What Is A Class C RV? All You Need To Know About Class C Motorhomes

PublishedMay 3, 2020

So what is a Class C RV business about? Time to deep dive!

What Defines a Class C?

A C Class RV (also known as a Class C motorhome) starts life in the factory as a VAN cutaway chassis.

At 'birth' (Before the RV manufacturer gets hold of it), one looks something like this:

Class C motorhome cutaway chassis

Open Cab Of Class C Cutaway Chassis

Then the living quarters are built on it, and it eventually looks something like this:

Class C Motorhome

Class C Motorhome

The Class C camper has a very distinctive cab-over section above the driver's cab, seen in the photo above.

It's made to be a sleeping area, though sometimes people use it as an entertainment cabinet or as additional storage space.

Class C motorhomes are a good choice for RVers looking to have a drivable, fully self-contained RV that costs less than other larger motorhomes.

Who Makes Class C's? Which Class C Is The Best?

Class C Motorhome Quick Stats:
  • Length: 24 to 36 feet
  • Sleeping Capacity: Up to 6 people
  • Slide-Outs: 0 to 2
  • Gas Mileage: 8 to 15 (will vary depending on size, gas or diesel 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

*Above stats are approximate ranges just to give you a general idea

Class C+ (Super C) Motorhome Quick Stats:
  • Length: 32 to 41 feet
  • Sleeping Capacity: Up to 9 people
  • Slide-Outs: 0 to 4
  • Fuel Economy: 6 to 10 mpg (will vary depending on size, gas or diesel engine, and driving style)
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 23,000 to 33,000 pounds
  • Towing Capacity: 10,000 to 30,000 pounds
  • Cost: $200,000 to $700,000

*Above stats are approximate ranges just to give you a general idea

Type C RV Pros and Cons:
  • Offer features of a larger motorhome in a smaller size
  • More maneuverable and easier to drive than Class A motorhomes
  • Most can tow another vehicle to allow exploration without taking your home with you
  • Often more affordable than Class A motorhomes
  • On smaller lengths, interior space can be tight
  • Some floor plans (usually shorter) may not have great exterior storage

Ultimate Guide To RV Types

Confused about the different types of RVs? Click here to read our guide that explains the differences between the various RV styles.

RV Types

Class C Motorhome Chassis

The most common chassis used for a medium to large Class C RV is the Ford E-Series cutaway chassis. This is a direct descendent of the full-sized E-Series van that Ford produced through the 2014 model year.

Smaller Class C motorhomes also use the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter cutaway chassis.

A cutaway chassis is the front end cab section of a 'normal' vehicle with no back bulkhead (so the cab interior is open from the back) and then 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 campers) has dual rear wheels on each side of the rear axle, for a total of four tires on a single rear axle.

Ford Class C RV cutaway chassis

Ford E-Series Cutaway Chassis

Class C motorhome cutaway chassis

Open Cab Of Class C Cutaway Chassis

Current Ford chassis offer gas engines only. If you are looking for full-sized Class C diesel motorhomes, you will need to 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 fairly easy to access (via a hood, just like a truck). This means when it comes time to do maintenance or make repairs, a mechanic will have an easier time. This may mean 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 gas or diesel Class C motorhomes.

A 4x4 option is available with a select few manufacturers, though for the most part, the Class C RV is rear-wheel drive.

All Class C manufacturers start with the same foundation. It's the living space where they differentiate themselves.

What Is a Super C RV?

A Super C motorhome is a Class C RV 'on steroids'.

Seriously.

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 normal Class C RVs!

Super C motorhome profile

Super C Motorhome

Some Super C's are built on a heavy-duty truck chassis, such as the Ford F-550 or Ram 5500.

These will be front-engine diesel Class C motorhomes.

Super C motorhomes tend to be longer than a normal type C RV, can carry more cargo inside, can tow more, and may be able to sleep more people inside.

Also known as a Class C+, we feel that 'Super' is a far more appropriate description.

They do share the same cab-over shape and look of a normal 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'.

Living Space

The living space of a Class C motorhome is the box that is behind the cutaway cab section. It is where all the furnishings and amenities that make a type C motorhome a house on wheels are installed.

The longer the Class C RV, the more Class A in appearance the interior will be as there will be more room to have all the amenities (more seating options, fancier kitchens, additional sleeping areas, more overall living room, etc.)

Class C Motorhome Interior looking forward

Class C Motorhome Interior (looking forward)

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 eye-popping appliances.

Bathrooms will have a separate shower and toilet area, including a bathroom sink.

Kitchens will have everything you need to make a meal while exploring the open road. Don't expect a huge amount of kitchen counter space except maybe on models with longer floorplans.

You will find a sink, kitchen cabinets, and at the very least a stovetop with multiple burners. Some models will include an oven and/or a microwave for cooking convenience.

At the very least, there will be a dinette with table that can be converted into another bed. There may be a couch or other type of seating area in the living room.

Most seating areas will come equipped with seat belts. This allows for more passengers while traveling.

Class C RV interior looking rearward

Class C RV Interior (looking rearward with corner bed)

In all but the smallest Class C motorhomes, you will have a fixed bed that can be as large as king-sized, 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).

There are layouts that have bunk beds if you need space to sleep a family. Occasional guests can sleep on the couch or other seating area that converts to a bed.

The cab over section, a type C motorhome characteristic design, is sometimes available as a bedroom, unless that particular space is being used as an entertainment center.

To save space, you may find a couch that doubles as a bed on short Class C RVs.

A Mercedes Class C motorhome will often have more of an upscale interior, yet be smaller in overall size.

These RVs are fully self-contained with holding tanks for fresh water as well as wastewater (gray and black RV septic tanks).

Stand-Out Features Of Class C Motorhomes

The Cabover

The distinctive feature of a Class C RV is the cabover section of the living area. This is the part that 'juts' out over the driving cab.

This cabover feature is traditionally used as an additional sleeping area. When used for a sleeping area, there is usually room for a couple of people to stretch out, but not sit up due to the lack of headroom.

Kids usually love this sleeping area.

On more upscale Class C campers, this cabover area will often be used as an entertainment center, with TV, stereo, and accompanying electronics.

Storage Compartments

You will find exterior storage on a Class C motorhome. It will range from a couple of small compartments on short rigs to abundant capacity on longer rigs.

These exterior storage compartments are accessed by doors that typically swing up, granting access.

Class C RV exterior storage compartments

Class C Exterior Storage Compartments

Generators

A generator is normally standard equipment (or at least an option) on a Class C camper.

This 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.

Living Area

If designed right, the living area of a Class C can be quite spacious.

This is especially true on longer rigs, as they (duh) offer more square footage.

Slide-Outs

Slide-outs can really help open up the living space, as is the case with any RV with slide-outs.

Certain Class C floor plans have up to 2 slide-outs.

Safety

One benefit of Class C motorhomes that is rarely discussed is the safety that it affords over a Class A motorhome. Because the Class C is built using the front of a 'normal' van, it has full automotive structure around the driver and front passenger.

This means that it is much more crashworthy than a Class A, which literally has zero structure other than some fiberglass around the front seats.

Towing

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.

How Much Does a Class C Motorhome Cost?

The retail price of a new Class C can vary widely (as can quality).

They can range from around $80,000 for a no-frills, no luxury budget rig to about $140,000 for a nicely equipped (and hopefully higher quality) RV. 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, with prices ranging from $200,000 to $700,000.

You read that right.

This type of Class C motorhome tends to be downright pricey!

Ultimate Guide To RV Types

Confused about the different types of RVs? Click here to read our guide that explains the differences between the various RV styles.

RV Types

Conclusion

Class C motorhomes are worth considering if you want a drivable RV in a compact to medium sized rig. They are great choices for couples or smaller families to head out to the local campground, or take off on a cross-country vacation.

A type C motorhome has all the benefits of a larger motorhome but in a smaller, more maneuverable package. This makes the trip easier on the driver, and opens up more reachable destinations.

With the smaller Class C diesel rigs, you truly can have a easy to drive RV, but with all the amenities of home.

A Mercedes Class C RV is a great example of an upscale, yet relatively compact, diesel Class C RV that is great for two people looking to find adventure on the open road.

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.

Class C campers offer a great way to go on a camping vacation without having to tow a travel trailer or drive a 40-foot motorhome.

Now that you know the answer to the question 'What is a Class C motorhome?', this type of RV might be exactly what you need for your next camping trip.

Marshall Headshot

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing since April 2014, Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle.

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