Choose a Class C motorhome or Class B van conversion?

Choose a 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, and it may be a Class B is, as Goldilocks said, “Just right.” But before you plunk down your money, let’s explore a few areas. First, the concern about being ‘intimidated by large vehicles.’ Experienced motorhome drivers will tell you that there’s not a whole lot of difference between driving a car and driving a big 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, and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

class-cDriving 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 that much better in terms of fuel economy than a Class C motorhome. That’s because you’ve still got plenty of weight tied up in the conversion stuff, and with the ‘bumped up’ roof, aerodynamics aren’t all that great. Still, you may like that part of parking your rig in the garage.

class-bWhere the real differences between a Class B van conversion and a Class C motorhome 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, as 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, and so 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. If 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.




6 thoughts on “Choose a Class C motorhome or Class B van conversion?

  1. Cherrie Richardson

    As a female, I bought my 2006 Forest River Sunseeker 30′ class b motorhome for just myself. I like the drive and the size.. I was totally inexperienced at driving a MH. If I can do it- anyone can. It was not hard at all. I have plenty of space and tons of storage. Boon docked for 6 days before thinking I needed to empty the tanks. ( my first experience). Insurance reasonable, and I’d have plenty of room for a dog! I love my rv.

  2. Ronald

    Great article, having purchased a class b, pleasure way with Ford V-10, 6, 8/l triton, at 20 ft long, is a 2005 year. spent 2 years researching, test driving all types, decided on class b. at that time it was hard to figure out why class b were as much or more than class a? I figure if it was better to start small and if not move up to class c or a….best advice I was given is there is an rv make an model for everyone, its all about finding whats right for your needs. happy shopping.

  3. Gary R

    Class B RVs are very nice and we do like them, but find them just a bit too small for extended travel. We are often on the road in our Class C for three or four months at a time. For this type of travel , we need some room to stretch out. Our tanks are big enough to allow boondocking for up to eleven days if we are careful with water use. We have refrigerator large enough to hold lots of food. And plenty of room for all of our clothing, tools and other gear.

    We don’t tow a car but do sometimes use bicycles to get around. At 25 feet our rig can fit into most parking spots as long as there is room for the overhang to go over the edge as we back in. In the year that we have owned this Class C, we have only found two places that we couldn’t fit into.

    We feel that the short Class C is the perfect compromise between the convenience of small and the comfort of big.

  4. Eric

    I own a 2015 Winnebago ERA. It is a 24 foot B-class Mercedes Sprinter van. It is perfect for 2 people with a small dog. 20mpg highway. Great for touring villages and traveling coastlines. Get solar panels, 2,000 watt A/C inverter, DIRECTV receivers for your 2 TVs, and your good to go!

  5. JP

    First of all, the motorhome picture is a backwards picture of a motorhome from GB (see tag by number plate) That type of motorhome is generally not available in the U.S. Second, a class B offers many advantages such as parking in a regular parking space that a C can’t fit in. A B also fits in a tighter driveway space that some of us are limited to. Insurance is less expensive.

    1. Russ De Maris

      JP: Doesn’t take long for some sharp-eyed character to spot a little “fudge.” Other than the steering wheel’s on the wrong side of the unit, the Brit Class C units like this one are pretty close to their American counterparts. Alas, I was hoping that my “fast grab” of a public domain image would get over. Now I’ll have to go search for a real American Class C. You get the gold star!

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