Class A vs Class C RV – What’s the Difference?
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If you’re looking for a large RV that can provide you with a comfortable life on the road, you might well be considering a Class A vs Class C RV. The question is: what’s the difference? Both are on the large size, and neither will have to be towed – making them both a very convenient option.
If you’re brand-new to RV life, chances are you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the terminology. Buying a new RV is a huge investment – so you want to make the right decision. Don’t worry – we’re here to help! In our Class A vs. Class C RV comparison, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features of each class, the main differences between the two, and the pros and cons of both – so we can help you to make the right choice.
What Are The Main Differences Between Class A and Class C RVs?:
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the basic difference between a Class A and a Class C RV: Size, and price.
Class A RVs are bigger than Class C’s and they also tend to be more luxurious – but because of that, they tend to have a much higher price tag. Here’s a full list of the main differences:
- Size – Class A RVs are big. They tend to be used for touring bands because they’re large enough to accommodate a lot of people.
- Shape – Class A RVs look like large buses – a kind of straight rectangular shape. Class C RVs, meanwhile, have a separate truck cab with an over-cab bed.
- Luxury – Class A RVs tend to have more fixtures and fittings to give them a ‘home away from home’ feeling: you can even get bathtubs and washer/dryers to fit in Class A.
- Price – Class A RVs tend to be a lot pricier than a Class C. Even second-hand, a Class A RV can cost you a fair bit of money.
- Driving – some people find it a bit more inconvenient to take small journeys in Class A due to the length. However, the cab area of Class C can block your peripheral vision a little.
With that said, let’s go into some of the finer details about both.
Imagine a tour bus with all the latest luxuries and mod-cons: that’s a Class A RV. They are very large – spacious enough to make them really feel like home. In fact, many retired couples choose to sell their homes in order to invest in a Class A RV, so they can enjoy their retirement and travel the country (or even the world) at the same time.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can live the life of luxury in a Class A RV. Leather interiors, sound-systems, bathtubs, large beds – you’re way more likely to find this kind of touches here. Even an older, less glamorous model is going to set you back a fair bit of money, however. Class A RVs hold their value well and tend to sell for a good price even second (or third) hand.
You will expect to pay around $50,000 for a new low-end model, but a larger, more up-to-date model could cost you the same (or more) than a house – at around $300,000. If you want a top-of-the-line model, you could pay up to $1 million. For most people, that kind of money is way out of reach – in fact, many people will be priced out of buying a Class A entirely.
- The cockpit of a Class A RV is right in the living area – this is a bonus if you want others to keep you company as you drive. Many models allow you to swivel the driver’s seat and passenger seat around, allowing you to use them as seating when you’re not driving. Your passengers will get a pretty good view out of the windows as you drive, too.
- The shape of a Class A RV – straight and rectangular – means that you can fit a lot of extra appliances in that you may not have been able to do in a different class. Many people have bathtubs in theirs, as well as additional items like a washer/dryer. They also have great storage – you’ll usually find a ton of cupboard space in Class A (as well as much more space in the ‘underbelly’ section).
- Because of their size, you can split the interior into sections by function – a kitchen/dining space with a cooker and a small table and chairs, a living area with a TV and sofas, and a bedroom area with a bed and wardrobes, as well as a separate bathroom. This adds to that ‘home on the road’ feeling and can help you to feel more comfortable as you travel.
- Many Class A RVs are prepared for over-wintering, too – allowing you to travel all year round. Dump valves and pipes are kept tucked neatly inside – this means they’re less likely to freeze during cold snaps. In warmer temperatures, you don’t have to worry about getting too hot – a Class A RV usually has two air conditioning units.
The downside (other than the high price tag) is maneuverability. Many people decide to take an extra vehicle if they’re traveling with a Class A RV – the reason being it can be a bit of a headache to reverse it into parking spots.
It’s far easier to take a quick trip to the store in a car than it is to drive a bus-sized vehicle, and most people find it easier to leave their RV where it is once they’ve settled into a campground or park (and the ‘settling in’ process can take a little while, especially if you’re new to driving such a large vehicle). You can, however, tow a car with your Class A RV – this tends to be a good solution for most people.
There are advantages to driving a Class A RV compared to a Class C – you tend to have greater visibility, as you don’t have the cab blocking any of your peripheral vision. You also have large windows all around you – making it much easier to see where you’re going.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, one model that stands out is the Tiffin Motorhomes Allegro 34 PA. At around $200,000, it’s not cheap. However, it’s long, at 36 feet. You’ll have a lot of floor space to move around in, and you’ll find plenty of luxurious touches.
The leather interiors are great, and the layout is roomy and comfortable – it has a dinette with a work station for your computer, a range with three burners and a microwave, a double kitchen sink, and a refrigerator. It also has a TV, comfortable seating, and tons of storage space.
The bedroom is pretty nice, too, with a memory foam king-sized bed and another TV. It has a bathroom with a sink, shower, and toilet. There are also little extras, like a washer/dryer, a vacuum cleaner, and a linen cupboard – so if you want that true homely, comfortable feeling, you’ll be able to find it here.
It’s also great to drive, with a GPS navigation system and a rear-view camera. So yes, while it is on the expensive side, it’s not the highest price for a Class A, and it will give you a great, comfortable place to stay while you travel. It sleeps, eight people.
Pros of Class A RVs
- The shape means no wasted space – you can even use the driver and passenger’s seats as extra seating in your living area
- More visibility when driving due to large windows
- Lots of storage
- Space for more ‘luxurious’ features
- You can keep traveling even in very cold or very hot temperatures
- They keep their value quite well, so if you need to sell, you should still make a good amount of money from it
- Can tow a vehicle if required
Cons of Class A RVs
- Very large size may put some people off, especially if they are nervous drivers
- Very expensive (even second-hand)
- Will cost more to insure (especially if kitted out with lots of extras)
Frequently Asked Questions About Class A RVs
Here are a few things you might want to know:
Do Class A RVs have airbags?
Not usually, no. Class A RVs have seatbelts, but not normally airbags.
How long will a Class A RV last?
Most RVs last at least 20 years, or 200,000 miles. However, this can vary based on what type it is and how well you look after it.
Do I need a special license to drive a Class A RV?
Most states do not require a special license to drive a Class A RV – but some do. It’s worth checking the laws in the state you live in as well as any states you may plan to travel to.
Do Class A RVs come with a spare tire?
Actually, no – they don’t tend to. It’s a good idea to have a spare tire around if you can get one, but manufacturers don’t tend to supply them.
If you want luxury, you can still get it with a Class C RV – but it depends on how much you want to spend. They tend to range from around $50,000-$170,000. Obviously, this is a fair bit cheaper than a Class A – so if you’re on a smaller budget, this might be the choice for you.
They can be on the large size – the biggest Class C RVs can come in at around 44 feet in length, which should be enough to fit everything that you need. They’re a different shape, however, with a cab at the front with a bed over the top. They’re designed for large groups of people to travel together – so there are often clever tricks to fully utilize the space, like a couch that can turn into a bed, or a dinette that you can make into a double bed.
Obviously, this takes away the ‘home away from home’ feeling a little, as you have to do a bit of rearranging at bedtime to make everyone fit. If you want to travel and you need to fit a lot of people in your RV, however, a Class C is great. They can sleep up to ten people depending on the model you’re looking at.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get all kinds of fixtures and fittings for your Class C RV, including a master bedroom suite. Normally, you’ll find a bathroom with a toilet, shower, and a sink, a small kitchen area, and living space with a table and seating, as well as a master bedroom area with wardrobes. They’re designed with families in mind, so everything tends to be functional, robust, and safe.
Storage-wise, you’ll have less space in a Class C RV than you would with a Class A, given their size difference. However, there are benefits to choosing a Class C in terms of budget. Not only are they cheaper to buy (especially second hand), but they tend to be cheaper to maintain and insure. Your gas prices will be a little more manageable if you choose a Class C, which is another bonus.
Although they may have less cupboard space than a Class A, Class C RVs do tend to have good-sized water and waste tanks – this is great for those who want to go ‘dry camping’ (or ‘boondocking’ – camping away from a campsite and surviving on the water you have in your tank).
Some people find them a bit more manageable when it comes to driving compared to a Class A, due to its reduced size. You can tow another vehicle – this is great if you want to make smaller trips out in the car.
The downside is that some people find the cab area removes some visibility, and there is an ‘overhang’ that blocks the drivers’ peripheral vision. For that reason, driving a Class C could take a bit of getting used to.
One model that really stands out is the Jayco 2018 Greyhawk Prestige 29MVP. Jayco takes the driving experience seriously, which is why they have equipped the Greyhawk Prestige with the JRide Plus package – this includes rubber isolation mounts, a computer-balanced driveshaft, stabilizers, and shock absorbers to make it a much smoother drive. It also comes with a Garmin Infotainment system.
The roadside living area has a tri-fold sofa and a booth dinette. It also has storage cabinets over the sofa, which is great for tucking away items that you don’t need in the daytime. There is, of course, an extra bunk over the cab area. The 32” TV will help to keep you busy, and mealtimes are taken care of with a double sink, three burner range, microwave, refrigerator, and pantry. It has a fully equipped bathroom and a slide-out, queen-sized bed with overhead storage. It even has a 24” TV.
On the outside, you’ll find an exterior entertainment center – this has a 32” LED tv. It also includes a 16’ awning with LED lighting. As far as Class C RVs go, this is a pretty luxurious model. It will set you back around $123,500 – still pricey, but not as pricey as some Class A RVs. It sleeps 8 people.
Pros of Class C RVs
- Enough space to sleep up to ten people
- Cheaper to buy, maintain, and insure than a Class A
- All basic fixtures and fittings are included
Cons of Class C RVs
- Less storage space
- Less like a ‘home’ than a Class A RV, with fewer luxuries
- Some people find visibility is an issue when driving
Frequently Asked Questions About Class C RVs
Here are the questions people are asking about Class C’s:
Can I get a washer/dryer for my Class C RV?
Yes – it’s possible. However, it will take up a fair bit of room, even the portable versions. Many people prefer to rely on laundrettes as they travel, to save on floor space.
Can I tow my car with a Class C RV?
Yes – they can tow weights between 3000-5000lbs. The manufacturer will have guidelines on the towing capacity, and it’s very important that you stick to the limit.
How long does a Class C RV last?
As we mentioned earlier, most motorhomes last for 200,000 miles or 20 years (whichever comes first) without any major problems. Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule – sometimes things go wrong unexpectedly.
On the flip side, some people find that their motorhomes last longer without any issues. It really depends, but good care and maintenance will help to keep them going for longer.
What is the longest Class C RV?
They can go up to 44 feet – this is pretty long! These are referred to as ‘Super C motorhomes’.
Things to Look for When Buying a Class A or Class C RV
There is a lot to consider when you’re looking for a new RV – it’s a pretty huge purchase. Here are a few key things to take note of when you’re shopping:
Obviously, the longer the RV, the more you can fit inside it. However, this will come at a cost. The more stuff you put in it, the more it weighs, which will impact your fuel consumption.
Number of beds
In the specifications for an RV, you’ll be able to find out how many people can sleep in it. The number for a Class A or a Class C is usually around 8 people, which is larger than the average family – so you may even be able to have people come over to stay for the night.
Tank size is important. You want a generously-sized water tank in your RV – especially if you’re traveling with a lot of people. But what happens to the water waste? Your black and gray tanks need to be similarly generous in order to accommodate everyone. This is especially important if you want to go boondocking.
Driving a large vehicle can be challenging. Many RV manufacturers take this into consideration, and they will include things like stabilizers and shock absorbers to help you to drive comfortably (and to keep your passengers from having a bumpy ride).
Obviously, if you’re buying a brand-new RV, you shouldn’t expect anything to go wrong straight away. A warranty is a necessity, though, just in case the worst happens. Many manufacturers offer generous warranties with the latest models.
It goes without saying, but it’s worth checking out the insurance costs before you buy. You might be surprised at how expensive it can get, especially with the larger, more expensive Class A models. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to budgeting for your RV life, and insurance is a big part of that. You want to make sure that if the worst happens, you are completely covered by your insurance.
It’s difficult to pick a clear winner here. It will ultimately be down to personal choice. Both options will keep you comfortable and safe on the road – which is the main thing to be concerned about.
However, in terms of space, luxury, and convenience, Class A RVs are excellent. Even if you have a large family, you’ll all fit comfortably inside, and there will be tons of storage space. The increased driver visibility and extra home comforts make this a great choice, especially if you have a higher budget and you’re willing to splash out a little.
However, for most people, a Class C RV is a more realistic choice. Even the more expensive models are cheaper than a Class A would be, and you are more likely to find one at a decent price second-hand. It may feel a bit less luxurious than a Class A would, but many Class Cs are still packed with fittings and fixtures to make you feel like you are truly ‘at home’ on the road. For that reason, Class C RVs remain very popular, especially for families with young kids.
We’re going to leave the decision up to you – but whatever you choose, an adventure awaits you!