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

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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Brad Teubner
2 months ago

Class Bs tend to be a cave with amenities. Not much for windows because they need all the wall space for appliances and storage. I like caves, but Bs are not for the claustrophobic.

KellyR
2 months ago

After a tent we started with a 1963 VW Westfalia “bus”. Loved it. Then a 1968 VW Westfalia- 40 hp and 12 volt was better. Then two self converted Ford vans, now a Chevy Roadtrek as we have gotten older – inside kitchen and toilet. Have always used our “campers” as our second daily driver – no extra vehicle payment and park at home. Ready to bug out at any time. Just 2 of us and small dog. The compact living is just fine for us. If you are like us, a class B is just the ticket. We like visiting old small towns and being able to park right on Main Street is great – walking and hiking distances just isn’t in the cards anymore. We’ve had larger unit people at campgrounds ask to tour out little B to see if it would fit their needs. It all depends upon who you are. Small space? We’ve gotten used to each other after 61 years. Ha!

Mike Albert
2 months ago

We have a B+ Villagio by Renegade that is 24.5 feet. The driver’s side slide adds approximately 5 1/2 feet of floor space from the cab area to the rear. The chassis is by Sprinter/ Mercedes Benz. The cab portion is the front seats to the hood. The rest is motor home.
We just spent two months on a cross country trip. There was more than enough room and we did not trip over one another.
Decent mileage too.

Drew
2 months ago

A little off topic but I think the best designs were the 80’s and 90’s Chinooks. Lots of space in a small package. Well designed.

Roger V
2 months ago

It’s funny when people say Class Bs just look good for week-end getaways. Tell that to the many Class B full timers who work out of them. Our typical trips in our B are 6 weeks ranging up to our longest ones at 3+ months. It is great being able to park in a regular parking spot, get 15-18 mpg and, big point here, my wife won’t drive anything bigger. After 5 great years with our Class B though, I’m now looking at small Cs just to be able to carry expensive bikes inside. The Transit based Winnebago Ekko with the huge garage space would be perfect (except for the cassette toilet and insane pricing), but it didn’t exist back in ’16. Given today’s prices though, we’ll probably just keep our B.

Last edited 2 months ago by Roger V
Irv
2 months ago

If you’re worried about driving a big vehicle, a class C is wider than a B.

Try to rent one of each before buying to evaluate drivability and livability!

tom
2 months ago

Class B looks good for a single, or week-end getaways.
I like my under 30′ Class C with twin beds and a single slide. Fits into many older State Parks that the Big Boys have to bypass.
“To each, his own.”

Claudia
2 months ago

He doesn’t say what kind of dog he has. That’s kinda important. Our first MH was a B+ with a small slide for the bench/sofa and fridge. That opened up the living area nicely, but….. we had a Great Dane. She pretty much took up all of the available floor space. It was fine for short trips; we could deal with it. Long story short, the Trend got traded for a 38′ Class A when our lives allowed for long winter escapes.

Don
2 months ago

Great suggestion!

Kasey
2 months ago

You didn’t mention the difference in construction. A class B van is the shell of a van, automotive construction and all of the lower maintenance that goes with it (not no maintenance, of course.) Class C (for the most part) are laminated fiberglass with seams that need regular inspection and maintenance. As an owner of an older rig, I think it is prudent to look beyond Floorplan if people plan to keep their rigs for any length of time.

Jeanine
11 months 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 11 months ago by Jeanine
Robert Steigerwalt Jr
1 year 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
1 year 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.

Bob P
2 months ago

My thoughts precisely, at the first mention of it fitting in the garage I thought back to my first built to order house where I was asked if I had a full size pickup truck. The builder said a standard garage door was 6.5’ if I had a full size truck or ever intended to get one I would need an oversized door that would be 7’. Now they’re talking about a class B that is probably over 8’ so it’s not going into a standard garage, misinformation. Research, research, and research before going to the keyboard.

KellyR
2 months ago

You are correct Robert. I have a small class B, 2014 Roadtrek on Chevy chassis. I have carport rather than garage and had to raise it to a 9 foot clearance to get my 8 foot 6 inch tall , small B in there. Oh, and don’t forget the height of the ceiling lights in the carport or garage. Don’t ask me how I know.

Patricia Panuccio
1 year 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
1 year ago

Yes

TechiePhil
1 year 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
11 months 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year ago

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

peterb
1 year ago

what is the difference between B, C and B+

Bill
1 year 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.

Richard Davidson
2 months ago
Reply to  Bill

“It really boils down to what the marketing department decides to call it.” True statement. But it can be a problem at SOME RV resorts as I have read (not experienced) that some will not allow class B’s even though they may meet the length and size requirements of that particular park.