Isn't it a bummer that learning which RV classes are which isn't easier??
(Thank you long ago anonymous person that decided to name an RV type by using the ABC's. Eye roll.)
There's just no easy way to remember which is which. (It wasn't for me, anyway.)
If you have come up with some easy way for people to remember which is which, PLEASE tell us in the comments section below!
The Three RV Classes
Anyway, here's the deal. There are only three classes of RVs in existence:
- Class A, Class B, and Class C.
The categorizing into a 'class' ONLY applies to an RV with an engine in it. The classes are only motorhomes.
(Yes, there are 'sub' categories now, the 'B+' and the 'Super C'.)
Any other type of RV is not typed by a 'class'.
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Only MOTORHOMES are classified.
Differences between the three motorhome classes include external appearances, chassis differences, some are also considered a van, maneuverability, cargo capacities, and more. Let's figure out which is which and teach you a thing or two!
Don't forget rule number one: ONLY motorhomes fall into these class categories. Pull-behind RVs do not.
The only types of RV that are 'classified' are motorhomes- RVs that you can drive
If an RV is 'classified', or has a 'class', then it's an RV with a built-in engine.
Again, there are ONLY three RV motorhome classes. A, B, and C.
Now, let's go over the differences.
Identify By Shape
Let's talk about what the different classes of motorhomes look like because visually, the SHAPE IS how you can most easily identify an individual motorhome's class.
Sure, the structural bits about each define the types.
But first, let's simplify it by identifying a class upon looks alone.
Let's objectify these suckers!
Class A= Big rectangle on wheels
Class B= A van
Class C= Motorhome with living space that extends over the driver cab
The Class A Motorhome - 'Box On Wheels'
The unforgettable TV show Breaking Bad... Yep, they used a Class A motorhome. Hank used it as a rolling meth lab at the beginning of the unforgettable binge-worthy series. (Fun fact- in season 3, Hank calls the RV a Class C, which is incorrect.)
It was an old one, yes, and it had a sloping windshield as opposed to the more popular/identifiable vertical type.
Still, it was pretty much a box on wheels.
Also, the movie RV with Robin Williams. That was a Class A as well with the more common flat/vertical front.
Even Cousin Eddie's RV in the classic movie 'Christmas Vacation'- that was also a Class A, albeit a very unique looking one!
The Class A motorhome is likely what you picture when you think 'RV'.
They are the least aerodynamic thing invented for travel, possibly ever. These vehicles can range from 25-45' long, with little to no aerodynamic shape about them. They probably average about 33' in length.
These units are built on a bare chassis. Usually, they are either made from Ford (Gas engines) or Freightliner (Diesel engines). Then the RV manufacturer builds the box and its contents on top.
Size can be an issue with these models (They're big). Trips can cost a lot due to the high cost of the RV itself, larger/more expensive campground spots, and fuel costs combined with poor gas mileage. Whether gas or diesel, Class A motorhomes have the worst fuel economy.
Class A motorhomes are the largest and most expensive RVs of the bunch
Even so, some advantages are that they offer the most in luxuries for the best family vacation experience money can buy. (Thus the coined joke 'Class A-holes' for owners of class a RVs. No, Camp Addict doesn't believe that having a Class A means you're an a-hole.)
The Class A motorhome comes equipped with everything from a master bedroom, living area, toilet, shower, full kitchen, and sometimes even two bath area toilets.
Space is often BIG in these monsters, and you may have up to 5 TVs in one unit. They can get as crazy as you can imagine, for that matter.
Larger ones almost always have slide-outs, which are notorious for becoming troublesome.
If you can imagine it, you can probably find it in the most decked out Class A RVs.
The price tag for the Class A motorhome lifestyle is high as they are usually full of luxury and many comforts. Features can include interior conveniences as luxurious as a washing machine and dryer.
Class A motorhomes are typically very large, so they are challenging to maneuver. Because of their design and because they are built on a chassis, they usually have a ton of basement storage space.
- Largest of the three classes
- Shaped 'like a box/rectangle'
- Often the priciest
- Length: 28 to 45 feet +/-
Class B Motorhome
Scooby-Dooby-Doo!!! Yeah, the Mystery Machine was a Class B RV. It was a van.
This should help you get the gist of what a Class B van looks like compared to the A or the C. Everyone knows what the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo looks like!
Simply put, Class B motorhomes are vans made into an RV.
The Class B motorhome is usually far smaller than a Class A.
These vehicles are usually small, but not always. They range around 19-27 feet long.
Their variety can make a Class B motorhome a little tricky at times to identify. The basis of what makes a Class B a Class B is the chassis it is built upon.
They either start their lives as:
- A shell of a complete cargo van, usually a Sprinter, Ram, or Ford Transit. (regular Class B motorhome, like the one pictured above.)
- OR, they (the Class B+) start as just the cutaway chassis of one of those vans. This means they start with the front end of the cab (driver area) with only the chassis attached. The 'butt' of the vehicle is open/empty. The RV manufacturer then builds that section on top of the chassis. (Class B+ motorhome)
These camper vans normally have all the accommodations necessary for a fun, complete camping trip.
What's a B+?
The newer termed 'B+' van is a motorhome that started life on a bare van chassis. Then the manufacturer builds the RV 'guts' on top of that chassis.
They are usually larger/wider than a traditional B because they aren't confined to being built inside of the already built van cargo area.
TECHNICALLY, the B+ is really a Class C camper, but doesn't have the sleeping area over the cab that is traditionally found on a Class C.
Amenities usually include the normal household needs- a refrigerator, a sleeping space, sink, bathroom, appliances, a cooktop, and hookup capabilities for all the comforts a campground pedestal can provide such as power and water.
It may lack a permanent dining area due to the smaller size.
Class B motorhomes are the smallest, but they certainly aren't much (or any) cheaper than a Class A or C.
These campervans can journey just about anywhere. Travelers can cross the country on roads quite easily in a class B van. A class B motorhome is sought after for these reasons.
They can get you to new places with the comfort and setup you desire. The convenience of the smaller sizes of this RV can be something that factors into a couples' pros and cons list for a new RV.
Class B motorhomes are usually pretty compact, so they are better with fuel efficiency. But they are still very pricey, so they are not for tiny budgets.
If you like to boondock, you will be more nimble in a Class B than you would be with a longer/larger RV. This is what I am looking for- to get a Class B cargo van and build out the inside myself.
- A van that has been converted into an RV
- Smallest of the classes
- Best gas mileage
- Usually pretty complete in amenities
- Length: 19 to 22'
Class C Motorhome
I can't think of a single famous Class C. However, this is the typical type you see advertised as a rental.
There's a good reason for that. (Extra living space, easier to drive than a Class A.)
Your Class C motorhome is USUALLY sized in between a B and an A. It's confusing, yes. As you can see, there's no logic in the letters that name them.
You can expect to find all of the basic living necessities available in a Class C RV.
They sport a kitchen, usually a permanent dining area, closet space, decent cargo capacity, a refrigerator, likely with a freezer, bathroom, and often more than one bed.
The identifying exterior style of a Class C motorhome is TYPICALLY the sleeping/storage area over the driver cab.
BUT, what classifies an RV to be a Class C is that it is built on top of a van cutaway chassis.
Then the manufacturer builds the living quarters onto it.
Mileage varies per model, and with more beds, the advantage of these is you can easily sleep smaller passengers. So families with children often go for these Class C RVs.
Class C motorhomes begin life as a bare van chassis
A 'Super C' is built on a heavier-duty truck cutaway chassis instead of a van cutaway chassis. (For example, a Ford 550 or a Freightliner chassis.)
Class C motorhomes range anywhere between the cost of a B or an A and can range wildly. It really depends on how large you go and what level of comforts and luxury interior you want to go with.
These are often smaller than Class A motorhomes and therefore fit easier into campgrounds.
These are usually bigger than Class B motorhomes.
What's A Super C?
The Super C is a Class C RV that started off on not a van chassis, but on a medium-duty truck cutaway chassis. (Typically a Freightliner.)
Sometimes they are even on a heavy-duty truck chassis, their front end looking like that of a semi. They are bigger and longer than a regular C. We like to say that they are a Class C 'on steroids'.
- Starts life as a van cutaway chassis
- Often identified by the area over the cab
- Sized in between most A's and B's
- Price: still expensive but more affordable than most Class A's
- Length: 24 to 36 feet +/-
Not always, but most of the time you can identify which class motorhome any given motorhome is by the way it looks.
Only motorhomes (RVs with engines built-in) are 'classed'.
- Class A's are the largest and offer the most storage.
- Class B's are vans. They are typically the smallest of the motorhomes, and are built inside a regular cargo van.
- Class C's are built on a bare van chassis, and they usually have storage or a sleeping area over the driver's cab.
- Class B+ is technically a Class C, but doesn't have the over cab sleeping area. B+ vans are built on a bare van chassis but are often larger than normal vans.
- Super C's are Class C vans built onto a medium or heavy-duty bare chassis such as Ford or Freightliner.
All three motorhome types can usually pull a tow vehicle. The amenities inside these adventure rigs include kitchens, bathrooms, living room areas, beds with a real mattress, showers, and all the cabin necessities to make an RVer feel at home in their campers.
Identifying them can sometimes be a little tricky, but with a little experience, they are mostly all identifiable by their shape and size.
I hope this helped you to understand the differences!
Once again, if you have a clever way for others to learn which is an A, C, or C, please sound off in the comments!
Author: Kelly Beasley
Kelly Beasley is co-founder of Camp Addict and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since May 2015, Kelly's playful writing style helps make learning about the sometimes dull subject of RV products a bit more interesting.