We find that many of our readers found our website through pickleball, but are now intrigued with the idea of purchasing a motorhome. They have met so many folks playing pickleball that live in their RVs, or travel to tournaments or pickleball destinations in their motorhomes. So today we offer this primer on motorhome nomenclature…the A, B, C’s of motorhomes.
Two Broad Categories
There are two broad categories of Rv’s:
- Those that you tow: this includes pop-ups, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. These tend to be the most economical per square foot but require a vehicle to pull.
- Those that include the vehicle: these range from small vans to 45′ luxury motorcoaches, and is what we will focus on in this post.
Class A Motorhome
Ranging from 22 to 45 feet in length, most Class A motorhomes are built on a motor vehicle chassis. There are luxury exceptions like the Prevost that are built from the ground up. As one can imagine, list prices for a new
Class A can range from $100,000 to over $2 million. Class A motorhomes are delivered with both gas and diesel engines; though as size increases diesel becomes the preferred option due to increased torque, engine life and fuel economy. Typically a Class A motorhome will:
- Include a dedicated sleeping area with a queen or king size bed;
- Secondary sleeping areas such as a convertible dinette or bunk area;
- Slide-outs which widen the available living area when camped;
- Offer larger bathroom(s); and
- Provide the most outdoor/basement storage area.
Class A motorhomes are often preferred by full-time RVers. Many Class A’s are delivered with residential style refrigerators, washer-dryers, and even dishwashers enabling you to bring all the comforts of home to your life on the road. Because of size, nearly all Class A motorhome owners tow a vehicle (i.e. dinghy). Also, keep in mind that some public campgrounds were not built to accommodate these larger rigs.
Class B Motorhome
Class B motorhomes are typically the smallest option, being built within the confines of a van. While the smallest in size, the cost per square foot of the leading models are typically the highest (in part because a lot of functionality is installed in a very confined space.) Roadtrek, a leader in this class of motorhome, offers tricked out models that list for just under $200,000. For a less costly alternative, check out this post about our friends the Readinger’s who did the van conversion themselves.
Unlike the Class A, the sleeping area of these motorhomes often serve dual purposes (couch or dining area by day, bed at night). Also, the bathroom is typically a wet-bath, meaning the shower is in the same area as the toilet and sink. The kitchen area is much smaller and typically include “frigs” that will remind you of your college dorm days. Finally, storage is much more limited!
Up to 22′ in length, these motorhomes are most like driving a car and, for many, the ease of driving and parking is a major draw. Many use their Class B motorhomes as a second vehicle as they can easily be parked in a driveway or larger garage.
While we have met several couples while traveling that full-time in their Class B motorhomes, this is not the norm. Instead, most Class B owners use them for touring a few days or weeks. One major plus we have observed of Class B owners is they spend a lot of time outside their motorhome, enjoying the fresh air and nature rather than watching satellite TV in their air-conditioned lounge.
Class C Motorhome
Class C motorhomes are built on a cut-away chassis…meaning the truck or van front is retained and then the motorhome body is added to the platform on the back. Our first motorhome, OLGA 1.0, was a Class C motorhome that was 24′ in length. It featured one slide, a queen size bed, small bathroom, kitchen, and dinette. Over the cab was an additional bunk that provided lots of room for indoor storage (including golf clubs) since we were traveling alone.
Our current motorhome, OLGA 2.0, is also a Class C…though many in the industry refer to her as a B+. Typically a bit sleeker, and often built on a Mercedes Sprinter Chassis, B+’s tend to have cabinetry storage above the cab rather than a bunk and are most often 22 to 25′ in length.
To be clear, however, the Class C designation is not limited in size. Larger Class C’s, often built on Freightliner or International chassis, can compete in size and luxury with large Class A’s. In general, Class C motorhomes are preferred by traveling families and often options at a variety of price points.
With so many choices and a considerable investment at risk, it can be daunting to make the right decision. Many tenured RVer’s caution newbies to try to buy their third RV first. We, in fact, purchased OLGA 2.0 less than one year after OLGA 1.0. While, like us, you may not make the perfect decision the first time there are a few things you can do to improve your odds:
- Research, research, research: Read everything you can and talk to people who have taken the plunge;
- Spend weekends visiting RV shows: Not to buy, but to learn. Take your time when touring the different models. Spend some time sitting on the couch, or at the dinette. Inspect the closets, cabinets and outdoor storage areas (if any). Don’t be taken in with the new motorhome smell, spend time thinking about what will work best for you.
- Rent RVs: You are no longer limited to renting a Class C from CruiseAmerica. Virtually every type of RV is now available to rent via peer-to-peer rental programs. How can you know what you need or want if you have never traveled in a motorhome? Take the time to experience RVing before your buy.