Choosing the Right Motorhome
Author: Malcolm Street
For the newcomer to the motorhome industry, selecting the right motorhome can be something of a lottery with so many brands and ‘types’ of motorhomes to choose from. Here’s our 101 guide to help you make the right decision.
For the newcomer to the motorhome industry, selecting the right motorhome can be something of a lottery with so many brands and ‘types’ of motorhomes to choose from.
Here’s our 101 guide to help you make the right decision.
POP-TOP/HITOP VAN CONVERSION
Easily the winner in the budget stakes, pop-top and high top campervans, are a highly attractive option. 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 motorhomes are that there is no walk-through 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, the bed has to be made up every night. This option is, however, ideal for singles and couples who are happy with budget travel and it means you still have an ‘around town’ vehicle.
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. However, they do have the disadvantage of the HiAce pop-tops with slightly less room inside. They are primarily designed to be for a more outdoors lifestyle. Depending on how they are driven, 4WDs can also be the most expensive to run of all the motorhome types. But for those who are serious about outback travel and aren’t concerned about lacking a few home comforts, this is the model for you.
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 and a bathroom, yet are often small enough to fit into many car parking spaces. They are relatively easy driving vehicles and some layout designs also 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 has to be made up every night. This style is ideal for both singles and couples who like a few motorhome comforts, but don’t want a large vehicle.
Ex-rental motorhomes differ to those designed for the retail market, in that they are often built for six people, rather than two. 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 has the club lounge in the rear, and a luton bed, although some designs now cleverly incorporate a drop down bed, which is a great space saving idea.
There are some designs that lend themselves to converting a rear club lounge to a fixed bed. However, that does introduce a few compromises. A simpler alternative is available with six berth motorhomes, where one of the dinettes, usually the rear one, is left permanently made-up as a bed. The advantages of coachbuilt motorhomes are space. They have much more room inside, often with a full bathroom, good external storage and, particularly with six berth motorhomes, a choice of beds. This option is ideal for couples, families, grey nomads and even singles who maybe want a dual function motorhome and want to spend longer periods of time on the road.