Class A vs Class C RVs:
A Motorhome Comparison Guide
If you’re thinking about buying or renting a Class A and Class C RV, and are wondering what the biggest differences are between each of these models, look no further! We’ve created a detailed comparison guide that goes through the key similarities and differences between these two RV types.
Click on any of these links to jump to the step you want to see:
Class A vs Class C RV: Similarities
Class A vs Class C RV: Differences
Interior Living Space
Driving And Handling
Class A vs Class C RV: Similarities
Before we get into the differences between these two types of RVs, let’s cover what they have in common.
There are a few similarities between Class A and Class C RVs when compared to fifth-wheels or other camper model types. One of these similarities is that you can tow a second vehicle with both Class A and Class C RVs. This comes in handy when you want to take a day trip and leave your home base at the campsite.
‘Full Bath’ Bathrooms
Another thing that both of these RVs have in common is being equipped with ‘full baths’ bathrooms. The toilet and sink area is separate from the shower in a ‘full bath’ bathroom, just like in any home bathroom. The opposite of a ‘full bath’ bathroom is a ‘wet bath’ bathroom. This type of bathroom has a combined shower, toilet, and sink area.
These are usually found in smaller camper vehicles such as Class B RVs or truck campers. That’s a topic for another time. If you’re interested in seeing the features of Class B RVs, see our full breakdown of Class B vs Class C RV models.
Another similarity between both Class A and Class C RVs is that they are all-in-one vehicles. This means that you don’t need a separate truck or van to tow the camper, such is the case with any travel trailer or fifth-wheel.
Both Class A and Class C RVs also give you the convenience of having access to the onboard amenities while still driving. Lots of states have outlawed passengers being able to ride in towed fifth wheel campers or truck campers while driving.
Class A vs Class C RV: Key Differences
Class A vs Class C RV Size
The first big difference that you will notice between Class A and Class C RVs is the size. Class A RVs are the largest class of RV or motorhomes available. They can span anywhere from 25 to 45 feet in length depending on the model.
Class A RVs have an average height of around 13.5 feet and an average weight of 13,000 – 30,000 pounds. These RVs are built on a large commercial truck or bus chassis so they offer a ton of living and storage space while traveling. Class A RVs are perfect for larger traveling families of 8 or more.
In contrast, Class C RVs are quite a bit smaller. They measure around 21 to 28 feet in length and usually weigh 10,000 – 12,000 pounds on average. These motorhomes are built onto a smaller truck or van chassis.
This means that they will have less storage and living space than a Class A motorhome. Class C RVs are great for smaller families of 3 to 5 people.
Size is definitely a factor when you compare a Class A and Class C RV’s storage space. Because of an average 10 feet of extra length and extra height off the ground, the Class A RV will generally have more internal and external storage capacity than a Class C RV.
There is more space for external cubby areas to store foldable chairs, tools, or other camping supplies. The inside is no different. With more height and length the Class A RV has more cupboard and cubby storage spaces available than its Class C counterpart.
There are some big differences between the exteriors of Class A and Class C RVs. One is that with a Class A RV, the pipes are all generally enclosed in an insulated storage space. This is due to the manufactures building Class A RVs higher off the ground than Class C RVs.
As a result, Class A RVs are better prepared for travel in the winter months, because there is less of a chance of pipes freezing and breaking. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t Class C RVs that are good for winter camping, but they are more the exception to the rule.
Automatic leveling jacks are another feature that you will see built into almost every Class A RV made today. This isn’t the case with Class C RVs as they are lower to the ground and therefore don’t have the clearance space for the jacks.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t Class C RV models which do come with automatic leveling jacks installed, they’re just rare.
Class A vs Class C RV Interior Living Space
When comparing the interior living space between Class A and Class C RVs, Class A RVs clearly come out on top. Where a Class C RV may at times have its shortcomings with interior living space, a Class A RV is basically a mobile apartment.
A standard Class A RV will have a kitchen that may rival yours at home. You can expect plenty of kitchen storage space, counter space, and usually a residential-sized refrigerator. Most Class C RVs will have a smaller refrigerator and much less galley space.
The Class A RV has much more general living space as well. Most Class A RVs have a dining area and a separate sofa, whereas most Class C RVs will feature only a dinette area without the extra seating space. Depending on the specific model of the motorhome, the sofa and dinette areas will convert to beds as well.
Class A RVs also have more dedicated sleeping areas than Class C RVs generally. A standard Class A RV will have a King or Queen walkaround master suite, 1 or 2 converting dinette/sofa sleeping areas, and an electric bed that drops down over the driver and passenger’s seat area.
Class C RV models usually are equipped with a Queen or full-sized corner bed in the master bedroom, a single converting dinette sleeping area, and an overhead bunk above the driver and passenger’s seat area.
As is with having more interior living space, Class A RVs will generally also have more amenities included as well. Most Class A RVs will include all of the amenities that you would have in your home. These include a master bedroom suite usually containing a king-size bed, full-bath bathroom, a large kitchen area, a full-size fridge, laundry machines, and much more.
There are more luxurious amenities in Class A RVs than there are in other types of camping vehicles. These are a home away from home type of RV.
Most Class C RV models come with a basic version of the same amenities. They are usually equipped with a corner queen-size bed, full-bath bathrooms, a basic kitchen area, a downsized fridge, and other options.
These RVs don’t usually come with laundry machines as there is no extra room for them. Only larger, select models of Class C RVs will be equipped with laundry amenities.
Class A vs Class C RV Driving and Handling
In the driving and handling department, both the Class A and Class C RV have their pros and cons. For example, Class A RVs while being much larger and therefore more difficult to maneuver, do allow for much more visibility from the driver’s seat. You sit above everything else on the road and are surrounded by large windows.
The Class C RV, on the other hand, is much smaller and therefore a lot easier to handle for most drivers. The drawback is the visibility issue. Most Class C RVs are equipped with a front cab overhead bed area that blocks much of the visibility from the driver’s seat.
Another area to think about is parking and setting up your base camp for the night. Class C RVs will fit into almost any overnight parking spot that you’ll find at different campgrounds across the country.
Class A RVs are a different story. These RVs are much larger so finding a spot and parking can sometimes be an issue. You will need to dedicate more time and effort to learn how to maneuver a Class A RV than with a Class C RV.
Depending on size and weight, some states do require a CDL or special drivers license to operate a large recreation vehicle. Be sure to learn if you need to obtain a special license in your state to operate your RV. See Source
Fuel efficiency differs between Class A and Class C RVs due to the overall size and weight of the RV. The Class A RV’s average gas mileage is 5 to 7 miles per gallon due to the bigger engine, larger frame, and weight of the vehicle. The Class C RV’s average gas mileage is 8 to 10 miles per gallon because of its smaller footprint.
There are ways to improve your RV gas mileage for either model of RV that you decide to use. Take a look at a few of the tested ways in our guide on improving your RV gas mileage.
Like we covered in their similarities, both Class A and Class C RVs are able to tow smaller vehicles for taking day trips or running errands during your camping trips. When you travel using a Class A RV, you’ll most likely always want to tow a smaller vehicle to use in this way.
Packing up your entire RV basecamp just to make a day trip is much more of a hassle than simply hopping in another vehicle.
If you choose to travel in a Class C RV you can still tow another vehicle along for day trips once you’ve set up camp, but it’s not necessarily a requirement. Class C RVs are much better for sightseeing and taking day trips. This preference all depends on what type of trips you’re taking.
For overall maintenance and repairs, the clear winner is the Class C RV. Class A RVs cost more to insure than Class C RVs and are also more expensive to maintain and repair. The primary reason being that their components are much more complex than in other types of RVs. For example, the motor in a Class A RV is larger and takes up more space than a Class C RV motor.
As a result, its repair and maintenance takes much more time and work. These complex repairs require a more specialized set of skills for the mechanic and therefore cost more to perform.
Class C RVs are much more affordable to service because they have a simpler design. They utilize less expensive parts and have less complicated motors. Generally, manufacturers build them on a Ford or Chevy truck or van chassis.
This means that most Ford or Chevy dealership repair shops can perform repairs on Class C RVs. Mechanics that work on standard trucks and vans can generally perform repairs on most Class C RVs.
While both Class A and Class C RVs are designed with safety in mind, the designs of various Class C RVs tend to be safer overall. This is for a few different reasons. One is the lower ceiling height on Class C RVs. This lower clearance makes Class C RVs less likely to catch a gust of wind while driving on the road.
In contrast, Class A RVs are much more susceptible to being swayed by gusts of wind. This can be a safety hazard due to the driver overcorrecting to avoid flipping the vehicle. Class C RVs also sit much lower to the ground than most Class A RVs. This makes them less likely to roll in the event that you take a tight corner.
Another reason why Class C RVs are preferable from a safety standpoint is the position of the engine and the extended hood of the vehicle. The large hood and engine are positioned directly in front of the cab where the driver sits.
This front end hood design acts as a barrier in the case of a front impact accident occurring and will protect the driver and front seat passenger. In Class A RVs on the other hand, both the driver and front seat passenger sit on top of the engine instead of behind it.
All Class C RVs come with airbags just like you would expect with any normal vehicle. Class A RVs do have seatbelts but usually, don’t have airbags installed as a standard feature. The driver and front seat passenger have little protection when a front end collision occurs.
Whether you choose a Class A or Class C RV, remember that your passengers will be the safest if they’re buckled in the seat next to the driver. Whenever you drive an RV you shouldn’t allow your passengers don’t sit or walk around the back living areas.
Depending on what model of RV you are looking at purchasing, the price difference between Class A and Class C can be considerate. Generally, Class A RVs are more expensive than Class C RVs. As mentioned earlier, this is because there are more amenities, storage space, and luxury features aboard a Class A RV.
The average cost of a Class A RV can run anywhere between $50,000 and $200,000 depending on the year, brand, and specific features of the model you’re looking at.
Class C RVs are usually more affordable as they boast fewer luxurious features. Again, this all depends on the year, brand and the specific features of the model. For a new Class C RV prices range from $45,000 to $100,000.
Class A vs Class C Conclusion
As you can see there are a ton of differences between these two RV types. Which one will work best for you completely depends on your needs as a traveler. We always recommend you rent an RV and test it out to see what type you prefer before committing to the cost.
We hope that you found this article helpful and use it as a resource to weigh the differences between Class A vs Class C RV types. Leave a comment with your take on Class A vs Class C RVs.