What Is a Fifth Wheel

Are you new to the world of RVs and wondering, “What is a fifth wheel?” Well, you’ve come to the right place! This guide delves into the fascinating world of fifth-wheel trailers, providing the information you need to become well-versed in this popular RV style. 

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious novice, we’ll explore the ins and outs of fifth wheels, from their distinctive design to towing tips and popular models.

What Is a Fifth Wheel?

A fifth wheel is a type of towable RV known for its unique design and spacious interior. Unlike traditional travel trailers that are hitched to a vehicle’s rear bumper, fifth wheels connect to the bed of a pickup truck using a special hitch called a “fifth wheel hitch.” This hitch allows for greater stability and maneuverability on the road.

Key Features of Fifth Wheels

  1. Overhead Bi-Level Design: One of the standout features of Fifth Wheels is their bi-level design. The front part of the trailer extends over the bed of the towing vehicle, creating a raised section that often houses a bedroom or additional living space. This design provides extra headroom and allows for creative floor plans.
  2. Spacious Interiors: Fifth wheels are known for their big and comfortable interiors. Due to their unique design, they can offer multiple slide-out rooms that expand the living area when parked, making them feel more like a small apartment than a typical RV.
  3. Amenities Galore: Many fifth wheels have a wide range of amenities, including full kitchens, bathrooms, entertainment centers, and even washer/dryer hookups. These features make them ideal for extended trips or full-time living.

Why is it called a fifth wheel?

The term “fifth wheel” in the context of RVs refers to the hitch used to connect the trailer to the towing vehicle. It is called a “fifth wheel” because it is the fifth wheel in the traditional configuration of a four-wheeled wagon or carriage.

In a four-wheeled vehicle, the front two are the main steering wheels, and the rear two are the “dual wheels.” When a trailer or carriage is attached to this configuration, it is supported by the dual wheels in the rear and the hitch in the front, which is the fifth wheel.

This fifth-wheel hitch is a large, horseshoe-shaped coupling device that mounts in the bed of a pickup truck. It is designed to pivot and rotate, allowing for better maneuverability and stability when towing a heavy trailer, such as a fifth-wheel RV. The hitch’s unique design distinguishes fifth wheels from other types of towable RVs, and it plays a crucial role in their towing performance and overall stability on the road.

Advantages of Fifth Wheels

  1. Stability: The fifth wheel hitch provides superior strength and weight distribution, making for a more comfortable towing experience, especially in adverse weather conditions.
  2. Luxury Living: With their spacious layouts and high-end amenities, Fifth Wheels are often associated with luxury RVing, providing a comfortable and stylish way to travel.
  3. Ease of Towing: Despite their size, fifth wheels are generally easier to tow and maneuver than large motorhomes. The hitch placement and design contribute to better handling.

Towing Tips for Fifth Wheels

Popular Fifth-wheel Models

  1. Keystone Montana: Known for its quality construction and luxurious interiors, the Keystone Montana series is a favorite among fifth-wheel enthusiasts.
  2. Forest River Cardinal: The Forest River Cardinal line offers a wide range of floor plans and features, making it a versatile choice for RVers.
  3. Grand Design Solitude: Grand Design is renowned for its attention to detail, and the Solitude series exemplifies this with its spacious and well-appointed interiors.

What Does Fifth Wheel Cost?

The cost of a fifth-wheel RV can vary widely depending on several factors, including the brand, model, size, features, and age of the RV. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, I can provide you with a general price range to give you an idea, but please keep in mind that RV prices can change over time, and it’s always a good idea to check current market prices.

  1. Entry-Level Fifth Wheels: These are smaller and less feature-packed fifth wheels. They can start at around $20,000 to $40,000 for new models.
  2. Mid-range Fifth Wheels offer more amenities, larger floorplans, and better build quality. Prices typically range from $40,000 to $80,000 for new units.
  3. High-End Fifth Wheels: Luxury fifth wheels with top-of-the-line features, spacious layouts, and high-quality materials can cost anywhere from $80,000 to over $150,000 for new models.
  4. Used Fifth Wheels: The price of used fifth wheels can vary significantly based on age, condition, and features. You might find older models for as low as $10,000 to $20,000, while relatively newer, well-maintained used fifth wheels can still be priced in the mid to high five figures.

In conclusion, a fifth wheel is a unique and spacious type of RV that offers a luxurious and comfortable way to travel. With their distinctive design, stability on the road, and abundant amenities, they have become a popular choice among RV enthusiasts. 

Whether you’re planning a cross-country adventure or considering full-time RV living a fifth wheel may be a perfect choice. So, why wait? Start exploring the world of fifth wheels today and embark on your next adventure in style and comfort!

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