Some of you may remember when we bought our first Class C motorhome on a whim a few years ago. We were ecstatic to find a great motorhome to enjoy the RV travel lifestyle; however, after a while, we discovered that there were some advantages and disadvantages to the Class C. And eventually, those disadvantages led us to upgrade to a Class A motorhome. In this post, we’ll compare some of the pros and cons of Class C and Class A RV’s and explain why we ultimately decided to upgrade our rig to a Class A.
Types of Motorhomes
From travel trailers, pop-ups, fifth wheels, conversion vans and motorhomes. There are just so many different styles of RVs out there to choose from. But even when it comes to just motorhomes, you’ll find that there are different models: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
At first, you may think that these motorhomes are pretty similar except for the style. And that’s true…but only to a certain extent. There are actually quite a lot of differences between these different types of motorhomes. For this post, I’m just going to focus on the Class A and Class C, since that’s what we have the most experience with.
Pros and Cons of a Class C Motorhome
+ Easy to Drive (maybe too easy…)
In general, one of the biggest pros to a Class C Motorhome is probably the main reason we bought ours. It was easy to drive. The Class C Motorhome is on more of a van-like chassis, and even when you are sitting inside and driving it, it really just feels like driving a van.
It’s not intimidating, in fact, sometimes we found it too easy to drive and would forget we were driving a 31 foot RV!
+ Cheaper than Class A’s
Another positive aspect of the Class C Motorhome is that generally, they are cheaper than Class A’s. Class A’s are considered higher-end overall, and Class C’s tend to be lower priced as a result (although, not always).
+ Extra Over-Cab Storage / Bed
Class C Motorhomes also have a bunk or storage area that hangs over above the passenger and driver’s seats. This is part of what makes Class C’s good for family camping trips because the over-cab space typically has a bed + acts as storage while you are driving.
– Smaller Tanks & Exposed to Weather
The downside of having a Class C is that they usually have smaller tanks overall. First of all, the gas tanks are usually smaller – which doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when you are driving long distances, you realize just how much gas is swallowed up by the motorhome and you find yourself having to stop a lot and fill up. That takes a lot of time out of your schedule.
Also, the storage tanks are typically smaller – which includes your fresh water, black and grey wastewater tanks. This means that when you are “boondocking” without RV hookups like water or sewer, you typically can’t go long before you need to dump or get water. It’s not a huge deal if you don’t boondock much, or just for short periods. But it’s something to keep in mind.
Further, the storage tanks on Class C motorhomes are typically external and exposed to the weather. This means that the tanks and your pipes of a higher possibility of freezing during cold winter weather (never a fun thing to deal with!).
– Limited Cab Use When Stationary
Another bummer about the Class C is that the driving cabin area isn’t really usable when you are parked. Think of it this way, if you have a 31 foot Class C (like we did), there was at least 3-5 feet of space that is for the engine outside the front of the rig, then the driver and passenger seats — and none of this space could really be considered part of the living space inside. It was just kinda, wasted.
Basically, you can use it for storage like throwing bags up there in the driver and passenger seats, but you can’t always use them for anything else when you are parked. Some class C RVs allow you to turn the chairs around and use them for extra seating. But we have found this feature to be pretty rare.
– Less Storage in a Class C Motorhome
Finally, storage can be an issue with a Class C; however, it ultimately depends on your make and model though. Typically, the outside storage compartments on a Class C are significantly smaller. It may not seem like a big deal. But we can tell you from experience that we quickly learned we needed more space to store things.
We could barely fit a few camping chairs and an outdoor table in there. Plus, there was little room for a grill after we put all our tools and hoses in there. And forget getting the Cornhole game in there — no way!
Storage inside a Class C motorhome tends to be less overall as well when it comes to cabinet and closet space. Again, it depends on your design. We were lucky because our Class C had a ton of storage up above the driver and passenger seats, but that was pretty rare to find.
Pros and Cons of a Class A Motorhome
+ More Amenities, Luxuries & Higher Quality
Overall, Class A’s are considered the top-of-the-line when it comes to motorhomes. Although, there are still many different makes and models at widely varying price points, you will typically get a lot more amenities in a Class A and a higher quality of work. In fact, some Class A’s cost upwards of millions of dollars! (Obviously, that’s not what we have…).
+ Spacious Inside of a Class A
One of the biggest pros of the Class A motorhome is the size. They tend to be bigger not just in length, but in height and they usually have a much bigger feel inside. Some of them feel absolutely huge! And the quality of the build in a Class A is usually better quality, but again, it can vary by manufacturer.
For example, our upgraded Class A is only 1 foot longer than our old Class C – and it feels enormous inside compared to the old Class C because we have so much more usable space!
+ Bigger Windows for Gorgeous Views
Class A motorhomes also have much bigger windows, which means you get a pretty incredible panoramic view when you are traveling…a lot better view than a Class C! We’ve come to really love the enormous windows in the front of the rig, even when we are parked they let in so much natural light and make the space feel open and bigger.
+ More Storage Inside & Out
When it comes to storage, we have a ton more storage inside the Class A RV. Our closet is bigger and we have a hallway closet that we didn’t have before. Our fridge is roughly double the size, and the outside undercarriage storage space is something we had been dreaming about! We can fit extra tables, a number of lounge chairs, tiki torches, ladders, an additional firepit and so much more. Some bins are so large we can fit entire suitcases in them and still, we have some bins that are empty!
+ Larger Holding Tanks on a Class A
Another positive aspect of a Class A RV is that they tend to have much larger holding tanks for fuel, water, propane, and waste. We can drive for such a long time before needing to fill up for gas, and we rarely need to fill our propane tank. And our fresh water and waste tanks are practically double the size of our Class C – meaning that we can boondocks for a lot longer without hookups.
Plus, the holding tanks are surrounded by a heated undercarriage, which means less chance of them freezing up during cold temperatures. So really, you can really use a Class A year-round much more so than a Class C (although, sustained super cold weather could still be a problem).
+ Usable Front Cabin Space
When it comes to the driver and passenger seats of a Class A, this area of the RV is much more open than a Class C, and often times this space is very usable. Many class A RVs have chairs that spin around so you can have more seating and entertaining for guests, and even pop-out footrests that turn the passenger seat into a recliner.
One feature that we were specifically looking for in our Class A RV was an office in the front passenger seat. Complete with outlets, storage, and a pull-out desk, we had seen these in a few rigs and knew that it was perfect for us since we work on the road. And I must say, this passenger seat desk is awesome for working, in fact, it’s one of the best and most comfortable desks I’ve ever had!
– More Expensive
As far as the downsides go to a Class A, obviously they are more expensive than a Class C. For example, the tires alone are huge and can be super costly to replace. Although, pretty much anything on any RV is expensive to fix! But with a Class A you also have to find shops that can work on rigs of this size because they are more like buses and the engine is more complicated than a Class C (regardless of if it’s a diesel or gas engine).
– Intimidating to Drive
For some people, Class A’s can be pretty intimidating because they are a lot bigger and they seem scarier to drive. Class A RV’s are built up on a bus-style chassis, and it really does feel like you are driving a bus sometimes.
But honestly, I think I was more scared of it then I needed to be. You get used to it. In fact, my dad prefers it because he loves sitting up high and having a view over the cars in front of him so he can see better and have more time to stop.
– Big to Maneuver and Park
Another downside to a Class A is that because they tend to be a lot bigger, you have to be careful to watch your overhead clearance. Also, you may have more challenges when it comes to finding parking, or maneuvering it in tight spaces and along narrow roads. Lastly, you could have trouble getting a Class A motorhome into smaller campsites and more rural camping areas.
So if you prefer rural camping, a Class A may not be suited to you. But if you enjoy nice RV parks, then you will have no problem.
My Dad Was Right About the Class C…
So as we mentioned, our first motorhome that we bought was a Class C. And we LOVED it! It was perfect for our needs at the time of traveling around for weekends or a couple weeks here and there. It was super easy to drive and didn’t scare us at all to deal with. It was really a GREAT first RV!
But after we bought it, my dad told me that we will have wished we had bought a Class A.
I figured my dad was just being biased because he has a Class A (although he’s had Class C’s before). However, after a couple longer trips we could see what he meant.
He told us that we would end up wanting bigger tanks. And after boondocking a few times in some gorgeous places, I have to admit that we were bummed that our tanks weren’t bigger.
Also, during a drive to the Grand Tetons and another trip to the Grand Canyon we realized that our view out the window of the Class C while we were driving was being blocked by the overhang above the cab. That’s when we started wishing we had those big panoramic windows to enjoy the view in these amazing places.
Lastly, we started to get a bit annoyed at the storage situation. Particularly when we wanted to buy some comfy zero-gravity lounge chairs and realized there was just no way to fit 2 lounge chairs into the storage bays!
The Class C was starting to become a bummer…
Full-Time RVing in a Class C vs. Class A
Then everything changed when we decided to go full-time in the RV. Yeah, you read that correctly. We were traveling so much for our jobs and every time we came home, we couldn’t wait to take the RV out on a trip. But weekends turned into a week, and a week turned into 2 weeks. Pretty soon we realized that going home was a burden!
Luckily we were just renting our house in Denver, but rent was stupid expensive…which made it worse that we were paying for a place that we weren’t living! So we decided to get rid of the house and move into the RV for a while to explore (since we can work on the road with our business PoP Digital Media).
The Class C worked out great in the beginning, but then after a while, those annoyances started to really get to us. Small tanks. Small windows. Lack of usable space in the front seats…and the storage compartments just couldn’t hold even 2 awesome lounge chairs!
So, our search began for a Class A RV. We looked and looked. And finally, the perfect Class A RV came to us at just the right time!
We upgraded to the Class A motorhome and never looked back!!!
While we have such fond memories of our Class C RV, it just doesn’t compare to our Class A that we have now. Even though the new RV is only 1 foot longer than our old Class C, we feel like we have a TON more space in the Class A. And the storage space is unbelievable. We also have so much more sitting space inside and workspace, since we also have an awesome dedicated desk in the front seat (it’s a amazing).
Final Thoughts on a Class A vs. Class C RV
In the end, whichever RV you get will really depend on your own situation. If you want something that’s easy to drive, less expensive, and just for shorter getaways then the Class C is wonderful. But if you want more space and if you want to go full-time RV living or just take much longer trips, then you will likely want a Class A.
We will forever cherish the memories we made in our first Class C RV. But I have to say, we have been officially converted to Class A’s (as my dad said I would be). So I don’t ever see us going back to a Class C again.