Choosing the right motorhome can be a stressful experience, but it’s important to make a careful decision and make the right choice. Your motorhome is an investment, and you want to be sure what you buy is what you need and want.
How do you know whether a Class A or Class C motorhome is right for you?
Here are a few things to consider:
What is Your Budget?
Like any major purchase, you want to have a very specific budget range established before you begin your search for a motorhome. In most cases, Class A motorhomes are more expensive than Class C motorhomes, but this doesn’t mean one is better than the other. You can find qualified motorhomes in many different price ranges and in both the A and C categories, so it’s important to have an idea of what you want to spend before researching your options.
Your best bet when creating a budget is to set three price limits. The first is the minimum you think you need to spend to get the bare bones of what you want. If you found a motorhome for this price that had the minimum features you want and maybe a few extras, you would make the purchase without a second thought.
The next price limit is what you think you’ll probably need to spend to get a motorhome with the majority of the features you want. You can afford this price, but you wouldn’t consider it a great bargain if you paid this for your motorhome.
The final price limit is the top of your budget. It’s the absolute highest amount you can afford to spend for a motorhome that has every single feature you’re hoping to get. It might make things a little tight for you financially, but you know you’ll never second guess the motorhome you chose. This isn’t to say this price would be too expensive or actually out of your price range – it’s just the top of your price range.
Class A vs. Class C Motorhome
Now that you have your budget, you can look at whether a Class A or Class C Motorhome would be your better option based on your specific criteria.
Class A motorhomes are the largest option available and look a lot like a bus. They are considered the most luxurious of RVs and are what many people consider when they think of a bus used by a musician or politician on tour. It’s essentially a home on the road. With a Class A motorhome, you’ll have every creature comfort of home available, including a full bathroom featuring a toilet, sink, and shower, a master bedroom, and a kitchen and dining space.
You might assume that anyone who can afford a Class A RV would opt for this style, but this isn’t always the case. These vehicles come with a lot of positive features, but they aren’t right for everyone.
What are the benefits of owning a Class A motorhome?
Made for a suitable full-time home because it provides so much living space
- Offers all the amenities of a standard home
- Provides extra amenities so you can travel or live in comfort and not just make the best of basic amenities
- Can offer extended square footage once the motorhome is stationary at a campsite or other location
- Provides plenty of storage and you can add storage features if needed
- Can usually sleep up to eight people comfortably
- Easy to drive – if you’re towing anything it’s an additional vehicle for getting around when you aren’t behind the wheel of your RV
- Provides full access to the living area even when on the road
- Offers plenty of around-the-vehicle visibility and has a full-sized windshield
- Features an elevated driver’s seat
- Comes equipped with standard heat, air conditioning, and full bathroom facilities. (Consider installing a luxury handheld showerhead to make things even more convenient in the small space.)
- Offers a variety of upgrade and customization options in addition to the plethora of standard features
If you aren’t sure a Class A motorhome is right for you and you’re wondering if there’s a downside, here’s what you need to know:
- You won’t get a Class A motorhome into a tight space, so if your goal is to off-road camp or be able to get into tighter campground spaces, it’s not going to happen with a Class A RV.
- Backing up and having enough top clearance can be a problem. Installing a backup camera kit can save you some frustration and make things easier.
- Not all mechanics can work on Class A motorhomes, so if you need maintenance or repairs, you’ll be forced to visit a specialized shop.
- Class A motorhomes come with a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay at least $50,000 to $60,000 for a new Class A, and the range can go far higher depending on the amenities you’re looking for. It’s possible to pay as much as $1 million for a fully loaded Class A motorhome
- You’ll need to have an alternate form of transportation if you’re living in your Class A motorhome full-time or you intend to travel around small towns during your trips.
- Skilled driving of a Class A motorhome has a learning curve. It can be easy once you’re used to it, but initially, it’s challenging.
- You’ll pay a pretty penny for gas in most cases because Class A vehicles have poor fuel economy.
- Some people are uncomfortable with having a single driving and living space.
Class C Motorhomes
So what’s the alternative if you don’t think a Class A vehicle is right for you, or you know it’s out of your price range?
Class C motorhomes provide many of the same comforts found in Class A RVs, but for a lower price. Here’s what you should know about Class C motorhomes:
Class C motorhomes are what many people think of when they imagine a recreational vehicle. They feature a “truck cab,” and the bed is located over the cab. This class of motorhome is sometimes called a mini motorhome, and it’s a great option for people who want to be on the road full-time or near full-time but know that a Class A motorhome isn’t the best option for them.
Class C motorhomes are often considered the better value, but it is possible to add a number of features to a Class C and end up with an RV that is quite luxurious.
Class C vehicles offer anywhere from 20’ to 32’ feet of length, which is usually more than enough for a couple and the occasional family members along for the trip. In a Class C vehicle, you’ll feel as if you are camping, but you won’t be cramped or uncomfortable.
What are some of the best aspects of Class C motorhomes?
- Has a number of safety features and is generally considered the safer option between Class A and Class C
- Features all the basic amenities you need for life on the road, including A/C, heat, kitchen, bathroom, and a dining area
- Has a more reasonable price range starting at $50,000 and coming fully loaded for less than $200,000, typically
- Has better fuel economy than Class A models
- Some offer expanding space with slide outs for extra square footage
- Comes with a variety of entertainment options, including televisions mounted behind the cockpit or in the side of the living area
- Can usually comfortably sleep up to 10 people – more than Class A models because of the overcab sleeping space
- Can be easier to drive than Class A models and trailers – some class C owners compare it to driving a larger SUV
- Can fit on most roads and into most camping spaces without too many challenges
- Allow for full access to the living area while on the road
In addition to all of the Class C models available, it’s also possible to get a Class C+, which offers more features, more size, and just as much luxury as a Class A motorhome.
Of course, like Class A motorhomes, there are a few downsides to Class C vehicles, including:
- In most cases, Class C motorhomes are smaller than Class A, so if living space is important, you might want to consider the upgrade.
- Some Class C owners report feeling cramped when sleeping. If your goal is to live full-time in your RV, you’ll want to carefully consider where you want space and where you can cut corners.
- Some of the beds need assembly once you’ve reached your destination, so if this doesn’t appeal to you, then you’ll want to opt for a Class A vehicle or a Class C that keeps the living and sleeping quarters fully assembled at all times.
- You’ll be driving with a small front windshield, and this impeded vision bothers some drivers.
- Despite the improvement in gas mileage, you’re still driving a large, heavy vehicle, so if you’re concerned, neither Class A nor Class C might be right for you.
- Class C is a more budget-friendly option than a trailer, but still pricey.
- Price tends to depreciate faster on Class C motorhomes than it does on Class A models. (Read the post I wrote here on RV Depreciate rates)
The bottom line? Both Class A and Class see have good points and bad points. What’s right for you is based on personal preference and the intentions you have for traveling and camping.
Your circumstances will play an important role in helping you choose whether a Class A or Class C motorhome is the better option for you. Families will likely fare well with either type of motorhome, but many find they prefer Class C models. They are comfortable and spacious, but not the investment of a Class A in most cases. Class C also works well for family vacations because it’s easy to drive and easy to maneuver into a variety of spaces. Not to mention the safety features – most families agree they’d prioritize safety over any other feature and Class C is the way to go if safety is a major concern.
Another thing you’ll want to do if you’re having a tough time deciding between Class A and Class C is test drive both vehicles. Ideally, you’ll test drive several options within each category. This not only allows you to determine how you feel driving the vehicles, but it also gives you a little bit of time to move around and know how much space there is in the living area.
Of course, if you narrow down your choices but still aren’t completely sure, you could rent one of the models you’re drawn to for a short trip so can really get to know what it’s like to travel and camp in a motorhome. This is a bit more of an investment, but if you’re thinking about spending upwards of $100,000 or more on an investment, you need to know exactly what you’re getting into.
What’s Your Final Choice – Class A or Class C?
Ultimately, you’ll need to make your selection based on how you feel about driving and living in either a Class A or Class C motorhome. Speak to other people who have owned each type of vehicle and see how they feel about the pros and cons. Make sure you understand their circumstances, their travel itineraries, and their overall impressions. It’s possible someone would love a Class C motorhome for their situation, but it would be the worst possible choice for you.
If you can, take your list of priorities with you when you shop. This can help the salesperson narrow down your choices for you, as long as you’re comfortable missing out on motorhomes that are probably less than optimal for you and your family. This strategy can help you from getting overwhelmed and make it possible to eliminate some duplicate choices from your list. Sometimes, different manufacturers make similar products with just a small variation, and if that variation affects something important to you, you can narrow down your selection by at least one.
There’s never been a better time to commit to the open road and traveling and vacation in a motorhome. Hopefully this article has made it easier for you to choose between a Class A and Class C model.