Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Driveable RVs fall into three classes: Class A – the heavyweight, Class C- the middleweight, and Class B- the lightweight. But which is the easiest to drive? Is there a clear winner above all the others?
Growing up, our family owned a Class A Winnebago, the heavyweight of all RVs. If you are thinking of a massive orange and tan-colored rectangular box on wheels with a big ol’ W on the side, that’s the one! Big, bulky, and vintage, our Winnebago cruised through the Midwest like a boss. We took that RV through narrow midwestern roads and climbed the Appalachian mountains.
I remember the day my parents traded in the big heavyweight for the mid-weight, Class C. My brother and I thought we hit the jackpot with unlimited popcorn and water in cone-shaped cups at the RV dealer. We drove off the lot, waved farewell to our Class A Winnebago, and switched out for a smooth-riding Class C Dutchman. Why would my parents trade out that retro Winnebago for something different?
When trading out one RV class for another, one factor comes to mind: driving.
Which RV is Easiest to Drive?
Before we dig into this topic of discussion, we must ask a few questions.
- What is your skill level?
- What type of roads are you driving?
- Where will you be staying?
- How big of an RV will you be driving?
- Who is traveling with you?
Each RV will drive uniquely for different needs, so ease of driving could be subjective. Experience and confidence are critical factors in deciding which RV is easier to drive. Traveling the ALCAN (the Alaskan Highway) will be a slightly different experience than traveling historic route 66 or Interstate 80. Twist and turns, narrow roads, construction, toll roads, and landscape are significant components to consider when driving an RV.
Staying in locations such as KOAs right off the highway offers much more flexibility for larger RVs than back roads you will navigate to arrive at state or national parks. Adding on 10 to 15 feet to an RV presents a challenge in finding locations to park if your final destination is a state or national park. According to USParkpass.com, The Ultimate Guide to RVing in National Parks, you may need to check size limitations as most national parks do have some restrictions on Class A RVs. Towing boats, vehicles, or ATVs adds an even more significant driving and parking challenge to these destinations.
The final question to consider is family size and need. Larger families will naturally require more space, but smaller families may also have children ranging in a variety of ages. Teens take up more space than toddlers, yet teens are more predictable while traveling because teens sleep! Singles and couples may not need the extra space but find they enjoy a larger living area. Additional family and friends, along with pets, add another thought to the size of the RV needed.
Considering these objectives, let’s explore the different types of RVs.
Class A – The Heavyweight
The Class A RV weighs in at the heaviest of all drive-able RVs. At 26 feet to 45 feet, these are the big guys on the road. Any additional options, such as toy hauling capability, add significant weight and length. We reside in California, which requires a special license for RVs over a GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,000 lbs. Consider checking your home state for their specific license requirements. For this reason, Campanda.com provides a helpful and thorough list of states requiring a license for a massive GVWR.
In a Class A RV, the driver sits up high, over the front of the tires. Class A RVs need an adjustment period to drive. They are different from a car but not quite like a semi-truck. These RV’s are “life” friendly, meaning that most come ready to stay in longer than a 2-week vacation! Let’s look at a few of the pros and cons of driving a Class A:
- Spacious driving area
- Easier driving with pets and family members close by
- The driver sits up high
- Wide angle front view
- Many, many resources, such as YouTube tutorials and classes on driving
- Loud engine noise
- Adjustment period
- Blind spots
- Low gas mileage
- The driving area merges with the living space (Which could be a pro or con!)
- Challenge to park and maneuver in smaller campgrounds, state, and national parks
Class C – The Middleweight
The Class C RV weighs in as the middleweight ranging in length from approx. 22 feet to 33 feet. This RV sits lower to the ground and looks like one of the most significant moving trucks on the road. These RVs have considerable weight and length but rarely reach the equivalent of a Class A. If you want to rent an RV, abundant adventure awaits with the Class C. The overhead bunk adds a unique spin on the sleeping arrangements. Some pros and cons of the Class C are as follows:
- Spacious floor plans
- The driving area sits separate from the living area
- Available in rentals
- It fits in most state and national parks
- It doesn’t require a special license
- Free access to the driver’s seat
- The cab/bunk over the driving area can be distracting
- A smaller field of view
- It can be tail heavy
Class B- The Lightweight
The final RV we will look at is the lightweight. The Class B, better known as the campervan, averages approximately 17 to 24 feet. A Class B RV is a favorite in Europe due to narrow roads, high speeds, and the cost of fuel. This RV can cruise with SUVs and trucks by day and hang with any type of RV by night. A campervan is the best of both worlds. It is a vehicle you can drop the kids off at school while having an entire office anywhere you choose. Here is what we find comparing the pros and cons of driving a Class B RV:
- No blind spots
- Rides like a large SUV or truck.
- Has faster highway speeds
- Better gas mileage
- Wide view
- The front hood is shorter
- High probability of fitting in all US state and national parks
- European friendly, should you decide to take your Class B overseas
- Rearview restrictions without appropriate backup cameras
- Small living space directly connected to the driving area
- Cramped space with a sizeable family
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Winner of this Challenge Is…
The Class B! As a 5’0″ woman that has spent several years in Europe, I prefer the Class B. I get the height of a bigger vehicle without the added bulk– no worrying about running into something with my tail end. Hands down, ease of drivability, no distractions, and a shorter hood area win the match for me.
However, I have a family consisting of a husband, two rapidly growing teenagers, two giant-sized dogs, and myself. Spending hours in a smaller class B campervan with ever-growing teens plus the abundant source of groceries these kids need to survive a week sounds like a cramped nightmare in the making. Imagine a busted can of biscuits. I envision this when the door to a campervan opens with my family in tow.
So then, the Class C would be the next and most practical choice. It’s spacious, easier to navigate while sitting closer to the road, and has a clear separate space for driving. This RV middleweight provides room for the whole family, even the furry ones. The Class A, however, doesn’t make my list. It will always be a little intimidating for me to drive. The number one question I asked earlier, remember that? What is your skill level? A Class B, enjoyable for me, a Class C, a challenge, and finally a Class A, I must say, “no, thank you!”
One Last Test
One deciding factor trumps all the others: the test drive. Many benefits await with a test drive. Nothing beats sitting in the driver’s seat for yourself, adjusting those mirrors, and getting the feel of the steering wheel. You won’t know which you prefer unless you take all three classes of RVs out for a test drive. The excellent news, Class B and Class C RVs are readily available for rent across the US.
For this reason, these two types of RVs are the easiest to drive. No experience needed for a rental. Are you 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license? Well, then you are ready to hit the road. What are you waiting for?
Which RV Would You Pick to Drive?
Have you rented an RV? Maybe you prefer the challenge of a Class A, or perhaps the Class C is the sweet spot for you. Either way, the best way to determine which RV is best for you is to do that test drive! What is your experience? Which RV do you think is easy to drive? Do you agree? Disagree? Can you convince me to drive a class A? We would love to hear from you!