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Winnebago is one of those motorhome brands that practically everyone has heard of, while Thor; not so much. But does that mean Thor isn’t as good? Not necessarily. They’re both going to come with all of the fancy features you want if you’re going for luxury.
They both have TVs, USB outlets, big picture windows, and all the comforts of home. However, the primary difference here is durability, longevity, quality, and whether they have a floor plan or a model you want.
This in-depth comparison will give you a glimpse into what each brand is about, their variety of coaches, and why one might be better than the other.
The Main Differences Between Thor vs Winnebago
The main differences between Thor vs Winnebago are:
- Thor tends to skimp on their materials, whereas Winnebago doesn’t.
- Thor only makes motor coaches, whereas Winnebago makes motor coaches, travel trailers, and fifth wheels.
- Thor has many different subsidiaries and the quality varies widely among them, whereas Winnebago only has a few but the quality is fairly consistent.
Thor Motor Coach Review
Thor is one of the largest RV companies in the world. They offer decent quality motorhomes, plenty of luxury, and a warranty you might be able to live with. Unfortunately, you’re just not going to find a good RV warranty anywhere, so that’s not unique to Thor.
Here’s a list of what Thor makes:
- Class A Diesel
- Class A
- Class B
- Class B Plus
- Class C
- Super C Diesel
- Mercedes RVs
- Toy Haulers
- Recreational Utility Vehicles
Each category has a variety of options from which you can choose. And Thor is no slouch when it comes to options, comfort, and amenities, either. You’ll likely be just as comfortable in a small toy hauler as you will in a Class A diesel, it just depends on your needs.
Durability and quality
Unfortunately, durability (or lack thereof) is something you’re going to run into with most motorhome and RV brands. Motorhomes have to be made light enough for the engine to pull them, so they often compromise on materials.
However, they’ll often compromise on materials due to the expense as well, which is unfortunate. The RV industry used to use particle board instead of plywood because it was cheaper. However, it absorbs water faster and warps much easier, so the industry has begun to turn away from using it.
Thor, on the other hand, continues to use it. It may be a conscious choice so that they can focus on other areas of more resounding importance, but they also tend to use thinner wood and metal than what you’ll find in competing products.
What you’ll also find is that within the first year or two of owning an RV or motorhome, you’ll need to fix a thing or two. This has to do with their quality assurance processes and things that tend to get missed during final inspection.
You’ll frequently hear experienced RVers say they’ll never buy a brand new RV, or that they only buy used, and this is why. They’re letting someone else vet their issues first, and then they’re paying significantly less for an RV that’s only 1 or 2 years old but has practically 0 issues.
While it’s generally nothing big, Thor tends to have more of these issues upfront than others. You may find yourself fixing a dozen or more things when you would have fixed half as many purchasing from another manufacturer.
The rest of the issues, like Thor building their RVs quickly, or their slides not being very durable, aren’t necessarily unique to Thor. The entire industry needs to overhaul these processes and improve their quality.
However, when you buy something that already seems to have issues, it can feel like a bigger burden when there’s always one more thing you need to fix.
The general idea is that Thor isn’t a bad choice, but don’t buy a brand new one, keep your toolbox handy, and don’t void your warranty if you have one.
Thor does a fantastic job of offering beautiful floor plans with plenty of features and amenities. Everything is accessible and plentiful. There are currently 32 different base models, but once you get into building them out, there are so many different options for customization, that you can truly make it your own.
You can choose from different themes, furniture choices, trim upgrades, bed sizes, refrigerator sizes, body paint colors, cabinetry, and so much more.
Thor, unlike some other motorhome manufacturers, still hasn’t upgraded to using actual leather upholstery yet. For some reason, they’re still using a leatherette material that seems to crack easily. You may not be a fan of cloth, but the downgraded option actually holds up much better and looks classier.
The other option is to spend some additional money and reupholster everything in a better material after you make the purchase, which is what some people do.
Class A Diesel
Thor’s Class A Diesel motorhomes are their most premium offering. There are 2 models with a total of 4-floor plans from which you can choose. They range in length from 34’ 7” to 34’ 9”. They can sleep up to 9 people and are packed with features.
They have large kitchens, TVs, windows, luxurious bathrooms, plenty of his and hers closet space, and tons of storage in the basement.
These cost hundreds of thousands of dollars brand new, so it’s a big commitment. Keep in mind that the more you spend on a motorhome, the better customer service you’re going to get. These companies tend to prioritize their customer service in a way that takes care of the people who have spent the most.
Thor’s Class A motorhomes are their largest offering in terms of length. There are 7 models and 33-floor plans. They range in length from 25’ 6” to 37’ and can sleep up to 10 people.
They still have all the amenities you need, but the difference here is that the trim levels won’t be quite as premium, and you won’t have as many choices when it comes to painting colors or finishes. You can tell just from looking at the outside that they’re not quite as thoughtfully designed as the Class A Diesel options.
As the length increases, so does the price, but they top out quite a bit cheaper than the Class A Diesel does.
Class B Camper Vans & B+
This category includes 4 models and 10-floor plans. They’re all considerably smaller than the Class A models. They’re more like large conversion vans with campers on the back. They sleep up to 3 so they’re perfect for couples or small families.
Driving them is much like driving a large truck, so it’s more manageable for people who aren’t used to pulling large trailers, and it’s a great segue into the RV lifestyle. They still come with everything you need, like a kitchen, living room, and full bathroom, but they’re much more compact.
Depending on which model you choose, these cost less than $100,000, so they’re pretty affordable, even new. They also don’t have any slide-outs, so you don’t have to worry about the integrity of the mechanism or the repairs that might come with it.
Class C, Mercedes, and Super C Diesel
This offering is the largest in terms of variety. There are 10 different models and 58-floor plans. They range in size, price, and trim level, as I’m sure you can imagine, with the brand Mercedes threw in there.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that Thor isn’t the only brand to build their motorhomes on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, so if that’s what you want, look around. Winnebago and Tiffin do as well.
Surprisingly, there are floor plans that will sleep up to 10 people. You may not be comfortable long-term, but it’s possible to fold out the furniture and find spaces.
They vary quite a bit in length, trim level, and price, and this offering is so large that it’s going to suit a lot of different types of people.
Read our full guide on how to find the best Class C RV’s.
There’s only one Thor toy hauler model but there are 2-floor plans to choose from. They both sleep up to 6 and you can take your ATV or another utility vehicle with you. They’re bigger and heavier than a typical Class C because they’re made to carry more weight.
The base price of this fall somewhere in the middle of everything else. As you build on them, the price increases, so it will depend on what options you choose. However, these are built to be less luxurious and more rugged.
Recreational Utility Vehicles
This category confuses some people. Heck, the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C confuse some people! So, Class A motorhomes homes are large, Class B motorhomes are small, and Class C motorhomes fall somewhere in the middle.
However, an RUV is a beautiful combination of all three. An RUV is compact in size, but it includes the same driving controls you might find in Class A, giving the great visibility you might enjoy from a big rig, without actually having to drive one.
Thor invented the RUV, and it’s basically like a pickup truck or an SUV, with an RV on the back. It’s versatile enough to take almost anywhere because it has an all-wheel drive, which is something not all motorhomes have.
These RUVs include 4 models with 12-floor plans. They can sleep up to 5, so they’re great for an adventurous family or a retired couple.
Most large RV manufacturers have plenty of subsidiaries. In fact, for every RV manufacturer you’ve heard of, they probably own or are owned by another one you’ve heard of. Here’s a list of the other RV companies Thor owns:
- Heartland RV
- Keystone RV
- Crossroads RV and their subsidiary, Redwood RV
What’s interesting to note is that each of these subsidiaries may answer to the parent corporation, but they conduct their own operations. So, Airstream, for instance, follows infinitely better quality standards than Jayco does.
However, Airstream appeals to an entirely different demographic as well.
- Tons of models, floorplans, and options
- Plenty of luxury
- Offers a few rugged options as well
- Quality could be better
- Not the most affordable
Winnebago RV Review
Winnebago has been making RVs and motor coaches for a lot longer than many other manufacturers. They’ve been in the business for more than 50 years and they’ve sold almost half a million units.
They started out selling travel trailers but soon moved to motorhomes with a lot of luxury features. From there, they quickly added truck campers and other types of camping products. This helped to grow the company into the household name we know today.
They now sell travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, and motorhomes. They’ve done away with truck campers, but everything has received a huge upgrade since the early days of Winnebago.
However, if you haven’t noticed, there are far more old Winnebagos still on the road than most other RV brands, and that’s a true testament to the quality manufacturing, durability, and longevity of the product.
Durability and quality
Winnebago seemed to do it right from the beginning, adding products to their lineup quickly, without skimping on the process. Whether you like the way the old units look traveling down the road, or you think they look a bit dated doesn’t really matter. The fact is that they’re still running.
Winnebago’s durability and quality are undeniable. You may have to jump over a few hurdles to buy new, as you would with any RV manufacturer, but if you’re in it for the long haul, Winnebago is one of the best brands you can buy.
From the premium, half a million dollar Journey diesel pusher to a small travel trailer, you’ll get quite a variation in interior features. However, whether you’re looking for luxury or a minimalist lifestyle, you’ll get function, style, and accessibility.
Winnebago equips every part of its products, whether you can see it or not, with materials that will last. Looking at pictures of older models, you’ll see less wear and tear on the fabrics and textiles than you will in other brands.
You may not like the style itself, but you can clearly see that they held up well over time.
Winnebago Class A motorhomes are incredibly luxurious. They range in length, with the longest being 41 feet, including 1.5 baths. It has 4 slides, maximizing your space, giving you plenty of countertops in the kitchen and comfy spots to sit in the living room.
However, if you’re not looking for luxury and you still want a Class A model, they have those, too. They range in price from just over $100,000 to almost half a million, but they’re worth the investment, for sure.
The Inspire and the Adventurer models also come with accessibility enhanced options for people who need a little extra traveling help. Winnebago isn’t in the business of leaving anyone out!
Winnebago calls their Class B motorhomes camper vans. There are 5 different models with varying floor plans and they’re all relatively affordable, with the exception of, you guessed it, the Mercedes.
They made both gas and diesel engines, and once again, they’re perfect for a couple or a very small family.
Winnebago makes 8 Class C models, so it’s a wide offering that varies in size, but surprisingly, not much in price. You’ll find a lot here to choose from, so these are excellent options for something in the middle of a Class A and a Class B.
Some of these options are shockingly stylish, which is unusual for a Class C motorhome. You can also get them in all-wheel drive if you plan to do some more adventurous traveling.
This is where Winnebago truly excels because it’s where their business started. Their travel trailers are exceptional, and if you’re in the market for a unit like this, you should take a serious look at any of their 4 models.
They’re insanely affordable, reliable, versatile, and come in a whopping 29 different floor plans that will sleep up to 7 people with hinged double bunks in the back.
They didn’t leave out a single detail, offering exactly what you need with nothing you didn’t. These no-frills camping solutions make it easy to hook up and go anytime, anywhere.
They currently only have 1 fifth wheel model, but it comes in 6 different floor plans, sleeping between 3 and 8 people, depending on what you choose. It’s still affordable and lightweight enough to pull with a half-ton pickup, so you don’t have to splurge on a truck, either.
A few of the floor plans even offer a stylish island in the kitchen for even more counter space, which is invaluable in an RV.
Winnebago has two toy hauler models. One is a fifth wheel (so I lied, there are two fifth wheels), and one is a bumper pull. Still affordable and versatile, these options give you the freedom to bring your toys with you wherever you go.
Just like any other RV manufacturer, Winnebago has subsidiaries. These include Grand Design RV, Chris-Craft, and Newmar. Grand Design RV is another reputable but affordable RV manufacturer, while Newmar is very premium.
However, Chris-Craft manufactures watercrafts.
Winnebago also owns Winnebago Specialty Vehicles, which is the division of their company that designs and builds custom RVs from the ground up. If you were interested and could afford it, Winnebago would take your specifications and build exactly what you wanted.
- Reputable brand
- Quality manufacturing
- Plenty of models and floor plans
- Affordable and luxurious
- Some models are very expensive
If you would like a motorhome or an RV, there are a lot of options and it can be tough to decide what’s right for you. Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you decide what to buy.
Question: What is the best month to buy an RV?
Answer: Usually, sales take a hit in October and November, so you’ll find some pretty good deals. It’s even slower in December and January. The fall and winter is definitely the best time to shop for an RV.
Sales will pick up in the springtime as the weather warms up and people get ready to start planning their summer vacations.
Question: Can I buy land and live in an RV?
Answer: Living in an RV is certainly more affordable than a house in some ways. It’s possible to live in your RV on your own land, as long as it’s legal. Just because you own the land, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.
People often forget that there are all sorts of local regulations. Whether you live in a neighborhood with an HOA with bylaws restricting the parking of an RV, a city with some sort of restriction, or a county that doesn’t allow it, you need to look into it first.
It’s usually in small cities or rural areas where these codes and ordinances are more relaxed or where they won’t be enforced unless a neighbor complains. And a neighbor is only going to complain if you have a neighbor. If you buy property far enough out, you may never have neighbors.
Question: What does boondocking mean?
Answer: Boondocking affords you the opportunity to park for free and camp off the grid. It’s also called dry camping, but it means you won’t have water, electricity, or sewer hookups. Many people like boondocking, because they can connect with nature and it’s a much cheaper lifestyle.
There are a lot of beautiful places where you can park for a few days or a few weeks at a time, for free, but you have to check into it first.
Whichever you choose, you’ll be happy, as long as you put some thought into it. I’ve had a Jayco, which is a subsidiary of Thor, and I’ve had a Winnebago. I absolutely loved both of them, but I didn’t buy either of them new, and my needs were different each time.
These manufacturers are both very different, so there’s no direct comparison. You’ll have to decide for yourself which you like best. Winnebago excels at making travel trailers, but they make almost everything, so if you like the looks of the overall brand, you will definitely find what you like.
On the other hand, if you are just starting out and you’re not sure what to do, you can typically get a used Thor relatively cheap, which makes a great beginner RV. The choice is yours, and you can’t go wrong with either, as long as it suits you.
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