What is a Class A RV? They are pretty easy to identify.
Let's dive right in, without any fluff.
What Is A Class A?
When you think of a motorhome, I'm guessing you picture a Class A. It's the typical 'box on wheels' you see rolling down the Interstate.
Class A motorhomes are self-propelled type of campers that have either a gas or diesel powertrain. They start their 'lives' as a bare chassis. Then the living quarters are built on top of the chassis by an RV manufacturer.
They have all the amenities for a vacation or road trip, are self-contained so you can camp anywhere, and have interior furnishings that come in a variety of style and quality choices from basic comforts to 5-star luxury.
This drivable RV is a popular choice as the best RV for full-time living with people that like having a completely self-contained house on wheels that offers plenty of storage space.
Who Makes Class A's? Which Class A Is The Best?
Class A RV Quick Stats:
- Length: 28 to 45 feet
- Sleeping Capacity: 4 to 6 people (or more with certain floor plans)
- Slide-Outs: 0 to 4
- Gas Mileage: 6 to 10 (will vary depending on size, gas or diesel engine, and driving style)
- Gross Vehicle Weight: 22,000 pounds to 55,000 pounds
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 to 20,000 pounds
- Retail Price: Low $100,000's to $400,000+ (up to $2 Million+ for a bus conversion)
*Above stats are approximate ranges just to give you a general idea
Class A RV Pros and Cons:
Class A Motorhome Chassis
These recreational vehicles start life as a bare chassis that consists of the drivetrain, steering mechanism, and a backbone for the living space.
The RV Class A chassis comes in either gas or diesel-powered versions.
The gas engine is in the front of the camper, and the diesel being in the rear (which is why it's called a diesel 'pusher').
Drivable RV chassis are only available from a few manufacturers.
Ford supplies Class A gas RV chassis to manufacturers.
Freightliner is the big chassis supplier for diesel Class A motorhomes (diesel pushers).
With so few drivable RV chassis suppliers, pretty much every Class A motorhome manufacturer starts from the same place (the bare chassis).
What happens after this is what separates the manufacturers.
Motorhome chassis will come with either one or two rear axles.
The longer and heavier the motorhome is, the more likely it will have DUAL rear axles.
The second rear axle is known as a tag axle (dead axle). The tax axle only supports additional weight and is not a drive axle.
This will be the rearmost of the dual axles and only have a single tire on either side (total of two tires on the tag axle).
For a single rear axle motorhome, this is the drive axle and will have dual tires on each side (total of four tires).
With a dual rear axle motorhome, the front axle will be the drive axle and have two tires per side (total of four tires on the drive axle).
Fuel economy will be rather dismal, but you have to consider that you are literally driving a house down the road.
There is a towing hitch at the rear of the rig that generally has the capability to tow a wide variety of vehicles, from a car, to an SUV, all the way up to a pickup truck.
Class A RV Interior
The living space is where motorhome manufacturers differentiate themselves. Each manufacturer has its unique take on it, offering many different models with varying degrees of amenities, options, and luxury features.
The 'home' part of an RV motorhome consists of a floor, two sidewalls, a front and rear end cap, and a roof.
Inside of this box goes the furnishings and appliances.
These amenities are what make the recreational vehicle a home away from home.
Class A camper interiors will range from having basic seating and appliances for the entry-level coaches to higher-end coach interiors with tile floors, residential refrigerators, and other luxury furnishings.
Some furnishings are worthy of a penthouse condominium. The options and details can be eye opening on high-end motor coaches.
You will find a bathroom with separate shower and toilet facilities (Some coaches even have a bath and a half with two toilets).
There will be a complete kitchen with everything you need to cook, including stove, oven (either stand-alone or as part of a convection microwave), microwave, refrigerator, sink, counter space, and plenty of storage.
And of course, there will be somewhere to sleep. This is typically a fixed bed of varying size in a separate bedroom.
There might be secondary sleeping areas such as hide-a-bed couches, or bunk beds on some floor plans.
Space inside can be greatly expanded by the use of slide outs which expand the living room while the vehicle is stationary.
Many type A motorhomes will have the option of a clothes washer and dryer.
With amenities like this, life on the road can include many of the conveniences you'd find in a stationary house.
Class A motorhomes are fully self-contained RVs.
They have everything contained in them so that you can live life on the road, including an RV tank for fresh water, as well as wastewater (called gray and black tanks).
Class A Bus Conversions
High-end Class A motor coaches are built on a commercial bus chassis and cost upwards of $2 million+.
These custom coaches are often built on the Prevost motorhome chassis.
They are based off the Prevost commercial buses, but tailored for RV use.
Several custom coach manufacturers take the 'bare' Prevost bus and then add their luxury interior finishings.
They are often customized to an individual customer's preferences, including luxuries and amenities that are found in the finest homes.
A bus conversion starts with a commercial bus 'shell' (all walls, floor, and roof) that will have up to 2 slide-outs.
These custom conversions are generally 45 feet in length and can have a maximum weight of 55,000 pounds.
Stand-Out Features Of Class A Campers
Exterior storage is abundant on a Class A camper.
Because the 'house' portion of the RV is built above a raised frame, there is plenty of storage underneath (called basement storage).
Said storage is accessed by individual compartment doors that either open upwards or to the side.
A generator comes standard on almost every A Class RV.
This allows 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.
Class A campers are known for having open floor plans. There is no separation between the driving area and the living space - it's all one continuous area.
The driver and front passenger seats often swivel around so they become part of the living area when the rig is stationary.
There will be seat belts for additional passengers, located at seating areas within the living room.
Slide-outs, which open up to expand the living space, is pretty much standard equipment on Class A RVs.
Not that long ago, slide-outs were a rarity, but now it's hard to find a coach (except the most basic, entry-level unit) without one.
You will find up to 4 slides on a Class A camper.
How Much Does a Class A Motorhome Cost?
Class A campers are the most expensive recreational vehicle you can buy, but the entry price for a new rig doesn't have to be too outrageous.
Retail prices for a new RV Class A range from the low $100,000's to over $400,000 for a higher-end model. (But remember, never pay the asking retail price!)
You can pay well over $2 Million for a bus conversion.
Class A vs Class C Motorhome
Class A and Class C RVs are most similar in style between the three different motorhome types.
So what is the difference between Class A and Class C RV?
The major difference between a Class C RV and a Class A RV is the front end of the rig.
The rear (living area) is constructed very similarly and has the same types of furnishings and amenities.
Because a Class C is based on a cut-away chassis, it has a full frontal structure (just as a van or truck would).
This means in a crash it will do much better than a Class A motor home.
A class A camper has no substantial frontal structure.
Or consider a roll-over accident - in a Class A RV you have a puny wall and roof, whereas a Class C has full automotive structure around you in the cab area.
Hopefully now you have the question 'What is a Class A motorhome'? answered and have a better understanding of this type of driveable RV.
Class A RVs are truly a house on wheels that has the ability to propel itself down the road to your next campground or boondocking spot.
Size and maneuverability are an issue with most Class A campers, as they tend to be long and ponderous, but dang, they can be oh so comfy when you reach your campsite.
Whether or not the RV motorhome is the best choice of rig for you will greatly depend on how you intend to use it and if the cost justifies the amount of use you will get from it.
There are definitely simpler kinds of recreational vehicles that offer many of the same benefits of an A Class RV, so these rigs may not be the right choice for your family.
If you don't want to hassle with hitching up a camping trailer or fifth wheel, and like the idea of a driveable, completely self-contained RV with plenty of living space, then the Type A motorhome is worth taking a good hard look at.
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.