With all the planning and research logged these past few months, we thought it prudent to make certain we aren’t getting too far ahead of ourselves. After all, what if we absolutely hate driving a big, clunky, box shaped RV? What if it’s so big that driving becomes an unwelcome task? Well, to answer these questions and ensure RVing is right for us, we’re taking a couple of these ginormous beasts for a short trip over the mountains and through the woods (but not to Grandmother’s house just yet).
We were really nervous about driving a Class A motorhome. Some of the RV’s are so stinkin’ huge that Jesse wondered if he’d even squeeze it out of the parking lot or, oh my, a fuel station? To ensure the most accurate road test, we needed as many rearends and eyeballs as possible. Luck would have it that Jenny’s dad Barrie was visiting this same week, so we enlisted his rearend and eyeballs for the testing crew. Jim, the salesman we’d previously spent time with had several other customers competing for his attention, so Adrian took the reigns and helped us get some big wheels turning. In hindsight, we should’ve scheduled our visit with the RV dealership so they could prepare the RV’s and ensure adequate salespersons were available. Nonetheless, Camping World worked it out and got us on the road.
If you decide to take a test drive yourself make sure to bring your driver’s license and proof of current insurance. As soon as they made copies of Jesse’s credentials, Camping World staff began prepping one of their nicest RV’s from the showroom floor! We were super excited to learn this first motorhome we’d be test driving was a new 35′ Thor Tuscany XTE. With a MSRP around $300,000, you could say it’s “slightly” more than we plan to spend. But you gotta give those sales people credit, why not dangle that juicy treat in our face? We may never know why they chose to give us one of their nicest motorhomes for the first test drive, but if we were to guess, it could be that it was a 2016 model and with 2017’s needing a place to park they really wanted it sold.
We knew that we wanted to drive a 40′ 2008 Discovery seen during our first visit, and we were stoked because driving this new 35′ motorhome would accomplish 2 things for us; give us a feel for the handling of a 35′ RV compared to 40′, AND give us a feel for the differences between 2008 and 2016 coaches. Before anyone jumps in to comment about comparing apples to oranges, we are aware that there are likely MANY more variables between these coaches than simply length and year. While we don’t know enough yet to tell you what’s different between a Freightliner chassis and a Spartan chassis nor a Cummins diesel vs. a Caterpillar diesel, we can say that it’s extremely difficult to find two motorhomes that only differ by a couple features. Therein lies the difficulty of comparing one motorhome to another, and learning which best suits our particular needs. Since we’d like to purchase an RV this year, we’ll continue to learn as much as our free time allows but accept that some parts of a motorhome are P.F.M. (pure freakin’ magic)
When we finally got the 35′ Thor Tuscany XTE onto the road our anxiety meters were peaking. But you know what? It wasn’t that hard! We aren’t going to lie and say it’s as easy as driving a Mini Cooper, but it WAS surprisingly easier than anticipated. Perhaps the best analogy would be to put your arms straight out and walk around. As long as you walk carefully and take your time, you’ll navigate just fine (you probably shouldn’t try this in public though). The same principles applied to RV driving; remember you’re really big, drive carefully, and take your time. Now I know why all those old people driving motorhomes back in FL poked around so slowly. It’s not because they knew I needed to get to work or because they had all the time in the world to reach their destination (although I did see a couple old guys chuckle as I hurried by on my way) it simply was how you drive an RV. Just swing your big ol’ rig through the intersection and motor on.
Very quickly we felt comfortable cruising down the Interstate and narrow mountain roads. With our air bag suspension found in most diesel pushers, we floated down the road with a ride quality substantially more comfortable than either of our current vehicles. In fact, I’ll probably just leave the truck at home this summer and drive whichever beast we buy to work and back. Sure coworkers would complain I’m taking up 20 parking spots, but if I get to work early I could watch TV from the couch while waiting for a fresh coffee to percolate. Haha.
The next surprise was the additional 5′ of the 40′ Discovery didn’t make a noticeable difference while driving up and down the road. I believe we’d most notice the additional 5′ in those small parking lots where RV’s probably shouldn’t be in the first place. Since we plan to live in our RV at some point, we feel the extra room would be welcome. So that means we’re on track to continue seeking a 38′-40′ diesel RV, but we’ll have to make sure we plan our route and try not to squeeze into places we shouldn’t be. We probably won’t look at any monstrous 45′ RV’s simply because we plan to tow a vehicle behind us. Most states limit total length to 65′, and a few states as little as 55′. With a 40′ RV, 19′ pickup truck, and foot or two of connections I think we should be close enough to avoid scrutiny and reach our planned destinations. Worst case, Jenny can drive the RV and I’ll follow behind in the truck.
Thanks for checking our website out and please leave any thoughts or comments below. We’d love to hear about your experience or any tips you could add to help educate others considering an RV!