Hi Everyone – I’m going to briefly touch on the end of our cross country trip, however the biggest focus of this post will be RV Mileage for our Ford 6.8L V-10 powered Class C/B+ RV.

While we were RV shopping we did a significant amount of research into RV fuel economy and the numbers we found were all over the board. This is for many reasons, but the most significant are:

  1. Ford makes more than one version of their Modular 6.8L V-10 engine. They make a 2-valve version (in most Class C RVs including ours) that makes 305hp and 420lb-ft of torque (it’s the torque that matters fyi), and a 3-valve version that makes 362hp and 457lb-ft of torque.
  2. RVs with the same engine can weigh significantly different amounts. Our RV is 32′ long and weighs 14,500 pounds as measured on a CAT scale, plus our tow car weighs around 3,000 pounds. I’ve seen shorter RVs that weigh 10,000 pounds with the same engine – and Class A RV that weigh over 20,000 pounds (these usually have the 3-valve).
  3. If you’re towing vs. if you’re not. What you’re towing also matters. Our Honda Fit weighs about 2,600 pounds plus whatever we put in it. A 4-door Jeep Wrangler (a popular tow rig) is closer to 4,000 pounds and has more rolling resistance due to fatter tires. If you’re not towing anything that will help your MPG of course.
  4. Where you live and where you drive your RV. If you’re in Colorado and spend a lot of time in the mountains you’ll get worse mileage than if you live and RV somewhere flat.
  5. Driving style and speed. This makes a huge difference, although many RVers will debate me on this point. The truth is when you drive something with the aerodynamics of a brick, every mile per hour over 55 you drive hurts your MPG, and if you’re driving over 65 it’s going to really suffer. There’s no escaping the effects of wind resistance in an RV!

All that said, the estimates we found ranged from 6.5mpg to around 10mpg, and if I only include verified estimates – as in people who filled the tank and calculated their mileage by hand – I haven’t seen anyone report over 9.5mpg.

Of course RV Dealers will never quote you less than 10mpg, or at least the RV dealers we talked to all said “figure you’ll get about 10mpg”. I’m not trying to throw them under the bus (well maybe a little), but there’s a huge difference between 6.5mpg and 10mpg!

Our RV Miles Per Gallon

On the last day of our trip we made one last fuel stop. Note that much of the last tank was spent driving on secondary roads through Pennsylvania, which is a very hilly state. Also note that about half of the driving was done at night when it was cool, and due to the secondary roads my average speed was around 45mph.

We stopped for our last fill up at a Pilot just before Albany in NY:

[fuel]

mpg: 9.96

Start: Pilot Travel Center, Bentleyville, PA

Finish: Pilot Travel Center, Rotterdam, NY

Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 17,553 / -18,138

Net Elevation Gain in ft: -585

Total Miles: 494

Total Gallons: 49.58

Notes: So close to 10mpg and just short! This is the best tank we got on our trip – and the best tank I’ve had since then as well. The amazing thing is the amount of climbing on this leg even though it was offset by downhills. Just more proof that slower speeds help MPG.

[/fuel]

Our Net MPG for the Trip

I’m only including tracked mileage here, so the first leg and the last leg of our trip are excluded. This includes all of the ‘MPG’ boxes from the last 4 or 5 posts, so if you’re looking for MPG for any given section click on the previous post links at the bottom of this post.

[fuel]

mpg: 9.03

Start: Pilot Travel Center, Lake Havasu City, AZ

Finish: Pilot Travel Center, Rotterdam, NY

Elevation Gain/Loss in ft: 58,332 | -59,121

Net Elevation Gain in ft: -789

Total Miles: 2,680

Total Gallons: 296.71

Notes: I achieved what I consider very respectable fuel economy for an RV by keeping my speed under 65 miles per hour for most of the drive. When there was little or no traffic I stayed at 60mph, and in heavy traffic I kept up with the ‘slow’ lane to be safe.

[/fuel]

Our net cost ended up being around $1100 as we started with 3/4 of a tank and finished with nearly the same after driving the additional 150 miles from Rotterdam to Orange, Massachusetts. We benefitted from slightly cheaper fuel prices than we were expecting and from unusually cool late July temperatures.

Finishing the Journey – On to Massachusetts

This last section was written by Kathy (thanks Kat!) and picks up from our stop at Camp Bell just outside Corning, NY.

The next morning we packed up at Camp Bell with a sense of purpose, since this was the last day of our 3,200 mile cross-country journey. I don’t think Rich mentioned our purpose for visiting New England, however if you’ve been reading this site you know that we both grew up in Massachusetts and we both have lots of family in the area.

Our spirits were high as we followed i86 to i88, and ultimately i90 East. As Rich has mentioned, we prefer to avoid toll roads, but once you’re in Albany that’s the easiest way to quickly get to MA. It was a gorgeous, warm, summer day with beckoning blue skies.

We cranked our travel tunes, singing along and looking at the rolling hills of Upstate New York. What beautiful country, filled with small farms, fresh air, and open roads. It was extra nice because I didn’t have to work while riding. Most travel days during the trip I was working, which I’ll cover in another post.

A word about music

We both love music and yet spent the first 15 years of our relationship struggling to integrate our music libraries. We both like a wide variety of music with some overlap, and yet our collective library has been poorly organized. When listening to our ipod we’d click ‘next’ 5 to 10 times for every 1 song we’d listen to. It took the fun out of listening, and we almost gave up on music entirely.

When we bought our RV we decided we wanted good travel music, so we sorted through more than 4,800 songs and reduced our library to about 2,000. The key to a well-sorted library is deleting (yes DELETE) music you don’t like. Yes, I know this is somewhat sacrilegious, but it makes all the difference in the world.

Now we have joint play lists for Travel, Chill, Dance, Coffee Shop and so on, and personal playlists for music that only one or the other of us likes. We love listening to music again and rarely have to skip songs.

If you haven’t done this, we recommend you organize your music. It took us nearly 60 hours but we broke it into 1-2 hour chunks a few times a week in the evening, and actually had a lot of fun doing it. Whether you’re traveling, commuting, or hanging at home, it’s worth your time.

Back to the road

As we exited the New York Turnpike approaching Massachusetts we were hit with hefty tolls. For some reason New York uses axles as a multiplier, so while a 2 axle vehicle would pay $2.50, our 4 axles were charged at $10!

The i90 becomes the Mass. Turnpike which is also a toll road, but fortunately Massachusetts only dings you a little bit for extra axles.

From the Mass Pike we took Route 91 and headed north toward the little town of Orange, MA. It’s an easy road and a straight shot through the Pioneer Valley, which is known for its rolling hills and college towns like Northampton and Amherst. It was nice to see familiar names and places.

About 40 minutes later we got onto Route 2 heading east, which is a winding and narrow secondary highway. Unfortunately it’s the most direct route to Rich’s mom’s home and the alternative routes are even more narrow and windy. Welcome to western Mass!

We arrived in Orange at 5pm as planned. His mom lives on a pretty busy street and Rich wasn’t excited about backing into her somewhat narrow driveway with all that traffic. I stood in the street to block traffic if necessary, and Rich quickly backed in. It was surprisingly easy in our Class C, but not something I’d want to try in a big Class A!

Parked In Driveway
Parked In Driveway
At any rate our RV was nicely tucked between his mom’s pink Victorian house and the tall shrubs that line her driveway. We even had a view of the pretty back yard, with plenty of privacy and room for all three slides, plus our bedroom was situated away from the street – very helpful!

Our plan was to stay in New England until just after the autumn leaves reached peak, and just before freezing temps creeped in.

Anyway, it was Saturday night and we greeted his mom with hugs and smiles, stopping to chat before unpacking. Shortly after, my daughter, who lived next door, came home and joined us and we all enjoyed a nice, home-cooked meal.

After dinner Rich hooked up our water and electric, using an outdoor faucet and 15-20 amp electrical outlets, then we settled into the RV for the night. It was great to be able to park next door to family, and still enjoy the privacy and comforts of home!

This concludes our 3000+ mile drive across country. We don’t plan on driving all the way across country like that again anytime soon. It’s too far, too fast, too expensive, and too energy draining. That isn’t to say we won’t end up back on the west coast, however we’ll space it out over a few months in the future.

We hope you enjoyed the log of our travels and found the MPG logs useful. Until next time, happy travels!

Author

Hi, I'm Rich - Perpetual traveler, photographer, writer, and web designer. Thanks for reading, and happy trekking!

6 Comments

  1. Rich, what you guys are doing is awesome. My wife would NEVER in a million years leave her (grown) kids to drive around the country just LOOKING at different sights. According to her, they all look the same. Oh, well… she’s a good woman, mother and now grandmother so guess askin her to be a good RV traveler is pushing it. I’m also a professional photographer and at one time ran 3 different photo related businesses – 2 stock agencies (1 East Coast and 1 West Coast) and a custom photo lab.

    Anyway, my questions are also about your choice of rigs. I’m looking at the purchase of this same exact model and/or the Itasca Cambria. Why did you go with the Winnie? Is there that much difference between the two? I read that Itasca is the upscale sister but it looks like all the options for 1 brand are available for the other also. Another question – have you ever had more than the two of you in there overnight – is it a bit cramped even though the unit sleeps 6? I love that corner shower. It’s the biggest I’ve seen in a C/B+. I also love the 3 slides.. it makes it nice and roomy when they’re open. Are you coping with the lack of counter space in the kitchen area – my only hangup about that model? And lastly, have you had any issues with the slides leaking in the rain. I’ve read where some models it’s a real problem.

    • Rich Reply

      Hi Chris – Thanks for your comment! I know a lot of people that don’t enjoy traveling – and if they do they want to go directly to a resort hotel and spend a week on the beach. Different strokes for different folks I guess, but there’s such a tremendous variety of things to see and do in this country that we couldn’t stand sitting still!

      As far as Itasca vs Winnebago, from what we’ve seen they’re all almost identical. Even the prices are very close from model to model. The Itasca version usually has different interior/exterior color schemes and that’s about it. We liked the exterior colors of the Winnebago the best, so that’s the model we went with for no other reason than that.

      We’ve had as many as 2 other people sleep here (both on the Rest Easy sofa – definitely upgrade to the Rest Easy!!!), and while it was a bit close, it’s also pretty manageable. The 2 living room slides make a huge difference! It also helps to have the front seats that rotate as that opens up the living area even more. I don’t see how you could sleep 6 – only 1 person at most would fit on the dinette – but I could see 5 working in a pinch.

      Regarding the lack of Kitchen counter space, initially I thought it would be an issue too, but after living in our rig for 2 years I can honestly say it’s a non issue. In fact, I’m glad the kitchen is small! For Breakfast I usually have bacon and eggs or similar cooked in the same pan. If I feel like toast or an english muffin I fry that in the same pan first, and I boil water and make coffee in a french press, so no need for a coffee maker (and french pressed coffee tastes better!). Lunch is usually cold foods from the fridge, and sometimes I microwave something and that requires no counter space.

      Dinner is the only time it’s a little cramped, but the flip up counter extender helps a lot – I place a small cutting board there, and the sink covers give you more space for prep. I also use the dinette table if necessary, but most of the meals we cook are simple – protein, potatoes, veggies, or a stirfry, or chile/stew, and none of that requires much prep space. You do change the way you cook when you don’t have a dishwasher handy, and simpler foods are better for you than sauces and casseroles anyway.

      Lastly, we haven’t had any leaking issues and we’ve been in some serious rainy weather. Our slides have roller slide covers, and that makes a big difference (I assume).

      I hope that’s helpful – good luck Chris!

      • Rich:

        Did you guys buy NEW or used. After seeing that RV’s depreciate 30% from MSRP the minute it’s driven off the lot then 10% the next few years, I’m ONLY looking at 1-3 yr. old “previously loved” RV’s. I know an RV is not an investment in any sense of the word but I’m always thinking resale and my next purchase… The only reason to purchase NEW is for the warranty but those, you can purchase. I’ve seen several models for sale that barely have any mileage on them and even one that was only slept in once before the owner had to sell because of health reasons..

        As for your working on the road, how is internet and cable hookups in campgrounds. When you get cable TV do you also get internet access over that same wire or do you guys count on your smartphones to give you a hotspot (when you can get a signal)? Do you know if you get DirecTV for the RV, can you get internet access over the dish also?
        CJ

        • Rich Reply

          Hi Chris – We purchased new, although I wouldn’t recommend it for the reasons you stated. I think we opted to purchase new as we’d never owned an RV before, and there are so many systems on an RV that can cost big bucks to replace or fix. I wanted to make sure that everything was working when we bought it, and was concerned about wear and tear and misuse by previous owners. Now that I understand how everything works and have a good idea of what to look for in a used model, I’d feel fine buying used.

          Internet via satellite is very expensive, slow, and not worth it in my opinion. Check out http://www.mobilsat.com for details, and no you can’t get internet via the same dishes as DirectTV or DISH. I haven’t been to an RV park that had internet via cable – most have some level of wifi available if anything. We use smartphones as a hotspot, and use a cell phone booster (Wilson) to get signal in remote areas. I also added an external WiFi Antenna that I connected to a WiFi repeater. That lets me grab WiFi from much greater distances and has come in very useful. Worse case you can get internet at most fast food joints and coffee shops. -Rich

  2. Do you have any regrets about full time rving, and I would like to know more about your rv. What, or if you would choose different buying your rv. Thank you, Gary

    • Rich Reply

      Hi Gary – you can see a full video tour of our RV on my youtube channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/MrRichKent. We have no regrets so far – in fact we both like the freedom of this lifestyle very much. I think it’s fair to say that if we had more money when we were RV shopping we might have opted for a larger Class A RV, however we’re very happy with our rig, and I’m especially glad we went with an RV vs. a Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel because it’s nice for my wife to be able to make us a snack or use the restroom while I’m driving.

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