In the early 1960s, author John Steinbeck set out with his poodle Charley to discover America. Steinbeck’s chariot was a green 1961 GMC pickup truck with a simple camper shell. Dubbed “Rocinante,” this early RV carried the author across the nation and gave rise to his book “Travels with Charley.” Today, people take to the road in modern RVs, some simple campers, others with nearly all the comforts of a brick-and-mortar home. Two of these choices are the Class B, or van conversion, and the larger Class C. Learning the differences between the two helps you decide which type of RV is best for your lifestyle.

Class B Description

Class B motor homes, sometimes called van conversions, start out as full-size or extended 3/4 or one ton vans. The RV manufacturer will take the shell of the van and add the makings of a home on wheels. The roof is raised, so that travelers can stand up straight. The raised roof also provides additional space to add cupboards or, in some of the luxury models, entertainment centers. The bed is normally in the back and doubles as a dinette during the day. A stove, sink and mini-fridge are added along the side, as is the toilet in most models. In some cases, the van’s wheelbase is lengthened, adding more living space. Larger models may have a collapsible table in the front that is stored when on the road. Some of the top-end models have slides to increase living space. A slide is a part of the RV’s wall that extends out when the vehicle is parked.

Class B Advantages and Disadvantages

Class B RVs are easy to drive. They will fit in most driveways and may double as a second family car if needed. These RVs get the best gas mileage and can fit into the tightest of camping sites without much effort. The addition of a tow hitch makes it possible to bring along the family boat or a small trailer. Class B RVs are best suited for two people. Some of the larger models have adaptations to convert the cab seats into beds, but four people traveling together for an extended period of time in a small space can be challenging. The bathrooms are also tiny, with the shower and toilet in the same space. Storage is minimal, both inside the cabin and in spaces along the sides of the RV.

Class C Description

Class C motor homes have an instantly recognizable silhouette. The cab, part of the original truck chassis, is covered by an overhang, or cab-over, that in most models houses a bed. A passageway leads into the body of the motor home, usually a step or two up from the driver’s compartment. The truck chassis, able to carry more weight, gives RV manufacturers the freedom to add more amenities. Sometimes the truck frames are extended, creating space for an additional bed in the back. Class Cs have a separate dining area, larger stove and refrigerator, and larger storage tanks for water, waste and propane. The bathroom is larger, usually with a shower stall separate from the toilet. Storage is maximized, with plenty of cupboards and hiding spaces inside and several storage compartments outside. Some of the modern Class Cs are so large that they rival the Class A, or bus-style motor home, in space and amenities.

Class C Advantages and Disadvantages

Class C motor homes are sometimes preferred over the Class A because they have an additional entrance into the motor-home cabin. Class Cs are fairly easy to handle. They drive like a typical U-Haul moving van or truck. The available space for both people and their belongings makes the Class C suitable for long vacations and camping trips. The larger truck motor and stronger chassis also allows for towing a boat or other vehicle. On the downside, that larger motor and additional weight mean the Class Cs are not as fuel efficient as Class Bs. The height, further increased by rooftop air conditioners, satellite dishes and vents, and length means they won’t always fit in the driveway. Some cities have restrictions against parking RVs on your property, so they must be stored elsewhere. The height and length of some Class Cs also means limited access to some campsites.

Class B-Plus – The Hybrid

In the past few years, the RV industry has come up with a sort of hybrid between the Class B and the Class C. Known as the B-Plus, they get better gas mileage than a Class C but have more storage and space than the Class B. They are built on a truck chassis, and there is a cab-over, but it is more aerodynamic and not as high. The cab-over usually houses storage space or an entertainment center rather than a bed. The bathroom is more in line with those in a Class C. Floor plans include models with beds in the back or sofa-beds on the side, both with a separate dinette that usually converts into a bed. Slides are common.The B-Plus models, usually limited to 30 feet in length, can fit into most National Park camping spots. Depending on the model you choose, this motor home may or may not fit in your driveway.