You have probably seen those sleek Mercedes vans with smoked glass windows and solar panels on the roof sailing by you on the highway lately. Although they don’t look like the old “van down by the river” from the 1990s, these camper vans are today’s version of that old adage. But one look will tell you that today’s Class B RVs have grown into stunning vehicles that can take you to any campsite in style and comfort. But what is a Class B motorhome?
What Is a Class B Motorhome?
More commonly called a camper van, the Class B motorhome is the fastest-growing segment of motorized RVs. It is built on a van or “cutaway” chassis and usually sleeps up to two people. These popular vehicles range in length from 17 to 22 feet and can come with almost every amenity imaginable.
Class B recreational vehicles, like most other RVs, have evolved over the last several years, adding such features as solar power, lithium batteries, full “wet” baths, and electronic systems that can function from cell phone apps. Their tight space includes a kitchen, bath, living, and bedroom space. And because of their short length, a Class B motorhome can usually fit into any regular parking space.
They are highly maneuverable, easy to back up and turn. Any licensed driver will have no problem taking them on a weekend camping trip or cross country for that long journey. Many vans come on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis with a diesel engine, but recently Ford has introduced a fuel-efficient EcoBoost gasoline engine that some models have adopted. And over the past two years, many manufacturers have built vans with all-wheel-drive options.
What Is a Class B+ Motorhome?
Just a fancy name for a bigger Class B camper van, the Class B+ takes the van chassis and adds some extra space to it, usually in the form of a slide. Many murphy bed models incorporate a slide so that a full bed can fold down when needed.
Other B+ motorhomes have created a dry bath, such as those found in Class C RVs. These keep the shower or tub separate from the rest of the bathroom, keeping everything dry.
Class B+ also has an increase in length. Many exceed that 22-foot measurement, coming in around 24 to 25 feet. It makes it a little more challenging to park in a regular parking space, but because they sit on a van chassis, making them just as easy to drive.
Most B+ vans have high-end finishes, with prices ranging from $125,00 to $180,000. They have found a way to add interior or exterior storage garages and under-the-bed closets, skylights, extra lounges, and lots of solar power. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between a Class B and a Class B+.
What Is the Difference Between a Class B and Class C Motorhome?
Class B will rate as the smallest type of motorhome if you organize RVs by size, with a Class C being the mid-sized version. B’s have a van chassis, while Cs come on a truck chassis. Bs typically don’t have a bed above the driver and passenger seats, while Class C’s have a one over the cabin. And Class B motorhomes are usually shorter than most Class C recreational vehicles.
How Much Do Class B RVs Cost?
Class B camper vans have become so popular that almost every RV manufacturer has at least one model in their lineup of motorhomes. Prices can run from $80,000 to $150,000 depending on amenities and added features.
Pros of Class B Motorhomes
There’s a reason why Class B motorhomes are so popular. Well, several reasons, actually!
Versatility of Driving and Parking
Because they are shorter than most RVs, a camper van is so much easier to drive. It compares to driving an SUV, and with a shorter wheelbase, you can park, turn, and make quick driving adjustments easily. Additionally, Class B will fit in almost any standard-sized parking spot. That’s why many RVers use it to stealth camp in the city!
Innovative Design and Tech
You may find Class B motorhomes filled with clever design hacks to utilize every inch of space. Many built-ins serve more than one purpose, and most camper vans come with technology that gets the most out of the limited area inside the vehicle.
On-demand water heaters use tankless technology to provide continuous hot water without taking up precious space for a hot water tank. Lithium batteries in some units make having an onboard generator unnecessary. And you can use electronic tablets to gauge your battery storage capacity, run your heater and start your engine!
Easy to Store
With a 22-foot van, many owners find it easy to store their Class Bs. Depending on the height of your rig, it might fit in the garage. If you live in a neighborhood without stringent homeowners associations, you can even store your Class B motorhome in your driveway.
And you can procure RV storage spaces easier if they are 25 feet rather than the long ones needed to store a 40-foot fifth wheel.
Cons of Class B RVs
Consider some of the drawbacks to owning a Class B motorhome before you commit to purchasing one.
If you like to take everything with you on a camping trip, a camper van may not be the way to go. You’ll have very little storage inside the rig and even less space on the exterior. Most Class Bs work best when used by one or two people for shorter trips.
It takes a great deal of planning and execution to build a Class B, utilizing every nook and cranny. They are more expensive than most Class Cs because of the increased cost to use intricately designed equipment, electronics, and high-end amenities and finishes.
Freshwater and waste tanks are smaller in a Class B motorhome. If you want to boondock, you will have to plan for more dump station stops and water fill-ups and use good water conservation practices.
Why Are Class B Motorhomes so Expensive?
Class Bs fit almost everything a Class A or Class C has into a much smaller space. Doing so requires using specifically designed equipment and talented craftsmen to arrange everything into a neat little operating package. These vans don’t come mass-produced like their larger alternatives, and they have a more expensive chassis. These points make it easy to see why Class B motorhomes can have high price tags.
Getting a Class B Motorhome
Class B motorhomes have become so popular because of their size and maneuverability that you may have difficulty finding one in the marketplace today. If you have considered the limited space they offer and still find them irresistible, compare floorplans and prices from several manufacturers. Then jump in and grab the van of your dreams before someone beats you to it!