Class A vs Class C: My Side By Side Comparison
I would like here to compare class A vs class C RVs, going through their most important features. I had both RV types, so I will walk you through the most important aspects that I have noticed. For each of these selected attributes, I do a side by side class A vs class C evaluation.
Class A vs Class C RV: Drivability
We are going to start with the drivability aspect in this class A vs class C comparison. First off, we believe the Class C motorhome is easier to drive, it is more like your van, or your SUV, or your car, that you already drive. What we have found is that many people, during the whole RV experience, they will try a class A and they will come back down to a class C, and they do this because of the drivability.
People get a little older, like me, they do not want the big challenge of a big class A, and therefore, they will come down to the class C. You have a medical issue, or both partners want to drive the vehicle, it seems like the class C is the easiest thing for everybody to drive, but you do not give up anything when you do that and I want to point out a couple of things about that below.
First off you are lower to the ground when driving down the road in the class C. I am at equal height with traffic. Likewise, I am also behind the front axle so when things are going on I have a good panoramic view of going of looking throughout my whole driving experience.
The other aspect of drivability, in this class A vs class C RV comparison, is that all the dashboard, indicators, and my handles are at my fingertip. You can turn your air on, you can adjust your radio, you have a backup monitor. You also have the benefit of the automotive quality that comes out of Detroit or from the big three, so windshield wipers, air conditioners, everything here is automotive.
You also have velvet mirrors to give you good views of the side position the same way every time. In a class A product all this is different considering the company you are dealing with.
I also want to point out the drivability of being behind the front axle and lower: your center of gravity is in the correct position and so you are in a great position to have good driving experience.
Class A vs Class C RV: Safety Features And The Airbags
I will jump right over to safety because it really goes hand in hand with the drivability of a class C, a feature that we visited above. We have dual airbags in the Ford cutaway chassis. They do not have that in class A products.
They have airbags in a class C but there are no airbags in a class A so the safety for a front impact collision is significant. This is a very important safety feature in class A vs class C RV comparison, that will benefit you in the event something happens: your position is lower, you are behind the axle, dual airbags controls all within reach, power locks and windows, cruise control just like your normal everyday vehicle. We feel like this gives hands-down the advantage of Class C for safety and for drivability.
As a point of comparison, in a Class A, there are no airbags so in the event something happens you are not going to have any airbags protecting you, which is important. For a lot of people, safety is the number one reason why they buy or do not buy a unit, and airbags are not present in a Class A RVs.
Class A vs Class C RV: Safety And The Protection In Case Of Accidents
Very related to the previous point of our class A vs class C RV review. It is significantly safer for front impact accidents in a class C RV. Now, an accident in a class C RV is not too scary because you have so much between you and that car that hits you and while maybe it is an important accident, it is probably not going to hurt you. A front impact accident in a class A, instead, is frankly devastating.
I mean there is not much between you and what hits you or what you hit in a class A. In a class C, it is different. It is a truck. I mean, you have the engine that drops down and you have the crash box in there that are designed to crumple and save you from being injured or killed.
Class A vs Class C RV: Cockpit And Distance To The Windshield
An important feature that I want to point out is that every cockpit is different, but in general, the distance from the driver´s seat to the windshield is very large.
There is a problem with the viewing angle and if somebody were to walk across the street right in front of me, I cannot see him. I almost have to lift up and look over the frontend of class A to see if anybody is there and that is the kind of thing that is intimidating for customers that do not know which way to go when they have to decide between class A vs Class C RV types.
The depth of the cockpit is enormous in a class A, taking into a lot of your floorplan space this is a very intimidating cockpit area.
Class A vs Class C RV: Lack Of Passenger Door
Some class A RVs have a passenger door, but in many cases, there is no such door. When there is a door, quite frankly, it is a little bit difficult to get in and out and be careful when you step out because it is a drop. Therefore, you have to walk through your living room to get out of your unit. It is not as convenient as you might get with your Class C motorhome.
A lot of RVs are coming out with multiple entrances and exits. However, most motorhomes are only going to have one entrance and exit. Sometimes you will have one in the very back, but usually, just one door to exit and it is nice when you are just getting gas or running into a store they do not have to climb out over the doghouse and get out you have just a normal car door out from the driver and passenger seat.
Class A vs Class C RV: Influence Of Ergonomics
Ergonomically, there is less difference now between class A and class C motorhome vehicles. Sometimes gaining access to the engine can be a challenge as well.
Class A vs Class C RV: Mirrors And Visibility
The mirrors are way away from me in a class A, I have trouble seeing where the mirrors are let alone the reflection off of them. A slight advantage to the class C RVs here.
Class A vs Class C RV Serviceability: The Access to The Engine
Our class A vs class C comparison makes a shift again in favor of the class C RV in terms of serviceability. Again we feel like the Class C overwhelmingly gives you a better service opportunity experience and a superior ability for service centers to work on the recreational vehicle of the class C.
In class A, in the engine, all is super tight. You open the hood in the front of the motorhome, and there is not much access to all the gauges and devices in the engine. There is an entrance, access to the engine inside the cockpit and that is what service centers normally utilize. In a Class C motorhome, it is different.
Every Class C made from a Ford cutaway chassis has the same hood configuration. That means that every Ford dealership that sees a class C motorhome, with disregard of the brand, will be looking at the same configuration. Thus, every Ford dealership or I should say most if not all Ford dealerships will work on the class C RV chassis.
Therefore, the difference in the class A is the configuration of the hood, and this is why so many Ford dealerships just walk away from service in class A motorhomes.
So my conclusion in this paragraph, is that the engine access on a class C RV is obviously far better. It is just like a normal truck: you lift up the hood and you have the engine there and it is a pretty normal looking engine layout. In a Class A, on the other hand, it can be very difficult to access that engine.
Look at the picture below with the engine of a Ford in a cutaway chassis configuration for a class C RV.
This configuration of the picture is very similar every time they go into the engine. We have all the points of access, transmission fluids, oil, the battery and so on. Service agents can remove a few parts and get deep down into the dish of the engine.
As a conclusion here for this paragraph in our class A vs class C comparison, is that you may encounter that it is much easier to find mechanics who are going to work on a class C. Just about any mechanic that works on a truck is going to work on on a class C, as the engine is very similar.
Class A vs Class C: Sleeping Quarters
First, you are probably going to get more sleeping space in a class C RV, but this is a benefit that is going away because the Class C obviously has the bed right above the cabin of the driver and passenger, in the module called alcove.
Nevertheless, we are seeing a lot of the newer RVs coming in with drop-down beds above the driver and passenger that are motorized and so this is a benefit that is going away right now but it is still there in many RVs yet. Class A RVs are having that bed above, each time more, like the Coachmen 33 BH that since 2019 is being delivered with that bed above.
Class A vs Class C: The Difference In Price
You can save a lot of money by choosing a class C for motorhomes that are under a hundred thousand dollars. This is comparing apples to apples of a pretty similar style in length.
You are saving about fifteen thousand dollars by choosing the class C over the class A so the price difference is definitely there and that is probably why there if you are going to rent an RV it is probably going to be a Class C because they are less expensive for the rental companies to buy.
Class A vs Class C: The Weight
Weight in general as a point of comparison. A class A motorhome weighs more than a class C, even if the length is the same. A 30-foot class C RV typically weighs about fourteen thousand pounds and a Class A of the same size is probably going to be in the 17 18 thousand pound range.
In the class A vs class C comparison, weight is important because it is related to fuel efficiency, that is our paragraph below.
Class A vs Class C: Fuel Efficiency
Now fuel efficiency. This is one feature to discuss where I read a lot of comments from a lot of people about. If all else is equal you are probably going to get maybe two miles per gallon better on a Class C RV, but you got to really do some math which I did for you.
Therefore, if you are, let’s say driving clear across the United States from San Francisco, California to Richmond, Virginia that is 2822 miles (two thousand eight hundred twenty-two miles) and if gas is 3,25 (three dollars and twenty-five cents) a gallon, which is pretty average as it fluctuates between the years.
Then, the price of a vehicle that gets ten miles per gallon instead of eight so if you get ten miles a gallon instead of eight for driving this distance, you are only saving $220 so it is just not a significant thing to consider when we are talking about two miles to the gallon.
This difference is just not enough to move the needle on the purchase of an RV at all.
Class A vs Class C: Admission In Campsites And RV Parks
It is easier to find campsites for a class C because the class C is, as you know, generally shorter than a class A. However, nowadays that is kind of not fair to even say because they certainly make short class A RVs. Not maybe as short as a typical class C but generally class C RVs are shorter than class A RVs.
But that is not really a benefit of class C, in a comparison class A vs class C. So, as a conclusion, no practical difference to consider in this feature.
Class A vs Class C: Air Conditioning The Driving Cabin
I heard people in RV parks saying that it is far easier to cool the driving area on a class C. I have not noticed any difference because the class A RVs have more than one air conditioner unit.
It happens that a class A has a gigantic window and it can get kind of hot driving in there. Nevertheless, the class A motorhomes usually have two air conditioners in the box plus the standard RV AC in there. Therefore it is usually fine. Some people report in the RV parks when talking to them, that it is easier to cool the driving area in a class C.
Class A vs Class C: Visibility
Easy to see in front of the vehicle a Class A. But there are blind stops.
You are so high that if a kid were to walk right in front of you, you could not even see him. Instead, in a class C, you are lower to the ground. I prefer the visibility in a class C without blind spots.
Class A vs Class C: Crosswinds
A slight advantage here for the class C RVs. If you have a crosswind or a wind coming perpendicular to the RV, you are probably better in a class C as you are lower to the ground. Your center of gravity is lower and this attribute grants you more stability.
You are just not as high in a Class C RV. The class C RVs have, as you know well, an alcove, that is that bunk in front of the driving area, actually over the driving cabin where you have a bed.
This space is just really terrible in terms of wind dynamics for the class C RV. So, it is not more aerodynamic going forward but if you have a crosswind you know you will have more stability and less sway. A small advantage, however.
I am Tony, an RV designer and RV developer. I create bill of materials for RV manufacturers for travel trailers and fifth wheels. I worked as a freelance transportation consultant for Lyft. As an RV development consultant, I create customization trees for RV manufacturers who want to offer a solution to prospective customers to design their custom RV with variant configuration. Apart from this, I sell in Indiana trailer hitches, hitch balls, goosenecks and weight distribution systems where I provide advice to customers who want to know which is their towing capacity, which hitch ball should they utilize and how to deploy a weight distribution system. I do my best to explain all these processes and their installation, here in RV Favorites.