During our recent trip the the USA and Canada, Kylie and I were naturally interested in the RV scene over there. Driving across the US along Route 66, we got to see what the Americans consider a true RV to be and we were totally amazed. They do things very differently to us here in Australia. Without doubt the majority are travelling in huge 5th wheelers and motorhomes. We were anxious to get a closer look.
It wasn’t until we reached Canada and visited friends in Red Deer that we got the chance to experience these beasts close up.
We went to Freeway RV in Lacombe Canada, one of many large RV stores. They sell both new and used RVs and specialise in 5th wheelers and caravans. Our jaws dropped when we looked at what was available.
This particular unit is about as big as it gets. It includes 2 level living space, a toy hauler section as well as a self-contained fold out outdoor patio. The lounge boasts a wide screen TV as well as an electronic ‘fireplace’. The fridge was a 4 door model, twice the size of anything we see here in Australian RVs.
The décor is not exactly to our tastes, being seemingly very dark and almost like an old mansion. But they are extremely comfortable and you could certainly live full time in one without any problems at all.
To tow one of these, you would need a very big pick-up truck, which, in the US and Canada, there is a huge selection of suitable trucks available on the market. Many make the Toyota Landcruiser look diminutive…!
As for costs, well this huge 5th wheeler would sell for about $70,000 USD. A suitable towing vehicle might be about $50,000 USD. That may seem like an absolute bargain, but when you have a real close look, you can see they have taken some shortcuts in the construction of these behemoths.
For a start, they do not take these vehicles on the sort of terrain we would in Australia. Their interstate expressways are huge and very smooth. You can literally cross the country from one side to the other along a 5 lane freeway and barely feel a bump. These RVs would last a fair while in the US but wouldn’t last 5 minutes on a typical Australian highway. The chassis are not extremely strong nor are they galvanised and the suspension is very, very basic.
That said, the second hand market for RVs over there is just as big. It seems Americans and Canadians do not hold onto their RVs for as long as we do. They turn them over reasonably quickly. The yards are bursting with second hand RVs that look, from the outside at least, to be next to new. Closer inspection reveals rust in the chassis, worn interiors and that musty smell of encroaching dampness. Not a good sign.
All in all it was very interesting to get a close up look at these huge 5th wheelers.