What’s Better: Gas or Diesel Motorhome, Campervan or RV?

gas vs diesel motorhome

Deciding between a diesel vs. a gas-powered recreational vehicle can be a tough decision

Deciding between a diesel vs. a gas-powered motorhome, campervan or RV can be a tough decision. For those who are new to the RV and vanlife world, you may be wondering what’s the difference between gas vs. diesel, as well as what the advantages and disadvantages are of these engine types.

To answer these questions, first you’ll need to understand what’s most important to you in owning a recreational vehicle. Start by considering these six factors:

  • Price. Is the price of the vehicle an important factor? (Is your budget limited?)
  • Resale. Are you hoping to resell the vehicle down the road?
  • Efficiency. How important is fuel economy to you?
  • Maintenance. Would you prefer to have longer maintenance intervals?
  • Power. What kind of engine power will you need?
  • Comfort. Is luxury and comfort a necessity in your next vehicle?

The answers to these questions, along with what you determine your priorities are, will help you discern more clearly what type of motorhome will fit your needs best. Let’s breakdown these questions and factors in more detail below.


The price of a motorhome, campervan or RV depends on numerous factors. For starters, think about how often you plan on using your vehicle and the size of your budget.

If you’re a first-time motorhome buyer and want to explore what it’s like owning your own recreational vehicle, a gas-powered campervan or motorcoach will generally be less expensive than diesel. However, like any other vehicle on the market, there’s always a spectrum of cost/value. But generally speaking, a higher end gas vehicle may be comparable in price to a lower end diesel vehicle.

If you plan on becoming a full-time road warrior, on the other hand, you may want to spend some extra cash upfront on a diesel luxury coach. As a cost comparison, a high-end Class A gas-powered RV can cost around $130K, whereas a similar diesel engine Class A will be more like $190K.

Winner: Gas


For some folks, purchasing a vehicle that maintains a strong resale price will tip the scales when making a purchase decision. Typically, diesel engine vehicles yield a greater return when it comes to reselling it or trading it in for a newer model. You may pay more upfront; however, you’re likely to come out even in the end.

Winner: Diesel

Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency is usually on the top of everyone’s list when it comes to selecting a vehicle. Motorhomes have much larger tanks, and therefore consuming more fuel. If maximizing your gas mileage is a top priority for you, then you should know that a diesel engine will win every time — even though diesel is often more expensive per gallon than regular gas.

Another interesting difference between regular gas and diesel vehicles is the amount of time it takes to fill up the tank. A gas tank will take about 8 minutes or so to completely fill on average (depending on the station). A diesel tank, on the other hand, will only take about 2 minutes on average.

One downside of diesel is that it’s not always easy to find. Diesel isn’t offered at every station, so you may occasionally run into a situation where you have to travel to find a diesel pump.

Winner: Diesel


Comparing the cost of maintaining your gas powered vehicle vs. a diesel is a tricky one.

Proponents of gas-powered vehicles might point out that the hourly rates one would pay an RV tech is less when they are working with a gas-powered vehicle. Plus, diesel parts tend to be more costly. They also might point out that an oil change in a diesel vehicle is always going to be more expensive since diesel engines require 3 times as much oil as a gas powered vehicle.

However, diesel diehards would argue that because diesel vehicles can typically store larger quantities of oil in their tank, the frequency of having it changes is far less. Also, they might say that the engines of gas-powered motorhomes have to work harder than diesel-powered motorhomes, usually leading to more repairs in the long run.

Winner: Undecided


Unlike the issue of maintenance, this factor has a clear winner. Since a diesel engine doesn’t have to work as hard as a gas powered engine, the overall power is going to be much greater in diesel motorhomes, campervans and RVs. A diesel engine will also typically last longer than a gas powered one. Seasoned RV pro’s know that you’ll really feel the difference in power when you travel at an incline or up in the mountains.

Winner: Diesel

Luxury and Comfort

If your main concern is luxury and comfort, you will likely be able to find this in both gas and diesel-powered vehicles. Motorhomes and RVs come in a wide range, from basic shells to luxury spaces on wheels equipped with the latest equipment. If you do your research, you can find plenty of gas and diesel motorhomes that provide incredible amenities.

Winner: Both


So which is right for you — gas or diesel? The answer depends on how you weight the importance of each of the factors we discussed above. For instance, if price point and comfort are top concerns for you, then perhaps you should consider a gas-powered motorhome, campervan or RV. If, on the other hand, you’re willing to pay a little more upfront to get a vehicle with a high resale value and better gas mileage, a diesel may be your best bet.
Searching for your next new or used campervan, motorhome or RV? Classic Vans is Northern California’s premier dealer or Class B motorhomes, conversion vans and other travel vehicles for sale — with a great selection of both diesel and gas-powered vehicles. For over 30 years, we’ve been family-owned and operated. We have generations of experience helping our customers find the vehicle of their dreams.

Contact us to find your perfect van or motorhome today!

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