Small motorhomes – including those marketed as a Class B Plus RV – are all the rage. Here is our list of the 5 Best Small Class C RVs for 2021.
Getting out to see the latest and greatest RVs at RV shows is going to obviously be tricky for the foreseeable future, as we all wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to play out and, hopefully, soon come to an end.
We’re working hard to help you with making a decision, and that’s why we decided to bring you the RV Lifestyle list of the seven Best Small Class C RVs for 2021.
As we’ve noted in previous reports in which we evaluate RVs, we have seen and toured all of the RVs below. We have also visited many of the factories and watched how they are built. We have met owners of several of the companies as well as their product managers and many of the RV dealers who sell the seven models we have selected.
Also, before we start, let me share this in full disclosure. We are owners of a Leisure Travel Vans Class B Plus RV. In fact, we have owned two of them. Leisure Travel Vans is one of the sponsors of our RV Lifestyle platform. We think it is important to tell you that Jennifer and I paid for the LTV RVs we have owned (the Wonder and the Unity). They were not “given” to us.
Leisure has not told us what to say, nor do they have any editorial control over what we write and publish. The opinions we share are all our own.
Before we get into our list of what we think are the Best Small Class C RVs for 2021, let’s talk a bit about the rigs, which are sometimes called Class B+.
Class C vs. Class B Plus RV
A Class B + RV is really a Class C RV.
B + is a made-up term.
But the term Class B Plus RV is so widely used now that people and RV salespeople commonly refer to them that way. Whether accurate or not, the Class B+ RV is the choice for many who want something bigger than a B but smaller than a normal C.
They are the choice for Jennifer and me. As we've said, we've owned two of them: One, a Leisure Travel Vans Unity FX built on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter cutaway chassis.
And our brand new one, a 2021 Wonder RTB (Rear Twin Bed) model built on the Ford Transit cutaway chassis.
Before we got the B + RVs, we drove several other Class B motorhome models built on the Sprinter van chassis. So we've had both Bs and B + RVs.
Why did we choose a Class B Plus RV?
Because a Class B Plus RV has more room than the Class B RV but is still a small enough motorhome to be easily maneuvered.
Class B RVs are known as campervans. They consist of a van body. The RV stuff is built and formed inside the walls of the van. It can get pretty close quarters in a B van.
Class B Plus RVs are built on a cutaway chassis
A Class B Plus RV (and the traditional Class C RV) is built on a cutaway chassis.
A cutaway chassis consists of the engine and cab and, behind that, just the rails and wheels without walls. That back portion of the cutaway chassis is what RV manufacturers build the RV part on. Think of the RV part as a box, attached to rails and outriggers to that cutaway chassis.
The box is a bit bigger and has more living room than the B van.
What is with the Class B Plus RV designation?
In short, a Class B Plus RV is an unofficial industry classification that refers to a Class C size (chassis/body) RV, minus the cab overhang at the front that typically is used for sleeping on Class Cs. For registration and insurance purposes, in fact, Class B+ RVs are listed as a Class C.
“People said, ‘Well, I want something that doesn't have that overhang,” said Dean Corrigal, territory sales manager, Leisure Travel Vans “And so (the industry) came up with the name Class B Plus RV.”
In other words, it's a marketing term. Totally made up.
A Class B + RV is built on the same cutaway chassis cabs used for Class C RVs, typically from Mercedes-Benz or Ford. The living space of the Class C RV — or any class for that matter — is built by a third-party RV manufacturer.
A Class B + RV offers more space and amenities than Class B RVs.
Extra info on the Class B Plus RV
- CLICK HERE to read an article on why we chose a Class B+ RV on the Ford Transit cutaway chassis
- CLICK HERE to see a video on how Leisure Travel Vans builds its various Class B Plus RV models
Advantages of a Class B Plus RV
Because the only real difference between a Class C and Class B Plus RV is the absence of the traditional overhang associated with Class Cs, a Class B Plus RV generally offers more space and amenities than Class B campervans.
Space: For example, the 2021 Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RTB (Rear Twin Bed) model Jennifer and I now have is a Class B Plus RV built on the Ford Transit chassis. It is a little bit wider (7 ft, 10 in.) than Class B and also a little bit longer at 24 ft., 9 in. The height is just under 10 ft., meaning it will be able to fit into some garages. The length is just under 25 feet.
With a size like that, there’s plenty of room.
Our Rear Twin Bed model has a rear “garage” that has a massive pass-through space that can hold bicycles and all the gear you'd ever need.
Other Wonder models don't have the “garage” but have six different storage bays accessible from outside of the RV.
Of course, there’s plenty of additional storage inside, as well.
A Big Class B Plus Benefit: The Bathroom
With a Class B RV, you don’t always get a full bathroom. And if they have a shower, it's usually a wet shower, meaning the entire bathroom gets wet when you shower in it. Most Class B RV showers share space with the toilet and sink.
Most Class B Plus RV models, however, offer an enclosed dry shower separate from the toilet and sink, which stay dry as you shower. In our case, the enclosed shower on our Wonder has a skylight and is plenty roomy for a person who is 6'1″ or even a bit more to be able to stand up without stooping.
Another Plus for the Class B Plus RV
There’s one last thing: Because the Class B Plus RV is not quite the size of a full-sized C or a Class A RV, they are easier to drive and park. From my experience, I can pretty much take our B+ motorhome anywhere I could take our former Class B vans. Ours can even fit in a parking spot at most fast-food restaurants.
In fact, when we are at our sticks and bricks home in Michigan, I use our Class B Plus RV as a second vehicle, running errands, shopping, doing everything we would with the family car.
I asked Dean Corrigal why he thinks Class B Plus RVs are so popular.
“I think it's because the big Class As are big and…some of the smaller Class Bs are a little bit too small for first time owners,” he said. “This is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…she found the exact right one. I think that's what it is. It's not too big, not too small.”
That's a great definition. We wanted a little more room than we had in our Class B campervans. I didn't like those traditional Class Cs with the cab-over bunks. And most of the regular Class Cs seemed a bit more challenging to use as a second vehicle. For us, a Class B Plus RV is the perfect choice.
The one drawback of a Class B Plus RV
The Class B Plus RV is best used by just two people. There are seatbelts for only two people. And while you could rig up a way to sleep a small adult or child by putting a platform of sorts across the two seats in the front, a Class B Plus RV is usually designed to sleep just two people.
A Class C with the overhang can usually sleep three or four.
Jennifer and I almost always travel with our 65-pound Norwegian Elkhound, BO. We sleep on the beds. Bo gets the floor unless we're not looking. For us, the maneuverability and ease in driving we get with the Class B Plus RV is worth losing the extra sleeping capacity of a Class C RV.
Now that you know more about small Class C RVs (aka Class B+ RVs), let's look at what we think are the best of the best for 2021.
Our previous motorhome was the 2019 Leisure Travel Vans Unity FX Class B Plus RV (really a Class C RV0.
We loved it. for the luxury, comfort, and safety it provided.
It is built on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter and boasts a 3L V6 BlueTEC diesel engine under the hood. We found it to provide a smooth yet powerful ride with fuel economy in the 16-18 mpg.
The Unity also comes standard with the all-new MBUX multimedia system with a 10.25″ touchscreen, heated and electric driver and passenger seats, Traffic Sign Assist, Attention Assist, cruise control with Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, and more. See the full list of Sprinter upgrades.
The Unity is available in eight, European-inspired full-body paint options. Each Unity is painted using LTV's five-coat process, and the company says this will help your vehicle “look great for years to come. The Unity is available in five floorplans.
We really enjoyed the Unity…if you want to know why we sold that unit for our current Wonder model, check this story.
But in our book, the Unity is the top of the line, the best all-around Class B Plus (small Class C RV) on the market today considering value, amenities, and reliability.
The Unity ranges start in price at $138,460.
The Wonder is our current RV and is powered by the Ford Transit — a powerful twin-turbocharged 3.5L EcoBoost V6 gas engine and LTV’s first-ever offering of optional intelligent all-wheel-drive that the company says is sure to “open up new possibilities to Wonder drivers.”
Features such as advanced driver-assist technology, auto start-stop, and electric power-assisted steering make driving the Wonder a pleasure. The new Ford Transit also includes many notable safety features, including Forward Collision Warning, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Post-Collison Braking, Lane-Keeping System, Side Wind Stabilization, and much more.
When it comes to fuel, I have been pleased with the gas-powered Wonder for numerous reasons:
- Gas prices are reasonable and currently better than diesel.
- Owners can opt for higher octane gas (I go with 89 octane on hard-driving trips).
- Gas is easier to find
Additionally, the diesel sensors and related technology on Sprinters can be costly to fix. And while I generally found the Mercedes warranty to be excellent, diesel engines are by nature more expensive to repair. There's also Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). My Sprinters needed a jug or two every 4,000-6,o00 miles, at about $20 a fill-up. I won't need that with the Transit.
Mileage is not as good as we had on our Unity. We average about 126 mpg in the Wonder. My Sprinter-based Unity typically got 14.5-15 mpg of diesel. Cost-wise, because gas is cheaper right now, it's a wash. And 2 or 3 mpg less is no big deal to me.
One of the first things we noticed with our new Wonder is how quiet and smooth it is to ride in. All six of our previous Sprinter RVs rode much rougher. Some were better. Some, like the 4WD one, was worse. But all of the Sprinters had more of a truck-like ride. The ride in the Wonder is awesome. It feels more like a car. Or SUV. Not completely. But mostly.
The Wonder's stylish interior is matched by its sleek exterior featuring contoured sidewalls, a fiberglass flex roof, and aerodynamic, integrated front and rear fiberglass caps. The Wonder also is painted using LTV's five-coat process.
The Wonder is available in four floorplans.
We love the Wonder floor plan with the rear twin beds. The rear twin beds are always made up. When it's time to stop, there's nothing that has to be set up or pulled down when it's time to turn in, as we did with the Murphy Bed on the Sprinter-based Unity.
Those Wonder twin beds can easily be pushed together to make a Queen-sized bed, too.
And one more thing that the Wonder had that we really wanted: A garage.
This was a big factor in our choosing the Transit vs Sprinter – the pass-through rear garage on the Wonder that can hold two bicycles
A massive pass-through rear storage bay can hold two bikes, full-sized lawn chairs, and lots more gear. And inside, just beneath both of the beds, is a cavernous storage area that serves as a hanging wardrobe and storage area.
The Wonder starts in price at about $121,000.
Here's the most recent tour we did of our Wonder RTB model:
The EKKO is really getting a lot of great press these days!
It combines the efficiency of a camper van, the added capacity of a Class C coach, and the enhanced capability of AWD. It's on the Ford Transit chassis.
Combining the efficiency of a camper van and the capacity of a Class C coach, the EKKO has a massive heated pass-through gear garage – large enough to store bicycles, inflatable kayaks, and other outdoor gear – and a large living, sleeping, and cooking space. Winnebago likes to call it an adventure vehicle and it has some great off the grid and four-season capabilities.
The 3.5L EcoBoost V6 delivers 310 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 31-gallon fuel tank greatly extends the EKKO's range compared to other Class B Plus RVs. Standard safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping System, Pre-Collision Braking, Driver Alert, and more, plus the Winnebago-added Blind Spot Monitoring system.
It comes with three solar panels that pump out 455-watts, a second alternator dedicated to charging the batteries while driving, and the lithium-ion batteries are standard to provide further energy independence. The 50-gallon fresh water tank plus proportionately large waste tanks make extended boondocking stays possible.
With all tanks and water lines inside the coach above the floor, extra all-season insulation in the roof, walls, and floor, dual-pane acrylic windows, and multiple insulated exterior compartments, Winnebago says it can camp in cold weather easier than its competitors.
It has seating with three-point seat belts and child seat tether anchors and has added sleeping capacity with an optional pop-top.
The Ekko is available in two models – 22 feet and 24 feet long
The Ekko starting price is $163,622.
They come with standard 200W solar, Group 31 batteries (or available lithium smart batteries), and a 2,000 W inverter. The 24 foot Winnebago View has an MSRP of about $181,000 The Navion starts at about $173,000
The Atlas Touring Coach is a very luxurious touring coach made by Airstream. It’s a Class B Plus RV built on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis and inspired by the Airstream Interstate series.
It is larger than the Interstate with a power slide-out, high-end features and finishes, and sleek automotive styling from grill to bumper.
It is 24 feet long, 8′ 3″ wide, seats four, and sleeps two with a Murphy Bed and a floor plan similar to the Leisure Travel Vans Unity.
It has a 23 galling fresh water tank, a 23-gallon black tank, and a 31-gallon gray tank.
The interior height is 6; 6″.
The 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner is ducted, providing even cooling throughout the coach.
And it comes with an optional Tommy Bahama styled interior upgrade.
The starting price for the Atlas is $244,000, making it perhaps the most expensive Class B Plus RV on the market.
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