Technology is changing every day it definitely has a growing effect on vehicles of all makes and models.
Going back to over a decade, most RVs featured manual transmission, or at least the towing vehicle for RV trailers did, but now manufacturers are leaning toward automatic.
Are RVs Manual Or Automatic?
There are RVs that are manual and others that are automatic. Stepping into the current generation of RVs, we are starting to see a peak in preference for automatic transmission RVs. More automatic RVs are being manufactured. Now more than ever before and there is a large range to choose from.
So, which RVs are still manual and which RVs have absorbed the newer approach of automatic transmission?
Are Class A RVs Manual or Automatic?
Class A RVs are very similar to luxury buses or freight liners.
There is generally a lot of weight for the engine to move and the favorable transmission for most Class A motor homes is an automatic gearbox.
Class A motor homes are built for luxury. Passengers in a Class A RV want the ultimate in comfort and the driver wants to enjoy a pleasurable driving experience too.
Automatic transmission RVs are easier to drive, especially during long distances and they hold a vehicle well on a hill-start.
This is exactly what a Class A RV driver wants; simple and easy driving.
The Top 5 Class A RVs that feature an automatic transmission in the U.S. are listed below:
1. Forest River FR3 35DS
One of the smallest Class A RVs on the market and features a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
2. Holiday Rambler Navigator
This RV has been rated the best value Class A RV. This luxury motor home features an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission to help drive the 32,400 lbs liner.
3. Fleetwood Discovery 39G
The best Class A RV to take the children away in is the Fleetwood Discovery 39G. This kid-friendly motor home also features a 6-speed automatic transmission.
4. Newmar Dutch Star
The best luxury Class A RV is the Newmar Dutch Star motor home. In the U.S. the Newmar Dutch Star is the best-selling mid-level diesel motor home. This turbo-charged RV has a 6-speed automatic transmission.
5. Thor Motor Coach Palazzo
If you are planning some seriously long stays, then the Thor Motor Coach Palazzo is one of the best choices in the Class A RV category for full-time travelers. This RV will have a happy driver with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Are Class C RVs Manual or Automatic?
Class C motor homes are a smaller version of Class A RVs, in fact, they are often called mini-motor-homes.
They also look similar to a bus and are built on either a van or truck chassis and feature an overhead cab section.
Most Class C RVs feature an automatic transmission, much like Class A. Luxury is still a priority for Class C motor homes and this includes driving ability and comfort with an automatic gearbox that makes driving a lot easier.
In 2021, Ford will be stepping up with their gas-powered motor homes and replacing their popular V10 engine with a 350-horse-power V8 that features a 6-speed transmission.
Mercedes-Benz is not too far behind as they follow suit in Ford’s steps and will be introducing 6-speed automatic gearboxes too.
The Top 5 Best Class C RVs:
These RVs all feature an Automatic Transmission:
- Winnebago View: 5-speed
- Coachmen Freelander: 6-speed
- Tiffin Wayfarer Diesel RV: 7-speed
- Coach House Platinum III: 10-speed
- Dynamax Isata 3 Series: 7-speed
Are Class B RVs Manual or Automatic?
A class B motor home is one of the smallest RVs of all three types available and is commonly called camper vans.
Most class B RVs have an automatic transmission system, especially all the newer models that are currently available and ready to be released.
These RVs are built on an automotive van chassis and most have an automatic transmission.
The most popular chassis manufacturers for camper van RVs are Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet.
These brands are popular for their automatic transmission system.
Mercedes – Benz Sprinter
A great example of Class B RVs is those built on the Mercedez-Benz Sprinter chassis, such as the Airstream Interstate Nineteen.
The 3.0-liter V6 diesel-powered engine features a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Are Fifth Wheels Manual or Automatic?
A fifth wheel RV is a type of towable trailer.
This RV needs to be towed by a large pickup truck because of the type of hitch it needs.
Technically, the fifth wheel RV itself is just a trailer and would not feature its own engine or transmission. It is the pickup truck that needs to tow the fifth wheel that will either be manual or automatic.
The favorable option for pickup trucks towing a fifth-wheel RV is an automatic transmission.
This is because vehicles that have an automatic transmission can tow heavier loads than those vehicles with a standard or manual transmission.
Towing Pickup Trucks
A Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck can tow a fifth wheel RV with ease and features both manual and automatic models.
A Ford F250 and F350 is also a large and popular pickup truck for towing a fifth-wheel RV and there are manual and automatic models available.
Are Camper Vans Manual or Automatic?
Camper vans are available in both manual and automatic transmission makes and models.
When renting a camper van most rentals on offer will be automatic.
Driving an automatic camper van is easier than a manual especially on mountain rides and off-road.
What Are the Most Popular RVs with a Manual Transmission?
When looking for any current year models of RVs, most, if not all of them have an automatic transmission for Class A, B, and C.
Older year models across many different makes and models will feature a manual gearbox.
Previously, the Cortex motor home was one of the most popular manual motor homes between the ’60s and ’70s.
Today, a popular manual motor home are those built on a Fiat chassis.
The Fiat Ducato motor home is a great example and features a six-speed manual gearbox.
Is it Better to Tow with a Manual or Automatic RV?
Each to their own when it comes to their preference of towing with an automatic or manual vehicle, however, the popular or more preferred option is to tow with an automatic vehicle.
Towing with a manual pickup truck could possibly damage the clutch because of the shifting gears.
It is also safer to tow with an automatic vehicle because the driver is not distracted by trying to find the right gear.
A lot of automatic vehicles come standard with a tow or haul mode that is preferred when towing and makes the process a lot easier.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.