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What You Need to Know About Class A RVs

Our most recent RV purchase was a used 45′ 2010 Monaco Dynasty Class A motorhome. We lived in a fifth wheel and a truck camper prior, and switching to a Class A RV was a big change. 

We put together an overview of Class A RVs – from what extra luxuries they provide to what we weren’t prepared for – to help you decide if a Class A RV is the rig of your dreams.

Luxury Living On Wheels: The Ultimate Tour of Our Customized Monaco Motorhome

What Is a Class A RV?

Class A RVs are some of the biggest motorhomes on the market. These rigs resemble large motorcoaches with a flat front and huge windshield. Class A RVs usually have a commercial bus or truck chassis and come with either gas or diesel engine options

They come with both the living and driving areas in the same space, which differs from a travel trailer or fifth wheel where the living area is separate from the primary vehicle.

Mortons on the Move's Class A motorhome
We bought a used 45′ 2010 Monaco Dynasty Class A motorhome and have been loving the extra comfort it’s given us.

A Class A RV generally has the following features:

  • Can be 20 to 45 feet in length
  • Can sleep anywhere from two to eight people
  • Have hideaway beds, dinette-to-bed conversions, flip-out bunks, and sometimes, even multiple bedrooms
  • Weigh between 13,000 and 40,000 pounds
  • Include a minimum of 1-2 slide-outs, though some may have up to four, or even more

Class A RVs have a ton to offer in the way of features and amenities. Nowadays, many even offer residential-style interiors and quality and may include full-sized kitchen appliances, complete dry baths, king-size beds, bunkhouses for the kids, and top-of-the-line entertainment systems (both inside and out!). They will also include a dinette or kitchen table, possibly a pantry, and a high-end interior design.

The size of a Class A RV allows it to have a large freshwater and wastewater tank, so you can camp off-grid longer. 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.

How Much Does a Class A RV Cost?

Because of all the amenities that Class A motorhomes offer, these rigs tend to come with a higher price range than many other types of RVs. An “entry-level” Class A motorhome 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.

Mountain Aire Class A RV
The extra amenities that come with a Class A RV means they can be a hefty financial investment.

We weren’t ready to drop that much money when we bought our used Class A RV. Luckily, going the used RV route provides a great way to get the extra comfort without the extra zeros on the price tag.

Class A RV Gas Mileage

Class A RVs are great at a lot of things, but good gas mileage is, unfortunately, not one of them. This type of RV usually gets anywhere from eight to 13  miles per gallon depending on the size. If you are towing a car or trailer with your motorhome, this can even drop as low as 5 miles per gallon. Ouch!

We must warn you, 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?” If we had a dollar for every time this happened to us, we would be able to fill up our tank!

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. 

Pro Tip: Before you hit the road in your new rig, you’ll want to know Is Driving a Class A Motorhome Hard?

What Is a Diesel Pusher?

A diesel pusher is a specific type of Class A RV. Most rigs 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”. As the name suggests, they also run on diesel fuel rather than regular unleaded gasoline.

Diesel pusher and Class A gas motorhome side by side
Here you can see a diesel pusher and a Class A gas motorhome side by side.

Diesel pushers offer a more powerful engine which causes them to weigh and tow more. Many of the high-end Class A motorhomes are diesel pushers and can last for around 20 years or 400,000 miles. That’s quite a long time for any vehicle!

Diesel pusher motorhomes are frequently built on a 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.

Advantages of Class A RVs

There are many advantages that Class A RVs have that other types of RVs just can’t compete with. The size of Class A RVs allow for a ton of extra interior space and storage. Plus, the large size of the holding tank lets you camp off-grid for longer periods without running into water troubles or having to empty your waste.

While their size may be intimidating, Class A RVs tend to be one of the easiest to drive out of all the 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. 

Class A motorhome boondocking
The extra tank space Class A RVs have allows you to go off the grid for longer periods of time.

Class RVs are also powerful enough to tow a vehicle or enclosed trailer. Of course, those tows are optional, and if you choose not to bring an extra vehicle along, one of the biggest benefits most people find with Class A RVs is there is no hitching or unhitching when setting up camp. 

Disadvantages of Class A RVs

Of course, nothing is perfect, and Class A RVs are no exception. These are some of the drawbacks we have found when camping in our Class A RV: 

  • Harder to take to remote places
  • The home and the engine are together so if something goes wrong with your engine, you will need to take your RV to a shop. Maintenance issues could leave you stranded with no place to stay
  • Large components make it hard to DOY repair yourself
  • Minimal leveling capacity can cause an unstable campsite – because they have such long wheelbases, getting level can be harder if you aren’t on flat terrain.
Driving a Class A RV
If you don’t want to worry about towing a trailer, a Class A RV may be the best RV option for you.

Is a Class A RV Right For You?

If you want a drivable RV and not a towable RV, a Class A RV may be right for you. They can also be a great choice if you 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. If you plan on staying for months on end at a campsite or don’t dream of going off-roading, a Class A RV can serve you well. 

Also, if you are traveling with multiple adventurers, the extra space allows for each camper to have their personal space while camping. Since we work full-time while RVing in our Class A RV, the space allows us to comfortably work while on the go.

Pro Tip: If you want to learn even more about Class A RVs, check out our good friends John and Peter of The RVgeeks, who have been living in a Class A RV full-time for over 15 years!

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 Tom and Caitlin Morton

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 Hwy.co 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.