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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.
Let’s start with Franklin (Class C motorhome) our beautiful, old, Breaking-Bad lookin’ RV.
Overview of Class C RV’s (like Franklin):
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).
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):
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).
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:
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). Be sure to check your towing capacity before you buy too!
How does the Class C drive?
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”?
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.
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. Some Super Cs are toy haulers too, meaning there’s a garage with room for your toys—like side by sides, motorcycles, dirt bikes, etc.
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:
Price range of a slightly used Super C RV (10 years old or newer):
Okay, let’s keep moving onto the Class A RV’s.
Overview of Class A RV’s (like our new RV–Merica’)
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:
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.).
Benefits to having a Class A 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):
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. If you believe the RV salesman we bought our RV from, Class A’s have a better fuel economy…somehow…even though the numbers don’t add up.
How does the Class A RV drive?
Our new RV drives surprisingly smooth, but because it’s four feet longer (at 33 ft.) 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. So a Class C may be a bit more easy to drive.
Can you still take it to national and state parks?
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 to would allow a 33 ft. RV to park in their campground.
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 gone 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 RVs with or without slides, it’s just another thing to consider in this process.