All About RVs- The Complete Beginners Guide- 2020 – RV-N-Style

All About RVs- The Complete Beginners Guide- 2020

RV Towing Car

If you are considering buying or renting an RV and want to learn more about them, then this post is for you. 

We’ll explain the differences and pros and cons to each type of RV and show you some examples to help you make an informed decision.

What Does RV Mean?

RV Types-Class A, Fifth Wheel and Trailer

RV is an abbreviation for Recreational Vehicle and is a very broad term used to describe a very wide range of different types and classes of vehicles.

Even though the words RV, Motorhome and Camper are often used interchangeably, they can actually be very different types of vehicles.

Types of RVs- Do You Drive The RV or Tow It?

The very first difference in RVs has to do with whether they have their own engine and are drivable, or do they have to be towed behind another vehicle.

Driveable RV

Drivable RVs are often referred to as Motorhomes, Motorcoaches and sometimes as Campers. This type of self-powered vehicle is further segmented into Class A, Class B, B Plus, Class C and the newest version- the Super C.

Towable RV

Towable RVs do not have an engine and generally require a heavy-duty truck to pull them. These RVs are called fifth wheels, or travel trailers.

What’s the Difference Between an RV, a Motor Coach or a Motorhome

There really isn’t a difference between these terms. They are all used interchangeably to mean the same basic type of vehicle- a drivable vehicle that offers cooking facilities, sleeping accommodations and a restroom in the unit.

Newell Custom RV

Often, luxury manufacturers such as Newell and Millennium will refer to their custom built, more expensive RVs as motor coaches.  

Want to see what a $2 million+ custom built motorcoach looks like? Here are a couple video tours:

Newell’s 2021 $2.2 Million Coach
Millennium 2021 $2 Million Motorcoach

Motorhomes vs. Towables

Access

Motorhomes are generally completely self-contained and all of the amenities can be accessed from inside the vehicle while you are traveling. The features can range from basic- offering a sleeping area and maybe a bathroom and a small kitchen, to very luxurious offering all of the same comforts and appliances you would find in high-end homes.

fifth wheels- keystone
Fifth Wheels- Photo Credit Keystone

Towables on the other hand, are being pulled behind another vehicle so you need to be parked and not driving to get to them. While towables can also be basic in features, some fifth wheels are very luxurious inside and can be just as fancy as Motorhomes.

Maintenance

Motorhome Maintenance

Motorhomes can be as simple and small as a minivan or as large as a tour bus. Depending on the features and systems you have onboard, maintenance can be more expensive.

Towables don’t have engines and many people feel that, since they don’t have as many systems there is less maintenance.  You will however, need to factor in your maintenance costs on your tow vehicle.

Cost

A new motorhome can cost anywhere from $50,000 all the way up to a few million! The cost depends entirely on the quality and amenities that you choose.

You can see what a $2.6M Newell Motorcoach looks like in our tour.

New trailers or fifth wheels cost anywhere from $35,000 to over $200,000 depending on the options you select. While this might sound like a better deal than a motorhome, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your tow vehicle.

Depending on the size and type of trailer you pick, you may need a heavy-duty dual axle diesel truck to pull it and those can cost anywhere from $50,000- $100,000 brand new.

Do You Need A Second Vehicle With Your RV

One of the drawbacks to a motorhome is that unless you have a small enough one, like a Class B, you will need to tow a vehicle behind you. There are many places that an RV just can’t fit into easily. If you are taking a day trip or running an errand, you will need a regular vehicle or will need to hire an UBER or take a taxi.

RV towing a Car

Towable trailers, no matter how large, are normally pulled by standard-sized vehicles. It’s just a matter of unhooking your tow vehicle from your trailer.

Now that you know the 2 types of RVs- Motorhomes and Towables, let’s focus on Motorhomes or Motorcoaches first.

Motorhome Classes- What Are They?

There are 3 different types of motorhome classes, Class A (the largest), Class B and Class C. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the differences in them.

Class A Motorhomes

Class A RV

Class A RVs can range from 26 feet in length to over 45 feet long! These are self-contained vehicles that offer the most amenities and, depending on the size and engine, can carry the most weight.

You can easily recognize Class A RV because their long rectangular shape is the same as city buses or tour buses since that’s the chassis they are built on.

You will also hear these RVs referred to as Motorcoaches or Coaches and they can be very luxurious.

There are many different floorplans available for Class A RVs. Some manufacturers offer totally custom-designed RVs built for specific customers. The top manufacturers of these custom luxury RVs are Newell, Millenium, Featherlite, and Liberty Coaches.

Class A RV Sizes

The maximum width of the Class A RV is 8.5 feet and the maximum length is 45 feet. Depending on the engine and chassis, you can tow a vehicle, boat or trailer behind these RVs.

Class A RVs are powered by either gas or diesel engines and many have slides that, once parked, open to the sides to give you more living room inside.

Learn about why it matters to know how much your RV weighs and how much it can carry.

Features of Class A RVs

Do Class A RVs Have Kitchens?

luxury class a kitchen

Yes, Class A RVs have complete kitchens. Depending on the size of the RV, they can come fully furnished with every appliance in a home.  This includes residential refrigerators, ovens, cooktops, microwaves, dishwashers, and even wine coolers. Everything including the kitchen sink- ours has a double sink!

You can choose between gas, electric or induction cooktops. Some floorplans also offer islands in the kitchen for additional counter space.

Do Class A RVs Have Bathrooms?

Yes, Class A RVs have complete bathrooms with toilets, vanities, and showers. Many, like our Newmar, offer a bath and a half floorplan.

How Many Bedrooms Does a Class A RV have?

Class A RVs normally have at least one private bedroom (ours has a King Size Sleep Number bed) and most have sleeper sofas in the living room. Some RVs also offer a bunkhouse configuration with 2 additional bunk beds.

Custom RVs can have 2 bedrooms, depending on the floorplan.

How Many People Can Sleep In a Class A RV?

Depending on the layout, a Class A RV can accommodate 6-8 people for sleeping.

What Is An RV Slide?

An RV slide is a room that nests inside the main living area of the RV while traveling. Since an RV can only be 8.5 feet wide to travel on the roadways, this is a way, once parked, to provide additional living space inside the motorhome.

RV Slide Open

After safely parking, the slides can be opened or extended out either one or both sides of the RV to make it as wide as 14 feet!

How Many Slides Do Class A RVs Have?

Not all Class A RVs have slides, but some have as many as 4 that can increase the overall living area of the motorhome by as much as an extra 100-150 square feet!

Do Class A RVs Have Closets?

Yes, there are hanging closets and dresser drawers inside Class A RVs. Some floorplans even offer walk-in closets!

Do Class A RVs Have Storage?

Yes, Class A RVs have many cabinets, drawers and even pantries for storage inside the RV. They also have basements outside for storage.

What Is An RV Basement?

RV basements are the storage areas outside and underneath the RV. Some are climate controlled and offer power sliding drawers for easy access.

What’s A Tag Axle RV?

RV Tag Axle

An RV with a tag axle has 3 axles instead of 2. They can carry more weight, are more stable to drive and the third axle helps make the RV more maneuverable.

Do Class A RVs Have Airbags?

Yes and No! Some RVs do have what is often referred to as airbags, but they are not the same as car airbags! Personal vehicles have collision airbags to protect you in a crash. Class A RVs don’t have collision airbags, but some (like ours) have suspension airbags.

The purpose of these suspension airbags is to make a more comfortable ride and reduce the lean of the motorhome during turns. You can also use suspension airbags to level your coach if you cannot use the leveling jacks.

Class C Motorhomes

You would think that the next size down in RV Classes would be the Class B RVs, but that is incorrect! Class C RVs are the smaller cousins to Class A RVs. Class C motorhomes can have many of the same amenities as Class As, but are just smaller in size. They range in length from 21 feet to 35 feet long.

Class C RV

Class C’s are normally built on a truck chassis and look similar to oversized vans. They normally have a loft area that extends over the driver and passenger seats to offer a bunk bed or storage space.

You can get Class C RVs with gas or diesel engines.

Features of Class C RVs

Do Class C RVs Have Kitchens?

Yes, Class C RVs have kitchens, however, they are smaller than those of the Class A RVs. They generally have cooktops, a microwave, a refrigerator (smaller than a Class A) and a small kitchen sink.

Do Class C RVs Have Bathrooms?

Yes, Class C RVs have small bathrooms with toilets, vanities and showers.

How Many Bedrooms Does a Class C RV have?

Class A RVs normally have one private bedroom and a bunk bed above the driver’s seat. Some also have couches that convert to sleeper sofas.

How Many People Can Sleep In A Class C?

You can comfortably sleep 4 people in a Class C and some of the larger ones will accommodate 6 people but it can be a little cramped.

Do Class C RVs Have Slides?

Yes, some Class C RVs have slides for extending the living area.

Not sure what an RV Slide is?

Do Class C RVs Have Closets?

Yes, there are small hanging closets and dresser drawers inside Class C RVs.

Do Class C RVs Have Storage?

Class C RVs offer some storage, but not nearly as much as a Class A motorhome. They do have small basements for storage but, unless you are in a Super C, you are limited in the amount of weight you can carry.

How Many Axles Do Class C RVs Have?

Class C RVs have 2 axles, unless they are a Super C.

Do Class C RVs Have Airbags?

Yes, most Class C RVs have collision airbags to protect you in a crash. Class Cs do not have suspension airbags unless they are a Super C.

What Is a Super C RV?

Super C RV- Photo Credit Renegade

A Super C RV is in a class of its own. Built on a heavy-duty truck chassis with big diesel engines, these motor coaches can have tandem rear-drive axles that can tow up to 30,000 pounds!

What Are the Differences Between a Class C and a Super C?

  • Towing Capacity– Super C RV’s can tow up to 30,000 pounds, Class Cs are limited to around 5,000 pounds
  • Heavy-Duty Chassis– Most Class C RVs are on truck or van chassis, Super Cs are on a semi-truck chassis
  • Comfort- Super C RVs offer air suspension and generally a smoother, more comfortable ride than Class Cs
  • Amenities– Since Super Cs are heavy-duty and can handle the extra weight, they offer more amenities than Class Cs

Class B Motorhomes

The smallest and most maneuverable RVs are the Class Bs. They often resemble a passenger van and offer a sleeping area, small cooking facilities, and a small wet bath.

If you need more room and a stronger engine than a Class B but don’t want to move up to the Class C, consider looking at Class B+ RVs.

Class B+ RVs

Class B Plus

The Class B+ is a kind of hybrid version of the Class B category of RV. It’s also a drivable RV that’s just as maneuverable like a typical Class B, but the B+ is available with slides and a diesel engine. Many are built on a Mercedes Sprinter van chassis.

Features of Class B RVs

Do Class B RVs Have Kitchens?

No, Class Bs do not have the space for complete kitchens. They normally offer a cooktop, sink, and small countertop area. Small dinette areas generally offer seating for 2 people.

Class B Plus kitchen and bed
Class B Plus kitchen and bed

How Big Are Class B RVs?

Class B RVs are 24-30 feet long.

Do Class B RVs Have Bathrooms?

Yes, Class B RVs do bathrooms but they are generally very small. To conserve space and still fulfill your basic bathroom requirements, they have what is called a Wet Bath.

What’s a Wet Bath vs. Dry Bath in an RV?

An RV wet bath has a toilet and sink, but there is no separate shower area. All surfaces are waterproof and there’s a drain in the floor. When you want to shower, you close the bathroom door and the entire small space becomes your shower area. It’s called wet because there is no separate shower stall and all surfaces get wet.

Class B Plus bath

Dry baths do have separate shower stalls and are similar to those found in homes.

How Many Bedrooms Does a Class B RV have?

Class B RVs have at least one private sleeping area. Generally, it’s a corner unit platform double bed or a fold-down Murphy Bed.

How Many People Can Sleep In a Class B RV?

2 people can sleep in a Class B RV. Some B+ RVs have an additional single bed loft for one more person.

Do Class B RVs Have Storage?

Storage is very limited in Class B RV’s. There may be a small hanging locker and a few cabinets and drawers inside, and several small basements outside.

Do Class B RVs Have Airbags?

Yes, Class B RVs do have collision airbags and adhere to the same safety standards as passenger vehicles. They do not have suspension airbags.

Towable RVs

The other main class of RVs is what is called Towable RVs. These do not have engines and must be towed behind a vehicle. They vary in size, price, and amenities.

There are 3 different types of towable RVs- Toy Haulers, Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers.

Travel Trailers

Towable RV

Travel trailers are generally the entry-level to towable RVs and are the least expensive. They are pulled behind a vehicle and attached to the trailer hitch on the bumper. It’s very important that your tow vehicle has the capacity to tow the weight of the trailer fully loaded.

They range from 19 feet to 36 feet long and cost anywhere from $20,000-$40,000, depending on size and amenities. The only exception to this price range is the Airstreams which can cost over $100,000!

Fifth Wheel RVs

The second category of towable RVs is fifth wheels. These are bigger and heavier than travel trailers and can be very luxurious, but the main difference is how they are connected to the tow vehicle. Instead of a bumper trailer hitch, they connect to a bigger hitch inside the bed of a pickup truck. The hitch is called a fifth wheel.

fifth wheels- keystone
Fifth Wheels- Photo Credit Keystone

They range in size from around 25 feet to 45 feet and cost anywhere from $35,000 to $200,000.

Toy Haulers

The last category of towable RVs is Toy Haulers. Just as the name implies, these have small garages that owners place their “toys”, like motorcycles or golf carts, in. They can be a travel trailer or a fifth wheels with a ramp in the back that opens up for loading.

Toy Hauler RV

They range in size from about 30-45 feet and cost $50,000 to just under $200,000.

Summary

Hopefully, this Complete Guide to RVs helped you learn more about the many types of motorhomes available. As you can see, there is a wide variety of RVs with something for just about everyone.

People Also Ask

Do RVs Have Seat Belts?

Yes, RVs of all Classes do have seat belts. Everyone traveling in an RV should always wear a seat belt while moving.

Carol Ivey

Carol is a long time adventurer who loves travelling in her 44 foot Newmar Mountain Aire Class A RV with her husband Mike, and their Black Standard Schnauzer aptly named "Rider". Carol has been sharing travel stories and advice for years, and their newest adventure chronicles what luxury RV living and travel is all about. Tips, tricks and lessons learned about Glamping- seeing the country in style and comfort while cruising behind the wheel of a luxury RV. They definitely know how to RV-N-Style.

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