Compare and Decide: Diesel Pusher or Gas Motorhome for Class A RV?

Gas vs Diesel Motorhome: The Debate Continues

The argument about which is the better motorhome — RV gas vs diesel — is as heated as the feud between the Hatfields & McCoys or the tragic Shakespearean families, the Montagues (Romeo) & the Capulets (Juliet).  And this feud over gas vs diesel motorhome options is just about as logical as those two epic conflicts.

How Most People Decide Between RV Gas vs Diesel

While there definitely are pros and cons to weigh when choosing between a gas or diesel motorhome, the vast majority of people end up choosing based on other factors. These may not always be as logical, but perhaps that isn’t always the point. 

People Buy the RVs They Can Afford

As one commenter added on another post, “Let’s face it, people buy the RV they can afford”.  It’s that simple.  If an RV buyer can afford a travel trailer, fifth wheel, gas motorhome or a diesel pusher, then that’s most likely what they’ll purchase. People gravitate to the type of RV that fits their self image and that is often determined by their finances.

Generally speaking, diesel RVs are more expensive than gas RVs. If a buyer can easily afford a $500,000 Class A motorhome they will probably not be satisfied with a $90,000 rig.

Most Buying Decisions Are Emotional

When it comes to choosing between a gas vs diesel motorhome, there are definitely pros and cons to consider. That said, the decision to buy RV gas vs diesel or vice versa, is typically an emotional decision and the pros and cons are just the logical selling points the buyers use to justify their purchase.

large gold and black luxury rv

Living large in a class A diesel RV

RV Gas or Diesel: What is the Difference?

If you tend to use objective reasoning rather than feelings to make important buying decisions, you might be curious to learn about the pros and cons of gas vs diesel motorhome RVs. That’s what we’ll talk about here. 

Factor Diesel Motorhome Gas Motorhome
Average Purchase Cost Higher Lower
Average Lifespan 500,000 miles 200,000 miles
Average Fuel Efficiency 8-14 MPG 6-10 MPG
Average Fuel Capacity 80-120 gallons 80-90 gallon
Maintenance Costs Higher Lower
Insurance Costs Higher Lower
Resale Value Higher Lower

Diesel RVs Cost More Because You Get More

As stated above, a Class A diesel pusher motorhome will most likely cost more than its gas counterpart. 

What is a diesel pusher? These heavy-duty motorhomes have their engines in the back, making for a much quieter ride. Virtually all class A diesel motorhomes are diesel pushers. 

These beasts are typically built on a heavier chassis and have higher-end appointments and features to go along with their more expensive price tag and diesel engines have a reputation for running for 500,000 miles, something many tout as their main selling point. Another one of the biggest benefits of diesel RVs? The fuel efficiency of diesel engines.

Note: Diesel class C motorhomes are not diesel pushers, but do tend to be beefier and more expensive than their gas counterparts. 

Fuel Efficiency is an Advantage of Diesel

Diesel engines get much better mileage than gas engines. On top of that, a diesel RV will have a greater range between fuel stops. Over time, this fuel efficiency will add up to a significant savings, particularly for RVers who plan to be on the road frequently.  

Fuel Prices do Fluctuate

At this point, some of you might be thinking about the fact that diesel fuel is often more expensive than traditional gasoline. The thing is, this isn’t always the case. Fuel prices fluctuate based on time of year, where you are, and a variety of other factors (check current comparisons here). Sometimes diesel costs less than gas, and even when this is not the case, the fuel efficiency of diesel engines does usually balance things out. 

That said, we do not think one should purchase a diesel RV based on fuel efficiency alone. 

Better Fuel Efficient RV Options are Out There

If fuel efficiency is your main concern when looking at RVs, there will be even better options than the diesel motorhome in the very near future. Winnebago’s eRV2 and the Thor Vision Vehicle are both electric campervans that are likely to be released soon. 

Want something now? Lightship RV is an incredible aerodynamic travel trailer that uses electricity to propel itself, meaning those towing with a gas vehicle will not lose any MPG and those towing with an electric vehicle won’t see any range loss. 

Gas RV May Be a Better Choice in Some Instances

Diesel motorhomes are ideal for those who want a super tough option, and the aforementioned electric options are excellent for those who will cover a lot of miles and have extra money to spend. That said, spending significantly more on a diesel motorhome or a greener RV may be a waste of money for some RVers. 

If the RV will only be used intermittently there’s no way the RV will ever get close to the engine’s full potential operational range, nor will a fuel efficient vehicle be driven enough to offset the cost of the electric engine. Furthermore, diesel engines perform best when they are used constantly. If the intended use will be sporadic then a high-end gas RV might be a more logical decision.

Class C gas motorhomes come in various sizes.

Everything About Diesel RVs in More Expensive

One major downside of diesel RVs? They are more expensive to own. Not only is the purchase price higher than the purchase price of a gas RV, but all maintenance and repairs will cost more as well. 

Diesel RVs typically have larger and more expensive tires, and lube/oil changes will cost more for a diesel engine.  Additionally, DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) must be injected into the exhaust stream of all diesel engines. For every 50 gallons of fuel, you’ll need to add a gallon of DEF to the exhaust system.  

This is not a problem since most fuel stops that sell diesel fuel also sell DEF, but it is one more expense and something you must remember to do for the proper operation of your diesel RV.  

A gas engine in an RV is just like a gas engine in a car, no special additives are needed.

Driving an RV 500,000 Miles is Highly Unlikely

The major selling point is that the engine in a diesel RV has a range over 500,000 miles and is virtually indestructible. Sounds great until you stop and think about what that means.  

Let’s be realistic. The engine may have that much range but if you drove an RV 25,000 miles annually (that’s equivalent to driving 10 times coast to coast across the US), it would take 20 years to drive 500,000 miles. But most of the other systems in your RV (that makes it an RV rather than just a big empty box in which to haul freight) will probably not hold up under 20 years of continuous use. 

Even better quality higher-end appliances and systems typically installed in a diesel pusher will begin to fail over time.  The engine might still have a lot of life left in it, but the rest of the RV will start to be problematic, and even the most expensive extended warranty will not cover RV system failures for 20 years.

The Biggest Difference Between RV Gas vs Diesel is Cost

Diesel RVs are durable, well built, have plenty of power for climbing hilly terrain, are built on a heavier chassis, and come equipped with the best the industry has to offer. Additionally, diesel pushers have their power plant in the rear of the vehicle, so it’s a quieter ride for the driver and passengers up front.  

That said, all those pros come with a much higher price tag.  For some people all the benefits easily outweigh that extra cost. For others, the benefits simply don’t offset the higher price and for them the gas engine makes the most sense.

In the end, the statement at the beginning of this article still stands strong. 

“People buy the RV they can afford… then they make their case for that decision based on which pros or cons fit that narrative.”

So buy what you can afford and what suits your needs and then hit the road with confidence, knowing you made the best decision for you!

The life span of a diesel engine is a major selling feature in the gas vs diesel debate.

About Peggy Dent

Peggy Dent is an author, writer and full-time RVer, currently traveling in the US and Canada. She's driven a motorhome more than 130,000 miles and learned the secrets, delights, and pitfalls of RVing through her own experiences. She shares her knowledge and insights in numerous RV industry publications. You can contact her through her website at