Toyota Motorhomes are the best small RVs for Full-Time Travel – Here’s Why!

by Erica

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We just spent 6 months living and traveling in our 1985 Toyota RV and we’re so in love with everything about it. While our Toyota motorhome is certainly not the most well-preserved specimen and required a lot of blood, sweat and tears to turn into a home, it held up really well for us and we couldn’t be more thankful that we made the crazy choice to buy it, sight unseen. 

A little history about the Toyota motorhome: During the 70s to 90’s, these mini motorhomes were built by many different camper manufacturers and placed on the Toyota pickup chassis. The most common manufacturers were Sunrader, Dolphin and Winnebago but I’ve seen dozens of different incarnations of the Toyota motorhome. Ours is a Toyota Coachmen, and we’ve never seen another one except for on the internet. 

Most of these Toyota RVs range from 18ft to 22ft, and have a variety of layouts available. They stopped being made in the early 1990’s, and since then their popularity has only grown. 

After working on and living in one for over a year, I see why there’s so much Toyota Motorhome love. 

Here’s a few reasons we think the Toyota motorhome is the best small RV out there!

The roomy and colorful interior of Yoda – our 1985 Toyota Coachmen mini motorhome

Toyota Motorhomes Have Insane Space Economy

The size of the Toyota was the first main selling point for us. We initially planned on buying a van, but didn’t like the lack of standard ventilation options and space for our sweet doggo Suzy. When we came across the Toyota “mini motorhome” – we knew it was just right. 

What we didn’t realize at the time was how much economy of space the Toyota RV had when compared to similarly sized vehicles, like vans. Since our bed is located over the cab, the RV also has a kitchen, bathroom, and seating for 5 people. The couch also folds down into a bed, allowing for up to 4 people to sleep inside the RV at once. 

While traveling, we made a lot of friends who lived in vans.. but none had space to accommodate company like we did. And most of them were peeing outside or in bottles while we had the luxury of in-home plumbing. (This was honestly the biggest van-deal breaker for me! Call me high maintenance I guess!)

Our sweet 22 foot Toyota motorhome, equipped with everything we need - nothing more, nothing less.
Our sweet 22 foot Toyota motorhome, equipped with everything we need – nothing more, nothing less.

Toyota Motorhomes Have the Best RV Fuel Economy Out There!

Since our Toyota motorhome only has a 4-cylinder engine… our fuel economy was a lot better than other motorhomes on the market. While the exact mileage per gallon fluctuated due to terrain (hills vs. flat road), wind and how full our holding and fresh water tanks were – we regularly got between 11-14mpg. Compared to the common 6-10mpg other motorhomes with larger engines get, we definitely saved on fuel expenses. While we still spent what felt like *most* of our weekly budget on gas, the Toyota Motorhome definitely has the best RV gas mileage around! (As far as we know, at least!)

This photo was taken on an old dirt highway in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. We drove here after climbing and descending 7,000 feet. Our Toyota Motorhome handled it like a champ!
This photo was taken on an old dirt highway in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. We drove here after climbing and descending 7,000 feet. Our Toyota Motorhome handled it like a champ!

Our Toyota Motorhome was an Off-Road Champion!

I won’t vouch for the off-road capabilities of ALL Toyota motorhomes… but ours handled impressively well while driving off-road to all of the best free campsites our country had to offer. 

We would regularly test her limits by driving up and down rutted mountain dirt roads, through mud and soft sand, and even through a river one time. I always spent these moments in the passenger’s seat with my eyes closed and fingers crossed that we wouldn’t get stuck… but our trusty little Toyota and Tim’s stellar off-road driving skills got us to all of the most inaccessible, beautiful campsites without ever getting stuck. 

RV next to pacific ocean This was Yoda's first time seeing the Pacific ocean... we drove her there, all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in Maine!
This was Yoda’s first time seeing the Pacific Ocean… we drove her there, all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in Maine! Thank you Toyota, for being so reliable!

Toyotas are Incredibly Reliable

Another big reason for buying at Toyota motorhome was that they are incredibly reliable. The 22R engine is known to be one of the most reliable engines ever made, and I’ve regularly heard of these motorhomes living well over 200,000 miles if cared for properly. I’ve personally never owned anything other than a Toyota, and have never had major car troubles – and this vehicle was no exception. 

While we did have some minor problems arise resulting in a new crank seal, alternator and water pump – we made it 20,000 miles over 6 months in a 33-year-old vehicle pretty much without incident. After this experience, it will be hard to accept anything less reliable than a Toyota. 

A shot of Yoda next to our friends' Toyota motorhome. They were just 2 of the people in the Toyota community that we met while traveling!
A shot of Yoda next to our friends’ Toyota motorhome. They were just 2 of the people in the Toyota community that we met while traveling.

Toyota Motorhomes Have a Cult Following & the Kindest Community

The last, and probably the most fun reason that we think Toyota Motorhomes are the best small RV out there is that they have the COOLEST and kindest following. Before we even purchased our RV, we found the Toyota Motorhome Club group on facebook. Throughout our entire RV renovation process, Toyota lovers from across the country helped us with every little thing we didn’t understand. Without their help, I’m not sure would have ever made it on the road.

Outside of the Toyota Motorhome-owners community – we found that a lot of people in the general population are also excited about these little hedgehogs on wheels. Several times a week, we’d find ourselves giving a tour to a stranger at a gas station, or we’d look out the window and see people taking pictures of our RV while parked at a Walmart. It was always an interesting topic of conversation and something we were happy to gush about.

Another shot of our 1985 Toyota Coachmen on the Pacific Coast Highway in California!
Another shot of our 1985 Toyota Coachmen on the Pacific Coast Highway in California!

Have I convinced you to buy a Toyota Motorhome yet?

I just wanted to share my love for Toyota motorhomes with y’all in case anyone out there is trying to find their perfect adventuremobile. I know it can be hard to choose between vans, RVs, buses, truck campers and tow-behinds… but I think this was the perfect choice for our first motorhome. After considering absolutely every option out there, I really think that the Toyota motorhome is the best small RV! Ours served us well and hopefully after reading this, others will experience the awesomeness that is the Toyota motorhome.

If you want more information about our Toyota RV renovation – check out this page!

 Do you think you could live and travel in a Toyota motorhome? If not, what do you think would be the perfect vehicle to live and travel in? Let me know in the comments!

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