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Monday, August 2, 2010

For RV Shoppers, What we looked for in buying our Motorhome

We have a number of followers and readers to our blog (Thank You ALL for taking the time to visit!), some of whom have touched base with us saying that they are shopping for an RV.  I'd like to take a little time and tell what we wanted and why. 

The first thing we discovered is that everything is a compromise, no matter what type of RV you're looking for no one will be perfect, even if you decide to order it from the factory. 

We also decided that for us, with our traveling style, we wanted to go with an motorhome, not a trailer of a fifth wheel.  We move frequently and take several trips a year with family members giving a total passenger count of at least six people (and Zoe, our dog).  We couldn't fit that many in even a crew cab pickup truck.

We had three motorhomes previously before we bought our Journey (you can see them in our first blog post).  We knew that the Journey would be the motorhome we were going to use for our fulltime travels.  We had some strong prerequisites, must haves if you will, and some fuzzy other thoughts.

First off, we wanted a diesel pusher.  It has much higher carrying capacity, better brakes, better suspension and and engine and transmission that is built to commercial truck standards.  It is designed for long life in the hundreds of thousands of miles.  We wanted to have a chassis made by Freightliner because there are so many service outlets all over the country.  Not to say that other chassis are not good, just that we felt for ease of service and parts, no matter where we might be in the country,  that accessibility was important.

As to the diesel engine itself, we have  Cat, but would have been just as happy with a Cummins, they are both great units.  Both come with the Allison 3000 transmission which is about as bullet proof as they come.

For the body, or house manufacturer, we looked at many brands and kept coming back to Winnebago.  Winnebago also has an extensive dealer network and you also can get service and parts from an Itasca dealer because they are also made by Winnebago Industries.

We previously had a Winnebago Adventurer  and were very happy with it.  We had a few warranty problems, like all motorhomes do, and Winnebago stepped up, no questions asked, every time.  The Winnebago also comes with a fiberglass roof and has readily available wiring and plumbing diagrams on line for every model they build, as well as great customer support.  So the choice was narrowed down to stick with Winnebago.

We wanted to have a lot of basement storage.  The Journey has a lot of storage but only one small, semi pass through compartment.  It extends all the way across the chassis, but can only be accessed from one side.  This was something we had to compromise on .

Inside, we wanted a washer/dryer and we got it.  It is a Splendide all in one unit, takes small loads and can leave the clothes wrinkled if you don't remove them right away.  However, it is worth having to save on having to find a laundromat or sitting in a campground with several other folks waiting to use the one working dryer, that's a been-there-done-that experience we had.  We often put a load in the Splendide in the morning and go out for the day, when we come back the laundry is washed and dried.  We have an iron for quick wrinkle touch ups.

We wanted a queen bed and got it.  It came with the Sleep Number mattress as part of a package.  We are not fond of it, it is pretty uncomfortable, you both have to have the same number set or one  using a higher number (pressure) will roll into the lower number sleeper all night.  If you set the number too low, you have to climb out of the mattress when you get up and the last person to get into bed, no matter have carefully you ease yourself down, you bounce the other person...notice I didn't say sleeper because if they were, they're not now!  A compromise.

 We wanted the Winnebago's exclusive Rest Easy Sofa and we got that, too.  It came in leather, not our first choice because it is so slippery and cold, but it works well.  Another compromise.

Marti wanted dual slides in the living room, I thought we should have them in the bedroom.  Silly me, I found that my bonnie bride was right.  You live in the living room, you sleep in the bedroom.  So we have one slide in the bedroom, two in the living room and it's perfect.

We wanted lots of cabinet space and a dresser with drawers in the bedroom.  The Journey had it, another score.

We wanted an in-motion satellite dish, it came with an automatic stationary unit, but it was upgradable to in-motion.  We did the upgrade and love it.  When we have the grand kids with us, they can keep up on their favorite shows.  Two years ago, I drove our son Ryan and his family across country to his new duty station in Oregon, during the height of the summer tornado season.  We watched (not me while I was driving, of course) the Weather Channel and dodged around  the storms.  We turned a compromise into exactly what we wanted.

As for full body paint, it wasn't a must have on our list, but when we saw our Journey on the lot with it and in a great color scheme, we decided to go for it.  I'm glad we did, it is so easy to keep clean and looks great, no worries about white fiberglass fading and yellowing from the sun.

There you have it, what we looked for, what we got and we're very pleased with the Journey.  I hope this helps our RV researching readers in their quest for the (almost) perfect unit for them. 

Thanks for visiting and please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. We have found our "dream machine". It's the 2010 Winnebago Tour 40CD. Of course, we must wait about 3 years to buy a gently used one so we can afford it. :)
    We agree with all the things you pointed out as being important, but because we often times camp without FHU, holding tank capacities are important to us. Just another thing to think about when looking for that perfect rig.


  2. The Tour is a beauty, for sure. One exceptional feature it has that our Journey does not is the generator is on a slide out, easy to service. The Journey's genny has to be removed from the bottom.

    Not a huge issue, but we use our genny often, we boondock at Walmarts and Flying Js when we are traveling point to point. It gets hot in the South in the summertime. There is a antifreeze, radiator hoses and fanbelt replacement required at 1000 hours on the genny. We have almost 900, so next year it comes out. Going to be expen$ive. On the Tour, you slide it out and do that maintenance easily.

    Hope you find that Tour soon, you'll love it!

  3. wow!!..thanks for the great post..RV shopping 101..sounds like you both think like us!!!

  4. It's neat to read about others *have to have* lists.

    After owning multiple travel trailers, and 2 gasser motorhomes, when we looked for the current one it was this:

    1. diesel with large CCC (cargo carrying capacity)
    2. side entry door into the kitchen area (not traipsing from the front entry through the living room each time with food, dishes or dogs)
    3. real wood, not printed paper fiberboard
    4. toilet in the bathroom, not a tiny closet.
    5. king bed (steve is over 6ft tall and needs the length of a king that lacks in a queen)
    6. lots of kitchen cabinets and countertops as we cook a lot
    7. washer/dryer (I hate laundromats)
    8. big big windows all around with lots of light
    9. fiberglass roof and full body paint - no streaking or rubber roof problems
    10. big double door fridge for food and icemaker

    We got all those in our present rig and we are happy... They were all *deal breakers* for us and if it did't have it, we passed on it.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard