The Guide To Choosing A Motorhome
The guide to buy
For the newcomer to the motorhome industry, selecting the ‘right’ motorhome can be something of a lottery because not only is there brand choice to consider but also the type of motorhome, a generic word that includes small van pop-tops, large van conversions, four wheel drive conversion in addition to the more traditional coach built styles that can be designed for two to six people. However, there are few simple steps to reduce the lottery aspect and move towards the informed purchase decision.
THL has a selection of the above types and each has their advantages and disadvantages, split mostly between financial and practical use.
Pop-top/Hitop van conversion
Easily the winner in the budget stakes, pop-top or even high top campervans are for that reason alone, an attraction for many people. Although there are Volkswagen van conversions available, it’s often the cheaper Toyota HiAce that gets the attention. Designed very much for the Asian marketplace, the HiAce is a winner in terms of both maneuverability, the ability to fit into small parking spaces and driving economics. Prime disadvantages when compared to larger motorhome are that there is no walkthrough from the drivers’ cab (Toyota but not VW) , no ability for swivelled seats (Toyota but not VW), no onboard toilet/shower and since the dinette usually doubles as the sleeping space and the bed has to be made up every night. These are really ideal for singles and couples who are happy with budget travel and yet still want something they can drive around town.
4WD pop-top/Hitop conversions
Usually Toyota Land Cruiser-based, many potential travellers see these as great escape machines. Which they are, given the ability for both four-wheel drive travel and camping in the one vehicle. Certainly, the major asset is being a freedom machine. However, they do have slightly less room inside, like those mentioned above. Depending on how they are driven, 4WDs can be the most expensive to run of all the motorhome types listed here.
These are ideal for those who desire serious outback travel with a few home comforts.
Large van conversions
For many large van conversions, usually based on something like a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, these are a happy compromise. They are more spacious than a pop-top/hitop inside, have walk-through access to the driver’s cab, have a bathroom, yet are often small enough to fit into many car parking spaces. In addition to those features, they are relatively easy driving vehicles, not having the bulk of the larger coachbuilt motorhomes. Some layout designs incorporate swivelling cab seats which can be a space saver. Disadvantages are often having a slightly cramped layout inside, limited external storage and in quite a few designs (but not all), the bed still has to be made up every night.
These are ideal for both singles and couples who like a few motorhome comforts but don’t want a large vehicle.
Ex-rental motorhomes are often built slightly differently to those designed for the retail market, consequently, some of the comments here only apply to those. One obvious difference is that many private motorhomes are designed for two people whereas rental motorhomes are often built for six.
The usual configuration is a club style lounge in the rear, a mid dinette that folds down into bed and a third bed in the luton peak above the driver’s cab. An alternative for four, often just has the club lounge in the rear and a luton bed, although some designs now cleverly incorporate a drop down bed.
The advantage of coachbuilt motorhomes are clear – spacious inside, often with a full bathroom, sometimes with good external storage and particularly with six berth motorhomes, a choice of beds.
These are ideal for couples, grandparents, families and even singles who maybe want a dual function motorhome.