Class C Motorhomes vs. Class A Motorhomes
A complete comparison By Claude Donati
One of the most frequent questions asked by new RVers is; what is the difference between a Class A and a Class C motorhome? This answer is lengthy and comprehensive. The differences are immense and important for each and every person to consider. The details of this comparison should help you determine what best suits your goals while enjoying the RV lifestyle.
We will focus on the a traditional Class C and a Gas Class A as they both have engines in the front of the vehicle and these products are competing for the same customers. In fact, many of these products use the same Ford V10 gas engine so for this comparison we will focus on the Ford V10 configuration on both the Class C motor home and the Class A motor home.
The first area of importance is DRIVABILITY. The Class C motorhome is built on a Van front end chassis that is very similar to most automobile cockpits. This design makes the driving experience an easy transition from their day to day car or SUV. Contrarily, the Class A motorhome is a completely different design and requires some practice and understanding as the driver is located on top of the front axle and higher from the ground. Many people get the feeling of being too close to the windshield and subsequently they feel less comfortable when they drive a Class A.
In a Class C motorhome, the driver is behind the front axle exactly like a car or SUV and lower to the ground. It is very common for many experienced RVers, to move into a Class C motorhome as driving the large Class A becomes more challenging with age and the physical factors we all face. It is clear Drivability favors the Class C product. Whether you are a new RVer, experienced RVer, an old RVer, young RVer,
short or tall the Class C product will make your time driving your new RV easy and stress free.
Another very important factor in determining what type of RV you are going to buy is SAFETY. Obviously, the ease and comfort of driving a motorhome would assume a more safe driving experience but there are a few other things that the Class C motorhome offers that makes it even safer. Another big factor in making the Class C safer than the Class A is airbags. All Class C cockpits are equipped with airbags for the both the driver and passenger. This feature clearly gives the safety advantage to the Class C. Every Class C that is built on the Ford Chassis is built by Ford in one factory adhering to strict FMVSS guidelines. The design has been tested in ambulances, shuttle buses and Class C motorhomes. The Ford Class A motorhome is built to many difference specifications by many different companies.
The result of this design variation is some high quality units and some low quality units. This variation in quality stems from large range of ergonomic differences in details like distance a customer sits from the windshield, center of gravity of the entire of the Class A and front end construction can create a unit that is inferior to the Class C motorhome. In addition to being less safe than the Class C motorhome , these products tend to have a much higher defect ratio when measuring things like electrical performance, windshield wipers and Air conditioning in the Cockpit. When you research any government recall list, it is evident that the Class A motor home cockpit and front end design seemingly have numerous incidents. Considering all these variations in design and historically problematic quality issues in Class A units, compounded with the fact Class A products do not have airbags it becomes more apparent that the Class C motorhome is a much safer RV.
Another side note that may go to the safety issue but certainly goes to the convenience issue is the fact that many Class A motorhomes do not have a driver or passenger door where as all Class C motorhomes have driver and passenger doors. This feature makes it convenient to get in and out of a Class C motorhome without any trouble, whereas, the Class A without a side door requires walking through the living room to get out on the passenger side only.
To continue down the direct comparison between the Class A motorhome and the Class C motorhome , I recently drove 1300 miles on each of these products to give my readers a real life evaluations of the differences. I drove a Nexus Phantom Class C 32’ on a Ford E-450 Chassis with a V-10 Engine from Elkhart, Indiana to Tampa, Florida. Then 20 days later I drove an Allegro Open Road Class A built on a Ford Class A rail Chassis with a Ford V-10 from Ocala, Florida to Elkhart, Indiana.
Many of the items mention above applied to my experience. While in the Class C motorhome , I felt lower to the ground and the driving experience was similar to driving my SUV. The front end design of the Nexus Phantom cut through the wind with relative ease. Every once in a while a gust would get my attention but for the most part, my confidence in driving this unit was never affected. I drove through a snowstorm with high winds as I left Indiana and the challenging conditions were much easier to handle than I anticipated. It is clear the all steel cage construction of the Phantom Class C, gave the unit “torsinal rigidity” eliminating most of the side to side sway caused by cross winds.
On my return from Florida, I was in a gas Class A motorhome the experience was much different. First, when driving out of the sunny state of Florida, the sun was bearing down on me and I felt like I had nowhere to hide. Many dealers and manufacturers consider the large windshield to be a benefit giving you a nice panoramic view. I must say, that is true, you have a huge view of the road and the surroundings. Later as I drove, that feature created a sauna and began to make me tired. As I moved into the state of Georgia, the weather changed and I entered some hefty cross winds. The Class A design absorbed every blast of wind that I encountered and began to challenge me forcing me to fight the steering wheel. The steering was much looser than that of the Class C causing me to continuously bounce my hands from left to right to keep the unit between the lines.
Continuing the comparison, SLEEPABILITY favors the Class C motorhome vs. the Class A motorhome. Recently there has been a push from Class A manufacturers to add a bed that drops down from the ceiling, while this added feature adds the overall sleeping capacity it truly limits the function ability of the Class A. In a Class C, there is a cabover bed, giving the RVer two extra sleeping positions while not protruding into the living room. Moreover, kids love this area. What makes it nice is the family can enjoy the dinette or the sofa and kitchen without any problem and the people wanting sleep are not trying to do so in the middle of the living room.
When purchasing a new motorhome you must consider the chance you may need service. This concern may be for when you are at home, in your hometown or it may be when you are traveling throughout North America. A clear advantage in SERVICEABILITY goes to the Class C motorhome . More specifically, the Class C motorhome built on the Ford Chassis as a Class C built on the Dodge Sprinter Van Chassis does not share the excellence in parts and service that Ford has achieved.
Comparing a Ford Class A gas motorhome to a Ford Class C gas motorhome is important. As the Class C is built on Van front, virtually every Ford Dealership will work and repair that configuration. Many Ford Dealerships will not work on a Class A configuration thus availability of service heavily favors the Class C. Also, when a Ford Class C is being work on, in most cases, the service facility does not have to get in your unit. They can repair the unit from the cockpit under the hood, while the Class A design forces many technicians to trample through your house to get to the engine.
There are some advantages that the Class A design and Chassis can offer, for example, the Class A chassis has a larger GVWR. This feature usually gives you a large cargo carrying capacity and or bigger tanks sizes. Historically, there has been an impression that the Class A motorhome is built better than a Class C. At Nexus RV, we have worked hard to dispel that impression by building a better motorhome that anyone else.
Another clear advantage when considering a Class C verses a Class A is PRICE. In fact, many manufacturers will cheapen the build of a Class A in order to compete with a Class C buyer. This confusion makes the customer think they are buying up but in actuality they are buying an inferior motorhome with fewer options just because they think it is a step up. This tactic evident as you will find Class A products with rubber roofs, aluminum cage construction and luan wood substrates in their construction. As we compare Class A motorhomes to the Nexus RV Class C, we overwhelm our customers with high-end features that many Class A manufacturers will not consider putting in their products as it disrupts their profit margins.
The fact is Class C products are built the same way as Class A products but retails for less and that does not make any sense as the raw chassis cost more in a Class C due the automotive finish of the cockpit.
In summary, the Class C motorhome is the overwhelming winner in the head-to-head comparison vs. the Class A motorhome. When you buy a Class C motorhome you will get, DRIVABILITY, SAFETY, SERVICEABILITY, SLEEPABILITY AND PRICE. The only thing better than that is buying your Class C factory direct and saving thousands while we build your dream……..www.nexusrv.com