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What Do RV Classes Mean? Differences Explained

What Do RV Classes Mean? Differences Explained

With such a wide variety of RVs on the road today, it can be challenging to decide which is the best choice for your camping escapades. Different RV classes come with different upsides and drawbacks. Let’s break down these classes so you can find the right one for you.

What Are RV Classes?

RVs get categorized by category and class. There are just two categories: drivable and towable RVs. Towable rigs are ones you have to tow with a vehicle, usually a truck or SUV. By contrast, drivable RVs, often called motorhomes, are motorized. Meaning, you can drive them rather than tow them.

RV classes represent a further distinction. There are three classes of motorhomes: A, B, and C. Class A motorhomes are the largest, Class Bs are the smallest, and Class Cs are in the middle. Towable RVs, on the other hand, don’t technically have classes. However, they are classified into general groups, including fifth wheels, toy haulers, and travel trailers.

Different Classes of RV Motorhomes Explained

Manufacturers sort motorhomes into different classes based on size and similar attributes. Let’s take a look at the differences between Class A, B, and C motorhomes. 

The Largest: Class A Motorhomes

These large bus-type motorhomes usually offer the most space, both in living and storage areas. Built on a bus chassis, these RVs’ usually have a higher profile that creates a “basement” area, which means more storage space.  

This is a luxury class A motorhome

Most Class As have large windows and snub-nose fronts. The cockpit is more spacious than other motorized RVs. 

Families often enjoy these motorhomes the most among all RV classes. They offer more space, lots of storage and sometimes even a second bath. Class A motorhomes range in sleeping space from two to eight people, with model lengths from 26 to 45 feet. You’ll find Class A RVs average anywhere from $50,000 to more than $200,000 but can cost far more depending on features and amenities.

Looking for a smaller Class A? We’ve put together a list of the 7 Best Small Class A RVs on the Market. Check them out!

Class B Motorhomes

Class Bs are sometimes called camper vans. They have all the utilities found in larger RV classes, but on a van chassis. 

Newer vans have higher profiles, but they typically come in under 20 feet. Many have wet baths, meaning the shower, toilet, and sink all share one room. 

B plus RV
Class B rvs can be as small as a van or a bit larger. Sometimes an RV like this would be called a B plus

Class B vans work best for one or two people. However, a few models sneak in some extra bedding via folding furniture. Storage space is minimal, as models range from 17 to 23 feet. They typically cost $50,000 to $100,000. The better gas mileage and maneuverability make them popular among RV classes.

Class C Motorhomes

Class Cs sit on truck chassis and stand out among RVs for their “bed over the cab” appearance.

These popular motorhomes fall between Class As and Bs in terms of size. This means there isn’t a basement, but Class Cs usually have some outside storage space and more inside living space than a Class B.  

class C RV
A class C RV has the unique cab over design with a bed over the driving area.

Many Cs have dry baths, with separate shower and toilet areas. Because they range from 20 to 30 feet, they can sleep from two to eight people. Some have queen or even king-sized beds and perhaps even bunk beds for families. You’ll also find full-sized refrigerators, stoves, and ovens on board. Prices average $50,000 to $100,000, though newer Class Cs can hit $250,000 and beyond. Because of their price and sleeping capacity these RV’s are often popular with families.

Are RV Trailers Designated into Classes?

Rather than using RV classes for distinction, trailers, or towables, use more general terms. Among trailers, you’ll find fifth wheels, toy haulers, and travel trailers.

Fifth Wheels

You can spot fifth wheels easily. They measure 20 to 45 feet and hitch to the bed of a truck, not to its bumper. Some of today’s rigs are extremely opulent, with high-end finishes, huge kitchen and living areas, king-sized beds, and luxurious amenities. Prices can range from $20,000 to $100,000 but can easily exceed that.

fifth wheel toyhauler
A toy hauler fifth wheel

Toy Haulers

Some fifth wheels and travel trailer models have a feature that turns them into a “toy hauler.” A ramp that folds down from the back of the RV reveals a “garage” where you could store ATVs, motorcycles, bikes, and other “toys.” A fifth wheel and toy hauler aren’t entirely different classes. Instead, toy haulers are more like a type of fifth wheel. They are, therefore, similar in length and price range.

Travel Trailers

A travel trailer (also known as a “bumper pull” or a “pull-behind”) includes any camper attached to the bumper (or rear hitch) of a tow vehicle. They can include little teardrop campers as well as 40-foot trailers, R-pods, and Airstreams. Prices vary widely based on size and manufacturer. It’s not unusual to find smaller travel trailers in the $20,000 range, while larger and luxury ones go for over $100,000.

airstream travel trailer
An airstream travel trailer

Less Common RV Designations

While most RVs fall into the classes and names mentioned above there are a few unique descriptors you may hear.

Expedition Vehicle

Sometimes called an overland or expedition camper these RV’s are ruggedized and designed for off-road and multinational expeditions. These RVs are usually custom-built for or by an individual that has a particular need. If really wanting to get off the beaten path or go places few others dare an overland expedition camper may be right for you.

earthroamer expedition vehicle
Source: Earthroamer

Truck Camper

The truck camper technically falls into the towable category as it cannot drive itself, but it does not have wheels of its own. Because of this, it must be carried by truck. These campers are popular with the adventurous crowd as it’s easy to load one onto a 4x4 truck and instantly have a more off-road capable RV than most anything else.

Truck campers take a bit more work to setup the vehicle properly. Ranging in size from a single room tiny camper to massive 3 slide beasts these campers can accommodate a family. While not for everyone the truck camper is a great in between vehicle from traditional campers and expedition vehicles.

Truck camper with view of lake

Which RV Class Suits You?

Once you develop a general understanding of RV classes, it quickly becomes easy to distinguish them. Plus, knowing the differences between the types of recreational vehicles and discovering the features you need most will help you when it comes time to buy. Which of these RVs suits you best?

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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 The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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