Class B vs Class C RVs: The Expert Guide

 Class B vs Class C RVs: The Expert Guide

Class B vs Class C RVs: Whether you're looking to buy your first RV or ready to move on to a new one, that's the big question many RVers will face when heading out to make that big purchase.

But how do you know which one is for you? 

Fortunately, we spend a lot of time traveling to various RV shows, talking with dealers, and visiting with our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers, and have a good handle on helping you address the Class B vs. Class C RVs conundrum. 

Let's start with Class Bs. 

The Class B RV and Vanlife

Two factors are driving the growth in class B motor homes. The first is downsizing, with more people wanting to get into something a little more maneuverable.

The Class B RV is also referred to as a campervan. They have become so popular that they have spawned a movement called vanlife. 

The second big factor is technology. Lithium-ion batteries, solar panels, and more now make it possible to connect with the world as you're driving and, well, work from anywhere.

To get you started as we compare Class B vs Class C RVs, here's a video we did on a bunch of different models from an RV show devoted strictly to small Class B and Clas C motorhomes.

Understanding the Class B RV

If you're looking at Class B, you're talking about an RV that is built on a commercial van chassis. That includes the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, the Ford Transit chassis, or the Dodge Ram ProMaster chassis.

So, it's really the smallest of motor homes. Yet, they still have sinks, stoves, refrigerators, holding tanks, toilets, house batteries, beds, sitting areas, and even entertainment features.

When it comes to engines, Class B RVs are either gas or diesel. Class Bs generally get 10-25 miles per gallon.

Class Bs also are designed with various lengths, generally ranging from 18 to about 23 feet.

An image of a Class B RV helps answer the Class B vs. Class C RV question
A typical Class B RV

They also have different floor plans, which means there are various combinations of sleeping arrangements, whether traveling alone or with others. The different floor plans are a big attraction for many Class B owners.

Of course, you’ll wonder about storage and tank capacity in the smaller RVs and you’d be right if you suspect both are limited. However, what they lack in storage they make up for in compact agility, because driving a Class B is like driving a minivan or a truck.

That means fitting into smaller campsites and easier maneuverability when getting into or out of, or visiting, a town. The versatility, in fact, is one of the primary reasons many prefer Class Bs.

Class B vs Class C RVs: The Expert Guide 1
Ease of p[arking is one factor when considering a Class B RV vs a Class C RV. Most can park in regular parking spots. This is one of our previous Class B vans in a parking lot at Yellowstone National Park
Many of these smaller rigs come with lithium house batteries and solar panels to maximize and extend electrical output.

However, if you’re thinking Class Bs are less expensive because they’re smaller, you will be sadly disappointed.  Delivering the luxury features of larger coaches compressed into smaller spaces creates engineering and construction challenges, which means higher costs.  In addition to the engineering challenge, many Class B and B+ RVs use more costly higher-end components like lithium batteries in their designs.

Class C RVs

One of the most popular segments in the whole motorhome industry is the Class C RV. Of course, some of you may be asking: What is a Class C RV?

All these different RV Classes can be quite confusing. Don’t worry — we’re here to help!

The Class C RV: An instantly recognizable silhouette

First off, most Class C RVs have an instantly recognizable silhouette. Here's what a typical Class C RV looks like.

photo of Class C RV
A typical Class C RV with the cabover bunk hanging over the windshield

The classic Class C RV cab is covered by an overhang, or cab-over, that in most models houses a bed. A short passageway leads into the body of the motor home, usually a step or two up from the driver’s compartment. They are built on a cutaway truck chassis.

But first, let's clear something up.

You may have heard the term Class B+ RV. Those are small motorhomes that do not have the front overhang. But a so-called B+ RV really IS a Class C. RV The industry just made up that B+ designation.

Here's a picture of one of them:

photo of our new Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RV on the 2020 Ford Transit cutaway chassis
This happens to be our Leisure Travel Vans Wonder RV on the 2020 Ford Transit cutaway chassis…It is sometimes marketed as a Class B Plus RV because it is sleeker, often a little shorter and has a less boxy shape than the cabover Class C… but the B Plus is technically a Class C

But for the purpose of this article, we're talking about the classic Class C RV with that distinctive cab overhang.

CLICK HERE to read an article on what is a Class B Plus RV

The cutaway truck chassis a Class C RV is built on is able to carry more weight, and that gives RV manufacturers the freedom to add more bulk.

As expected, everything is a bit bigger with Class Cs: a separate dining area, larger stove and refrigerator, and larger storage tanks for water, waste, and propane. The bathroom is larger, and usually with a shower stall separate from the toilet. There are usually one or two slide outs for extra width when parked.

When it comes to storage, Class Cs are a dream, typically offering plenty of cupboards and hiding spaces inside and several storage compartments outside.

In fact, some of the modern Class C  RVs are so large that they rival the Class A, or bus-style motor home, in space and amenities. They range all the way up to 41 feet long, though most are between 25-30 feet.

Looking for an example of a Class C RV? Check out Tiffin’s Wayfarer 

An image showing the front part of a Class C RV.
The silhouette of a Class C RV includes a cab overhang, as seen here.

One of the known names in motorhomes is Tiffin, and not too long ago the company introduced a brand new line of Class Cs — a testament to the potential offered by the Class C market.

Trent Tiffin gave me a tour of the company’s new Wayfarer RV, which is a great example of a Class C RV.

Tiffin is in sales and marketing and a third-generation member of the company’s family.

He started by explaining the basics of the Wayfarer.

“It's built on Mercedes chassis (Sprinter 3500), no longer than 26 feet generally,” he said.

That means plenty of room.

There is storage everywhere,  starting with two compartments accessible from the outside (one is pass-through). There is also overhead cabinet storage in the bedroom, kitchen, and dining areas along with a wardrobe next to the bedroom and a pantry that slides out near the kitchen area.

When you walk in, the model I saw included a 70-inch couch with a trifold bed in it. The kitchen area offers a full countertop with a deep stainless steel sink, and two cooktop burners.. (Different floor plans obviously are available).

Additionally, there’s a two-door refrigerator (6 cu. ft.) along with a microwave.  

The sizable bedroom area offers enough room for a one-piece memory foam queen-sized bed that folds up and offers a bench area as well as…you guessed it…more storage. Another option is to have two twin size beds.

The bathroom is also a good size with a large shower (24” x 32”).

 All in all, there’s a lot of room in a Class C RV.

Super Class C RVs: When you need even more space

An image of Winnebago's Cambria "Super C" RV.Yes, there are Class Cs that go beyond the 26-foot mark. Some up to 41 feet.

They’re Super Class C RVs and measure in at well over 30 feet, with some up to 41 feet. They are built on a heavy-duty truck chassis and are able to tow huge loads.

To be clear,  “Super Cs” is really a made-up RV classification, too, just like the B + RV. Most of the Super Cs would be on the Ford F550 or the Freightmaster-type chassis. They have much more in common with Class A motorhomes than their smaller cousins, including multiple slides. But for some reason, they are included in the “small” motorhome grouping.

Here's a video we did on this species pf the Class C RV:

For example, we took a look at the Winnebago/Itasca Cambria, which, built on the F450 chassis and at 32 feet, is on the smaller end of the Super C classification but still way longer than its distant C, B-Plus, and B motor home cousins. (Winnebago calls it a basic Class C.)  

The spacious interior features a nice lounging sofa that will make into a bed and across from it is a dinette area that also makes into a bed.

The bedroom features a queen-sized bed with lots of dedicated cabinets and storage places for all of your clothes. It has a full standalone shower with plenty of room in its standalone bathroom with lots of extra room and storage space, which everybody appreciates.

Further, it's got a great kitchen. Full-fledged stove, lots of storage cabinets underneath.

Bottom line: It’s really big and yet somehow maintains the Class C classification. It's pretty cool though. We'd like to know what you think about this and invite you to submit comments below.

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Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

1 Comment

  • I have been receiving your “RV Lifestyle” articles for about 2 months or so now. I just wanted to let you both know how informative and helpful RV Lifestyle has been for me. I came from a history of campers as my father was a career “Air Force” man. Often after Dad received news of a transfer, we would head in that area and “Camp” while my parents looked for suitable housing. We started when I was very young in a tent and ended up with a long “Airstream” and “International Travelall” to pull it.
    After I did my career and I retired, I have once again recaptured the camping “Spirit”. I have lots of plans and have enjoyed several outings to date. Camping has changed so much with all the new technology out there it’s good to find such an informative source as RV Lifestyle. There have been so many hundreds of improvements and changes since the “Tent” days. Hope you both enjoy your travels and “sharing” for many years to come.

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