickup, and maybe someday doing the full time gig:

 

Just curious why the 22k+ GVWR  class of 5er exists?

When you get to that weight of a 5er, a 1 ton is being pushed to its limit and you start seeing Heavy Duty cabs towing them with
on-board Smart Cars (as you guys here know).

What is the allure of that size of 5er over a
full feature Class A?

Combined price would be about the same, comparing new to new or used to used.

Square footage about the same.

But dealing with the toad has to be a ton easier with the Class A, as well as the ability to have a larger toad (can't load up a Jeep on the back of an HD cab).

I love doing online tours of these Luxe, DRV, New Horizons, and Landmark 5ers, but since they really are pushing the capability of a pickup, I wonder in what areas these trailers really have an advantage over a
full feature Class A setup? 

 

Thanks for any insight,

Todd

Hello Todd,

I would like to welcome you to the forum. Please keep asking all the questions you want. I believe the HDT group will be more than willing to answer your questions. There has been some folks from their HDT group move to a motor home. I hope they see this thread and make a comment or too.

Welcome,
Al

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28 minutes ago, Lowmiler said:

OK, so what you are saying is that it is price that pushes people to the HDT/5er combo.

I won't address the "new" price side, but here's how our rig stacks up:  $19k for the truck, + roughly $5k in the bed and other mods for a total of $24k.  Just under $40k for the toyhauler, rated at 21,000#.  Total of about $64k. And we can take a car and two motorcycles, without towing anything besides the 5er.

I've been to the Cummins shop in Anchorage, and talked to the owner of a NEW diesel pusher MH, who'd already been "camped" there for a week, and the parts were still in transit.

I've also had the brake controller fail, and was able to safely continue, because my truck had enough brakes, and weight, to go on, but a bit slower.  Likewise when road debris took out the wires to the brakes in Alaska, and when the cord came unplugged.

That said, a rig like ours isn't for everyone.  It's long, and a bit of a pain to get through the Starbucks.  But, I don't have to stop for fuel very often, so much less hassle there.

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I read another view point about the HDT/5er combo compared to Class A, and I concur with this assessment.

The driver of most Class As are right in the target zone if involved in an accident that includes any front end impact.  With an HDT, most drivers are set back and thus more protected from the impact zone.

I would rather be farther back, so the HDT route is the one for me. 

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A class A is almost always NOT passenger rated ,that is to say never been crash tested or designed for any kind of impact with the exception of Prevost and bluebird  both are passenger rated.The rest are your garden shed with a swirly paint job ,lay it down at speed and it will come apart spreading all your possessions across and along the interstate.

These trucks are all 'passenger rated and test to prove it ,in fact Volvo braggs on the fact their A pillar can withstand double the standard weight which is 5 tons.The engine drops away in a frontal the frame is notched so it will fold up in a predicable manner the air bag will find you in the proper place ...... all tested .

No class A builder can afford to crash a 1/2 dozen or so 'testers' so - garden shed  2X2 construction and pray.

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48 minutes ago, hone eagle said:

No class A builder can afford to crash a 1/2 dozen or so 'testers' so - garden shed  2X2 construction and pray.

Golly Ralf, you stated that so eloquently.:)

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As Phil mentioned a 5er layout is generally better for full time living, particularly kitchen space.    The Class A may have about the same space likely less and, the drivers area is not well used IMHO.      Perhaps IF you travel daily or every other day a Class A has the advantage of quicker set up and break camp.     The livability seems much better in a 5er, I can't say for certain, never "lived in" a Class A.   

 

Cost as mentioned is anther factor or perception.     The really high end Class A rigs are nearly twice the cost new apples to apples.    A new truck at 125-150 RV ready and custom 5er at 175-250 is still about half the "selling price" of a custom Class A.     The MH is also much more limited in what floor plans and where you place things.     Floor length of usable space is generally much shorter and, slides are not as deep.     Total cost of operation is another consideration, a truck can be serviced in tens of thousands of shops all over, with price competitive parts.    Class A rigs are far more complex to service with many proprietary or boutique parts.     Not to mention the limited service locations that want the work.     I wouldn't want to tie up a bay or two in my shop with a bus waiting on parts.

 

A lot of high end Class A owners seem to look down on the trailer trash hauling 5ers,  I guess when you spend twice as much you want to feel superior.     Trailers have has a stigma about them, it may be lessening but, it is still there.   The top line 5ers are finished to much higher standard than an inexpensive week-end trailer, that has closed the gap.     There is still a perception of corrugated tin sheds on wheels.

 

All things considered there are pluses and minuses with each type of RV, personally a 5er and truck have the fewest detraction.     The HDT/MDT 5er segment of RVing is tiny but, the growth rate is impressive, that speaks volumes.

 

Steve   

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From someone with the best perspective.

For 10 years, we towed a 40' Travel Supreme with a Volvo tractor full-timing.  Without the space of the fifth-wheel we may not have lasted 10 years  There is 6' of  motorhome that is useless to living area.

We did a lot of shopping when we made our decision in 2005 and it came down to that a motorhome, with the same fit and finish as the fifth-wheel would be about $100,000 more for a motorhome than the fifth-wheel and the HDT truck.

We towed a car, first a Grand Cherokee and then Equinoxes behind the trailer in 30 states of the country with the fifth-wheel.  We still tow the Equinox behind the motorhome.

We still have the fifth-wheel trailer as our winter home but now we are doing summer travel in a 34' motorhome.  What is easier with the shorter motorhome is that it is easier to find campgrounds with big enough sites.  That had restrained us from touring New England.  It would no have been impossible with the fifth-wheel, just harder.

We could not survive full-timing in the 34' motorhome but it is big enough for the summer.

If we could have only one RV, it would be the fifth-wheel with a HDT tow vehicle.

 

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Now ya'll hold on a minute. I don't think the galvanized metal siding on our 5'er looks so bad, and it'll be way better oncet we get the rattle can paint job on it. Personally, I guess I could learn to like a Bus if'n we could get a pin setter and and an alley or two installed.

In the mean time, after we get back from the gedunk store in the Smart buggy, I think we'll unload the motorcycles and head out for a nice ride. 

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2 hours ago, Mark and Dale Bruss said:

We could not survive full-timing in the 34' motorhome but it is big enough for the summer.

If we could have only one RV, it would be the fifth-wheel with a HDT tow vehicle.

Mark, I've not seen anyone spell it out, but I have heard that fivers 'generally' are considered to have more storage space.  I have never owned one so as one who is backslid... I mean lives in both, what is your opinion?   The question might be too broad without a length of 6 cylinder engines discussion.

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7 hours ago, Lowmiler said:

OK, so what you are saying is that it is price that pushes people to the HDT/5er combo. Nothing to do with functionality (other than maybe the more homey feeling)?

 

In a tandem config? Obviously that is a state by state consideration regarding legality...

There are many reasons why one is preferred over another. A couple that are our reasons:

1) with a class A and a toad, once you are serious up in a campsite you only have one vehicle to run around with but with a fifth wheel and an HDT, you can carry a smart car and have the HDT to drive around.

2) we agree with Phil, if the motor home has to go into a shop, you are in a hotel. 

3) we need a way to haul our show vehicle around. We can have a large toyhauler to carry our show vehicle, carry a smart, and still have a fair size living quarters. With a Class A, we would have to have a large trailer and a large Class A to pull it and then no other car to run around with.

Dave

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Often said and Its true you can set up the class A in a rain storm with out going out. What I don't understand how the Class A folks disconnected there Toad to get into there site without getting wet.

Then my wife is very happy with the FW kitchen but could only cook in the Class A only if I was the gofer for running to the basement storage for cooking needs. We compared our kitchen 40 foot FW storage with a 44 foot Mid line Class A. I don't remember the In-Coach square foot measurements but the FW had nearly 3 times the space.of the Class A.

Clay

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39 minutes ago, Sculptor said:

Mark, I've not seen anyone spell it out, but I have heard that fivers 'generally' are considered to have more storage space.  I have never owned one so as one who is backslid... I mean lives in both, what is your opinion?   The question might be too broad without a length of 6 cylinder engines discussion.

Well I had to cut back on my stuff that I carried in the Volvo which was a lot with my storage boxes, headache rack, side storage compartments, and the storage space I had under the passenger side of the cab.  Not just volume-metric but weight wise also.

A diesel pusher motorhome has a lot of under storage space.  Enough to exceed the GCWR.  Our Bounder has a lot less because of the driveshaft not allowing full pass-thru compartments but we do have some pass-thru spaces, about Roughtneck 10 gallon high.  But we have to watch the GVWR.  We have more space that weight capability.

A fifth-wheel has a huge storage space in one chunk.  Sometime more smaller spaces.  Using tubs, you can really maximize what you carry.  Probably enough to exceed the GCWR.

Because of the lack of a driver space, the front of the fifth-wheel trailer provides a lot more clothes storage.

Net, net, we had to leave a lot behind with the trailer when we travel with the motorhome.  Mostly my stuff.

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Something else that works out pretty good for those of us that have our HDT equipped as an RV is the ability to just use just the HDT for shorter trips. Our family uses our HDT “ camper” lots of weekends chasing my son’s travel baseball team around the Southwest. The HDT makes the longer drives more pleasurable and we can camp out at Wally World  while enjoying some fine baseball!

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17 hours ago, Chad Heiser said:

A nice used HDT can easily be had for less than the cost of a new dually and an older, good condition HDT can usually be found for less than a used dually. 

I was a GM guy my whole life.  I tend to keep them, not trade in for new.  In 1985 I ordered a new Suburban.  By 1994 the floor was soft and the back door was unusable because of the rust.  Engine ran fine.  Later I bought a slightly used 01 GMC pickup.  The body rust got bad over 16 or so years, but the American Axle drive components were the worlds worst.  I didn't own a trailer for the first few years, but rebuilt the differential at about 50k miles.  At least 5 sets of brakes including rotors all around. Replaced the whole rear axle and all brake lines about 3 or 4 years ago.  It had about 165k miles when I sold it last year.  The engine ran fine.  The transmission never had any trouble.

I swore off pickups.  I mentally paired a long lasting diesel engine with the above and decided there must be a better way!

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As for the question of which is better, the answer is the one that works best for your lifestyle.

We did 12 years in 5th wheels, 7 pulling with an HDT.  9 months ago we sold the HDT/5th and purchased a Diesel Pusher.  There are +/- to both setups.  In the end, it is our current lifestyle and the way we are currently traveling that make the DP a better choice for us.  We miss our HDT but absolutely love our DP and do not regret making the switch.

When trying to compare the difference between the two different setups, make sure you are doing an Apple to Apple comparison.  For example, in my case I purchased a brand new motorhome.  If we purchased a new 5th wheel, odds are we would not have purchased a new truck (nothing at all wrong with our old HDT), so it would have been much cheaper to purchase a new 5th wheel.  But because we purchased new MH everything was new, including the drivetrain.  So to purchase a new 5th wheel and HDT (for a Apple to Apple comparison) that would be equivalent to the MH purchase and would have put us in the same ballpark financially in the end.

GVW/GCVW has to be looked at and closely watched regardless of which setup you decide on.  In Mark's case he downsized so keeping all his stuff and keeping within his weight limits is now more challenging but he is now able to get into places he was previously unable to with his now shorter length.  I on the other hand went from a 40' 5th wheel to a 45' DP with a tag axle.  My GVWR is 49k.  At the rally, I weighed in @ just under 43k.  So I can carry more junk (as long as I distribute it correctly, I am currently at the limit for my front axle but I also have my tools and other heavy stuff towards the front that could be moved to the rear).  I also now have a much longer wheel base and no longer bend in the middle.  So getting into some of the same places are now more difficult than it was previously.

Unless you are willing to pull doubles or have another driver follow with the toad, I do think the MH gives you more choices and flexibility over the HDT.  Our HDT was setup for carrying a Jeep Wrangler.  So we were limited to the Jeep or something smaller for a toad (so not many options).  With a Smart car deck you are basically limited to just a Smart car.  With the MH we can take the Jeep or the P/U.  Witch ever is best for our needs for the trip we are making.  Of course a 5th wheel toy hauler opens up the toad possibilities but a car that is parked in the living room is not an option (at least that is what I am told) around here.

So like I said, the best one is one that fits your lifestyle.

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3 hours ago, RickW said:

So like I said, the best one is one that fits your lifestyle.

 

Interesting. So since you've done both, what changed in your lifestyle that made the 5er better in the past and the MH better now?

 

Thanks to everyone who has chimed in on this thread, it has been very enlightening to me.

Todd

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I will be a little different here. We fulltime in a 45' DP, carry a GL1800 Wing on a Hydralift and tow a 4 door Rubicon. We are tossing around the idea of moving from this set up to an HDT and fiver, so we are looking opposite from what most are.

I can easily say that 2/3 of the comments on here about quality, price, crash rating, ect are simply not correct. Our coach is a 2007 American Coach Eagle that we have upgraded and made total elect. New it was $500K+, it is a top shelf coach and A+ quality. The ONLY fiver quality that might come close would be Spacecraft or maybe New Horizons, neither of which come close to the cost of a top shelf A class when speaking apples to apples (new). Now my coach can be bought in the $150-$190 range and you still have a top end coach, but it is 10 years old. A 10 year old fiver won't cost you half of that and a used (good) HDT can be had very reasonable if you look. So on a price and quality comparison, the HDT and fiver should win hands down on price, but still fall short on quality, again apples to apples.

As for crash test, you are equating the A class to the tractor and yes you are correct. The tractor will win everytime. However making the statement the the coach sliding down the road and stewing your belongings while the tractor keeps things safe is ridiculous. You need to compare the sliding coach to the sliding fiver. As a passenger your ability to be safer in a HDT is 100% correct, but you are referring to your belongings and the fiver aint gonna hold up, probably not even not as good as the coach.

Living space....granted a fiver "feels" more like a home, I completely agree, but a 45' coach with a super slide or 4 slides like ours has tons of room. We don't lose 6' of living space because of the "cab" area.....you spin the driver passenger seats and you have two more seats, one being a recliner to the living room, so we lose about 3'.

Breaking down and being in a hotel, yep the HDT and fiver have that one....BUT in three years of full timing we have had to be in a hotel two nights. 99% of the time you can live in your coach while it is being worked on (at least spending the night in it) and most places will gladly throw you an outlet so you can at least plug in 110 if you need, but if not you have a genset. Granted if you break an engine hard, then you will be looking for a home.

Yes an HDT can be used as your run around vehicle.....UNLESS you have is set up to haul anything other than a Smart. In our case we would have to have a 20' bed to haul our JKU and it would have to have front wheels in the air to have room. So you take that 20' bed on that HDT and you then had a 35'+ long vehicle, not very practical for going to the store for groceries or out to eat.

You say an A class only has one vehicle, we haul a Goldwing so I consider us having two vehicles, bike and jeep. A class give you the ability to tow about any type of vehicle.

Yes I can set up in the rain and never go outside.....EXCEPT we would be on a generator because I have never seen anything with self deploying electrical connection. As far as how do I unhook my toad without getting wet.......we don't. When we tell the CG our length they tend to put us in a pull through. BUT even if we are not I can have the jeep unhooked in less than 1 minute.

Sorry this is long, just trying to address some things.

Remember, we ARE considering strongly to sell our coach and go to an HDT+fiver, so I am NOT bashing the HDT family, hell we are thinking of becoming one.....so this is not about us versus you. (oh yea,) there are some coach and bus owners that think their shitz don't stink....but it aint because of what they are driving, it is because that is what they are in everyday life. Those types can be found everywhere, including in an HDT.

What are we gonna do, I honestly don't know. We are looking at reducing overall cost and the HDT and fiver would be a big reduction. Our sticking point has to do with hauling our Jeep and bike and as fulltimers we travel all over and really don't want to face the double tow issues, but we might as I, for some reason, really want an HDT and fiver....

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