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Class A, Class B, or Class C, which is best?

Like anything else, the answer to this depends on your particular needs. Each type has it's advantages and disadvantages, so the characteristics that are most important to you will determine which type of motorhome will suffice.

To begin this topic, let's review the types of motorhomes available. Classes are derived from the US Dept. of Transportation classification system (however, Class B+ and Super C are not official classifications).

  • CLASS A. Typically the largest and most expensive, these are the "bus" type motorhomes, and can reach 40ft long. They are typically constructed from a stripped chassis or conversion of a commercial bus frame.

  • CLASS B. These are generally conversion vans.

  • CLASS B+. These are in reality Class C motorhomes, but without the traditional cab-over sleeping area.

  • CLASS C. Generally available from 20ft to around 32ft, these motorhomes are typically built on a "cutaway" van chassis - meaning a chassis with only a cab area from the vehicle manufacturer

  • CLASS SUPER C. Typically a Class C style motorhome, but built on an industrial chassis such as a heavy duty Ford 550 or International cab chassis.

 

 

Characteristics, Advantages, and Disadvantages.

 

Class A.


Typically the largest and most expensive, these are the "bus" type motorhomes, and can reach 40ft or longer. They typically start out at around $100k, but can cost more than a million dollars for luxury models.

Chassis for these rigs are available from Ford, Chevy, as well as industrial versions from Freightliner and perhaps others.

Notwithstanding their cost, they are perhaps the most popular type of motorhome, and generally available in both gas and diesel pusher (diesel in the rear end of the coach) models.

If you are a full time RV'er, or spend a few months in Florida in the winter time, a Class A motorhome is the one to buy.

Class A motorhomes typically have the most space, and they often have larger water and holding tanks for longer stays, and may offer amenities such as washer and dryers, dishwashers, and residential sized refrigerators. However, these super-sized coaches come at a price as the diesel rigs are very expensive, and the gas versions are expensive to operate. Gas coaches can get as low as 7Mpg.

The cab in a Class A motorhome is often useable - at least in part - when the coach is at the campsite by virtue of a rotating passenger seat.

Towing a car - at least with a diesel rig is easy with a typical towing capacity of 10,000lbs. Gas Class A motorhomes are often limited to 5,000lbs.

Maintenance and spare parts can be a challenge, as all of the components other than the chassis itself is custom made by the RV manufacturer. And as those companies start up or go out of business frequently, trying to find a windshield for a brand that has not been in business for 10yrs can be a challenge.

The good news though is that most of the appliances and hardware on all motorhomes are made by 3rd party manufacturers, so obtaining repair parts for your generator or refrigerator is usually not an issue.

Routine maintenance can be a challenge as it may be fairly difficult to access engine components on some Class A motorhomes.

Driving a Class A can be a challenge, not only due to the extended length, but also due to the high center-of-gravity (which is usually more than the other types). Since these coaches are typically higher, they can also present a lot of "sail" area in windy situations which may also present a challenge to drive. And due to the wheel locations (especially the front steering), there may be a significant learning curve when learing to drive these coaches.

Storage abounds in a Class A, with plenty of "basement" storage space (basement refers to the area below the living quarters). However, this typically means a Class A has several steps to get into the cab area, sometimes 3 or 4ft above ground level. This can be an issue for older people that may not be as ambulatory.

 

Class B.


These are generally conversion vans, and perhaps should not be classified as motorhomes, but many people like them, especially if they are constantly on the move and want an easy way to overnight while exploring the countryside. The size of these motorhomes are typically what can be purchased as a van from the various vehicle manufacturers.

Gas and diesel models are generally available, from chassis builders such as Chevy, Ford, Dodge, and Mercedes. Since Class B motorhomes are essentially vans, they are the most "automotive" of all motorhome types, and typically have the best fuel mileage, and safety equipment, such as air-bags.

Gas models have fuel mileage in the 10~14mpg range, while diesel models can get up to 20mpg.

They may or may not have dual real wheels, depending on the size and weight of the rig. The advantage of course is thest are the easiest motorhomes to drive, but they have the least amount of space.

Often, there is minimal sleeping area in these motorhomes, and may consist of a rear sofa that converts into a small bed, a "porta-pottie" rather than a true toilet, and a minimal galley.

Towing capacity is also minimal, and typically ranges from 2,000lbs to 3,500lbs.

If you are on the go, this might be the best choice. The cost of these coaches are typically under $50k.

 

Class B+


These are in reality Class C motorhomes, but without the traditional cab-over sleeping area. They may have a shorter overhang that houses an entertainment system, or simply a storage area. Since the typical B+ is in reality a Class C motorhome but without the front overhang sleeping area.

They differ from true Class B motorhomes as they are typically built on a Van Cut-out chassis rather than a conversion van approach. Lengths are typically shorter than traditional Class C RVs, typically 19ft to 24ft.

Van chassis are usually E250 (2500) or E350 (3500), and they typically cost $50k or less, except for the diesel models. Towing capacities range from 2,000 to 3,500lbs and fuel mileage is typically in the 8~10mpg range for gas models.

 

Class C


Generally available from 20ft to around 32ft, these motorhomes are typically built on a "cutaway" van chassis - meaning a chassis with only a cab area from the vehicle manufacturer.

Typically Class C motorhomes cost from around $50k to over $100k, and generally offer more sleeping area for families. They are generally only available with gas engines, although there are a few diesels.

Class C's are family friendly, with more sleeping capacity than a Class A motorhome due to their cabover bed (although some Class A coaches do have cab over beds as well). Often, two full beds are ready to use immediately without folding down or adjusting interior furniture.

Class C's usually lose the cab area when parked, but some newer models do have a rotating passenger seat in the cab so it can be re-utilized when at the camprground. However, due to the narrower cab area, this capability is somewhat limited.

When compared to a Class A, a Class C is usually easier to drive, park, and maneuver in tight areas such as campgrounds. As well, due to the lower height, there is not as much wind loading so driving is easier in windy conditions. These features are very important for the 1st time motorhome owner.

Class C motorhomes typically have safety features such as air bags and other advanced automotive technology, including a steel "cage" around the driver's compartment.

Since there are more automotive components (windshields, wiper blades, headlights, belts, and the like), maintaining a Class C is usually a bit simpler.

Class C motorhomes are typically built on E350/E450 (3500/4500) van chassis, and have fuel mileage in the 8~`10mpg range. Towing capacities range from 2,000 to 5,000lbs for the most heavy duty coaches.

 

Class Super C


Typically a Class C style motorhome, but built on an industrial chassis such as a heavy duty Ford 550 or International cab chassis. These are "heavy duty" versions of a Class C, and are diesel powered. They typically offer the convenience of a Class C, but with the performance of a diesel Class A.

Towing is usually in the 10,000lb range, which is one reason people tend to gravitate to this class of motorhome. However, these coaches are typically as high as Class A's, so they lose the lower height advantage of a traditional Class C (although coaches built on the Ford F550 chassis are usually lower than the International chassis versions).

These motorhomes can cost anywhere from $100k to $200k, and can get fuel economy around 14mpg due to their diesel powered engines.

 

Typical Motorhome Weights and Dimensions

 

So there is really no "best" motorhome... because there are so many varied needs. If you want to travel and see different sights each day, a Class B might be better than a Class A for you. However, if you want to live in a motorhome part or full-time, a Class A is perhaps the best choice. Ultimately, the reason there are so many different motorhomes is there are so many different needs and budgets.