I’m currently towing a travel trailer for my RVing fun, but I’m really looking into getting my first motorhome. Consequently, I’m heavily researching the differences between a Class A and a Class C RV.
Just to be crystal clear, I’m NOT AT ALL suggesting that Class C RVs are better than Class A RVs. Obviously, it depends on your specific needs. The point of this post isn’t to say which is better, but merely to recognize some reasons that people may want to choose a Class C instead of a Class A–IF those reasons better fit your needs. There are also very compelling reasons to choose a Class A, which we’ve written about before (And I included 23 reasons to choose the Class A in that article).
Purchasing a Class C RV is a significant investment that requires a lot of time and research. One way we recommend doing your due diligence is trying one before you make a purchase. RVShare is a great way to try a Class C RV for your next camping trip. Check out your local rental inventory by clicking here. If you’re reading this article and aren’t quite sure what a Class C is, you can read this article I wrote that explains just what it is, along with more of its advantages.
Class C Gas/Brake Pedal Location
On a Class A, the gas and brake pedals are skewed over to the right hand side, which can be really annoying for the first 5 or 6 times you drive one. The first time I drove a Class A, I had to keep looking down to make sure my foot was on the right pedal, and I had to once look down to find the brake! This is because the steering column runs between the driver’s legs.
On a Class C, the pedals are where you expect them to be.
This is obviously something you’ll get used to, but is another thing to consider.
More Sleeping Space
In general, you’ll get more sleeping space in a Class C because of the bunk over the driver/passenger seats.
This benefit is changing, however. Since Thor came out with the A.C.E. (#1 selling motorhome on the market), many manufacturers have followed suit and now it’s common to find Class A motorhomes with a bunk above the driver/passenger seat in the front.
Class C Rvs have a driver’s door, a passenger door, and also a door in the middle of the living area. Three entrances/exits is not only a safety feature, it makes it much more convenient to get out of the rig to fill up the gas, etc.
Class C saves a ton of money. Typically, a Class C will cost about $15k less than a similarly appointed Class A of the same length. This is one reason why Class C is the most popular type of RV for rentals. Here, you can find an article I wrote where I give 13 tips for buying a Class C, including whether or not to buy it new or used, renting, and other tips!
Significantly Safer for Front Impact Accidents
Class A motorhomes may seem safe when you see a huge bus, but if you’ve seen any of them after a car accident, you’ll realize that they are actually very dangerous machines.
A class C RV has a large hood and engine in front of the driver. When there is an accident, the engine drops and there is a large crash box in front of the driver intended to take the impact and save the driver and passenger.
On a Class A rig, the engine is accessed partially in front, and partially in the dog house inside the home. This makes maintenance and repairs a NIGHTMARE! There are many many mechanics who won’t even work on Class A’s for this reason. A Class C is a normal Ford or Chevy truck in the front. Lift the hood and everything looks familiar and is easily accessible.
In general, a Class A motorhome weighs significantly more than a Class C. A 30′ Class C will typically weigh about 14,000 pounds, and a Class A of the same size will often weigh 17,000 or 18,000 pounds. However, Class A motorhomes can generally tow more weight behind the coach if you have a boat or car.
This one is tough to quantify because each rig is different, but in general, the reports I’ve read from people who own both is that a Class C gets very slightly better gas mileage–in the 2 or 3 miles per gallon range.
But please put that into perspective. If you drive clear from San Francisco, California to Richmond, Virginia (that’s all the way across the US if you aren’t much for geography), that’s 2,822 miles. Assuming gas is high at $3.25 per gallon, the price difference of a vehicle that got 10 miles per gallon instead of 8 would only be $228.42. That’s it. When we’re talking about buying an $85,000 motorhome, that difference is not even a blip on the radar. I wrote an article that includes a giant guide to motorhome gas mileage, where I go over each type of motorhome and discuss it’s mileage. Find the article here.
Lower to the Ground
C Class RVs are generally lower to the ground than the Class A. This is certainly true from the driver’s perspective, but also usually true from the bottom of the coach. This means that driving the Class C feels similar to driving a truck, and also it means that the clearance is similar.
Less Likely to Roll
Because a Class C is lower to the ground and hugs the pavement when you make a tight corner, it seems that it would be less likely to topple or roll if you over-correct on the steering wheel.
This is one of the biggest factors for me in considering a Class C. The Class C has airbags just like a normal vehicle does. This obviously makes it significantly safer. Class A coaches do not have airbags!
Easier to Find Campsites
Because a Class C is so much smaller in general than a Class A, it can be much easier to find camping spots. If you are going to buy a big one, I’d recommend staying 35′ or less, which is a common cut-off point for many campgrounds in national and state parks.
Easier to Cool Driving Area
Class A rigs have a gigantic windshield which makes for a beautiful view, but also turns the cab area into an oven on a hot day. A class C is very much like a normal truck windshield and is consequently easier to evenly cool on a hot day.
Easy to See In Front of the Vehicle
One of the most intimidating aspects of driving a Class A is that the windshield is a long arm’s stretch in front of you, and the front of the vehicle is chopped flat, so you can’t see what’s directly in front of you. If a kid walks in front of the vehicle, it would be nearly impossible to see her.
A class C is lower to the ground from the driver’s perspective and consequently safer in this regard.
Tighter Turn Radius
No motorhome has great turning radius, but generally, a class C will beat a Class A in terms of turning radius. This is due to the tighter turning of the vehicle itself, and the fact that the wheel base is brought forward.
Less Wind Drag
The lower ceiling height on a Class C means that it is less likely to catch the wind. This can be a serious safety hazard as a sudden gust of wind can easily sway a vehicle and cause the driver to overcorrect.
Easier to Find Mechanics
Not only are parts cheaper on a Class C, but it’s much easier to find a mechanic. Any Ford dealer can work on your Class C motorhome, in addition to RV specialists and really any normal mechanic shop.
There are many reasons to choose a Class A. In fact, most full-time Rv families end up with a class A, and there’s good reason for that. However, I strongly believe that it’s worth your time to consider a Class C. You may just find that the benefits of this system outweigh the drawbacks.
What benefits have you found of a class C over a class A? I’d love it if you’d contribute #19 to this list in a comment below.
49 thoughts on “19 Reasons to Choose a Class C RV (and NOT a Class A!)”
One thing not mentioned, van cabs have had billions in crash testing and refinements, and are as quiet as cars. Class a gassers have an engine sitting right beside you and depending the model the noise can where you out on a trip. Now a monster class a diesel pusher is quiet as a class c because the engine is over 40 ft behind and they are so heavy they win in a crash with most vehicals and the fuel economy is equal to a class c gas less than half the weight
Super sizing matters smatters and shatters if safety is the overwhelming priority
Like many I have gone for me little Toyota Class C 20 years ago to a 36 ft Class A. I now have a 28 ft Safari Trek Class A but it still seems like I’m driving this huge bus that’s like a meandering dinosaur that sways from side to side. To me the Class A is intimidating to drive I’m looking at a 2006 Sunseeker 3100 Class C since I like driving in a smaller cab..
I chuckled to myself when I read your post since we must be twins ! Also started 20 years ago with Toyota Class C with that great R22 engine, Had Class C’s and A’s’ over the years and recently bought a 1999 Safari Trek 2830 which I thought I would like but I hated driving it, yes it drove like a big lumbering bus. I am in South Florida and bought a 2006 Sunseeker 3100, 34K miles for $23,600 which I thought was a good price. Leaving on our first three week trip in four days…Roger
I’ve noticed a lot of comments on frontal crash safety in this thread. Interesting, the distance from the gas pedal to the front bumper on my class A is a whomping 7 inches shorter than my 2016 Escape and 3 inches longer than my dad’s van. Take into account the heavier frame and massive crossbeam behind the bumper, in any rv/car crash it would suck to be them, the large vehicle crash could possibly be a bit more dicey but if you rear-end a semi you get what you got coming. A head on with a lifted 4×4 or high sitting anything would be bad in either, the determining factor would be frame intervention for the class A and crumple zones for the C. Most of the time an “accident” involves 2 vehicles with drivers who are both having a H.U.A. moment. I love my 30′ class A but have looked at 28 -30′ class c’s and could be happy with either. At 30′ you can go just about any campground or mountain pass, you get much longer there start to be some limitations. 3 reasons I chose a class A, 1. Front view. 2. Higher combined gross vehicle weight rating, 3. Better ground clearance, haven’t bottomed it out, anywhere, ever, thought I was going to several times but never happened. Actually helped a C off a spot where he buried his receiver hitch in the asphalt and lightly highcentered and then drove my A right through without any problems. Fuel and wind issues are irrelevant, imo, if fuel cost is an issue don’t buy either, and if the wind is blowing to hard to handle, stop and camp, either are self contained and if your on a deadline, your missing the point of these vehicles.
I couldn’t decide so I bought a Super C. Best of both worlds.
Hello, thank to everyone for the great tips and comments. My dilemma is simple, I would like to know if a Class C can maneuver and park in a city. For example, my wife and I love visiting antique shops. So once I arrive at a particular state, and prior to parking my RV at the selected campground, we would like to visit the areas historic district and find some cool antique shops. What are the challenges of getting around and parking a Class C in a commercial or retail district? Can the Class C be parallel parked and not stick out onto the street? Can it be parked at on off-street parking area with no ingress/egress issues? Thanks.
I would suggest finding a supermarket parking lot or something similar.
We own a 2002 31′ Thor Four Winds class C mini motorhome with 34,324 original miles on it. This is my first time driving a motorhome. I have driven dump trucks, bucket trucks, and many other large trucks but driving our Ford E450 Super Duty motorhome is almost like driving my F150 pickup. I have found it easier to drive than some standard pickup trucks. One thing you left out is the insurance costs. For me, the cost of insurance was much cheaper with the class C style motorhome than a Class A. Geico charges me 193.00 a year for the C and wanted 546.00 a year for the A. Maintenence on my class C is much cheaper than on an A since most large class A motorhomes are diesel pushers. Fuel costs for our V10 are also much cheaper than diesel fuel. If you are the type of person who doesn’t like the DIY things and have plenty of retirement money saved for repairs a class A motorhome might be for you. For me, I enjoy our class C much much more and use the money we saved to do other things.
Does anyone know if the newer c class are more stable towing a vehicle than say a 2012 model? We had a 34′ sunseeker and it was all over the road when towing our Toyota truck…looking to go back with either a A or C class..(and the dealerships won’t let us try it with a tow behind! Insurance reasons)
I am a 56 year old woman. I drive a 32’ Forester with my Jeep in tow. I hardly feel it behind me. It is pretty easy to tow.
We have a 2016 25′ Sunseeker MBS and have towed a 2 door Jeep Wrangler 4 wheels down over 3500 miles cross country without any issues. The only problem is remembering it’s back there.
Although my Workhorse Chassis is identical to a Chevy Van under the hood, no Chevy dealer will touch it with a 10 foot pole. I tried and failed. This advantage is non-existent. They claimed it was too heavy for their lifts, or that it was too tall for their bays, or any number of other reasons.
I have not had any trouble with my Ford E450 Super Duty chassis. Most standard car dealerships are not set up to lift something the size of a motorhome but will do most repairs on the ground. I am a retired Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep technician and we never turned motorhomes away.
We have owned 7 motorhomes. 1 was class A, 3 were class B, and 3 were class C.
Our favorite types were class C, which we have now. The one outstanding good thing about a
class A, IMHO, is the long wheelbase which allows a short distance from the rear axle to the rear
of the undercarriage. A large class C could have a longer distance of this and it often will drag when
exiting gas stations, etc.
The Class C will have lower maintenance cost and is easier to DIY. I have had the best luck
with the Ford V10 motor and chassis. On my class C rigs I upgraded the shocks, sway bars and
air bags. On one of them I had a gear-splitter added that really helped a lot towing up steep hills.
If you are a newbie in purchasing a RV, don’t let the glitz blind you. Do lots of research on which
brands are most reliable and look for details like the inside back area drawer slides. See if they
are plastic or metal. Stay far away from plastic if possible. A motorhome’s driving experience is
an earthquake on wheels and needs good solid engineering and American parts.
Oh man, we could not disagree more. We have experience with both A-class and C-class motorhomes, and for my family the A-class is the clear winner. Here’s the reality…. you have a choice between a LIGHT-DUTY VAN CHASSIS (C-class) or a MEDIUM-DUTY TRUCK CHASSIS (A-class). The light-duty chassis weight rating gets maxed out when mated with a large motorhome. The medium-duty chassis is well within it’s comfort zone for this kind of load. The A-class motorhomes have higher Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings, BIGGER BRAKES, LARGER WHEELS, STRONGER FRAME. The advantage of having airbags in a C-class brings me little comfort. It’s still a light-duty VAN, and you’ve literally added tons of weight behind it!!! How is that going to work out in a crash? If I’m going to get in an accident in a motorhome, I want the girth of medium-duty all the way. A-class are no more difficult to drive than a C-class, as they really aren’t much larger. In fact, with the improved visibility, I think the A-class is a bit easier. Not to mention…. the panoramic windshield makes the drive so much more enjoyable than the feeling we get stuffed into a van front-end. And we are NOT an ams length from the windshield in our A-class, as the author suggests. That’s our two cents.
I have never seen a LIGHT DUTY van chassis under any size motorhome. Maybe under a camper van but not a motorhome. Most all of the class C motorhomes are sitting on something like a Ford E450 super duty chassis. It is the very same chassis they use for school buses or large work trucks. A light duty van chassis is the Ford e150 or maybe a E250. When you get up the to E350 and E450 super duty chassis it is a heavy duty chassis. The brakes, transmission, engine, steering, and rear differential are all heavy duty parts on the E350 and E450.
I have a long history with RV’s. Starting with a truck camper, moving to a class C, followed up with 2 large class A’s, and now a travel trailer. Each one was chosen carefully thinking through use, family size and ages, and finally where we are today with primary use being my wife and I. I am going back to a class C. Think about it. With a clas C you have the cab and all drive components built by a vehicle manufacturer (Ford, GM, Mercedes, etc) who build hundreds of vehicles a day compared to an RV manufacturer who might build several a week. They purchase a chassis from a manufacturer and try to build the rest themselves. They cannot and do not come close with engineering, design, and build quality and quality control. Having been there and done that I offer that you will be far more happy with a class C chosen carefully to fit your uses.
That may be the best argument I’ve ever heard for getting a Class C instead of a Class A. I agree that most of the numbers after crunching are similar enough to not matter. If you have committed to a 11MPG rig, you likely wont balk at a 9MPG one.
However, in the design and engineering world, the shear volume of vehicles built with the Class C chassis and drivetrain allow for greater feedback and more proofing against issues. Makes sense to me!
Had class C for years didn’t know what we were missing. If we get to where we can’t afford a class A we will be done camping. Sorry class C folks but there is no comparison between the two.
It’s not camping in a class A. It is called glamping. I like the look and design of the class A but for someone who doesn’t want to spend their life savings on a traveling home I enjoy our class C.
We are considering buying a class C with a heavy focus on the Ford Chassis. Like you, we thought such an RV engine could be serviced by Ford Dealerships. As part of my research I spoke to our Ford dealership about servicing and they said that they will not touch any RVs not even a class B. They said something about it being too heavy for their lift. When I pointed out that some of the fully loaded work vans I saw in the shop were heavier I was told that the local dealerships just don’t touch RVs because they have too many problems. I’m not sure if it’s a company wide policy or not but I’m looking into it before focusing my purchase specifically on Ford Chassis.
Most dealership’s service areas, Ford or otherwise, are not roomy enough for RVs. Plus they don’t have mechanics or people that are used to driving very long vehicles especially in tight areas. Plus the lifts in the shop will not accommodate long vehicles like RVs. Nor will the height of the shop accommodate for an 12′ high RV vs a 6′ truck or SUV. Plus if they lift the RV in the wrong area and it cracks the black/grey tank they have NO resources to clean it up properly.
The actual engine part they could work on, but it’s getting the RV moved around within the dealership which is the problem. IMO, Class A, B, and C are best repaired at an RV repair shop or by a mobile mechanic. There are plenty of great mechanics that have mobile services and can fix most RV type repairs and some engine and generator maintenance.
Reason #19: One of our cats (the one that actually acts like a cat), can ride in the bunk area overhead, with a great view (which she loves) and not have to share those windows with either of the dogs.
Have a class A and have loved it. Been in high winds and as anything have to be aware of driving conditions. Worked perfect for large family traveling. Enjoy the view front upfront.
We use the overhead bunk for our 2 dog crates. It keeps them up and out of the way. The Class C wins for us hands down.
Lots of information about both classes A & C ,question in high winds witch one will handle better,I find that to be nerve racking.what brand is the best .
Still debating on which one I want. I have a Winnebago Era 170M Class B Sprinter van and while it does have a nice set up and full bathroom in the back. It can be a little irritating to fight for space. I wanted to move up to a Class A but thinking about a Class C and the difference in cost to buy plus operate. I just assumed a Class A would be way more expensive and a Class C expensive but not to much. Thanks for sharing the breakdown and your thoughts, experiences etc.. Always best to learn from those that have lived it!
Some have have had a different experience with a Class C motor home than me I guess. Someone mentioned something about the greater mass of the typical Class A forgetting that what is stopping this additional mass during an accident is the front of the motor home being crunched as that additional mass is deforming the front of the Class A with little or no protection for front of the vehicle passengers. My class C has a couch with seat belts as well as a table with seat belts and an easy chair with seat belts is 37 feet long and weighs 22,000 lbs. The Jayco Seneca with three slides has plenty of room for the occupants of the vehicle both for camping or traveling. I had actually paid a deposit on a beautiful Class A until I thought through the additional safety provided by the frame and engine that provides additional protection.
Great review of the Class C’s, thank you. Can you recommend a good site for best brands to consider?
I have had three Class three A class RVs I now have a C class Chateau Thor 28E. My wife and I just love it
we bought it for our two dogs Rudie a Norwich terrier and Lola a Yorkie
Looking around for a class c . So many medals so many different prices first time driving one each dealership tells me bad things about the other dealership do you have any suggestions like the classy between 22 and 27 foot my favorite is about a 20 for two people only so far can you help me ..,With some questions about them they range from 70,000 to 53,000, everybody talks bad about everybody like a Chevy engine and gas please help
Class C RVs cannot turn sharper than class A’s! A class C is based off of a van chassis, which “bites”or tilts the tires into the turns. On class A’s the steering tires remain upright and turn much sharper, but also increases tail swing. Visibility is MUCH greater in a class A since the top half of the nose is glass. Better visibility means more situational awareness and more reaction time to hazards, never mind the more pleasant driving view! The fuel mileage comparison is way off, the differences in mileage between class A & C is negligible unless you start talking diesel engines. As far as safety? First give the accident scenario. High speed head on collision? You can have that 10k pound class C with airbags, I’ll take my chances in the 40k pound diesel pusher! In some accidents sheer mass wins.
Simmer down AL, I feel he is comparing a comparable Class A not a monstrosity of a home on wheels. Enjoy your Class A and I’ll enjoy my Class C.
Why does everyone keep saying the class C is on a “van chassis”? Most all class C motorhomes are sitting on a heavy duty chassis with a van cab. Our class C is on a Ford E450 super duty chassis. Try finding that under a typical van.
I have a 27 ft sunseeker class c ,I’ve been looking at class a’s but after reading above comments I think I’ll stick with my class c.The only gain for me would be a sofa and would loose much more.
if you break down a class C is easier to tow.
You’ve already mentioned size as a benefit of the class C. I definitely agree. We have a class A, and we love it. BUT, a 40+ft class A is for RVing, not for camping. You’ll be staying in RV parks wherever you go, outside of most state parks and national parks. Like I said, we love it, but we are in the market for an additional rig (most likely a 20-22′ TT) to use for camping. We’ll never be able to use the BIG RIG to camp.
If you are looking at RVing AND camping, do yourself a favor, and consider a mid-sized Class C, with leveling jacks, such as a Jayco, in the 27-29′ range.
This is a great review. We currently bought a 29′ Class C Minie Winnie with 2 slides. I also own an F150 and an Expedition. Guess what? It’s like driving them! It’s no different. Also being a Firefighter for over 25 years I can say that I would NEVER buy a Class A! Even if they had airbags, that will not help you or your lower body if you slam into the back of a big rig. Almost every driver or passenger we have cut out of a Class A accident from a front end collision was deceased. Class A’s are beautiful rigs, but they are not safe enough for my family.
Sold! Dilemma over. Back to shopping for a nice Class C.
ps.. Hubs is a retired FC from Akron. 31 yrs. 🙂
I am retired after42yrs driving big rigs. (nearly 3 million miles) I am shopping used Class C’s. Always remember and never forget a Class A driver is the first one at arrive at the wreck!
I would much rather come out alive than have the prestigious look of a class a.
I’m trying to decide what kind of RV to get. I didn’t know that class C RV’s could be so beneficial! I like that they are safer when it comes to front impact accidents. The fact that it’s cheaper than other classes is a huge bonus, too!
I have searched the Internet and cannot find an answer. How comfortable is it for 6 adults to travel in a standard setup C class for several hours at a a time? Talking a one day trip to the beach 8 to 10 hours. Is there enough sitting space, leg room, safety features, etc? Of course two would be in the cab. The motor home would not be used necessarily for the stay once at the beach.
Hey Dave, I know you asked that question and searched the internet. i”m sure you must have found your answer by now? if not. try this answer ..
Your question has to many variables. as in 6 people .. to ask if a Class C would be comfortable enough? It would really depend on the 6 people now wouldn’t it?
Are the 6 people going highly stress ? so folks freak out when things go wrong? are the 6 of you easy going people?
As for comfortable.. that’s subjective . as in. .how many of you 6 can just sleep on the ground? and who needs a soft bed and a pillow?
can you folks rough it in a tent?
Basically it would depend on how “easy going” you folks are ? and may be easy going isn’t the correct wording? but I hope you can get the Gist of all of what I’m saying here?
temperaments matter. 6 people means 6 different attitudes. etc.. some folks will want the AC running others will want the windows down? someone else might be to cold and want it off.
point is. Your not going to probably make all 6 people comfortable no matter what you do.
so .. Know your audience . prepare for it, best you can.
Example: one of your 6 likes to eat a lot. .make sure you bring snacks. one person or 2 people in the group always complain about being Cold.. make sure they bring a light jacket or something if they get cold in the camper. while everyone else is dying of the heat.
It’s not the answer your looking for i’m sure.. but. .hope it is of someone else asking this question in the future.
Would have enough seat belts for 6 people ??
There are many class c rvs that include seatbelts at the dinnette. Some only have two on the forward facing seats but there are more being built that add seatbelts to the rear facing dinnette seats too. Even sofas are getting seatbelts added. Many include a tether attachment for a child seat. I don’t know if the seatbelts follow anchoring requirements inside the RV like the seatbelts in the cab of the vehicle.
I think the best thing you can do to find one that meets your requirements is to research class a b c type of RV floor plan and length of rig you like and then watch a tour of the vehicle on YOUTUBE. If it meets your requirements then you can search the web for RV dealers near you with that model to look it over in person. Be sure to take into consideration the type of camping you’ll be doing (RV parks vs dry camping/boondocking) so you can make sure the RV will have the necessary power etc… to help you do it.