Getting an RV is a lot like purchasing a house.
With so many options, amenities, floor plans, and more to choose from, how do you ensure you’re making the best decision for maximum enjoyment?
Because in the end, your goal (if you’re anything like us!) is to enjoy being outside more often and exploring the great beyond.
With that being said, if you’re caught between choosing a class A RV or a class C RV then keep reading because we’re going to break everything down for you with an easy way to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Let’s dive in!
What’s A Class A RV?
To many people in and out of the RV community, a class A is considered a big city bus.
If you’ve ever seen the comedy “RV” with Robin Williams, well that’s a class A RV. Just consider it a giant fiberglass bus rolling down the highway.
These RV’s are the largest of all the different RV classes and are often considered a “motorhome” because it genuinely feels like a home on wheels. They often come in two different engine types:
- Gas Engine
- Diesel Engine
Now, these RVs are typically used by full-timers who are traveling the U.S. a majority of the year.
They’re going to be the most expensive (and luxurious) of the different RVs available, and typically fit large families. We’ve seen models with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a full office, and more.
Here are some quick facts about class A motorhomes…
Class A RV Quick Facts:
Usually between 26-45 feet in length.
Anywhere from 13,000-50,000 pounds.
Anywhere from 4-10 people depending on the floor plan.
Almost all will have at least 1 slide out, but sometimes up to 4 slide outs.
Between 6-12 mpg. This will depend on if it’s a diesel engine or not.
This RV type can usually tow a vehicle (especially the diesel engines). Usually 5,000-10,000 pounds can be towed.
$100,000-$500,000 with some ultra luxury travel RVs pushing $2 million+.
Benefits & Disadvantages Of A Class A RV?
Let’s dive into the benefits of a Class A first…
Benefits Of A Class A Motorhome
Self Contained Experience
You’re driving a home on wheels. Seriously.
Almost all class A’s are going to have a generator, lots of storage space, plenty of water, and it’s got an engine built within to drive you around.
Honestly, the real beauty of these class A RVs is the insulation and comfort they provide when camping and traveling.
If you want comfort then a class A motorhome is your best pick. They contain full size everything, like kitchens, beds, recliners, couches, and even fridges.
After a long day on the road you can pull over into any Wal-Mart or rest stop and just boondock the night away in comfort knowing you’re sleeping in style. Plus, with a built-in generator you’ll be able to experience all the niceties of a house while sleeping under the stars.
Even if you’re traveling with a large family, a class A RV will provide more than enough room. Nobody in your crew will feel overly cramped or annoyed with each other, which can happen in smaller rigs.
Not to mention all the storage space you get with this type of rig.
Disadvantages of a Class A RV
If you’re ballin’ on a budget, it’s not recommended you get a class A. If you just sold your house and all your worldly possessions then you’re a more likely candidate for this kind of rig.
Because a typical class A will be at least $150,000, and if you’re smart and get a diesel pusher (the engine brake is really nice on steep hills…) you can expect a 50% or more increase in cost.
And friend, that’s just the base price with no fancy extras. If you add on fun amenities like awnings, heated floors, or custom bedroom/bathroom changes you’re looking at the cost of a new starter home.
Plus, add in the gas costs which will rack up fast due to the low gas mileage.
One thing we often hear about class As are the scary driving experiences, especially when turning or driving in heavy traffic.
This is so common that many people genuinely believe you need a CDL to drive a class A motorhome (not true by the way unless your rig is over 26,000 pounds).
Plus, you can’t actually get into most national parks with a rig of this size, which is not so fun when trying to explore new places or getting the best camping experience.
This often gets overlooked by most people because they think the motorhome is so big that it’s obviously safe. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Yes, these rigs have seatbelts and they’re large, but class As are also fiberglass boxes built on a frame. They don’t do well in collisions.
Food for thought.
What’s A Class C RV?
Ahh the good ole’ class C.
The kinda awkward middle child of the motorhome crew. These rigs sit between the class A and the class B (yet are named class C which has always baffled me) and are primarily built on a van or truck chassis.
These are the kind of fancy Uhaul looking vehicles with the “gooseneck” overhang that typically houses a bed.
They’re a great option for those who want to travel multiple times a year and have a small(ish) family, but we wouldn’t recommend them for full time living unless you’re a couple.
These RVs come in two primary types:
- Regular Class C RV – your standard top over cab class C.
- Super C Motorhome – the bigger, stronger, brother of two. Typically built on an F-series chassis with more space and amenities than a regular.
Here are some quick facts about a class C motorhome…
Class C RV Quick Facts:
Often between 20-35 feet in length.
Anywhere from 8,000-15,000 pounds.
Between 4-8 people (depending on your floor plan).
Usually 10-15 miles per gallon.
Most of the options are rated between 6,000-10,000 pounds for towing.
Between $60,000 – $150,000
The nice thing about class C motorhomes is they don’t feel so stressful to drive. Because they’re built on top of a van or truck chassis you get the manageability of a smaller vehicle, with the amenities of a larger RV.
Benefits & Disadvantages Of A Class C RV?
Let’s dive into a couple reasons why you should consider a class C.
Benefits Of a Class C RV
Like we mentioned earlier, driving a class C is a bit like operating a moving van or a Uhaul truck. They’re fairly easy to navigate with and maneuver through corners on a packed road, they don’t tend to have as many issues with wind like a class A.
If you plan on going for extended camping trips, or need a reliable vehicle for a week long vacation (anyone say road trip!?) then you’ll find yourself gravitating towards a class C RV.
Generally a class C will be more budget friendly (i.e. way easier on your wallet) compared to the class As and honestly class Bs also. This is because the chassis are typically more available than what a class A or B is built on and the material is fairly cheap (due to being fiberglass).
Price wise these RVs are some of the cheapest options for a motorhome.
A class C RV can offer the amenities of a class A RV, but without the same size or price tag attached.
These amenities almost always feature larger kitchens (which include bigger refrigerators and stoves), a bathroom with a dedicated shower, and bigger bedding for sleeping space (some options include bunk beds which can be extra useful when you have guests or your family).
You can also expect larger water tanks which can be useful if you’re boondocking!
Which RV Type Should You Choose?
Now that you have a high level of the two different RV types, you’ll want to make your decision based on these different considerations:
- Currently Family Size / Number Of Passengers
- Storage Needs
- Fuel Economy
- Frequency of Use
- Driving Comfort
Let’s dive into these separately…
Currently Family Size / Number Of Passengers
If you have a large family – let’s say 5 or more people – who are going to be traveling with you then we recommend considering a class A.
Because a typical class A will have much more living and sleeping space compared to a class C. You’ll find more floor plans with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and the overall comfort will be significantly higher with more people.
If you have a smaller family, or you’re a couple of travelers, then a class C will be your most likely choice. We often hear from couple travelers that a class A is just too much space and many downsized to a class C. Although, there are small class A rvs available if you want to consider that route.
If you need a lot of storage, class A wins hands down. These rigs are chock full of areas to store stuff and you’ll most likely have room to spare.
If you’re living a more minimalist lifestyle with fairly limited stuff, or you’re only planning to travel occasionally then a class C will be more to your liking. Class Cs are still good storage options, but not nearly at the level of a class A.
Class As are more expensive than class Cs.
Many people get sticker shock from the cost of a class A, and if you’re on a budget you’ll find yourself regretting the decision to get one.
Class C motorhomes are going to offer better fuel economy compared to a class A.
Because a class A is significantly heavier than a class C, which means more torque and energy required to gain momentum. Also, the overall shape of a class A makes it feel like a sail on the road because it’s a giant box going against the wind. Class Cs are quite a bit more aerodynamic in design.
Frequency of Use
How often will you be using your RV?
If you plan on full-time living, then a class A will be better suited for this, especially with family.
If you only plan on a handful of trips throughout the year, you’ll most likely want a class C.
We often hear many wives of the couples who own a class A say they’re uncomfortable driving a class A. Candidly, many husbands feel uncomfortable too, especially when the winds start to pick up.
If you’re comfortable driving a fully loaded down bus for over 3,000 miles right next to an 18-wheeler then by all means, go for it. However, most people aren’t exactly all peaches when they’re fighting wind gusts every couple minutes, just to stay within the lanes.
Class Cs are by far much easier to drive when you compare the two. The only real downside to a class C is the dang overhang limits your upper view which means the scenic drives are blocked.
Both RV types are going to offer good amenities, but class As win this one. They will have the best amenities, including kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and all the extras one could want.
There are even class As with full size washing machines in them. Which is honestly mind-boggling when you think about it.
Like we mentioned earlier, they’re designed for self-contained comfort. And if you’re the glamping type, you’ll enjoy this a lot when camping.
Final Thoughts – Who Wins?
We personally think the class C wins overall when comparing these two RV classes. From our experience asking people and learning about the two motorhome types, class C offers more bang for your buck.
Don’t get us wrong, class A RVs are very nice and many people enjoy the comfort of a class A because it’s the perfect fit for them.
In the end, you’ll have to use the considerations we gave along with the info to make the most informed decision.
See you around!