By POLLY HIGGINS
Ask salesman Fred Edwards what the gas mileage of a given unit on the Beaudry RV lot is, and he’s likely to say: “Better than your house, but worse than your car.”
Point taken. If you’re in the market for a recreational vehicle, you probably shouldn’t be overly concerned about how much the gas will cost.
Forest Koenig, who travels yearly from New York to Tucson for the winter, estimates he spends $80 to $90 a day in gas when he’s on the road, driving his Ford 250 truck and pulling a 30-foot trailer. Fuel, the 73-year-old says, is his biggest expense.
The motorhomes that extend to 45-feet long – the max allowed by the federal government – can have 150-gallon tanks. But, really, what’s $300-plus every time you fill up compared with the cost of your behemoth itself, some of which can top out around $750,000?
The one with that pricetag is the Country Coach Affinity 770LX. Nationally, only 20 of the diesel motorhomes are produced a year, Edwards notes. Diesel-fueled RVs have grown from about 20 percent to 70 percent of the market in the past five years.
The 770LX also has electric-powered curtains, granite countertops, an office, a satellite dish, a 37-inch flat-screen TV, a thermostat for the floor (those ceramic tiles might be cold in the morning) and is covered in no less than 12 coats of paint.
It also has slides – pop-outs – of course.
Other popular features for top-of-the line RVs – many are standard on the 770LX – include night vision screens for the windshield, global positioning systems, hydronic heat systems (similar to home radiant heat systems) that are separate from the floor heating, and surround sound systems. And while heated seats are nice, they’re so much better with built-in massage units.
Perhaps you’d fancy a 600-horsepower engine to go with those fancy seats? Then we’re talking something like the 45-foot-long Country Coach Magna 630 that sells for about $661,000.
It might sound tough to navigate, but, Edwards assures, “It’s absolutely a dream to drive.”
The onboard computer helps, too, with all sorts of diagnostics, including tire pressure readings on the motorhome and your towed vehicle. This model has so many features, Edwards says, that it takes about four hours to show.
At less than half the price, the Country Coach Inspire 360, with a pricetag of $287,000, is quite popular.
“We sell two to three a week,” Edwards says, noting that 35 percent of Beaudry’s sales are to Arizona residents.
The Inspire is 36 feet long, has four slides, a color rearview monitor, electronic sun visors, four phone jacks, a computer table, a stainless steel double-bowl sink, an 110-gallon diesel fuel tank, an exterior patio light and . . . you get the idea.
If you just need the basics – bed, shower and microwave – maybe something like the Ford Pleasure-Way, a tricked-out van, will do. Edwards points to a 2005 model that’s listed at $74,000.
“A lot of people buy these, then leave it at their house.”
According to a recent National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds study, baby boomers (now in their early 40s to late 50s) and “matures” (people 60 and older), make up nearly 90 percent of RV owners. And, with more and more boomers reaching retirement age, “We’re experiencing a real boom,” Edwards says.
Maxine McClain, 65, started RV’ing four years ago, and has since moved from a fifth wheel-style travel trailer to a Kountry Star motorhome. She and her husband have spent the past three winters in Tucson, hauling their SUV from Nevada and benefiting from the mobility such travel affords.
“I can take my dog and my cat with me,” she says. “And flying is no fun anymore.”
RVs have various classifications, important not only in terms of what you get, but what kind of insurance you need (and how much it will cost).
Class A – box style
Class B – van style
Class C – with a front end that looks like a truck
Conventional – wheel-mounted, meant to be towed
Fifth Wheel – like the conventional, but made with a raised front section
The Country Coach Affinity 770LX is the crème de la crème of RVs. Like many RVs it has “slides” – or pop-outs that expand from each side while the vehicle is parked. Once extended, each pop-out adds 36 inches in width per side of the RV. Slides were first introduced in 1990, says Fred Edwards, a salesman with Beaudry RV.
- Polly Higgins