Last updated: 11 Jan 2022
Diesel Pusher RV and gasoline RVs are the two choices in motorhome engines. Diesel is at the high end of the food chain.
In some ways, gas motorhomes are a step below diesel. Gas units are generally less than 40′ in length. This limit is caused by the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the chassis. Until recently, this maxed out at 22,000 lbs but there are a newer 24,000 lbs gas chassis. Gas chassis are made either by the Workhorse Corporation (formerly a part of General Motors) or Ford Motor Company.
Gas RVs are less expensive to buy and maintain but have trouble climbing and descending mountainous areas and are easy to overload with cargo.
Diesel Pusher RV
The term “pusher” comes from the motor being in the back of the RV. So it “pushes” the RV along the road vs. gas motors which are front-mounted and “pull” the RV.
Advantages of Diesel Pusher RVs
- Better mileage (typically +2 mpg over gas)
- More powerful for climbing hills
- Safer for descending
- Larger CCC (cargo carrying capacity, i.e. allowance for your stuff)
- Quieter while driving (motor is in the back)
- Capacity for longer lengths (i.e. increased living space)
- Capacity for more slides (some units have 4!)
- Availability of premium units
Disadvantages of Diesel Pusher RVs
- Initial cost 25%+ more than the similar gas model
- Maintenance is more expensive (simple oil changes will be $100+)
- There are fewer diesel mechanics than gas ones
- Mechanical work is done at truck service centers (although some diesel chassis manufacturers have a few specific RV service centers)
- Diesel fuel can be more expensive (this varies, can also be cheaper at times or certain locations)
- Different summer vs. winter fuels to be concerned with
- Noisy while idling (especially noticeable in campgrounds)
- Hard to get fuel off hands and shoes (some owners wear special gloves and shoes or shoe covers while refueling)
Premium Diesel Pusher RVs
If you are seeking the largest and highest quality motorhomes, then you will be limited to diesel. Some of these premium manufacturers are Prevost, Newell, Foretravel, and Country Coach. Gas coaches max out at about 38’ long where diesel can be up to 45’. Wealthy entertainers and celebrities often choose Prevost. At a show, we toured a new Prevost with a list price of $1.8 million!
An argument can also be made that driving diesel may many times be safer, especially when traveling downhill because they tend not to be fully loaded to their weight capacity. In addition, they often have exhaust brakes, Jake brakes, and transmission retarders to assist the air brakes in keeping the motorhome at a safe speed during descent.
Gas RVs have the entrance door located more towards the center of the vehicle which causes some limitations in the design of the living room/kitchen area.
Diesel Pusher RVs have an entrance door at the front of the unit which is possible since the engine is in the rear. This frees up more room in the living room area and opens more possibilities for the arrangement of furniture, the TV, and the layout in general.