Class A versus Class C
One of the
eternal RV debates focuses on the type of rig you drive. Some folks swear
by fifth wheels, some by travel trailers, and still others by a self-contained
motor home. Even when we agree on the general type, we still argue about
the virtues of one sub-class over another. Thus when one member asked,
"Besides the price, is there any advantage of buying a Class C over
a Class A," he got plenty of responses.
no correct answer, for both types have their advantages and their disadvantages,
but here are some of the reasons the Class A folks love their RVs:
- The biggest
advantage of a Class A is that there is no engine hump. One member said
he and his wife were seriously considering a C until they tried to get
from the front seats to the main living part. Neither are particularly
small people, and they never found a C that wasn't a real pain to move
from the driving seats into the living compartment. (This is only true
of diesel rigs; however, a Class A with a gasoline engine will also
present some problems, though usually not as many as the Class C.)
- The windshield
on a Class A is usually larger and doesn't have a dividing line in the
middle. This makes the road easier to see (though it may prove a drawback
when driving into the sun).
- Many members
feel that a Class A is safer in case of a collision. In a Class C, the
driver and co-pilot are closer to the ground and have just the door
of the vehicle to protect them. In a Class A, folks are sitting higher
in a much more massive vehicle frame. Overall, if a car hits from the
side, these members feel it's generally going to hit below the seats
and it will hit the frame first.
- That higher
position also makes for better visibility, so the driver can see over
traffic in many cases and can usually see further away.
- For some
folks, the standard width of the rig may make it seem easier to drive.
As one member said, "I could see me forgetting the extra couple
of feet overhang behind the cab." Probably would not be a problem
in reality, but the perception may make the A more comfortable.
- If you
have ever been jostled by a large truck passing on the interstate, you
may feel less sway in a Class A, since the heavier frame is less susceptible
to the draft; the lower center of gravity often helps as well. (Note:
the wheelbase- to-length ratio is also a factor in the swaying problem.)
- Many drivers
feel that the seating in a Class A is more comfortable, especially for
the passengers, either because the seats themselves are larger and better
padded or because the co-pilot (*not* the driver) can get up and move
around if the old bottom gets too tired - all the time, of course, remaining
in the safety belt!
- The difference
in the size of the two rigs is also an advantages for many folks. While
there are large Class C rigs, a Class A tends to be a larger unit. This
size may be a drawback while on the road, but it certainly would be
a factor once you are parked. As one member put it, "I have seen
many more Class A rigs that *I* would prefer to live in."
- For us
older folks, the sleeping arrangements in a Class A may be preferable.
Climbing up in the bunk over the driver's seat is fine for the children
out there, but for more than a weekend, many prefer a nice bed. Some
Class C models do have a separate bedroom, of course, with the cab-over
space dedicated for a TV center or storage, but that's not the normal
- Oh yes,
there is also the "snob factor." There is a perception that
the Class A is more prestigious (look at the ads and you will see what
I mean). No member of the RV- Club would consider that important, but
if you are trying to talk a reluctant spouse into full-timing, that
might prevent an argument.
Those who have a Class C rig, of course, have their own reasons:
and exiting the rig from the road is easier, since you have doors in
the front on both sides. In a Class A, you must enter from the passenger
side; even if you have a bus conversion, that isn't always as convenient.
As one member put it, "You enter the driving compartment from the
ground and exit a lot more than you go back and forth between the driving
and living compartments. This could make a big difference for those
who are even slightly mobility handicapped." (Some Class A's also
have driver's doors, of course, but they are in the minority; also the
height of the rig makes climbing in and out of them rather cumbersome.
repairs for the engine may be easier for those who own a Class C, since
the setup is more of a standard Ford/Chevrolet/Dodge. Many garages simply
are not familiar enough with the Class A setup and are reluctant to
try it; that can be a real hassle if you have problems in a rural area.
Also if you have an "orphan," it may be easier to get replacement
parts for the standard engine.
- For some
folks, the narrower front end may not be as intimidating. The total
width may or may not be as wide as a Class A, but it doesn't *seem*
as wide. You don't get the feeling you are driving a bus (even though
the actual length and total width may be identical).
- The smaller
Class C units may be easier to maneuver in traffic and park. It's not
quite the same as your family car, but less cumbersome than most of
the Class A's. There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole, Class
A's are larger.
- The question
of gas mileage, of course, is a no-winner, for the driver's habits probably
constitute the biggest factor here, but on the average, Class C units
do seem to use a bit less gas.
- The extra
storage or sleeping area over the driving compartment is a bonus for
many folks. A Class C, on the whole, will sleep more folks and size-for-size
may offer more interior storage space. If you have a rear bedroom, one
of the major drawbacks for older folks disappears and the extra storage
room becomes an advantage. The storage space must be carefully used,
however, for heavy objects could overload the frame structure and/or
the front axle of the vehicle.
- In a front-end
crash, many feel the Class C offers more protection, since the engine
compartment may absorb some of the impact. You will also find passenger
air bags in a Class C, while none will be found in a Class A.
- The initial
question about price is probably correct. There are certainly some expensive
Class C rigs out there and some less expensive Class A units. But the
introductory Class C RVs are less expensive, and the big ticket items
are the Class A's. (When is the last time you have seen a $650,000 Class
line, as one member said, "is that EVERYTHING in the world has advantages
and disadvantages. C's are better than A's in some areas. And A's are
better than C's in others. Perform a lot of research before making your
decision and you should be happy with your choice for years to come."
And, of course,
once you have selected a rig you like, throw out your questions to the
folks at the RV Club. Chances are that someone here has something just
like it. (But ask *before* you buy; afterwards, you might not want to