What type of Class B RV would you buy? Thanks. —Brenda
It depends on many variables, such as how long you are going to be out, how many people are going, and if you will be boondocking or mostly camping with full hookups. This is also a great opportunity to discuss what is a Class B, B+, and Class C, as this can be very confusing and misleading.
RVIA classifications for RVs
The RV Industry Association (RVIA) is the governing body that sets the classifications for RVs. They have determined that anything built on a full van is a Class B. This would include the Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit, and Dodge Ram. RV manufacturers basically customize the interior and don’t actually build any of the body structure. That is why you see a straight sidewall from front to back and typically no slide rooms. And they usually have a sliding side door, not a traditional motorhome door.
The advantage of a Class B van is the compact size which makes it easy to get around congested areas such as bigger cities and even state or national parks. Also, if you are going to use it for a second vehicle on a daily basis and only camp occasionally, it is more suited for that than the larger units.
The disadvantage, in my opinion, is the compromise in living space as well as sleeping. If you are going to be going out for 6-8 weeks at a time, making the Murphy bed every night and morning is annoying, not to mention the smaller size. If you are taking more people with you, the small floorplan and limited water and dump tanks are also annoying. Many RV shoppers get excited about the automotive feel and the convenient length for driving but don’t pay attention to how comfortable (or not) they will be in it for a period of time.
Class C RV
RVIA states a motorized unit built on a cutaway cab chassis where the chassis manufacturer builds the cab, dash instrumentation, running gear, and frame rails, is a Class C. For years it was just the Ford and Chevy on smaller models, and then came Mercedes with the Sprinter chassis. The RV manufacturer builds the “box,” which typically includes a bump out just behind the driver and passenger area called the wing wall. This allows the manufacturer to have a wider floorplan than the Class B van, as well as more headroom.
The confusion comes in as many people think the Class C has to have a bunk in the front, which it did for years. However, more people don’t like the cave-like driving experience of the overhead bunk and don’t want to crawl up over the seats at night. It’s great if you have kids and want a bed in the back as well as something other than pulling out the couch for them.
Traditional Class C with a wing wall
The traditional Class C on a Ford has looked like this for years. Notice the wing wall behind the passenger door.
Here is an example of a Winnebago Navion Class C on the Sprinter chassis with the overhead bunk. It also has the 6” wing wall just behind the passenger door.
The advantage of a Class C RV is the automotive styling of the cab with driver and passenger door. Some people like being lower to the ground versus the larger Class A units, and don’t need to have a 30+ foot floorplan. It has good storage and larger water and holding tanks versus the Class B, and a full-sized bed. In addition, it has a larger bathroom and shower, as well as kitchen. Again, it’s designed for more people and longer trips.
The disadvantage of a Class C versus a Class B, in my opinion, is the size if you are not going to spend a lot of time on the road with it.
What about B+?
Notice I skipped over the B+ designation? That is because RVIA does not have a B+ category. It is a marketing term made up by RV manufacturers! Oh, you will see it advertised on the website, in brochures, and at shows—but it is not a category, just hype. And I say that because manufacturers are not consistent in their made-up terminology! Some call their unit built on a Sprinter cutaway chassis a B+ because it does not have a bunk! I just received an email blast from Thor touting their exciting new Class B+ models, and they clearly have the wing wall and are a Class C without the overhead bunk.
On a popular YouTube website by an over-the-top salesperson reviewing the most popular Class B+ units, there are several models that not only have the wing wall but an overhead bunk!
Next, we have what is obviously a van customized with no wing wall on a Sprinter 3500 tall edition with no overhead bunk, no wing wall, and slide rooms, and it is also called a Class B+.
What is happening, in my opinion, is more people are finding the Class B is a little too small for extended camping but they don’t want to go to the full size Class C. So RV manufacturers invented the Class B+, stating that it is bigger than the B but not as large as the C. It seems like anything built in that 24’ length is being hyped as a B+ and the problem, again in my opinion, is buyers are believing them.
Back to your question
What Class B would I buy? None, as it is a very glorified and expensive van, in my opinion! If I am going camping, I would look at a Class C on the Ford Chassis at 24’. It has a fixed corner bed, good-sized dinette and kitchen, and handles well. A unit like the Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R or Coachmen Freelander. No, it will not get 18 mpg like many of the others are touting. However, I don’t want to pay the extra $50,000 just to get 5-6 mpg more, and I don’t want to pay the extra $$ for diesel. Plus, I can find a Ford dealer to work on it, if necessary, in a 40-mile radius of just about anywhere I go.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Should I buy a new or used RV?
I’m not sure if this is your field or not but maybe you can steer me in the right direction. We’re looking to purchase our first RV and we plan to go full-time. I have read that it would be better to buy a used one versus a new one and get an extended warranty. Is this true? Thanks for your advice. —Brenda
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
Read more from Dave here.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR DAVE?
We have a popular forum for Ask Dave. Please be as brief as possible. Attach a photo or two if it might help Dave with his response. Click to visit Dave’s forum. Or send your inquiries to him using the form below.