You’ve been misled about what makes an RV “luxury.” As full-time RVers, we are breaking down the truth about the best luxury fifth wheels for full-time living. Below we’ve synthesized hundreds of hours of research and years of experience living in a luxury fifth wheel 365 nights a year.
We’ll show you what actually is a luxury fifth wheel. We break down what luxury features to look for, what not to be impressed by, and what trade-offs to be prepared for.
Don’t buy into the marketing scams where standard fifth wheels or RVs are being labeled as “luxury” due to a few premium features. Know what to look for in a luxury model that puts it at the top of its class.
What Is A Fifth Wheel?
A fifth wheel is a type of towable RV that is attached to the bed of a pickup truck using a specialized hitch called a fifth wheel hitch. Assuming a truck has four wheels (which many will have 6+), the hitch in the bed of the truck serves as the “fifth wheel”.
Fifth-wheel trailers can also be towed with an adaptation making them a gooseneck trailer, like you might expect of horse or cattle trailers.
Unlike travel trailers that are towed using a traditional hitch and ball behind a vehicle, fifth wheels offer unique advantages, including increased stability, better weight distribution, and often a more spacious interior. This makes them an excellent choice for extended travel and full-time living.
Fifth Wheels vs. Travel Trailers
Fifth wheels and travel trailers are both towable RVs, but their structural differences set them apart.
Travel trailers are hitched to the rear bumper of a towing vehicle and can be towed by cars, SUVS, or trucks, depending on their size and weight.
Fifth wheels offer enhanced stability and a more luxurious living space thanks to their unique “two-level” floor plans. They often feature taller ceilings (our ceilings are about 8 1/2 feet tall), more extensive storage options, and a greater variety of high-end amenities. They require a truck for towing and have an overhand design (where you will find the “upper level” of living space) that makes the truck bed unusable while towing.
Fifth Wheels vs. Class A Motor Homes
Motorhomes are self-contained units with the living space integrated into the driving compartment, allowing passengers to move freely while on the road. Class A motorhomes are the RVs that you might recognize as the ones that look like a bus.
Fifth wheels require a separate towing vehicle, but once parked, they provide a more spacious and homelike interior, often with greater square footage and deeper slide-outs.
Some of the most luxurious RVs on the market are Class A Motorhomes and include brands like Prevost, Newell, and Newmar. These high-end rigs come with powerful engines and plenty of high-tech and luxury features, such as heated marble floors and air ride. They also come with a high price tag, with many luxury motorhomes starting at $750,000 and going up into the millions.
Fifth-Wheel Floor Plans & Features
We believe out of any RV type, fifth wheels feel the most like a traditional home. They have high ceilings, spacious interiors, and ample storage space.
In our opinion, if you want to RV full-time and feel most like you are living in a home, a fifth wheel is a great choice.
High-end motorhomes will be the most expensive option and can have plenty of high-end features and will be extremely high quality and sturdy, but to us, they can still feel more like an RV due to the narrower slides and van-like feel due to their drivable nature.
This said if you have the budget and plan to travel frequently and don’t mind the increased costs for upkeep, a Class A motorhome may be right for you.
Fifth wheels are great options for large families, can be a cheaper option than motorhomes, and are still nimble enough to be towed long distances or camped in off-grid while boondocking (although it of course will not be as easy or seamless as you might find in a van or something smaller).
There will always be trade-offs!
With their “home-like” design, fifth wheels will often have some form of a kitchen island, a living room with theater seating, a master bedroom with a queen bed or a king bed, a dining table or dinette area, and a full bathroom with a shower and sometimes even a full bath in addition to a half bath.
They can also come with optional equipment and upgrades such as solar panels, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, and more!
Example fifth wheel floor plans include:
- Toy hauler: A fifth wheel with a “garage” at the back that can be used for hauling a small car, golf cart, or ATV. It can also be transformed into a home gym, office space, or second bedroom.
- Center Kitchen: This model has a kitchen in the center of the RV, with the living space either up in the overhang of the fifth wheel (front) or in the rear of the fifth wheel
- Rear Kitchen: A large kitchen in the rear of the fifth wheel, with the living area in the center and the bathroom and bedroom upstairs in the overhang
- Front Kitchen: A large kitchen upstairs in the overhang of the fifth wheel, typically with the living room downstairs in the center and the bedroom at the rear
- Bunkhouse: A model with a second sleeping area, that can either be bunkbeds that exist at the rear of the RV, in the center in an additional slide-out (often with a loft area) or in the front of the RV.
With so many models to choose from and different types of upgrades and features, it can be tough to distinguish what is truly high quality and luxury, and what is not.
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to stand out from the crowd in the world of fifth wheels…
What Actually Makes a Fifth-Wheel “Luxury?”
When it comes to RVs, we often expect a great deal. We want something that has all of the comforts of home, that is high quality and built to last, and that can suffer through miles of uneven roads at 60mph without any problems.
Luxury fifth wheels and RVs provide a step up in quality from the standard RVs or fifth wheels being mass-produced in the RV market.
Now, make no mistake. Luxury fifth wheels are not perfect and will require repairs and regular maintenance. They can also be more expensive to care for than fifth wheels with a lower price tag and more standard features.
When exploring luxury fifth wheels, it’s essential to understand the key features that define this upscale category.
From sharp interior designs to high-end appliances and top-notch technology, luxury fifth wheels deliver everything you could want on a home on the road.
But are those flashy features alone what makes an RV a quality consistent with the luxury title?
Next, we’ll examine what sets some fifth wheels apart from the rest. We’ll move beyond deluxe features such as residential-grade furniture, gourmet kitchens, spa-like bathrooms, and advanced entertainment systems and look at the bones and structure that differentiate “luxury” from “standard”.
Luxury RV Brands vs. Standard Fifth Wheels With Premium Features
When it comes to RVs it can be easy to get caught up in the visible features a rig has or how things look aesthetically.
Premium features might include things like: full body paint, a tankless water heater, solid surface countertops, a residential refrigerator and range, a dishwasher, or a washer and dryer prep. In some newer models, you may even start to see things like ducted heat or A/C work, water manifold shut-offs, frameless windows, and double-pane windows.
While you are likely to find all of these great features in a luxury fifth wheel or RV, having them alone does not make an RV luxury.
There are plenty of RVs on the market that have all the comforts of home and might look very similar or even hard to distinguish the difference when looking at pictures.
So how can you determine differences in quality?
The label of luxury comes down to the bones of it all: the construction and quality of materials.
When deciding on an RV for full-time RVing, we highly recommend looking at the exact specifications for each RV and actually getting inside them to feel the difference in quality and materials. Open and close all of the cabinets, move around a lot, and really imagine how it would feel to live in it.
Examples of luxury fifth-wheel features:
- Upgraded chassis & increased carrying capacity
- Independent suspension (or even air ride suspension)
- Automotive disc brakes
- Solid hardwood cabinets and furniture
- 8k or higher pound axles
- Superior wall construction with increased insulation
- Heated and fully enclosed underbelly
- Dovetail joints in cabinetry
- Window silks
- Standard tires that are of higher quality (Goodyear, Continental, etc.)
- 1 piece fiberglass roof
READ MORE: True 4-Season Fifth Wheel Campers
4 Luxury Fifth-Wheel Brands That Actually Deserve The Title
There may be no such thing as a “perfect rig,” but these true luxury-built models come as close as you can get on the fifth-wheel market today!
You will notice as we discuss the fifth wheels on this list, that we will not cover much of aesthetic features, and instead will focus more on construction.
You can expect all brands on this list to offer high-quality stylish interiors, top-of-the-line hardwood cabinetry, solid surface countertops, hand-laid tile backsplashes, and upgraded features like washer and dryer prep, generators, dishwashers, and more.
SpaceCraft has been designing and building fully custom fifth wheels for over 60 years.
They focus on residential units specifically with full-time living in mind and carefully work with each owner to craft a fifth wheel, semi-trailer, or even travel trailer that meets their vision and needs.
They build units up to 57 feet long and were initially focused on filling a need for larger residential units that they saw in the circus and carnival industries. They come in semi-trailers, meant to be towed by semi trucks, as well as smaller units that could be towed by a dually or medium-duty truck.
You can expect these to be used by celebrities and the rich and famous and have amazing upgraded features that make them feel like a true residence that is also fully mobile.
SpaceCraft touts that they still have several units on the road after 20-30 years of full-time use, which speaks volumes about their quality and craftsmanship.
SpaceCraft Fifth-Wheel Features:
- Units 35′-51′ long
- Custom welded chassis
- One-piece welded aluminum side walls with closed-cell polystyrene insulation
- Molded fiberglass ceiling and roof
- Holding tanks suspended in rails for pass-through storage
- Cedar-lined closet and wardrobe drawers
- Mini-split HVAC option (great for boondocking and off-grid use!)
- Painted walls option
- Insulated 4-season basement
- Custom-designed hardwood cabinetry
Spacecraft trailers are heavier than most due to their custom welded chassis, molded fiberglass ceiling & roof, and hardwood features throughout. All other choices will impact the overall weight as well (for example, countertops, floor coverings, battery systems, generators, appliances, etc.)
- An estimate of dry weight per foot for Spacecraft fifth wheels is 500 lbs/ linear foot (which would be a dry weight of 20,000 lbs for a 40-foot fifth wheel)
- SpaceCraft also adds around 4,000 lbs. for storage and belongings. This would make the gross weight for a 40-foot unit 24,000 pounds.
SpaceCraft fifth wheels require a larger dually, but more than likely a heavy duty truck (semi tractor) to tow them, but they are packed with quality construction and features that make them stand out in the crowd. They also are the manufacturers of the largest fifth wheels in the industry, with some custom units up to 57′ long.
SpaceCraft are also the most expensive fifth wheels available, due to their upgraded materials and construction and fully customized design. The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to these builds and if you are looking to build the fifth wheel of your dreams from the ground up, this is your brand!
Estimated Cost: Upwards of $10,000 per linear foot for a new custom built fifth wheel RV
Website: SpaceCraft MFG
New Horizons offers fully customizable units in their Majestic line-up, as well as toy haulers. In the past they also manufactured pre-made luxury units (fewer customizations available) in their Summit models, which came in at a cheaper price point. You may still be able to find some of these on the used market!
Their custom design approach allows you to select features you want to be included and eliminate those you don’t, getting your coach built to your personalized design specifications.
Their fifth wheels are also built specifically with full-time living in mind.
New Horizons states “Our RVs are known for their true four-season comfort that allows you to enjoy your RV in temperatures ranging from below zero to 100 degrees and above. They are built to withstand the rigors of full-time living for decades. In fact, we have earned the only FIVE STAR RATING by the RV Consumer Group for over a decade.”
Some of their luxury features:
- Constructed in their plant from American steel, each chassis is crafted to match the floor plan, ensuring proper load management and ample cargo capacity.
- Most other chassis are built with either an I-beam or a box tube frame, but New Horizons uses both a 12-inch I-beam and up to 2-by-6-inch box tube for additional strength.
- They spend six business days producing each chassis specifically for the customer’s coach. They use progressively thicker box tube as the length of the coach increases and reinforce areas where slide rams penetrate the frame.
- Suspension – MORryde comes standard on the Majestic series and as an upgrade on Summit models, providing an extremely smooth ride.
- Four-point leveling system – New Horizons state their chassis can be leveled on four legs without bending, whereas other manufacturers would need a 6-point system
- Quadra Bigfoot leveling system – Standard on Majestic, it features 17,000-pound lift capacity on each leg, while the LCI system on Summit features 14,000-pound capacity. Either system automatically levels the RV at the push of a button.
- More reliable hydraulic slides
New Horizons are beautiful and packed with top of the line features and build quality. They are a small company that boasts amazing attention to detail and will work with you each step of the way to craft a model that suits your needs and will be able to be used and enjoyed for years to come.
New Horizons is a great option if you are interested in smaller units for full-time living with more customizability and a slight step down in price from SpaceCraft (who specialize in larger 2-bedroom models often for other uses than traditional RV use).
These units will also most likely require larger trucks for towing depending on the size of the unit, such a dually, medium-duty, or heavy duty truck.
Estimated Cost: Base price for a 33-foot starts at $258,118 and goes up to $317,250 for their biggest model, a 47′ toy hauler
Website: New Horizons
DRV Luxury Suites
DRV has been manufacturing high-quality fifth wheels since 2003. Their mission is to build units that feel like a true “home on the road” and they aim to incorporate customer feedback into the changes and improvements they make to their models year to year.
While they do not offer fully customized models, they can be built to order straight from the manufacturer, with only select locations and dealers that are able to sell these units.
DRV has two lines of RVs currently being manufactured: Mobile Suites (with the Elite Suite package as an upgrade option) and the Full House Toy Haulers.
We chose DRV as our fifth wheel for full-time living and full-time travel, as we found their units to be the perfect compromise of luxury quality and price. We also had a great experience finding a used model in the DRV community that was well cared for and maintained.
Frame & Chassis
- DRV’s custom-engineered 15” triple box tube frame measures 101” wide. DRV claims their frame to be the largest, most rigid fifth wheel frame in the industry. That said, it may not be as heavily reinforced or customized as the custom welded chassis of New Horizons and Spacecraft. This design eliminates flex around the pin box, and allows them to frame even the upper deck with steel to open up the storage compartment, providing you with space to fit all your personal belongings. We often hear from other fifth-wheel owners how much they are envious of our large basement storage compartment!
- Pinless hydraulic jacks mounted at a 5 degree angle for stability
- Residentially hung sidewalls
- R-16 insulation around all slides and walls
- Thick 3-1/4 inch walls for insulation and sound proofing
- MorRyde Independent Suspension
- E-Z lube hubs and automotive disc brakes
- Heavy duty 17.5″ Goodyear tires
- Copper water manifold
- SoftTouch ceilings
Estimated Cost: $150,000 – $225,000+
Website: DRV Luxury Suites
Facebook Group for finding used DRV units for sale: Buy/Sell/Trade used DRV Mobile & Elite Suites (this is where we found our unit!)
Luxe also manufactures four-season luxury fifth wheels specifically with full-time living and use in mind.
They offer 3 varieties of fifth wheels: Luxe Elite, Luxe Gold (smaller units), and Luxe Toy Haulers
Luxe is a Factory Direct company, which means you will not find any new units sitting at dealers waiting to be purchased. This allows units to be made at a slower pace with a focus on quality rather than quantity and the ability to add specialized touches and customizations each step along the way.
Notable Luxury Features:
- Wall Construction: 3″ Super Composite welded aluminum cage walls with 2.5 graphite infused closed cell insulation
- 12″ Forged Steel Powder Coated I-Beam Reinforced w/ 2×2″ Stackable Box Tube
- 14″ Outriggers
- Doubled Outriggers Around Slide-Outs
- 3″ Thick Floors – Welded 16″ on Center
- 5/8″ Tongue & Groove Plywood Flooring
- 16″ on Center Welded Roof Trusses
- 1/2″ Plywood Roofing
- Soft Touch Sidewalls (exclusive to Luxe Elite Fifth Wheels)
- SoftTouch Ceilings, including Slide-Out Ceiling
- Reinforced 5/8″ Plywood for Fresh, Gray, & Black Tanks for additional support
- Seamless 1 Piece SuperFlex Membrane Roofing Material with a 15 Year Warranty or fiberglass roof options
- Frameless Thermopane Windows
- Thermal Pack Insulation Throughout (Roofing, Flooring, Chassis Underbelly)
- Residential Fiberglass Insulation Throughout (Roofing, Flooring, Chassis Underbelly)
- Forced Furnace Air into Enclosed Underbelly
- Optional Kelderman Air Ride suspension
Estimated Cost: New units start at $212,000 for the smaller 38-foot models and go up to $270,000 for the larger 47-foot toy hauler models
Website: Luxe Fifth Wheels
Questions to Help You Decide On The Right Fifth Wheel or RV For You
We are true believers that there is no perfect RV. Choosing the right RV or fifth wheel for your full-time RV living adventure is a combination of decisions that best sets you up for success, with the knowledge that there most likely will be compromises or sacrifices made along the way.
Here are some questions to keep in mind as you determine what would work best for you:
How often do you plan to move your RV?
As full-time RVers, we move our DRV fifth wheel roughly every 2 weeks. We knew we would be putting a lot of miles on the RV we chose, so it was important to factor in how well the RV would handle the rigors of the open road.
If you plan to travel frequently, you may want to consider a model built specifically with full-time use in mind. In addition, features like independent suspension can help reduce maintenance due to the shock-absorbing capabilities.
What kind of weather do you plan to camp in?
Luxury fifth wheels will be better insulated, which can bode well if you plan to camp in hot or cold weather.
In our DRV we have camped in 8-degree weather where it was snowing and been nice and warm, and have also camped in temperatures in the high 90’s and stayed nice and cool.
We have not had any problem with condensation thanks to our double pane windows (you’ll hear about non-luxury units getting condensation on the windows and even walls in some RVs). We have a true four-season unit and it shows.
This said, if you do plan to stay in really warm places for long periods, you may want to consider a third A/C option (which all of the above luxury brands will offer), depending on the size of your fifth wheel.
Where do you plan to camp?
How and where you plan to camp is an important factor in making a decision on the right RV for you. If you want to get off-grid into the most remote places or squeeze into tight spaces, a smaller RV may be best for you.
If you want a unit that feels most like a home on wheels, a fifth wheel may be a great choice. We have a 38-foot fifth wheel outfitted with 1700 watts of solar and camp off-grid in beautiful BLM camping spots, at State Parks and in National Parks, and a variety of RV parks as well.
How long do you plan to live in your fifth wheel full-time?
Luxury brands will often come with a higher price point, but also a noticeable increase in quality and durability. If you plan to live in your fifth wheel full-time for an extended period, you may want to consider a luxury unit that may last longer. It may also be a better value over the life of the RV, just with a higher investment on the front end.
What is your budget?
While some RVs, like fiberglass RVs for example, will hold their value fairly well, RVs overall are depreciating assets. They can come with consistent maintenance costs that can add up, in addition to increases in costs like fuel and campground costs depending on where you stay and how frequently you travel.
We recommend paying for your RV in cash if possible or limiting the amount of debt you take on, as RV financing typically comes with high interest rates. A good rule of thumb is to only spend one-third to one-half of your gross income on your RV purchase. If you are looking for additional advice on purchasing a luxury fifth wheel, reach out. We’re happy to help!
We got a great deal on a used luxury fifth wheel (2015 DRV Mobile Suites for $48,000) and were able to pay cash and stay debt-free.
The great thing about luxury fifth wheels is that they are higher quality, and if well cared for, can outlast other fifth wheel brands, even when being used full-time over an extended period.
We highly recommend searching for used models if you are looking for a luxury fifth wheel at a lower price point. Used RV’s can also be a great idea as you are purchasing it after it has experienced some of the initial depreciation, and has had time to get any repairs or fixes done. Most new RVs will have some kinks to be worked out!
Do You Need A Luxury Fifth Wheel For Full Time Living?
While we think it is important to empower people with an understanding of what makes the difference between higher quality and lesser quality construction fifth wheels, we also believe it is important to acknowledge that you by no means NEED a luxury fifth wheel to full-time RV.
Purchasing the best fifth wheel for full-time living may look different to one person compared to another and is a very personal choice and depends on what you will be comfortable in. We love the build quality of our DRV Mobile Suites and were willing to buy a used model in order to get into a unit that met our needs and requirements while sticking to our budget and financial goals.
This said we have met plenty of people full-time RVing in a variety of models from standard fifth wheels to fiberglass campers, truck campers, vans, and more.
Popular Standard fifth wheels at a lower price point for new models with premium features that we know people full-time RV in include: Grand Design Solitude, Jayco Pinnacle & Jayco North Point, Alliance RV, Brinkley, Heartland Bighorn, Keystone Cougar, Keystone Montana, Northwood Arctic Fox, Coachmen Chaparral
READ MORE: Ultimate Full-Time RV Checklist
Considerations For Living in a 5th-Wheel Full-Time
When considering a full-time RV lifestyle there are some things we cannot recommend enough to consider thoroughly before purchasing your fifth wheel.
Especially if you are transitioning from a traditional sticks-and-bricks home, there will be many things that will feel different in addition to downsizing to a small space that is fully mobile.
Here are some to keep in mind:
- Most Fifth Wheels will not have unlimited hot water. If you do not want to worry about waiting for your water to heat up or running out of hot water, you will want to select a fifth wheel with a tankless on-demand water heater
- A fifth wheel is a recreational vehicle. If you want a lighter option that you can pull with a smaller truck, you will sacrifice sturdiness in materials and may notice more movement when walking around or when it is windy. Luxury fifth wheels are heavier and more stable, but will require the trade-off of a larger truck – such as a dually or a medium-duty or heavy-duty truck.
- The walls of an RV will not be of the same quality of a house. True luxury models will come with more insulation and wall thickness that will be better at blocking out outside noise and that can make a big difference in it feeling more like a home than a camper.
- Are there certain comforts of home that you do not see yourself living without 365 days a year? Things like not having laundry on board or a dishwasher can be a large adjustment from a house and is important to consider carefully.
Our advice is to consider carefully what you need to comfortably live the RV lifestyle. While it is absolutely true that you can and will adjust to having less, you’ll most likely find you do not need as much as you thought, it is also important to consider what will make full-time RV travel feel sustainable long term.
We love that our luxury fifth wheel truly feels like home, no matter where we are.
If it is raining we can hang out in our recliners and watch a movie on the big screen with our fireplace on. After a long day working and hiking, we can load up the dishwasher or run a load of laundry right at home. We feel safe and sturdy in the wind, enjoy the peace and quiet afforded by our thicker walls, and can easily forget that we are indeed in an RV. It feels more like a tiny home.
We are grateful for our luxury fifth wheel and hope this article helps set the record straight about what to look for when looking for the best luxury fifth wheels for full-time living!
Check out our other RV Travel Resources:
- Expert RVers Reveal 33+ Best Camper Hacks & Tips
- RV Tips 101: Education Guide for Beginner RVers
- Ultimate RV Maintenance Checklist (By Full-Time RVers)
- 51 Boondocking Tips For The Most Epic Off-Grid Camping
- Best Truck Tires For Towing Fifth Wheel Trailers: Safe RVing
- Do Fifth Wheels Have To Stop At Weigh Stations?
- Transitioning To Full-Time RV Living: From Weekend Warriors To Full Time Travel