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Buying a 2018 RV: How to Blow Your Hard-Earned Money in 1 Easy Step

Well, it’s that time of year again: summer is winding down, the fall RV shows are gearing up, and our staff is working overtime trying to keep up with the deluge of 2018 models hitting the market. Don’t feel too sorry for them, though. They get all the free coffee and donuts they can consume and most 2018 models are pretty simple to review. In fact, in most cases our over-caffeinated crew doesn’t even have to leave their desks.

“What?!” you wonder, “you people don’t even go out and test drive the new models or put them through their paces?!”

Nope –and here’s why: in the vast majority of cases, the difference between a 2017 and a 2018 is so marginal that it doesn’t require an in-person review or test drive. Really. Take the brand spanking new 2018 Winnebago Minnie Winnie, for example. The Minnie is a Class C motorhome that has been around for years and is one of the most popular (and frequent) coaches we review for customers. For 2018, Winnebago’s press pack informs us that the latest and greatest Minnie now features –and we are quoting verbatim here- “three new interior decor options and stylish, contemporary exteriors.”

And that, faithful reader, is that. Not only are the changes for the 2018 model year summed up in one brief sentence, but if you look closely you’ll notice that half that sentence doesn’t even cover new features but instead cleverly touts the same old thing. “Three new interior décor options” undeniably means a feature for 2018 that was not available for 2017 -but this just means there are some new fabric and color scheme options. Big whoop, right? But “stylish, contemporary exteriors” is noticeably lacking the new. Meaning? The 2018 Minnie Winnie has the exact same “stylish, contemporary exteriors” as the 2017 model.

With this in mind we ask you, how much will a new couch fabric affect an in-depth test drive? Will it handle better during in-town travel? Will it be able to merge at highway speeds noticeably better than the 2017 version? Of course not. Aside from new “décor options”, the 2017 and 2018 Minnie are identical in every way –except one. Price.

A Google search found us a new 2018 Minnie Winnie 22R on sale for $83,651 -right next to a new 2017 Minnie Winnie 22R on sale at a “Reduced” price of $78,450 –reduced often includes “to make room for the 2018s”. No dealer wants to carry last year’s stock through the slow months of the winter. This means that if you can live with a slightly slimmer choice of décor options, you can put $5,201 back in your pocket. A little quick calculator work reveals this chunk of change would cover fuel expenses for approximately 14,500 miles (or two years) of travel or provide a bulletproof 5-Year Extended Warranty from an independent wholesaler like*.

Do you see where we’re going with this? For over ten years now we’ve had two singular goals here at 1.) provide honest and unbiased reviews on RV manufacturers and their products and 2.) to help people save money when buying an RV.

The topic today is extremely timely because, as noted above, the fall RV shows are about to come to a mall or camping store near you and the 2018s are appearing in droves. And here’s the depressing part: in the past month alone we have done several hundred RV reports for customers and the vast majority of those requests were for premium priced 2018 models –almost all with negligible updates over the 2017 versions. So pervasive is this “newer must be better” mentality that I would wager if you swapped the factory invoices stuck to the windshields of two identical side-by-side RVs, most people would pay a premium for the 2017 because the sticker said “2018”.

Hopefully, now that you’ve read this, you’re going to do a little side by side comparison to see if the new 2018 is bringing anything substantially different to the table, and you’re going to check out a “reduced” 2017 to see if it’s something you can live with. In most cases, you’ll find the extra $5,200 (give or take, obviously) doesn’t provide any additional value.

And lastly, when you go to sell your 2018, the additional décor options over the 2017 will be meaningless (and of no additional value), since the only décor option on a used vehicle is the one already installed.

And that’s it for now. Do your research, buy wisely, and go have some fun. But remember: check those tire pressures before hitting the road. It only takes a minute and you’ll enjoy safer driving, better mileage, and longer lasting tires.

Happy travels,

The Team

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