What Is A Class C RV? All You Need To Know About Class C Motorhomes
By Marshall Wendler
Last Updated: May 16, 2022
When learning the "ABCs" of recreational vehicles, you will encounter C Class motorhomes.
But what is a Class C RV? How is it different than other motorhome types? Are they suitable for you?
Read on to find the answer to the question, "What is a Class C camper?" and figure out if type C motorhomes should be on the shortlist of recreational vehicles for you.
Class C RV Definition
Class C RV campers are van cutaway campers. What does that mean?
C Class campers start life in the factory as a van cutaway chassis.
At 'birth' (Before the RV manufacturer gets hold of it), one looks something like this:
Then the living quarters are built on it making it look something like this:
The C Class camper has a distinctive cab-over section above the driver's cab, as seen in the photo above.
This area is usually a place to sleep. But some use it as an entertainment cabinet or additional storage space.
Class C recreational vehicles are suitable for RVers looking to have a drivable, fully self-contained RV that costs less than larger motorhomes while getting better fuel economy.
C Class Motorhome vs. Other Motorhome Types
An RV Class C fits right between Class A and Class B (aka camper van) motorhomes. Makes perfect sense, right?
Because C naturally comes after A and before B. Um, OK, maybe not! Yeah, we don't know who came up with this naming or why.
Because the RV C Class is the middle child, it has less interior space than an A, yet more than a B.
It gets better gas mileage than an A but worse than a B.
Less exterior storage space than an A, but more than a B.
Typically, the C will have smaller storage tanks than an A but larger than a B. (You get the idea.)
They all have the comforts of home you are looking for, just scaled differently.
Want more maneuverability? Get a camper van (Class B).
Want the most room? Get a Class A, the classic motorhome.
Want something in between small enough to maneuver in the city yet has enough space for two or more people?
Class C RV motorhomes might be the perfect fit for your particular RV lifestyle.
Class C Motorhome Quick Stats
(Stats are approximate ranges to give you a general idea.)
- Length: 24 to 36 feet
- Sleeping Capacity: Up to 6 people
- Slide: 0 to 2
- Gas Mileage: 8 to 15 (will vary depending on size, diesel or gasoline engine, and driving style)
- Gross Vehicle Weight: 10,000 to 14,500 pounds
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 to 10,000 pounds
- Retail Price: $80,000 to $140,000
Type C RV Pros and Cons
Class C Motorhome Chassis
The most common chassis used for medium to large Class C RV types is the Ford E-Series cutaway.
This is a direct descendent of the full-sized E-Series van that Ford produced through the 2014 model year.
Small Class C RVs also use the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter cutaway chassis.
A cutaway chassis is the front-end driver's section of a 'normal' vehicle with no back bulkhead (so the cab interior is open from the back) and a bare truck frame behind.
This provides a platform for the Class C camper living area to be built/installed.
This chassis (and is the case for most, if not all, Class C RV campers) has dual rear wheels on each side of the rear axle, for a total of four tires on a single rear axle.
The current Ford chassis offers only a gas engine. If you are looking for full-sized Class C diesel motorhomes, look at the Super C.
You can get a diesel Class C RV built on the Ford Transit or Mercedes Sprinter cutaway van chassis.
These will have smaller overall living space as these models don't have the cargo-carrying capacity of the full-sized Ford E-Series chassis.
Unlike Class A motorhomes, the engine of a type C RV is pretty easy to access (via a hood, just like a pickup truck).
This means when it comes time to do maintenance or make repairs, a mechanic will have an easier time, resulting in a cheaper bill for you.
Fuel economy isn't outstanding for any motorhome, but a C Class RV can sip less gas than a monster Class A.
Mileage will vary from 8 to 15 mpg, depending on the size of the rig and whether we are talking Class C diesel or gas motorhomes.
A 4x4 or all-wheel-drive option is available with a select few manufacturers, though they are rear-wheel drive for the most part.
All Class C motorcoach manufacturers start with the same foundation, and it's the living space where they differentiate themselves.
The living space of an RV is very important.
The longer the RV type C, the more Class A in appearance the inside will be as there is more room to have all the amenities like bunk beds and more seating options.
Interior furnishing build quality will range from cheap fabric, flooring, and other amenities to nicely appointed Ultraleather covered, super-luxury seating areas, high-end flooring, and high-end appliances.
Bathrooms will have a separate shower and toilet area. You may have a wet bath on the smallest floorplans.
Kitchens have everything you need to make a meal while exploring the open road.
Don't expect a tremendous amount of kitchen counter space except maybe on models with longer floorplans.
You will find a refrigerator, sink, kitchen cabinets, and at the very least, a propane stove with multiple burners.
Some also include an oven and/or a microwave.
At the very least, there will be a dinette with a table that can convert into another bed. There may be a couch or other seating area in the living room.
Most seating areas will come equipped with seat belts, allowing more passengers while traveling.
All but the smallest layouts have a fixed bed that can be as large as a king-size bed, though queen beds are much more common.
The main bedroom is typically in the rear of the rig, sometimes sharing the back of the RV with the bathroom (corner bed).
Some layouts have camper bunk bed mattresses if you need space to sleep a family of four or more. Occasional guests can sleep on the sofa or other seating area that converts to a bed.
The cab-over section, a type C motorhome distinctive design, is sometimes available as a bedroom unless that particular space is being used as an entertainment center.
You may find a couch that doubles as a bed on shorter floorplans to save space.
These RVs are fully self-contained with holding tanks for freshwater and motorhome holding tanks for wastewater.
Stand-Out Features Of Class C Motorhomes
The distinctive feature of a motorhome C Class is the cabover section of the living area.
It's the part that 'juts' out over the driving area.
This cabover feature is traditionally used as an additional sleeping area with a low roof.
If the extra bed space isn't needed, this can be used for additional storage space.
This cabover area will often be used as an entertainment center on more upscale Class C campers, with TV, stereo, and accompanying electronics.
You will find exterior storage that ranges from a couple of small compartments on short rigs to generous capacity on longer rigs.
These exterior storage compartments are accessed by doors that typically swing up, granting access.
A generator usually is usually standard equipment on a Class C camper. It creates 120-volt electricity to power the air conditioner or any other 120-volt only appliance.
The generator will use the same fuel that the RV's engine uses.
If designed right, the living area can be spacious.
This is especially true on longer rigs, as they (duh) offer more square footage, particularly when there are one or more slide-outs.
A slide-out can help open up the living space, as with any RV with a slide.
Specific floor plans have up to 2 slide-outs that can transform a floorplan of a given length from potentially crowded to open and spacious.
One benefit of Class C motorhomes that is rarely discussed is their safety over a Class A motorhome.
Because the Class C is built using the front of a 'normal' van, it has a complete automotive structure around the driver and front passenger.
It is much more crashworthy than a Class A, which has zero structure other than some fiberglass around the front seats.
You can tow a small car with a larger C Class RV, but smaller ones can't tow any vehicles because the tow rating is too low.
Having a separate car to drive when you are at the campsite means you don't have to pack up your RV and use it as a daily driver.
What Is a Super C RV?
A Super C motorhome is a type C motorhome 'on steroids'.
Instead of using a van cutaway chassis, a Super C RV uses a medium-duty truck cutaway chassis (Freightliner is a popular choice).
This chassis is the little brother to the full-sized heavy-duty semis traveling the Interstates.
Heck, some of the massive (and expensive) Super C's use the cabs of semi-trucks.
Yeah, those aren't your ordinary Class C RVs!
Some are built on a heavy-duty truck chassis, such as the Ford F-550 or Ram 5500 (diesel).
Super C motorhomes tend to be longer than a typical type C RV, can carry more cargo inside, can tow more, and may be able to sleep more people inside. These rigs are an excellent choice for the full-time RVer.
Also known as a Class C+, we feel that 'Super' is a far more appropriate description.
They share the same cab-over shape and look of a regular C Class RV, so there is a resemblance.
It's just that everything is bigger with the Super C RV.
As I said, they are Class C motorhomes 'on steroids.'
Class C+ (Super C) Motorhome Quick Stats:
(Stats are approximate ranges to give you a general idea.)
- Length: 32 to 41 feet
- Sleeping Capacity: Up to 9 people
- Slide: 0 to 4
- Fuel Economy: 6 to 10 mpg
- Gross Vehicle Weight: 23,000 to 33,000 pounds
- Towing Capacity: 10,000 to 30,000 pounds
- Cost: $200,000 to $700,000
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Much Should I Pay For A Class C RV?
Class C RV prices can vary widely (as can quality). The cost can range from around $80,000 for a no-frills, no luxury budget rig to $140,000+ for a nicely equipped (and hopefully higher quality) rig. A wide variety of options can make the price go up quickly.
Mercedes Class C RV offerings will tend to be on the upper end of the price range as the bare chassis is more expensive than the Ford offerings, so the price will be higher.
A Super C RV will be considerably more, ranging from $200,000 to $700,000.
You read that right.
This type of Class C motorhome tends to be downright pricey!
Is A Class C RV Worth It?
A Class C motorhome is worth it if you will use it and can justify the expense of a vehicle that may only get a couple of weeks of use a year (assuming you aren't living in it full-time).
You would be mistaken to think that a Class C RV is a good investment in the classic sense of the term.
But it may be a tremendous investment for your family's well-being if it lets you explore new places and bond while camping.
No recreational vehicle will make you money as they are well known for being a depreciating asset that rarely holds their value.
When you buy an RV, you are purchasing the ability to explore on your terms while bringing the comforts of home with you on the road.
Who Makes Class C's? Which Class C Is The Best?
How Many Miles Can A Class C RV Last?
A Class C motorhome can last you many miles if you take care of it. Like any other vehicle, good maintenance is vital to ensuring a long life expectancy.
Properly maintained a Class C will last for well over 100,000 miles with a life expectancy approaching 20+ years.
However, if you abuse your rig, it will be more prone to give you problems and won't last nearly this long.
Are There Diesel Class C Motorhomes?
Yes, there are Class C diesel motorhomes.
The most popular diesel chassis is the Mercedes Sprinter and can be found on a wide variety of models and floorplans from many different RV manufacturers.
Most Super C RVs use diesel chassis due to the large size of the living area and the heavyweight that results from such a large size.
Class C motorhomes are worth considering if you want a drivable RV in a compact to medium-sized rig.
They are excellent choices for couples or smaller families to head out to the local campground or take off on a cross-country vacation.
There are plenty of full-time RVers who chose this recreational vehicle style to call their home.
A type C motorhome has all the benefits of a larger motorhome but in a smaller, more maneuverable package. This makes the trip easier for the driver and opens up more reachable destinations.
With the smaller rigs, you can have an easy-to-drive RV, but with all the amenities of home.
If you like the bigger rigs, a Super C motorhome might fit the bill, especially if you are looking for something that has the space of a large motorhome but has the classic Class C look.
This style of recreational vehicle offers a great way to go on a camping vacation without having to tow a travel trailer RV or drive a 40-foot motorhome.
Now that you know the answer to the question 'What is a Class C motorhome?', this kind of recreational vehicle might be what you are looking for on your next camping trip.
Author: Marshall Wendler
Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit.
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