What’s better for you: Class C motorhome or Class B van conversion?

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Here’s a question that some new-to-RVing wonder about: “I’ve never had an RV before, and I’ll be traveling alone with my dog. I’m intimidated by big vehicles, and I want fuel efficiency but comfort, too. What do you think about a Class B motorhome?” Here are a few things to think about.

Depending on your circumstances, a van-conversion RV may be just the ticket to getting into the RV lifestyle. It’s small enough you can park it in your garage, but still has the comforts of a kitchen and bathroom. It looks so much like a large van, why, it couldn’t be all that difficult to drive, could it?

All these things are true. It may be a Class B is, as Goldilocks said, “Just right.” But before you plunk down your money, explore a few areas such as that concern about being “intimidated by large vehicles.” Experienced motorhome drivers say there’s not a lot of difference between driving a car and driving a motorhome. It’s largely a matter of practice: They don’t drive a whole lot differently, there’s just a couple of things to catch onto. You’ll soon get the hang of it.

Driving a smaller Class C motorhome (a van chassis with a motorhome built onto it) is a breeze. But what about fuel economy? Class B motorhomes aren’t really much better on fuel economy than a Class C. That’s because you’ve still got plenty of weight tied up in the conversion stuff. Add the “bumped up” roof and aerodynamics aren’t all that great. Still, you may like that part of parking your rig in the garage.

Where the real differences between a Class B and a Class C come into play are in the living space. Class B rigs are, by necessity, very compact. You probably won’t have the luxury of sticking your legs out and relaxing while “sitting on the throne.” When it’s time to fix a meal, you’d best keep it REAL simple. The typical amount of counter space is a bit like a postage stamp. Storage space is at a premium, so don’t expect to bring much “stuff” with you. Holding tanks, too, are much smaller. You can count on more frequent trips to the waste dump station.

If you’re into quick weekend trips where you’ll be out and around, away from the RV, that’s one thing. Do your plans take you into longer trips and you’ll be spending time in the RV? The tightness of the space could begin to wear on you. If claustrophobia is an issue, be sure to step into the shower space of any Class B you’re looking at buying. It could be a real eye-opener.

Here’s what may be the best suggestion: Rent a Class B unit and take it out on a trip. Do your cooking, showering and sleeping. Then rent a Class C unit and do the same. It’s a whole lot less expensive than picking one or the other and buying it, only to find you’ve made the wrong choice.

##RVT955

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Jeanine
15 days ago

In my humble take on it, a class B is just too small for two people, not to mention if you have pets, which we don’t. Our 27′ Class C, rear Queen, full bath, is just right for two people. It’s like a small studio apartment. If I was alone, a Class B would be just right. The small size would make it even more maneuverable than the Class C, which is fairly easy to get around in, plus we don’t tow. So it just depends on personal style. I’ve seen a single person in a 40′ Class A with 4 slides, and families of 4 or 5 in 30′ Fifth Wheel, older single lady pulling a big travel trailer, tiny little teardrop for a young married. It just depends on what you can handle, what you can afford, how you want to live. We had one shot at an RV, so we HAD to make the right decision. Go to RV Shows, go to dealerships, test drive a few rigs, talk to RV’ers at campgrounds. Do lots of research. The realities of RV’ing sometimes don’t mesh up with the glamour of the dream.

Last edited 15 days ago by Jeanine
Robert Steigerwalt Jr
7 months ago

We loved our class B but went with a C because my wife had a hard time dealing with the frig. on the floor, something to consider if you are older.

Robert Steigerwalt Jr
7 months ago

My class B Travato got 18 mpg my class C Ford gets 8 to 12 I think that is a big difference! What residential garage will a class B fit in? Most are over 8′ tall.

Patricia Panuccio
7 months ago

I travel alone and recently put my Class A up for sale so that I can move to a Class B. I have had Class C’s before and love them but as i age I want something with less set up and tear down.

Marie Thomas
7 months ago

Yes

TechiePhil
7 months ago

Motorhomes are not the only option. Don’t forget travel trailers. Many can be easily towed with SUVs, especially the lightweight molded fiberglass models from the likes of Casita, Escape, Oliver, Scamp. Space-wise, they’re more roomy than many Class Bs. We’re quite happy with our Casita. And we don’t have to disconnect everything to venture out from our camping location.

Jeanine
15 days ago
Reply to  TechiePhil

True, but you have to unhitch and then leave the trailer to go exploring. I didn’t like that idea.

Colin Grant
7 months ago

I have a 2006 Sprinter chassis B made by Pleasure Way and I am very happy with it. I bought it for work originally as I am a construction boilermaker and we travel a lot. 22 mpg US average fuel consumption, easy to drive. It’s confined inside but comfortable even after a month in one spot. Good for singles or a couple that get along well. Not for big people. I wouldn’t consider anything else because of the mileage costs. Remember a B has a metal body and roof usually and meets all safety requirements mandated for mass produced vehicles.

Carson Axtell
7 months ago

Most happy Class B owners don’t talk about living “in” their van so much as living “out” of their van, including cooking outside when the weather is good. The inside of the van is where they go to work on their computers or to sleep, or to cook and hangout during inclement weather. Class B owners tend to be active, outdoors people who will be out hiking, sightseeing, visiting museums, window shopping or pursuing other outdoors related activities and hobbies when the weather is good rather than sitting inside their rigs watching the television.

Brad Teubner
7 months ago

Most van conversions (raised top) are too tall to fit in a standard garage.

peterb
7 months ago

what is the difference between B, C and B+

Bill
7 months ago
Reply to  peterb

Technically, a Class C is built on a “cutaway” chassis, and a Class B is built inside an existing vehicle. But, there is a lot of crossover. Most people think of a Class C as having a cab-over bed, and a lot of Class Bs have most of the body cut away to expand the house area. B+ is usually just a big Class B, or a Class C without the cab-over bed. It really boils down to what the marketing department decides to call it.

tom
7 months ago

Look very hard at different “c’s” and “b’s.” Every make has different ideas on how to use the space.Some are interesting, but some are ….
We like our Super B+. Easy to drive, easy to park. Lives at home.