A class C motorhome carrying bikes

Differences Between Class A and Class C Motorhomes

Recreational vehicles have become more and more popular, and surprisingly, they have not lost popularity even in times of high gas prices. People seemingly bite the bullet and continue to take off to interesting sites all across the country, especially in class C RVs and class A RVs motorhomes.

You may wonder what is so appealing about the open road. More than likely, it is the sense of adventure and the desire to get back to nature. It is a cure for what ails you. It is the culmination of a dream to explore the unfamiliar.

Whatever the reason, camping has become a national pastime.

Campers choose shelters anywhere from a rustic tent to a top-of-the-line motor coach that rivals the most luxurious home. However, two popular choices are the Class A and the Class C coach, which are designed for ease of comfort and maneuverability.

Depending on the manufacturer, these homes on wheels have many different amenities, which offer owners a vast array of comforts that are fairly well sought after by today’s cossetted buyers.

The pros and cons of both coaches may help a potential buyer decide which vehicle to purchase. The biggest difference between the two is the size.

Class A is larger than Class C. That could be either a blessing or a curse, depending on several factors.

They are both furnished with your basic needs plus many extras that are sure to provide more than just the creature comforts. There are differences in actually handling the coach that you should consider before making a decision.

CLASS “C” COACH

Class C is the smaller of the two coaches that rule the road. It is built on a smaller chassis than the Class A and is smaller in size, ranging from 21 feet to 35 feet.

It has ample sleeping and storage space for up to eight people. The fact that it offers additional sleeping space above the cab is a plus, and it is very popular with kids.

They love to climb up and be situated above the rest of the family members. They think of it as their own little hideaway.

Keeping your kids happy and content will help to make a more memorable trip for everyone.

It navigates easily on narrow roads and parks effortlessly when you reach your campsite. Fewer worries about operating it in tight places give the driver more confidence.

Regardless of the class of RV that you choose, you still should practice backing up and driving on the highway before you actually take it on a road trip.

a parked class c motorhome

Even if you drive a van or a large SUV, the feel is quite different from an average car, so take the time to prepare before you put yourself and your family in jeopardy.

Obviously, because of its smaller size, Class C gets better gas mileage than Class A. Both are going to be pricey to fill up, but the Class C will not hit the purse quite as hard.

Average weekend getaways should not be that costly, but if you are traveling across the country, you can expect gasoline to be one of your biggest expenses. That is true whether you drive a Class C or a Class A.

You will find your savings on hotels and food since those will not be necessary. With those savings, you may want to splurge on a restaurant meal along the route if you grow weary of “camp food.”

Class C has many of the same comforts as Class A. They offer such amenities as a kitchen, bathroom, queen-sized bed, and a separate living room.

There is enough room for families to comfortably stretch out, and even carve out some private space for themselves. The upper bunk, above the cab, can be curtained off so that kids can read or use their various technological devices without disturbing others in the coach.

The bedroom has a door so that it can be closed against interference from the rest of the family. Sofas that let out to become beds are convenient because you do not have to pull them out until bedtime, and they are put back upon awakening.

So they do not necessarily have to interfere with movement around the coach.

Other pros include the relatively affordable price, which makes Class C more reasonable for the average family. Factors that affect the price are floor plans, amenities, the manufacturer, and the condition of the coach.

If you are on a budget, you might want to purchase Class C as your first RV and upgrade to Class A when and if you can. They generally start at around $45,000 and go upwards from there.

Of course, you can find a good deal on used ones, as well. For the budget conscious, that may be the way to go, especially if this is your first foray into the motorhome arena.

See if camping is something you really enjoy, and then upgrade if you choose. A used coach can be every bit as nice, and it may be that you decide not to bear the expense of a larger or newer motorhome.

You may even be upgrading from a tent or a pop-up trailer. The difference will be quite dramatic.

Class C will really spoil you for anything less. The ease of operation and the amenities may create a longing for the more comfortable and convenient.

No more staking a tent and being at the mercy of the elements, no more lugging equipment and supplies into and out of the tent, no more hassling with popping the trailer up and the scarce amenities it offers.

The Class C coach is self-contained. You can leave basic items in it even when it is stored. I feel Class C motorhomes is the way to go!

Another important difference between the Class A and the Class C motorhomes is that the upkeep on Class C is less. Spare parts are less expensive, and it is fairly simple to find a mechanic.

Most dealers can make repairs because they are familiar with the parts. As with any vehicle, you will want to keep a maintenance record and always have it checked before you leave on an extended road trip.

While both types of RVs are built with the utmost safety in mind, one pro of Class C is that it is designed with a large crash box in front. In case of an accident, it takes the brunt of the crash so as to protect the passengers.

Also, it has airbags and up to six seat belts. The different entrances and exits provide more escape routes than the Class A model.

A few cons are inherent in the Class C coach:

  • Outside storage is less than Class A.
  • It does not have the openness between living and driving spaces.

These couple of issues should not deter you from starting with this type of coach. Your desire to enjoy nature and all of the wide open spaces it has to offer should be the biggest appeal.

It is kind of like being able to afford a condo in the city vs. a home on the beach. You make whatever you have the best that it can be, and you will feel just as comfortable in a city condo as the owner of that beach house – perhaps, even more so, because you will not have a gigantic mortgage payment to make each month.

CLASS “A” COACH

The Class A coach is the granddaddy of RVs. Its size is mammoth by comparison to other coaches, ranging all the way up to 45 feet. It provides the same spaciousness that you enjoy in an expansive home.

The vast storage space, both inside and outside, is very impressive. You can even enjoy more spaciousness if yours has the slide-outs.

a motorhome on the road at sunrise

They add more living space so that you can spread out. The slide-outs may be in the living areas or bedroom areas, but the extra expansion adds to the cavernous feel, and you may forget you are in a home on wheels.

If you choose this behemoth, you will immediately feel the difference in the way it handles. If you have never driven one before, practice before you take to the road.

This is good advice for both the “A” and the “C,” but especially the size of the Class “A” makes practice imperative. Simply maneuvering it on the wide open road, let alone tight campgrounds calls for an expertise that is not required in a smaller coach or a normal vehicle.

Be certain that you are comfortable with, not only its size, but with wind gusts, parking, and turning tight corners. Once you have the hang of it, though, you are in for a delightful experience as your skill becomes better and better.

Not everyone can manage a motorhome of this size. It is tantamount to driving a semi. Do not downplay the amount of skill and training that are required.

You cannot afford to make a mistake.

You will get the feel of the coach when you test drive it, but bear in mind that driving around the block or through city streets is not the same as operating it on busy highways and through crowded streets.

Fuel is going to be pricey because of its size. The engine is bigger, the frame is heavier, and it holds much more – including passengers and storage.

This is definitely not a vehicle to drive around town. Even short trips will be expensive, but you knew that before you drove it off the showroom floor. Right?

Now is not the time to bemoan the cost of gas. Enjoy it. Getting only eight to ten miles to the gallon can add up fast.

It is likely that if you can afford to purchase a coach of this magnitude, you will not have a problem putting gas in the tank.

These coaches have all the comforts of home. Its large size allows for amenities, such as granite countertops, several flat screen TVs, a master bedroom suite, a full-size refrigerator, a washer and dryer, full-size bathrooms, a dishwasher, and many other sought-after features.

The cabinets and sofas are high quality, and the flooring is top-notch. The tall ceilings allow for a better atmosphere, keeping the coach from becoming too stuffy.

The driver is very high off the ground, which allows him or her a wonderful panoramic view. The longer turning radius may be cause for concern.

That is one of the reasons you need to practice before taking off on a trip.

The price – hold on to your hat! They are expensive by typical standards – from several hundred thousand dollars up to a couple million dollars if you buy them new.

With all of the posh luxuries though, it may be worth it to you, if you can afford it. Think carefully before you shell out that much money.

Even a used one can cost a couple hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars, depending, of course, on the comfort level and the amenities offered. Your budget, taste and preferences will determine your choice.

The upkeep, insurance and repair of these coaches are quite costly. Usually, a mechanic who specializes in this type of motorhome is required to make repairs.

They can be just that exhaustive. The inaccessibility of the engine, for one thing, makes repairs difficult, and thus more expensive.

Insurance can cost up to $3000 per year, making it more expensive than insurance for the average size home. Keeping it washed, waxed and maintained, both interior and exterior may prove to be expensive, as well.

Safety concerns are well thought out by the manufacturer. They have up to eight seat belts and a rugged fiberglass roof to protect passengers in case of a rollover.

Once again, the importance of having confidence at the wheel cannot be stressed enough. To keep yourself and your family safe should be motivation enough to practice as much as possible prior to a road trip.

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Some cons that are characteristic of the “A” Class are:

  • The expense of purchasing, maintaining, repairing and insuring it 
  • Maneuverability 
  • Engine inaccessibility
  • Lack of accommodation for its size in many campgrounds 

Class A is perfect for those who want to live a luxurious lifestyle on the road. Whether you use it for vacations or for long-term living, you can consider it a small home on wheels. It has its fair share of advantages/pros over a Class C motorhome.

If you plan to spend a lot of time in your coach, you may think more carefully about the accommodations. You will want a system that has enough water pressure to assure a comfortable shower.

Air conditioning becomes more important if it is your primary residence as opposed to a weekend jaunt. Comfortable sleeping quarters take on a more important role and kitchens need to have all the accouterments of a stationary home.

The ability to use electronic and technological devices becomes important if it is going to be your office, as well as your home.

Both Class A and Class C motorhomes have wonderful features. Consider the number of people traveling with you, the amount of luxury you want, your finances, and any other factors that are important to you.

The majority of buyers will choose Class C over Class A simply because of budget.

While it is wonderful to daydream when you see those large Class A motorhomes driving smoothly down the highway, you should be just as proud of your Class A because it is something that you are doing for yourself and your loved ones.

There is no better reason to spend money than to selflessly create memories that will last a lifetime.

Once you have reached your destination and have pulled the slide-outs out, unloaded the various toys, set up the outside spaces, and are ready to settle in for a nice weekend, or a longer vacation, you will appreciate whatever class of coach you have chosen.

Then you will be prepared to enjoy the very reason you purchased an RV in the first place. Those with Class C motorhomes can enjoy the call of the wild as easily as those in Class A coaches. Your enjoyment does not rest on the type of coach you have.

a parked motorhome with trees in the background

Many RVers use their coaches as long-term residences, especially retired couples who want to have the freedom to move around the country. Sometimes they spend entire seasons at one campground or another.

When that is the case, they often want the convenience and luxury of the larger coach. Everyone has a dream of what the perfect lifestyle is. For some, it is to take off with the kids and the dog for a weekend or week-long adventure.

Others simply want to find a beautiful spot and enjoy life from the confines of their coach. Still, others want to rough it in the backcountry.

Whichever choice you make, the coach you choose will help you achieve that lifestyle.

As you consider the differences between the two motorhomes, reflect on what is important to you and your family. The many different scenic areas can increase your enjoyment of life and help you decompress from the strains and trials of a busy life, where you may barely have time for one another.

Spending quality time together is more valuable, in the long run, than any trappings, whether in a Class A or a Class C motorhome.

QUOTE:
"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
-- John Muir
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