POMONA - Steve Sandow of Long Beach plans to buy a recreational vehicle this year and prepared for the purchase this week by viewing the many vehicles on sale at the Southern California Winter RV Show at Fairplex.

The show, put on by McMahons RV, runs through Sunday in the Fairplex parking lot at Gate 9 off White Avenue.

Hundreds of new and bank-reprocessed RVs are on sale.

The inventory includes everything from trailers that unfold into tent-like structures with hard sides to luxurious vehicles equipped with all the latest creature comforts.

Sandow, a retiree, is looking for a smaller vehicle that he, his wife and their dog can use to travel around the United States and Canada.

"I'm looking for something relatively economical," he said, after taking a look inside a vehicle larger than a full-size van.

It's actually possible to find some recreational vehicles that get relatively good gas mileage, even 15 miles to the gallon, Sandow said.

"That was unheard of 15 to 20 years ago," he said.

Since the show began Dec. 26, more than 250 vehicles have been sold, said Mike Lankford, vice president of sales for McMahons RV.

The show started out with 250 vehicles, but the company has constantly been rotating and adding to inventory on-site, Lankford said.

RV owners have held back on buying new vehicles in recent years due to the economic downturn, he said.

"The buying cycle is four to five years. Because of the Great Recession it has been pushed back seven to eight years," Lankford said.

Some people are now ready to replace their existing RVs after several years of holding the line on their spending, he said.

"There is so much pent-up demand," Lankford said.

Customers of all ages - young families, seniors and those in-between - have been coming to the show.

Recreational vehicles appeal to a broad range of buyers, put particularly to those in the 35 to 54 age range with the average RVer being 48, said Kevin Broom, spokesman for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

The appeal of the RV is that it gives people flexibility and allows people to save money.

An association study completed in 2011 showed that a family of four can save from 23 percent to 59 percent by having an RV vacation, Broom said.

Traveling in an RV provides flexibility and can be far more economical than making a trip that involves purchasing plane tickets, hotel accommodations, restaurant meals and paying for a car rental, he said.

First-time RV buyers can find fuel price increases unsettling, but most recreational vehicle owners adapt to those gas cost fluctuations.

"When fuel prices go up, RVers will just take shorter trips," he said.

Instead of planning a cross country trip they'll make more frequent weekend trips to the mountains, beaches state parks and other locations.

"You can almost pick a route at random," he said.

The vast majority of RVs are used for recreation purposes, including tailgating, trips to amusement parks and even to serve as a base camp when traveling to a child's sports tournament out of town, Broom said.

"Approximately 9 million households own at least one RV," Broom said.

About half a million of those are used as an alternative form of housing mostly by those who are independently wealthy or professionals who do considerable traveling, Broom said.

Buyers have a great deal to chose from when purchasing an RV.

Manufacturers make new folding camping trailers, sometimes referred to as pop-ups with prices starting at $6,000 and prices going up to $1 million for high-end motorhomes, Broom said.

"It's an incredible array of dealers," he said.

Admission to the Southern California Winter RV Show is free.

Parking is available at Gate 9 on White Avenue for $10 is Saturday and Sunday.


Reach Monica via email, follow her on Twitter @PomonaNow, or call her at 909-483-9336.