The Difference Between Class A and Class C Motorhomes
» » » The Difference Between Class A and Class C Motorhomes

The Difference Between Class A and Class C Motorhomes

posted in: RVing | 4

A big question Alyssa and I had before we bought our first RV was,”What the heck is the difference between the Class A and Class C motorhomes?”

Flash forward two years later and we now have owned both kinds of motorhomes.

Both have their perks and pitfalls, but if you’re just now venturing into the world of RV’s — I wanted to help you better understand the differences between both kinds of RV’s.

Side note: If you want to read about other types of trailers and motorhomes, check out this post by my wife. In this article we’ll stick with the two that I have lived and traveling in (Class A and Class C motorhomes).

AKA Franklin VS. Merica. Our old, 1994 Coachmen Class C motorhome vs. our 2016 Winnebago Brave Class A motorhome.

Class A VS Class C Motorhome

Let’s start with Franklin (Class C motorhome)– our beautiful, old, Breaking-Bad lookin’ RV.

Overview of Class C RV’s (like Franklin):

Photo of our old Class C motorhome in the Redwoods

The main difference between a Class C motorhome and a Class A motorhome is the front of the RV. Many Class C’s will have the overhead bed area or some type of entertainment or storage location. Not all Class C RV’s have storage or a bed here (but most do).

Benefits to having a Class C RV:

Shorter length. Many of the Class C RV’s are short enough that you can still enter into most national and state park campgrounds. This being said, you can also get Class A RV’s for as short as ~24 feet.

Easier to drive. Because the cab is lower to the ground and it feels more “truck-like”, it might be less intimidating than a Class A RV to drive.

The overhead bed (if you have one) makes for fun “loft nights”. Alyssa and I used to climb up there occasionally and watch movies. The overhead bed can be cozy and kind of makes you feel like you’re a kid in a fort.

You can get creative and make additional living space. Some people turn the overhead bed into their full-time bed and convert the back of the RV into an office or additional living space. I recently did an interview on my podcast with a couple named Christian and Elisa Genco who did just this (see photo below). I thought about doing this same thing in our RV, but I’m glad it got vetoed by Alyssa. The first time you have to wake up in the middle of the night to pee and fall off the bunk, you’ll wish you weren’t sleeping a few feet up in the air (speaking from experience).

In a Class C RV, you can remove the back bed for extra living space.
Christian and Elisa Genco removed their back “bedroom” of their RV for more working and living space. Listen to their interview on episode 11 of The RV Entrepreneur podcast.

Typical cost of a Class C motorhome:

It depends on whether you buy new or used, but generally speaking, you can buy a Class C motorhome for cheaper than a Class A.

Price range for a new Class C RV:

$50k-$115k (some of the more expensive Class C’s will typically have some type of Mercedes engine).

Slightly used price range for a Class C RV (10 years old or newer):

$15k-$70k

We paid $11,500 for Franklin (our Class C) and did some really sweet renovations to him (check out this article to see how we did our entire renovation for $500).

Our Class C RV Renovation
Interior of our 1994 Class C motorhome, post $5oo renovation project.

Alyssa and I paid $11,500 for our Class C rig. Class C RV’s tend to be a more popular option for younger people who are hitting the road in an RV. We have seen quite a few millennial RVers who have bought and did some cool renovations on Class C RV’s.

Gas mileage for the Class C Motorhome:

7-15MPG

The gas mileage for many Class C motorhomes can be better than a Class A. However, it will depend on if you’re towing a vehicle, your weight load, and even which way the wind is blowing (yes, seriously).

How does the Class C drive?

Driving a Class C motorhome

Compared to our new Class A RV, the Class C was honestly a bit easier to drive. Franklin was 29 foot in length and the front of the RV felt like you were in an old Ford truck (it was a 94′). We drove that RV all the way up Highway 1 and didn’t have any issues. We also drove it in downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City (48 states total) and never really felt like it was “too much to handle”.

Side note: What about these things called “Super C’s”?

Super C Motorhome

I’m glad you asked.

Super C’s are what I like to call the rich hillbilly of RV’s. This will probably trigger some type of hate response by typing it, but let me first explain. I grew up with a bunch of guys who liked to go mudding, ride 4-wheelers and put ridiculously expensive lift kits on their trucks. When I imagine any of my childhood friends buying an RV, I imagine them buying a Super C RV.

Why?

Well, they are beasts. Super C’s are built on a semi-truck chassis (or something just as big) and they are known for being able to tackle any mountain with ease.

Benefits to owning a Super C RV:

  • No mountain can stand in your way
  • You can tow just about anything
  • You will have an ultimate man card
  • You could potentially be one of the few to survive a zombie apocalypse

Price range of a new Super C RV:

$200k-$750k

Price range of a slightly used Super C RV (10 years old or newer):

$100k-$500k

Okay, let’s keep moving onto the Class A RV’s.

Overview of Class A RV’s (like our new RV–Merica’)

Our Class A Motorhome

She’s beautiful, isn’t she?

After living in Franklin for over a year, we upgraded to a Class A RV for a few reasons:

1. We wanted needed more work space. Franklin only had one small, circle table that we both had to try and work at all day. Since we work while traveling full-time (here’s how we afford the lifestyle), we needed separate work spaces if we wanted to be productive (and also have a happy marriage).

2. We wanted slide-outs. Franklin didn’t have any slide-outs. This wasn’t a big issue at first… until we realized the gloriousness of having walls that slide out and give you twice as much space. Since we validated that we enjoyed the RV lifestyle and wanted to keep doing it for awhile, we felt like it was best to have a little more space. Although they do occasionally break and all hell breaks loose, this happened to us earlier this summer.

3. We wanted a bit more dependability. Driving any RV across America will inevitably bring some type of drama or breakdowns. That being said, we had a sense of constant stress with our older RV that something was always going to go wrong. It got so bad that I mentally had to tell myself on each trip that we would not be making it to our destination… this way, I wouldn’t freak out when and if we broke down. However, in 48 states of travel we only officially broke down one time. We just had to deal with a lot of other issues (leaking roof, broken jacks, etc.).

Interior of our Class A Winnebago Brave RV
We have three different work stations in our new RV. The main dinette, circle table up front, and then a fold over desk in front of the passenger seat.

Benefits to having a Class A RV:

Alyssa working in our RV

– The front 3-4 feet of the RV is actually living space VS. being only for driving/storage. In our Class A, our front two chairs swivel around and a small, circular desk goes between them. This means that we have our extra work station. In Franklin, we only used the front two seats while driving and they didn’t turn around. Now, this is adds quite a bit of additional living space.

– You get sweet panoramic views in the giant windshield. This is one of the cooler parts of having a Class A RV. Now when we drive to beautiful national parks like the Tetons or the Grand Canyon, we’ll have this giant windshield to look through and take photos.

– They generally have taller ceilings. If you’re tall, unlike myself, you will be much more comfortable in a Class A RV vs. a Class C. Our ceilings in our new Class A are a solid foot higher than our Class C.

– Class A’s tend to have more under storage (although this isn’t always the case).

– More living space for a bigger family. If Alyssa and I ever decided to travel with our future kids, then we would definitely be traveling in a Class A RV. Class A RV’s can be as short as ~24-25ft and as long as 45ft. They also make Class A RV’s with bath and a half’s so the kids don’t have to come into the parents bathroom in the middle of the night.

Price range for a brand new Class A RV:

$60k-$3 million (We’re talking Prevost, rockstar style RV’s on the higher end)

Price range for a slightly used Class A RV (10 years old or newer):

20k-$1 million

Typical gas mileage:

5-10 MPG (Typically worse MPG than a Class C motorhome)

The gas mileage is going to depend on if you’re towing a vehicle, your weight load, and even which way the wind is blowing.

How does the Class A RV drive?

Our new RV drives surprisingly smooth, but because it’s three feet longer (at 33ft) than our previous rig, it’s still a tad bit more intimidating on the road. Alyssa didn’t have a problem driving Franklin, but because of the height and added length, our Class A is a little much for her.

Can you still take it to national and state parks?

Driving through the Smoky Mountains in our Winnebago Brave Class A Motorhome

So far we’ve driven it through The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and didn’t have any issues. We stayed in a campground in the park too. We were one of the larger rigs there, but at 33ft we were able to go almost anywhere.

Next week I’m taking our rig to Big Bend National Park in south Texas and there are a few drives inside the park that won’t allow vehicles longer than 24ft. But I can say that most of the national and state parks we’ve been too would allow a 33ft RV to park in their campground.

In Conclusion

Both Class A motorhomes and Class C motorhomes are great. Ultimately, it comes down to preference and/or need. Here are a few questions I’d ask myself before buying either kind of rig.

Do we need a lot of space? If not, you might consider going much smaller. Most people say they wish they would have went smaller vs. bigger.

What kind of travel do we want to be doing (i.e do we also want to travel to cities)? If you want to hit up quite a bit of cities, then you might consider a small 24-25 ft Class C motorhome. With this size rig, you can pull it into most normal parking lot spots. Another option for you is to just tow a car behind your bigger Class A motorhome and then drive it into the city. I wouldn’t recommend taking big rigs into city, that’s just asking for stress.

Do we need a rig with slide-outs? You can buy Class A or Class C RV’s with or without slides, it’s just another thing to consider in this process.

Want to dig into more RV related blogs? Here’s a few you might enjoy.

Follow Heath:

Cofounder of CampgroundBooking.com and host of The RV Entrepreneur Podcast. From 2014-15 my wife, Alyssa, and I traveled to all 50 states making a documentary about hourly work. I love sharing this RV lifestyle with new people, meeting friends on the road, and the occasional binge of Tex-Mex food.

  • centex

    1 plus for Class C: It may be easier to get mechanical repairs with a class C being that it is a standard van front-end.
    1 plus for Class A: Leveling jacks are on most, if not all Class As. These are usually an “add on item” for Class Cs.

  • MrOAK

    I have been RVing for 8 years now in a 32 foot Class A motorhome. We have averaged 5 months a year RVing consisting of 1 turnaround trip lasting about a month to bring the RV south before the snow flys and to see parts of the country that are not very RVable in the winter. The second trip is a Snowbird Flight to the south for the winter. That’s about 4 months long.
    We always RV towing a car. My motorhome gets 6.7 MPG and the Toyota I tow gets 30 MPG.

    I am facinated by the importance new RVers put on the ability to stay in big state and National parks. It is true that some parks limit the length of RV’s that can stay in them. In our eight years RVing we have toured most of the National parks and many state parks. I have only stayed in one National park for any noticeable length of time (Big Bend TX). That is because A) driving an RV around in a park is much harder (and much more annoying for other visitors) than driving a small Toyota, B) Most campgrounds in parks do not offer full hookups and WIFI. I do not view myself as a camper but an RVer. I will not go for months on end without TV in my home and I will not stay out of touch with friends and relatives with out WIFI. When we stayed in Big Bend for a week they did not have electrical hookups. The hours for running a generator were 8 AM to 8 PM (prime time for touring the park) , how do you run your generator to recharge your house batteries if you do not get back hours before 8 PM? Or do you annoy your neighboring campers by running the generator all day while you are gone?
    We normally stay outside the parks and drive in with our toad.
    Of course when RVing 5 months a year the majority of our time is not spent in National or state parks that limit the length of your RV.

    I am not recommending large Class A’s over Class C’s. I think a new RVer needs to evaluate what they expect to use their RV for to help make the decision. I just think that too many new RVers use this one smaller consideration to drive their decision.

  • larkinabout

    Hey, we are RVing from New York to Atlanta in a couple of weeks time. Any idea how long this might take us ? And any tips on route or where to stop? Travelling back up east coast….maybe via Chesapeake bay bridge unless anyone has better idea or advises against it !!

  • Pingback: What RV Should I Buy? The Pros and Cons to Each RV()