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What You Need to Know About Class A RVs

What You Need to Know About Class A RVs

There are tons of different RVs out there. So how are you supposed to know which one to choose?! Given that an RV is a big purchase, it’s extremely important to do your homework beforehand. We’ve put together an overview of Class A RVs to help you decide if this is the rig of your dreams.

What Is a Class A RV?

A Class A RV is a type of motorhome. This means both the living and driving areas are in the same space. This differs from a travel trailer or fifth wheel where the living area is separate from the primary vehicle.

There are a few types of motorhomes, but the easiest way to spot a Class A is to look for the flat front with the huge windshield. It looks a lot like a bus from the outside, but from the inside, these motorhomes are extremely classy and spacious!

Class A RVs usually have a commercial bus or truck chassis. They also come with either gas or diesel engine options. Keep reading for even more details about Class A motorhomes.

Class A RV Details

Class A RVs can range in length from around 20 feet to a whopping 45 feet! They may sleep as few as 2 people (in one bed) or up to 8 people when using multiple sleeping options. Often Class As have hideaway beds, dinette-to-bed conversions, flip out bunks, and sometimes, even more than one bedroom. They are a great option for families given all these options.

On average, these bad boys will weigh between 13,000 and 40,000 pounds. Almost every Class A RV will include a minimum of 1-2 slide-outs. However, some may have up to four, or even more. The more slides, the more spacious the interior. They may also come with outdoor patio areas that fold out for added seating once you’re parked.

Given all the amenities that Class A motorhomes offer, they also come in at a higher price range than many other types of RVs. An “entry-level” Class will typically cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 new. Although some of the most high-end options can cost over a million dollars.

The sky is the limit in terms of Class A price tags. If the price is a deterrent, you can look for a used Class A RV to save some money. We recommend you read our blog on how to buy a used RV if you are thinking of going this route. 

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Class A RV Gas Mileage

Class A RVs are great at a lot of things! Getting good gas mileage is, unfortunately, not one of those. Class As usually get about 8-13 miles per gallon depending on their size. If you are towing a car or trailer with your motorhome, this can even drop as low as 5 miles per gallon. Ouch!

You should also know, if you drive a Class A RV, it is virtually guaranteed that random strangers at the gas station will constantly ask you “what kind of gas mileage does that thing get?”

Fuel economy is going to differ between gas and diesel RVs as well. Diesel engines almost always get better fuel economy than gasoline, especially in heavier applications. 

What Is a Diesel Pusher?

A diesel pusher is a type of Class A RV. Most vehicles have their engine in front of the vehicle. A diesel pusher, on the other hand, has the engine in the back (hence the name “pusher”). They also, unsurprisingly, run on diesel fuel rather than the regular unleaded gasoline of most vehicles.

Diesel pushers offer a more powerful engine so they can weigh more and tow more. Many of the high-end Class A motorhomes are diesel pushers. They are also known for running FOREVER! Okay, maybe not forever. But usually, around 20 years or 400,000 miles, which is quite a long time for any vehicle.  

Diesel pusher motorhomes are frequently built on bus chassis and utilize big rig systems like air brakes and air ride. This helps control the ride of these rigs and gives them the needed stopping power.  

Overall, diesel pusher motorhomes are the most comfortable to drive because of their air suspension and quiet ride.  With the engine so far behind you, engine noise is minimal. 

Features and Amenities in Class A RVs

Class A RVs have a ton to offer in the way of features and amenities. Nowadays, many even offer residential-style interior and quality. They may include full-sized kitchen appliances, complete dry baths, king-size beds, bunkhouses for the kids, top-of-the-line entertainment systems (both inside and out!), and of course, the slide outs we mentioned before.

They will also include a dinette or kitchen table, possibly a pantry, and a high-end interior design. All of this, while also being usable off-grid. Class As have large freshwater and wastewater tanks, a fridge that can run off propane, and either a generator or solar panels for off-grid power.

You’ll also never be uncomfortable in a Class A motorhome. They will usually have 1-2 air conditioners and a heating system. Plus, a water heater for taking piping hot showers at the end of a long day.

In general, Class A motorhomes are built for comfort. They are the most spacious of all drivable motorhomes and are the most common type of motorhome used by full-time RVers. 

Advantages of Class A RVs

There are many Class A RV benefits that other types of RVs just can’t compete with. First, they are HUGE. This means they have tons of interior space and storage. Additionally, they have larger holding tanks, so you don’t have to empty the dreaded black water tank as often. It also lets you camp off-grid for longer periods without running into water troubles.

While their size may be intimidating, Class As tend to be the easiest to drive of all large RVs. This is because they offer commanding views of the road and good mirror visibility.  Compared to a trailer, backing up is a breeze because there is no pivot point and you do not lose mirror visibility in a turn. 

Many Class A RVs are also powerful enough to tow a vehicle or enclosed trailer. Having a toad vehicle along on your road trips is practically essential so you can get out and explore the area without having to drive your enormous RV.

You will also enjoy plenty of floor plan options with Class As as well as options for the number of slide outs. With so many choices, you are bound to find a layout you’ll love.

Finally, when you’re driving a Class A RV, you can see everything on the road given your high vantage point and enormous windshield. Many Class A motorhomes have a pretty smooth ride, which is great for cross-country trips.

One of the biggest benefits most people find with Class As is there is no hitching or unhitching when setting up camp.  Park it, hit the leveling button, push out the slides, and your good to go. No need to even get out of the RV. 

Disadvantages of Class A RVs

Of course, nothing is perfect, and Class A RVs are no exception. They do have a few drawbacks. First, they are harder to take to remote places. Their large size is great for living in, but not so much for driving on narrow, dirt roads.

Another drawback is that the home and the engine are together. Why is this a disadvantage, you ask? Well, if something goes wrong with your engine, you will need to take your RV to a shop. And with it goes all your stuff, your bed, your kitchen, everything. So maintenance issues could leave you stranded with no place to stay.

Class A RVs also have very large components that are too big for DIY roadside repairs.  For example, the tires on Class As are so large most do not have a spare because you could not change it alone. For this reason, having RV roadside assistance is essential if you own one of these rigs. 

We mentioned that a benefit to these rigs is that you don’t have to get out of the RV to set up camp.  This can also be thought of as a drawback because you now have a steering wheel permanently in your living room.  Compared to trailers and even smaller Class B and C motorhomes, Class As do not have as much leveling capacity. Because they have such long wheelbases, getting level may be harder and require flatter terrain.  

Finally, because of their enormous size, you may feel intimidated to drive it! Nothing would be worse than buying an RV and being too scared to take it anywhere. Sitting in the driver’s seat of a Class A is a lot different than a Class B or C or a regular truck hauling a trailer.

Is a Class A RV Right For You?

The first question you need to answer if you are looking at RVs is do I want a towable or a drivable RV?  It may sound strange, but if you feel the most comfortable driving small cars, then a large drivable rig like a Class A will probably be a good fit. This is because you can still tow a smaller car, and you only need to drive the big rig between sites. Otherwise, you will need a large tow vehicle to tow a trailer, and you may not enjoy driving a large truck or SUV around town. 

Class As are great choices for those who primarily plan to be on paved roads most of the time and want the simplicity of setting up camp with the push of a button. They are also great for people that love to drive as they offer the best view while traveling of any RV type. 

If you’re on the fence, we recommend checking out several RV types at either an RV show or dealer. This lets you look inside to see which rig will best meet your needs.

If you want to learn even more about Class A RVs, be sure to check out John & Peter of the RV Geeks, who have been living in a Class A RV full-time for over 15 years! Visit the RV Geeks Website.

Geeking Out About Motorhomes with the RV Geeks! | Mondays with the Mortons S4E10

Take The Comforts of Home With You

A Class A RV is a great option for adventurers who love to take the comforts of home with them on the road. These luxurious RVs come in a range of sizes, floor plans, and prices. If you’re in the market for a Class A motorhome, you’ll find plenty of options to get exactly what you want – the rig of your dreams!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Ken Nyren

Friday 22nd of January 2021

We have a Thor Outlaw that we can fit our smart car in the back of which leaves us just over 38ft when fully loaded. Total length was a big consideration for us. Our rig is a perfect fit but the thing we did not consider was leveling length. 1 deg is equivalent to 3/16 inch for every foot of length between leveling points. So for us that is just under 4 inches of adjustment needed for every degree. It has turned out to be our single biggest issue in our travels. We like to use the back door into the garage when parked to limit dirt carried into the main living area and if we need to raise the rear to level it can raise our bottom step as high as 18" off the ground. We frequently need a stool step to get in easily.

Mortons on the Move

Friday 22nd of January 2021

18" is quite a step up for all-day-every-day use. Leveling is an important consideration. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Don Rimel

Thursday 21st of January 2021

Yes, a class A motorhome is right for us. Our reasons were focused on the number of people traveling and the considerations related to chronic illness. We had decided to go in the direction of a motorhome (Class A or C) to best align with our travel style. We went in this direction of the motorhome to allow more seating options and ease of setup/breakdown. We had a travel trailer for a year and also had rented a class C in that time period. The time with the travel trailer and the rented class C provided us first-hand experience to better make our decision.

Three other considerations played into our decision for our specific class A. 1) available carrying capacity. 2) Storage - Class A usually has more basement storage options than class C and travel trailers. 3) Towed vehicle - We wanted to have a car for travel and exploring instead of a truck.

These factors led us to the selection of a class A motorhome.