Motor homes are classified into three categories: class A, class B, and class C. Each class offers different things. Learning about the different kinds of motor homes will help you figure out which type of motorhome is best suited to fit your particular needs. But how do you know which motorhome falls into which of these classes? We researched and gathered the information that you need to determine which kind of motorhome is which, including detailed lists of manufacturers.
Motorhomes are single-unit RV's that don't involve towing. The "vehicle" part is conjoined with the "home" part and you can't separate them. The difference between Class A, B, and C motorhomes has to do with their basic shape and size. In a nutshell -
- Class A is shaped like a bus.
- Class B is shaped like a full-size van.
- Class C is shaped like a truck, with an additional overcab space.
Beyond their shape, these RV's come in typical sizes for each class. That's something you should be aware of when considering renting or buying a motorhome. The Class you choose could mean having more - or less - living space. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the three types of motorhomes.
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Class A Motorhomes
Class A motorhomes are the large bus-like RV's that you see on the road. They range from 21 to 45 ft in length and are typically spacious and include full kitchens, large sleeping quarters, and bathrooms. Most Class A floor plans offer slideouts that help increase the living area even more. High-end Class A motorhomes are luxury RV's, often containing king-sized beds, two bathrooms, and even washers and dryers.
The price range for a Class A reflects the fact that they are larger and well-equipped. A new Class A RV typically costs $50,000-$200,000, but luxury models can cost you as much as a million dollars or more.
Class A motor homes are ideal for people who will use them often and are a popular choice among full-time RV'ers. They have all the comfort of living in a house, with the ability to travel anywhere you want. Many Class A owners tow a small car behind so that they can park the RV in one spot and then drive around using the small car, affectionately known as "the toad".
Popular Class A Brands
These RV manufacturers offer Class A motorhomes -
- Featherlite Coaches/portfolio/
- Forest River
- Coachmen RV
- Tiffin Motorhomes
- Fleetwood RV
- Holiday Rambler
- Monaco Coach
- Prevo Star
- Thor Motorcoach
Class B Motorhomes
Class B motor homes or camper vans are the smallest class of motorhomes. They are typically suitable for one or two people, but some floor plans do allow you to fit in more passengers. With any motorhome, the number of people riding in it cannot legally exceed the number of seat belts in the vehicle.
Class B motor homes can range between 16 to 22 feet in size. Some models - but not all - include a small bathroom with a shower and even a small kitchenette.
These are the cheapest of the three classes costing between $60,000 to $150,000. The advantage these have over the other two classes is their fuel economy. It is also easier to maneuver a Class B and to find a suitable parking spot.
Read more: What Is The Shortest Class B Motorhome?
Popular Class B Brands
The following RV manufacturers offer Class B models -
Class C Motorhomes
Class C motorhomes are essentially trucks converted into RV's. The front is usually that of a heavy-duty pickup truck, with a "living section" mounted on its chassis. A typical feature of Class C motorhomes is the extended area over the truck cabin, known as the overcab. This spot usually offers passengers an additional sleeping area. If you ever wonder if a vehicle is a class C motor home, look for the bunk above the cab. This a distinguishing element of Class C.
Depending on the floorplan, a Class C usually fits 4-8 people with a total length of 25 to 35 ft. A new Class C will typically cost you $40,000 to $200,000, depending on their size and amenities.
An advantage the Class C has over Class A is it is easier to drive. They also have a better fuel economy, and they are cheaper than class A. Class C is suitable for people who are going to take their motor home out a couple of times a year.
Popular Class C brands
These RV manufacturers make Class C motorhomes -
- Forest River
- Tiffin Motorhomes
- Fleetwood RV
- Gulfstream Coach
- Holiday Rambler
- Thor Motorcoach
Frequently Asked Questions When Buying an RV
Buying an RV is a major decision. It's a lot like buying a car AND buying a home, at the same time. If you're in the market for an RV, make sure to check out our "Buying an RV" section here. We've also put together this short FAQ section for you.
Do You Need a Specific License to Drive An RV?
In most states, you do not need a special license to operate an RV. Laws vary by state. Here are a few examples of the requirements in some states:
- Connecticut: you need what they call a "class two" license if the vehicle is over 10,000 pounds.
- Hawaii: you need a class four license if the vehicle is between 15,000 and 26,000 pounds.
- Wisconsin: you don't need a special license unless the RV is more than 45 feet long
Check the laws of your state before driving a motorhome. If going on an RV road trip, make sure to check the laws of all the states you'll be driving through.
What is the Safest motorhome to Drive?
Some people feel that Class B motorhomes are the safest of the three classes. That's because they are smaller, they are easier to steer and have a shorter stopping distance. For people who do not have experience driving large vehicles, class B is best. It is the most similar to driving a car.
For most new RV owners, Class C RV's might be considered safer than Class A. When driving a Class A, you're essentially manuovering a large bus on the road. With a Class C, you're dealing with a pickup truck, albeit with a longer body. If you've never driven a large vehicle before, you may want to practice for a little while in an empty parking lot, just until you get a better sense of how your motorhome "behaves".
What is the Difference Between An RV and a Fifth Wheel?
RV is the general term used to describe all "Recreational Vehicles". RV's include two main categories -
- Motorhomes - where the vehicle and living quarters are one unit.
- Towables - where you have a vehicle such as a truck or a large SUV towing a trailer. The towed unit could be a regular travel trailer, or a 5th wheel.
A fifth wheel connects to the bed of a pickup truck with a special 5th wheel hitch that provides a better - more stable - towing experience, compared to a regular travel trailer. The added stability allows them to be larger in size, and heavier. The added weight capacity means 5th Wheels are typically better equipped comapred to travel trailers, so they make a good choice for full-time RV owners.
So, there you have it. A 5th wheel is a type of RV, with its own unique qualities, and quite different from any of the motorhomes we discussed in this post.
Is it Illegal to Live in a Camper Van?
There are currently no laws against living in a camper van or RV in most of the United States. However, common sense will tell you that you should not park it on someone's private property without permission. It is also important to remember that it is still illegal to be inside any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Laws about how long your vehicle can be parked in any given place may vary by state. California has some of the strictest laws about living in camper vans. In Los Angeles, it is currently illegal to sleep in a vehicle. If the police see you sleeping in a vehicle in San Francisco, they will consider you to be a homeless person. They may ask you to move or arrest you. These laws have been under some criticism. Many people in California have been forced to live in vehicles due to rising costs, as well as many homes being destroyed by wildfires. Check the laws of your city and state to be sure.
Each class of motorhomes has different advantages that might be more attractive to different people. Class A is bigger and more spacious. Class B is the smallest and cheapest, and Class C is somewhere in between. Knowing which class best suits your needs will save you a lot of time in trying to find which motor home is best for you.