Bigger is not always better when it comes to RV life. When navigating narrow forest roads littered with trees, trying to squeeze into that back-in campsite, or deciding if you really can fit into that parking spot, you may wish your RV was a bit more compact. Class B motorhomes are typically the smallest RVs on the market, but what is the smallest of the so-called campervans? We researched all of the available options to get you the answer to this question.
Class B motorhomes range in size from around 16' to up to 25' long. Any under 20' long would be considered short for an RV. The Imagine by 5 Mars is a mere 16'3", making it one of, if not the, shortest on the market. Other manufacturers are producing great options in Class B Motorhomes under 20' long, such as:
- Tofino by Pleasure Way
- SS Agile by Roadtrek
- Interstate 19 by Airstream
- Passage 144 by Midwest Automotive Designs
- The Ford Nugget by Westfalia
If you are interested in learning more about the shorter side of Class B RVs, continue with us as we examine them in more detail, including looking at full-time Class B living.
What is a Class B Motorhome
So what exactly is a Class B motorhome? As the name suggests, motorhomes are motorized and function as vehicles. This differentiates them from trailer RVs, such as fifth wheels, which require another vehicle to tow them. Class B motorhomes are built on a van chassis, and they are often referred to as "campervans" or "van conversions." Because of this, they are generally smaller than their Class A and Class B counterparts. For more information about the different types of RVs, you can read our guide to the seven most common types.
While Class B RVs can, in theory, be built on any van chassis, the three most commonly used are the Ford Transit, the Mercedes Benz Sprinter, and the Dodge Ram Promaster.
All three chassis offer a solid foundation for an RV, although there are some differences. Notably, the Ford Transit and the Ram Promaster come with either a gas or diesel engine, but the Mercedes Benz Sprinter only comes in diesel. For larger vehicles seeing a lot of highway mileage, diesel engines are often preferable, but either is a good option for smaller Class B vehicles. You can read more about the differences between gas and diesel engines here. Though the article focuses on trucks, the information it provides holds true for RVs as well.
Class B RV Pros and Cons
If you want an RV that also functions as a second vehicle, Class Bs are a good bet. Class B RVs can still work for trips that larger RVs may be overkill for, like short day trips and tail-gating. They're also a lot less likely to get HOA complaints if you leave one parked in your driveway.
Handling and Convenience
The smaller size of these RVs makes it easier to get around when you find yourself driving through heavy traffic on city streets or narrow, winding roads in a forest. It also means that they are easier to park, especially if you have to back in, and some parking spots and campsites that are too small for larger Class A and C motorhomes will still have enough space for your campervan.
Class B motorhomes typically get better mileage than their larger counterparts, which will save you money at the pump down the line.
Campervans are well-suited for couples traveling together but can start to feel more cramped with each person, pet, or belonging you add. Be prepared to have less personal space and storage, as well as for your living room, kitchen, and bedroom to all be right on top of each other.
There are certainly luxury Class B RVs with plenty of features, but especially when looking at models on the smaller and thriftier side, you may find that amenities like showers, toilets, and counter space start to dwindle.
As previously mentioned, Class B motorhomes are working with limited space. This means that certain things, like beds, are often convertible, meaning you'll have to set it up and put it away each day.
How Much Do Class B Motorhomes Cost?
Starting prices for basic Class B motorhomes range from about $40,000 to $80,000. Factors such as length, features, and engine type will play a significant role in the price of your Class B.
Recently many campers who enjoy the luxurious side of RV life are also turning to Class B RVs from their larger, more cumbersome Class A cousins. Manufacturers are responding, and now you can find decked-out Class Bs on the pricier side.
The examples we'll look at the range in price from $43,000 to over $161,000.
Shortest Class B RVs - Under 20'
Imagine by 5 Mars, 16'3"
Started in 2009, 5 Mars is a Quebec-based RV manufacturer that specializes in innovative campervan design, and all their models are short enough to make our list. At 16'3" long, the Imagine is their shortest offering, as well as the shortest commercially available Class B we could find. The electric sofa bed converts automatically and measures at a comfortable 54" by 74", and for those traveling with others or wanting separate living and sleeping areas, the top pops up to reveal a second, 43" by 72" bed, as well as offering some more headroom in the galley area. It also has a six-gallon water heater and an outdoor shower.
Also impressive are their Illusion and Weekend campervans, built on Dodge Caravan chassis, measuring at 16'10" in length, and available in either gas or hybrid models.
Tofino by Pleasure-Way, 17'9"
Built on a Dodge Ram Promaster chassis, the Tofino packs a lot of luxury into a convenient 17'9" length. Like the Imagine, it features an overhead pop-top bunk to open up headspace and provide an additional sleeping area measuring at 49" by 72". The attractive, solid-maple cabinetry comes standard, and you have easy access to a touchscreen control panel from the sofa. The rear cargo offers 70 cubic feet of space, and with the 2000 pound occupant and cargo-carrying capacity, you'll be able to bring plenty with you on your trips. Starting at $73,500, the Tofino is also an affordable option.
SS Agile by Roadtrek, 19'5"
The SS Agile is a bit larger than the other options we've looked at so far, but at 19'5" in length, it is still one of the shortest motorhomes on the market and only slightly longer than most SUVs. It's also the first we'll look at that includes a toilet and inside shower, meaning that extra space is bringing you a lot of comfort and privacy. The extra room in the SS Agile owes, in part, to being built on the popular Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis. Like all Sprinters, it has a diesel engine that will help your highway fuel-efficiency and torque.
Unlike the others we've seen so far, the SS Agile doesn't have a pop-top, but with a 6'3" interior standing height, it offers a fair amount of headroom for a Class B. The rear power sofa converts into two twin-size beds or a single king-size bed measuring at a massive 69" by 76". One of the more luxurious options, it is priced accordingly, starting at $142,518.
Interstate 19 by Airstream, 19'5"
Another Sprinter conversion, the Interstate 19, comes in at the same length and some similar perks to the SS Agile. Like the SS Agile, it also features an indoor toilet and shower, a spacious bed, and a tall interior. However, the Interstate 19 has a lot of high-quality features that come standard, such as a widescreen HD LED TV, the Truma furnace and water heater, power sliding doors, and multiplex controls, to mention a few. This means a lot of luxury and comfort built into this small package. That luxury does come at a price, and at $161,099, this one of the more expensive on our list.
Passage 144 Sprinter by Midwest Automotive Designs
The final Mercedes Benz Sprinter chassis we'll look at, the Passage 144, also includes an indoor toilet and shower in their floor plan. Another luxurious option, Midwest Automotive Designs, also consists of an HD LED TV with Satellite TV prep, a Blue-Ray DVD/CD player, a Suburban tankless water heater, and other great features that come standard. For more details and pricing information, you can contact them here.
The Ford Nugget By Westfalia, 16'4"
One of the shortest on our list, the high roof and pop-up roof versions of the Ford Nugget measure 16'4" in length. With prices starting at $43,000, it's also the least expensive on our list. For those looking for more comfort, there is also the Nugget Plus. It's a bit longer (17'6") and more expensive (starting at $47,500), but with that extra expense, you'll get more features, including an indoor toilet.
Unfortunately, the Nugget is currently only available in Europe. With any luck, it will reach the US market soon.
What is the Best Class B RV For Full-Time Living?
Most people think about Class B RVs as good options for weekend excursions that also function as reliable second vehicles, which they certainly are. However, they can also work well for full-time living, granted that you could accept a few lifestyle adjustments and consider some factors. Will you feel comfortable living with fewer belongings? Are a mini-fridge and a single-burner stove going to suit the way you cook and eat? If you're living with someone else, are you prepared to have to share the small living space when, due to weather or other reasons, you can't get out and enjoy the outdoors?
Beyond these questions about your lifestyle and attitudes, you'll want to think carefully about the model of RV you choose. Do you want an indoor toilet and shower? If you're staying in campgrounds that offer their own facilities, you might not need them, but many would still prefer to have them available for convenience and privacy. If you're planning on doing some regular stays in places without electric hook-ups, you may want to choose an RV with solar panels or generators to extend the time you can spend off-grid while running your appliances.
One of the best ways to see if an RV, Class B or otherwise, will be a good fit for you is to stop thinking about it and try it out. Especially if you're interested in trying full-time living in an RV, it's a good idea to rent the model you're considering first and see how you like it. For more advice on this topic, check out our beginner's guide to renting an RV here. There is nothing like first-hand experience to help you figure out what sacrifices you are willing to make and what your personal necessities are.
Now you know a bit more about the basics of Class B RVs and some of the shortest on the market. We've seen that, while the smaller size does mean some sacrifices, great options and innovative designs make sure that you can live in comfort, even in the smallest RVs. If you're ready to get in your RV and get on the road, take a look at our guide to planning an RV trip here. Happy camping!
Monday 8th of February 2021
Love your website. This will be my first time and I want to be able to park in a town but be mostly self reliant. I’m 67 and so far only tent camping...time to get off the ground. You have given me a lot of good information. I love the Tofino by Pleasure Way but at this point a toilet would be good. The next two are also in the running. Can you by The Ford Nugget Plus in Ontario? Thanks, Sue [email protected]