Deep Dive into Class C Motorhomes

Last updated on February 25th, 2022 at 10:37 am. Originally published on December 11th, 2018

Class C RVWhen it comes to RV classes, we have to say that C could very well stand for “choice.” Sure, Class As may be big and fancy, and tiny mini-motorhomes and travel trailers give you lots of leeway when it comes to navigating narrow or unpaved roads.

But Class C motorhomes are something of a Goldilocks in the RV community. You’ll get many of the same creature comforts and luxuries you’d find in a larger rig with all the flexibility and relative economy of a mid-size RV or travel trailer. Plus, the Class C is a drivable RV — so you won’t have to depend on a big, clunky tow-capable vehicle to get you where you’re going!

Make no mistake about it, however: If you’re on the market to purchase an RV of your own, whether it’s your first-ever rig or an upgrade from your old standby, you’ve got a whole lot of research to do. The only person who can make an informed decision about which make, model, class, size, and even specific footprint will work best for your needs is — you guessed it! — you.

So we’ve written this post as part of our ongoing series of deep dives into the different RV classes, to help you get a basic sense of which of the many types of RVs available on the market might be the perfect one for you.

RV Classes: A Brief Overview

While we’ve written an in-depth post about the different RV sizes and classes already, a short review might be helpful before we get into the nitty-gritty on Class Cs in particular.

Here are the most common RV classes you’re likely to find during your search for the perfect vacation vehicle as well as some of their key features.

Class C RVs: The start of this show!

Class C RVs are drivable motorhomes built directly into standard truck chassis. They feature a unique and highly recognizable body shape, including a hanging “attic” space that may be used for storage or to house an additional sleeping surface.

Class C campers come in a wide variety of sizes and footprints, including large, luxurious models with multiple slide-outs and diesel engines, as well as small Class C RVs that might measure just 20 feet or so. Either way, they combine the comfortable, amenity-rich camping style of a large motorhome with a bit of the flexibility and affordability of smaller options, though some of the larger Class Cs do still come at quite a cost and may be difficult to maneuver down treacherous roadways. Because of their unique body style, Class C RVs are a great option for families camping with older children who’d prefer a little bit of privacy — that attic bedroom makes an excellent hidey-hole, or even just a reading nook or space to stash additional adventure gear if you’re traveling solo or with a partner.

Let’s dive deeper into Class C RVs, the middle-of-the-road motorhome option that truly offers something for everyone.

Class C RV Interiors Combine Comfort and Customization

If you’re pretty sure you want the convenience of a self-powered motorhome rather than a travel trailer, but you’re not quite sure about spending the really big bucks on a gigantic Class A, a Class C can offer an affordable, easy-to-operate solution. That’s because they combine many of the comforts and amenities of larger, high-end rigs with (usually) a relatively small footprint, all without giving up the simplicity of having their own engine on board.

Is your budget on the smaller size, maybe considering buying a used Class C but are concerned about the interior style? Fear no more, Class C motorhomes offer a fantastic canvas for upgrades. Whether you want to add your personal style or update your camper away from the boring factory browns, the options for remodels and DIY projects are endless! Check out these makeover tour videos for some inspiration! Or the set by step makeover of a vintage Class C RV in the videos of The Endless Adventure.

Here are some of the advantages of Class C motorhomes that convince many campers they’re the perfect vehicle for their needs.

Class Cs tend to cost less than Class As.

Don’t get us wrong, because you can definitely spend a small fortune on this kind of motorhome. There are some ultra-high-end Class C rigs on the market. (In fact, we’ll get to some of those a little bit later on in the post.)

But if budget is an important consideration in your purchase decision, Class Cs do tend, in general, to make for more affordable motorhomes than their Class A cousins. That’s especially true of smaller rigs, which offer scaled-down versions of the extravagant amenities you might find in a top-of-the-line Class A. (But, hey — they call it camping for a reason, right? Do you really need a bathtub on board your rig?)

Depending on make and model, you can find new Class Cs available for as little as about $40,000, and much less used. However, you could also spend a quarter of a million dollars on a large, customized Class C shipped straight from the manufacturer. It’s all up to you — and your wallet!

Class Cs are built into standard truck chassis, which makes them easy to drive.

One of the most common hesitations we hear from prospective RVers who are yet to take the plunge into the lifestyle:

“But how on earth am I going to drive that thing?”

And we get it. If you’ve been navigating your day-to-day life in a four-door sedan for decades, a 40-foot diesel pusher can definitely look scary. Heck, even a tiny travel trailer can be intimidating, since towing means you’ve got to learn how to deal with a hitch and what that drag weight does to your basic driving skills. It’s almost like taking on a whole new geometry.

But Class C RVs have the unique benefit of being built right into standard pick-up truck chassis, which makes them relatively simple to drive even for those who’ve never dealt with a larger vehicle. The controls and overall user experience are very similar to those you’d find in your everyday car. In fact, when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, your Class A may feel indistinguishable from a regular truck, especially if you’re driving one of the smaller models.

Pros of Motorhomes Under 30 Feet

If you’re in the market for a Class C, you may want to consider motorhomes under 30 feet. Designers manage to carve out pockets of storage and have ingenious ways to make the most of your little home on wheels, and smaller vehicles tend to cost less. Depending on the size and model of your rig, you can find Class C RVs for as little as $40,000 new, and even cheaper used.

Class C motorhomes under 30 feet are also less cumbersome to drive. If you’re new to RVing, or just want to be able to fit in almost any camping spot, a 30-foot motorhome is going to offer you a much easier time than a bigger vehicle.

Finally, because your motorhome is smaller, you’re also going to get better gas mileage than a larger Class A RV. Big Class A’s can get between 4-6 miles to the gallon, while Class C’s can get between 8-12 mpg. This will save you money on fuel, as well as being better for the environment.

Class Cs offer superior fuel economy to larger motorhome options.

Obviously, the bigger and heavier your RV is, the more fuel it’s going to need to operate. And Class C RVs are far from the smallest motorhome options on the market — which means they do still take quite a bit of gas to operate.

But if your RV’s fuel economy is important to you from either a budgetary or ecological perspective, and you’re not quite prepared to scale all the way down to a sleeper van, a Class C could help you maximize your fuel efficiency while still enjoying a total “glamping” outdoor experience.

Where a large Class A might get between 4-6 miles to the gallon, these rigs can get about 8-12. That might not seem like much of a difference… but let’s use an example trip to calculate the fuel cost difference between a Class A vs. a Class C motorhome.

Let’s say you want to travel from Jacksonville, Florida to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains. That’s a trip of about 500 miles one way and 1,000 miles round-trip, depending on which route you take.

Let’s say a gallon of gas costs $3 on average. That means if you’re driving a Class A, you’ll pump a total of between $500 and $750 into your tank (based on that 4-6 mpg figure), whereas in the Class C, you’ll spend $250-$375. We think you’ll agree that’s a pretty substantial difference — and one that gives you lots more left over to spend on the stuff that really matters, like having fun at your destination!

Luxury Class C Motorhomes

Although they’re generally smaller and more affordable than the big-boy Class As, the best Class C motorhomes offer many of the same luxurious amenities, like slide outs, full-sized appliances, cozy separate bedrooms, and much more. And if engine quality and fuel type factor into your purchasing decision, you should also know that Class C diesel motorhomes do exist — and are some of the nicest RVs you can find on the market.

Because they’re so versatile and come in such a wide array of different makes, footprints, and levels, Class C motorhome prices vary widely. They start as low as about $40,000 brand new off the lot (and much lower if you’re looking at pre-owned vehicles), and can quickly scale up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A huge determiner of what price point you’ll see when you’re shopping is which Class C motorhome manufacturer’s product line you’re browsing. Here are a few RV makers that offer, or even specialize in, making Class C campers.

Class C Motorhome Manufacturers

Many different motorhome manufacturers offer Class C rigs alongside their lines of Class A motorhomes and travel trailers, many of which are names you’ve likely seen before in the industry. Here are a few you might recognize:

  • Coachmen
  • Thor Motor Coach
  • Forest River RV
  • Jayco
  • Winnebago
  • Lazy Daze
  • Fleetwood
  • Monaco Coach Corporation
  • and many others.

It’s important to note that the manufacturer name is not the same as the brand name. Each manufacturer generally creates a line of RVs under a specific brand, such as the Chateau or Citation lines by Thor Motor Coach. For lots more detail on RV manufacturers (of Class Cs, but also Class As, travel trailers, and all sorts of other rigs), check out our giant guide to the biggest players in the industry.

Best Class C Motorhome Under 30 Feet

If you’re in the market for a smaller motorhome, we’ve rounded up some of the top-rated Class C motorhomes. Their compact size means they can fit just about any campsite, and they feature some creative uses of space so you get the most out of a small living area. Here are eight great options for motorhomes under 30 feet.

1.) Tiffin Wayfarer

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 4
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25 feet, 7 inches
  • One-piece Seamless Slide-out
  • Two 12 V House Batteries (Group 27/180 Amp Hours)
  • 30 Amp 110 V House Service
  • 30 K BTU Propane Ducted Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 38
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 28
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 33

Tiffin gets consistently good reviews and is known for its luxury motorhomes. The Wayfarer is built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis that features noise reduction and better steering wheel adjustability. It has generously-sized beds and plenty of storage including a basement area. The hydraulic leveling system makes parking at your campsite a breeze.

Price: The starting price is $140,770

2.) Winnebago View

Specifications: 

  • Sleeps 4
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25 feet, 6 inches
  • SuperShell™ Sleeper Deck
  • 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner With Heat Pump
  • 20,000 BTU Low-Profile Ducted Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 30-37
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 41
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 41

There’s a reason Winnebago is recognized so well in the RV industry – they make a solidly exceptional, consistently well-reviewed product. This motorhome is designed more with functionality and easy travel in mind than the luxury of the Tiffin, but that makes it a great choice for families and people who want a hassle-free journey. It’s also well-appointed for camping off the grid.

Price: The starting price is $161,421

Rent a similar model here!

3.) Jayco Melbourne

Specifications: 

  • Sleeps 6
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25.17 feet
  • 153,500 BTU Air Conditioner
  • 30,000 BTU Auto-Ignition Ducted Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 39-43
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 31
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 31

The Jayco Melbourne also uses a Mercedes Sprinter chassis and is available with up to two pop-outs. The Class C motorhome comes with plenty of extra storage, a residential-looking bathroom, and a kitchenette with a fridge and 2-burner stove.

Price: The starting price is $76,995

Rent this RV here!

4.) Forest River Sunseeker Classic

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 6
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 14,200 lb
  • Overall Length: 27 feet, 7 inches
  • TRA Certified Green
  • 30,000 BTU Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 44
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 39
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 39

The Sunseeker Classic offers nine different floor plans, with options for either a Ford or a Chevy chassis. Three of those floor plans come in at under 30 feet long. The Sunseeker also has a split-level design that allows for more headroom. A few of the models also offer pop-outs for extra room.

Price: The starting price is $77,995

Rent this RV here!

5.) Coachmen Freelander

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 8
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 14,200 lb
  • Overall Length: 27 feet, 11 inches
  • Family-Friendly Package
  • 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 48-50
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 29-31
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 28-34

The Coachmen Freelander is a great family-friendly option for a few reasons. It sleeps more people than many other Class C motorhomes. It’s one of the more inexpensive RV options. It also has plenty of sleeping space and a private toilet.

Price: The starting price is $99,433

Rent this RV here!

6.) Thor Motor Coach Siesta Sprinter

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 4
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25 feet, 10 inches
  • 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner With Heat Pump
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 30-42
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 22-38
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 24-28

The Siesta offers four different floor plans that all come in under 30 feet long. You can choose a king bed conversion or a queen-sized murphy bed along with other sleeping options and configurations.

Price: The starting price is $70,000

Rent this RV here!

7.) Winnebago Navion

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 4
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25 feet, 6 inches
  • SuperShell™ Sleeper Deck
  • 15,000 BTU Air Conditioner With Heat Pump
  • 20,000 BTU Low-Profile Ducted Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 30-37
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 41
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 41

The two Winnebagos we have listed here both have insulation around the sleeper deck above the drive, which means the person sleeping above stays nice and warm regardless of how cold it gets outside. The Navion offers three floorplans with a variety of configurations for sleeping arrangements. They are also a great option for dry camping as they come with standard 200W solar, Group 31 batteries.

Price: The starting price is $161,421

Rent this RV here!

8.) Entegra Qwest

Specifications:

  • Sleeps 4
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 11,030 lb
  • Overall Length: 25 feet, 2 inches
  • 15,000 BTU Low-Profile Air Conditioner
  • 20,000 BTU Auto-Ignition Ducted Furnace
  • Fresh Water Tank (gallons): 39
  • Black Water Tank (gallons): 31
  • Grey Water Tank (gallons): 31

There are several options for floorplans for the Qwest, with a variety of sleeping arrangements that include a queen-sized bed or two twins. You can even choose a larger bathroom. The kitchen includes a 2-burner stove and a convection microwave.

Price: The MSRP is $150,893

Class C RV Maintenance: What You Need to Know

Just like every other type of RV (or vehicle in general), Class C motorhomes do require a certain amount of regular, preventative maintenance to ensure they continue to operate smoothly well into the future — and support many happy camping trips for you and your family! And given their unique shape and body style, Type C motorhomes do require a few specified tips and tricks to maximize their lifespans.

As a Class C owner, you’d first start by implementing a regular maintenance schedule just as you would with any other type of RV. This regime would include all the regular items you normally perform for any vehicle engine, such as oil changes and fluid checks, as well as checking the tires and other vehicle systems on a regular basis.

But RVs are more than just engines and wheels. There’s a whole house inside to think about! That means that along with all the exterior maintenance, you’ll also want to thoroughly check your interior systems and appliances to ensure they’re in proper, working order, clean and ready to go for your next trip.

However, one of the most important parts of any Rv maintenance schedule, and especially in the case of Class Cs, is a commitment to regularly check for water damage. Roof leaks are one of the most common (and unfortunately inevitable) breakdown processes for any rig, but Class Cs, with their attics and over-truck body shapes, are especially prone to water-leak-related problems.

At least once per quarter and also after every camping trip, go through your RV extensively to look for stains, soft spots, drips, and any other signs that may convey the presence of a leak. Be sure to check especially well around the interior of the “attic” space, as these parts of Class Cs tend to be vulnerable to leakage. One way to minimize your chance for experiencing water damage in your Class C is to purchase a rig with a solid end cap, rather than the welded/seamed construction you see on older Class C models.

For more information on regular RV maintenance, check out the following RVshare posts:

Want the Best Class C RV Experience? Rent Before You Buy

Shopping for an RV is no small project. There are so many different types and shapes available, each of which results in a very different camping experience — and although there’s lots of information available online, it can be really difficult to ascertain which kind of rig is right for you through research alone.

One of the very best ways to get a real feel for which type of RV might work best for you and your family is to actually take trips in a wide variety of different vehicle types. No matter how thorough a dealership walkthrough might be, it can’t stand in for the experience of actually vacationing in your prospective vehicle!

That’s why the peer-to-peer rental market can be such a valuable tool for RV campers in the buying market. Unlike the vehicles you’d find at a large, commercial dealership, the rigs available through RVshare and other peer-to-peer rental platforms aren’t limited to brand-new Class A and Class C rigs fresh off the manufacturer floor. You can get a whole lot more information by driving around a rig that’s actually been lived in, loved, and used — and you’ll also be able to choose from a much wider variety of vehicles in the first place, including nontraditional rigs like teardrop trailers, mini motorhomes, and more.

Think of it like the best homework project ever: you’ll get to take lots of trips in lots of different kinds of rigs, all to ensure you have the best information on hand when you’re making your buying decision. And when you secure your Class C (or any other) motorhome rental through RVshare, you won’t have any worries to distract you from figuring out if it’s the right kind of vehicle for you. We take care of all the logistics, from covering your rental period with a comprehensive insurance policy to providing you 24/7 access to stellar roadside assistance. And your monetary transaction and communication are all performed through our secure platform, which means your sensitive information stays safe and secret. (Of course, if you’re looking for even more RV rental options, you can also run a quick Google search for “Class C RV rentals near me.”)

Once you’ve taken a few trips in a Class C RV rental, you may decide that purchasing one is, indeed, the right move for you and your family. If so, it’s still important to shop around, and to very thoroughly vet each potential vehicle before you make a buying decision.

The best way to buy a rig you’ll really love is to walk through as many as possible and not to hold back when it comes to questioning the buyer. Here are our tips for what to ask when you’re thinking about purchasing an RV, and here are our suggestions for completing a successful and informative walkthrough.

Scoping out all the dealerships in your area and keeping an eye on RV Trader for used Class C RVs near you are both great tactics for finding the vehicle of your dreams. But we also recommend checking out as many RV-related events, shows, and expos as possible in your area, or even traveling to get to them. There are few other opportunities to explore as many vehicles under one roof, or to talk with (and price shop) between so many dealers. Plus, thanks to the stiff competition created by such an environment, vendors at RV shows are often highly motivated to sell and negotiate, which means you could score an incredible deal.

Not sure where or when the next RV show in your area is? Check out our archive of RV events by state. Even if you’re not ready to actually purchase an RV, these events are incredible learning opportunities… not to mention an easy, affordable way to have a fun family weekend.

And finally, once you do purchase an RV, don’t forget: you can easily use your rig to earn some extra cash to help you pay it off, or even just to put in your pocket for your next adventure!

Owners who list their rigs on RVshare report earnings of up to $365 per day, which can go a long way toward making those monthly RV payments more bearable. Plus, our peer-to-peer community connects adventurous travelers, and both owners and renters alike frequently make lifelong friends through their RV rental transactions.

No matter which type, shape, class, or size of RV you travel in, or whether you buy your own or just keep renting, we here at RVshare are stoked to support and guide you through this unique travel adventure! From choosing your next destination to figuring out what to leave off your packing list, we’re constantly coming up with new tips, tricks, and ideas to help maximize your explorations.

After all, the world is waiting — so you’d better get out there and start your adventure! We’ll be here waiting for all the details when you get back.

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

 

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