Monday, February 05, 2007

RVs lighten their load

While gasoline prices are now around $2 a gallon in some places, big sport utility vehicles powered by gas-guzzling V-8 engines are about as popular as shag carpet. The time seems to have come and gone.

Taking the place of the big SUV is the smaller crossover utility vehicle built on car platforms, rather than the truck platforms of traditional SUVs. The increasingly popular crossovers — while nimbler and more fuel-efficient than their bigger cousins — don't have the muscle, the towing power, of the vehicles they're replacing.

And that is driving the "less is more" design of new recreational vehicles.

"There is a lot of innovation in the industry to get the weight down," says Jim Brown, who has been running Brown's Camping Sales in Jonesboro since 1974.

"A 22-footer in the 1970s, 1980s would have been 5,000 pounds or better," says Brown. "I now have 30-footers that are less than 5,000 pounds."

It's getting easier to find a travel trailer, complete with air conditioning and fully functioning bathroom, that weighs less than 4,000 pounds.

You might think that the trend to lighter RVs was driven directly by gas prices. You would be wrong.
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