Class A and class C campers both have their advantages and disadvantages. Before choosing one or the other, it is important to know what these advantages and disadvantages are.
In this post, we’ll discuss both types of campers so you can decide which class motorhome is best for you and your family.
Before we start comparing class A and class C campers, it is important that we make a distinction between the two types of motorhomes.
Sometimes these motorhomes are about the same size so it can be hard for the novice to understand why an RV is classified as a class A motorhome and why it is classified as a class C motorhome.
Class A Motorhomes
A class A motorhome is usually between 30 and 45 feet long. It is built on a large tractor-trailer or bus platform and often looks like a large bus. Sometimes the front is completely flat and sometimes it is not.
When the front is flat the engine is usually located at the rear of the vehicle, making it a “pusher” type motorhome. The advantage of this is that the weight of the engine is situated over the drive axles which are at the rear on most motorhomes.
These motorhomes can run on regular gasoline but more often than not, they are fueled with diesel fuel. The construction of this type of motorhome is single-construction, meaning the top box is the same throughout the cab and the rest of the vehicle. Usually, this is metal or fiberglass.
A class A motorhome can be as wide as eight feet and can have a multitude of slides built into it. In fact, I’ve seen class A motorhomes with up to four slides built into the motorhome.
Because of the size of class A motorhomes, most of them end up weighing well over 10,000 pounds.
Starting prices for class A motorhomes are usually in the $100,000.00 range and can easily go well past that. I’ve seen luxury class A motorhomes that sell for over a million dollars.
Examples of Class A Motorhomes
The Forest River Berkshire XL 40D – The Berkshire XL is a 41-foot class A motorhome with 4 slide outs. It weighs 36,400 pounds and has an 8.9-liter engine located at the back of the motorhome.
The fresh water tank is 103 gallons, the black water tank is 42 gallons, and the gray water tank is 66 gallons.
This motorhome is 12’5″ tall and 100″ wide.
There is one large bedroom with a king bed in it as well as a ceiling fan. A large bathroom is located in the back of the motorhome and a half-bath is located in the middle of the motorhome.
The living room, kitchen, and dinette are all located at the front of the motorhome. The sofa can turn into a bed for additional sleeping space.
Expect to pay around $240,000.00 for a new Forest River Berkshire XL.
The Advantages of Owning a Class A Motorhome Over a Class C Motorhome
- Their size.
- Their shape.
- Luxury options.
- Water storage.
- Slide outs.
- Towing power.
- Ride quality.
Class A motorhomes are usually much longer, wider and taller than a class C motorhome. If you’re looking to get the most spacious motorhome you can find, you’ll definitely want a class A motorhome. Because of their size, they also offer more slideouts, larger water tanks, and more storage space.
In fact, the shape of a motorhome usually lends itself to basement storage. For the uninitiated, basement storage is storage underneath the living area of the motorhome.
Class A campers tend to have powerful motors that can be used to tow boats, cars, and even small campers. When driving, the ride quality is usually better too. The ride in a class A motorhome is more smooth than the ride in a class C motorhome.
The visibility inside of a class A camper is almost always better than the visibility inside of a class C camper. First of all, you don’t have a cabover obstructing the top section of your windshield and you often have a wider field of vision from both top to bottom and left to right on the windshield.
Because of the class A motorhome’s frame, you often get more durability from it. A wooden outer shell on a class C motorhomes can rot while the class A’s metal or fiberglass shell will not.
Luxury is often more apparent in class A motorhomes as well. Class A motorhomes are often built more for living rather than for camping and the design is geared more towards a few people rather than as many as possible.
Class C Motorhomes
A class C motorhome can be as short as 19 feet long and can go up into the 40-foot long range.
However, you’ll typically find them to be around 30 feet long. These motorhomes are usually built on heavy-duty truck frames like the Ford-350 or Ford-450.
There are many options in both diesel and gasoline powered models. The drivetrain is usually rear-wheel drive but you can find some off-road versions that offer 4-wheel drive models.
A class C motorhome is known for its distinctive cabover that offers additional space for storage or for sleeping right overtop of the cab. The construction of this motorhome is often different in the living area of the motorhome compared to the actual cab.
Oftentimes, the living area will be constructed from wood or fiberglass and damage can occur to this area without actually affecting the driving area which is usually made from metal.
Many class C motorhomes will weigh over 10,000 pounds but some will weigh much less. This is usually dependent on the length of the motorhome as well as the number of slides built into the motorhome. The higher the number of slides in the motorhome, the heavier the motorhome will be.
The cost of a new class C motorhome usually starts off at around $75,000.00 and can go well over 6 figures depending on the make, model, and size of the motorhome.
Examples of Class C Motorhomes
The Forest River Sunseeker 3050S – Forest River’s Sunseeker 3050 is 31’11” long, 11’3″ tall, and 101″ wide. It has a GVWR of 14,500 pounds.
The freshwater tank on this camper is 44 gallons while the gray and black water tanks are both 39 gallons. There is one large slide out on the driver’s side that extends throughout the entire living area of the motorhome.
This camper has a queen bed in the back with a walk-through bathroom in front of it. The bathroom features a stand-alone bathtub and toilet on one side and a medicine cabinet and bathroom sink on the other side.
Just past this is a large kitchen with an oven, microwave, and dual-sink. Move past this and you’ll find a sofa that faces a dinette area. The sofa and dinette have seatbelts built into them so you can legally drive with 6 passengers. Add in the driver’s seat and this camper can legally and comfortably transport 7 people.
Overtop of the driver’s compartment is a cabover with a 60″ wide by 80″ long bed. This means that there are two queen beds in this camper as well as a sofa that could be used as a bed. The dinette can also be converted into a bed as well.
You can get this motorhome new for only $86.000.00. This is about 1/3rd the cost of the class A Forest River camper that we discussed earlier.
The Advantages of Owning a Class C Motorhome Over a Class A Motorhome
- Their size.
- Their weight.
- Their price.
- Passenger capacities.
- Sleeping options.
- Resale value.
- Fuel economy.
- Lower maintenance costs.
- Easier for the DIYer to work on.
A class C motorhome has a different size advantage than a class A motorhome. Class C motorhomes benefit from the fact that they can often be shorter in length, width, and even height. This makes them more maneuverable on the road and easier to park.
This also decreases storage prices and camping prices. Not only this, but some class C motorhomes can go places that class A motorhomes simply cannot.
Class C motorhomes often cost less than class A motorhomes as well. Not only this but I’ve found that they depreciate slower than class A motorhomes so you get a higher resale value from them as well.
For more details on my findings, check out my post on RV depreciation rates.
Because Class C motorhomes are usually smaller, they usually get better gas mileage than class A motorhomes. This saves you both time and money at the gas pump.
Class C motorhomes also tend to have engines that are easier to work on. This applies to mechanics and even DIYers. In fact, you can buy gasoline powered class C motorhomes and you won’t see much difference between their engines and the engines you’d find on your truck.
The wooden frame is also easier to work on for DIYers. If you need to fix the living area of your Class C motorhome you won’t have to learn how to work with metal as you would with a class A motorhome.
A class C also generally has more room for passengers and more sleeping options than a class A does. This is especially important for large families going on road trips where extra guests won’t be able to just sleep outside in a tent.
10 Important Facts to Consider Before Making Your Final Choice
A class A will generally cost more than a class C motorhome. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll probably be better off buying a class C motorhome versus a class A motorhome.
This is especially true when choosing a larger motorhome. The reason for this is that smaller motorhomes tend to cost more per foot than larger ones do. However, in the end, the total price of a larger motorhome will usually cost more than the total cost of a smaller motorhome.
2. Size Requirements
If you’re looking for the largest motorhome you can possibly buy, you’re better off getting a class A motorhome. Class A motorhomes offer the most space out of all of the different types of motorhomes available right now.
Not only are the class A motorhomes longer than the other classes, but they’re also taller and wider and usually have larger slides built into them.
3. Passenger Requirements
Interestingly enough, class C motorhomes cater more towards carrying multiple passengers than class A motorhomes do. You’ll often find giant class A motorhomes that don’t have seat belts for more than two passengers. In fact, I’ve seen some class A motorhomes without any seatbelts outside of the driver and passenger seats.
Class C motorhomes on the other hand often have seat belts for up to seven or eight people in them. This is great for large families looking to take road trips without any additional vehicles.
4. Ongoing Costs
Class A campers have higher fuel costs, higher storage costs, and higher campground fee costs. Additionally, some states charge additional fees for larger and heavier motorhomes so you may end up paying more to your state when you own a class A over a class C motorhome.
Maintenance costs are usually higher with class A motorhomes as well. You’ll have to take your class A motorhome to a special mechanic whereas you may not have to do this with a class C motorhome.
5. Licensing Requirements
Some states require you to get special licenses to drive large motorhomes. Sometimes class C motorhomes are small enough that you don’t have to worry about this. When you do have to get special licenses, the class A ones are usually a bit more difficult to get than the class C ones.
6. Storage Requirements
A class A motorhome will be able to store way more than a class C motorhome can store. It will hold more gear, more water, and more amenities than a similarly sized class C motorhome. If you’re looking for a motorhome to go full-timing in, you may want to consider going with a class A for the extra space you’ll have. This is especially true for people looking to sell their house and move into a class A permanently.
DIYers will enjoy easier maintenance on their class C motorhome than a class A owner will. This is especially true when you choose to go with a gasoline powered engine over a diesel-fueled engine. However, a class C motorhome may need more maintenance done on it over the years.
A class A motorhome is harder to store than a class C motorhome. In fact, a class C can sometimes be stored in a tall garage but a class A will almost always too tall for this to happen. Storage costs will also be higher with a class A motorhome than with a smaller class C motorhome.
These factors make storing a class A harder than storing a class C motorhome.
9. Re-sale Value
As we discussed earlier, class C motorhomes tend to hold their value slightly better than class A motorhomes. If you think you’ll be reselling your motorhome in a few years, you may want to factor this into your cost analysis.
Sell your motorhome a few years after you buy it and you may save a lot of money by making it a class C over a class A. Also, some have found that used class C RVs sell faster than used class A RVs so the selling process could end up being easier for you.
Class A motorhomes tend to have better kitchen and bathroom facilities than class C motorhomes. In fact, class A motorhomes often have multiple bathrooms and even multiple kitchens that you can use.
If having an outdoor kitchen or second bathroom is important to you, you’ll have more options with a class A motorhome than you will with a class C motorhome.
While this might seem like a small detail, some families have special needs that require multiple bathroom options. Does someone in your family have IBS or some other digestive issue? If so, consider getting a motorhome with more than one bathroom and everyone will have a much more comfortable trip.
What About Class B Motorhomes?
Class B motorhomes are much smaller than class A motorhomes and are often much smaller than class C motorhomes as well. Because of this, it is usually better to compare class B motorhomes to class C motorhomes than it is to compare class B motorhomes to class A motorhomes.
You can read more about class B motorhomes on the post titled, “Class A, Class B, and Class C Motorhomes – Understanding the Differences“.
Class A and class C motorhomes have a lot in common but they definitely have their differences as well. Before committing to buying any one type of motorhome, you may want to think about your needs to see which class will best suit them.
In the end, you may find that both classes will satisfy your needs and you’ll have twice as many options to choose from. If this turns out to be the case for you, you’ll be able to buy either one without any regrets.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.