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What Are the Different Types of RV Vans?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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When considering recreational vehicle vans, also called RV vans, there are two basic design types: the class B or van conversion and the class C or mini-motorhome. The class B style of RV vans is the basic street-driven passenger van with added amenities such as reclining seats, a fold-out bed and often a sink and microwave oven. The class C style of mini-motorhome is more of a purpose-built camper mounted on a 1-ton van chassis. This style of RV retains the van cab that houses the driver and a passenger. Regardless of the manufacturer of the chassis, both styles of RV are commonly built by aftermarket companies using chassis from major automobile manufacturers.

Many people enjoy camping in a self-contained camper or motorhome, however, many of these people do not want to have the expense or burden associated with a class A motorhome. The class A-type motorhome is the largest of the group and resembles large passenger buses. For many, RV vans are the vehicle of choice due to the typical ease of driving and lower initial cost. In the matter of the class B motorhome, the outside dimensions are no larger than the common passenger van operated by many families on a daily basis. The vehicle's dashboard and driving position are not as intimidating to many as those of the class A motorhome.

One of the only visual details that separate the class B style of RV vans from a common passenger van is an extended roof. This type of van commonly uses an extra-tall fiberglass roof extension to allow more comfortable movement through the vehicle's interior. Occasionally, these RV vans will also incorporate a large roof-mounted air conditioner and a generating unit on the vehicle. This makes operating the RV vans more efficient while parked at a campsite as compared to requiring the van's engine to remain idle for extended periods. This types of RV vans will also commonly include a plug-in receptacle to use campground power while parked.

The class C-type of RV vans resemble a pull-behind camping trailer blended with a passenger van. The purpose-built camping body is commonly mounted on a van chassis and allows a larger platform than the class B-type camper. This type of RV usually contains a bath or shower, commode and kitchen sink along with refrigerator, range and microwave oven. The larger size of these RV vans allows for more comfort for most while driving or parked at a campsite.

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Discussion Comments
By John57 — On Mar 15, 2012

My husband and I were debating between a Class C -type RV van or a pull behind camper. Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

The biggest hesitation we had with an RV van was if you have mechanical problems with your vehicle, you don't have very many other options. You have to find another place to stay while your vehicle is being fixed.

If you go with a pull-behind camper or a fifth-wheel, and you have problems, you still have a place to live in.

To get around this, some people will also pull a small car behind their RV van, and this is what we ended up doing. When we are parked for an extended period of time, we like having the flexibility of driving a small car around.

By andee — On Mar 14, 2012

Depending on what you are looking for, you can find some great used RV's for sale. This is a lot cheaper than spending money on a brand new one.

Many of them have been well taken care of and if you can find one that doesn't have a lot of miles on it, can usually find a good deal.

When we were in the market for an RV this is the route we went. We looked at several new ones to get an idea of the style and features we wanted to have. When we were ready to buy a used one, we knew exactly what we were looking for.

My folks usually go somewhere south in the winter and this is what they stay in for the few months they are gone. Everything they need is in this small compact space. It's cheaper than investing in a home, and still gives them the option to get away from the cold winters.

By myharley — On Mar 13, 2012

One year for our vacation, we went with a RV van rental. For us, this was one of the cheapest ways we could travel and yet have some great amenities at our fingertips.

Since we didn't own one ourselves, and couldn't justify buying one, we decided to rent one. The amount of money we saved on motel bills and fixing most of our own meals saved us quite a bit.

When we travel we like to be on our own schedule and not have a specific route or tight schedule to follow. If we want to pull over a sleep for a few hours, you can do that with this type of RV vehicle.

We had the opportunity to see some awesome parts of the country and still were able to sleep in the same bed every night. We didn't have to drag suitcases around or set up a tent every night. This is definitely something we would do again.

By sunshined — On Mar 13, 2012

My family has an old conversion van that only gets used a few times a year. When this van was new, it would have been pretty fancy and expensive.

I think this van is about 20 years old. It has been well taken care of and really doesn't have that many miles on it.

Every year our family takes a trip to Colorado, and we all pile in this van. It has a lot of amenities that make this trip very comfortable.

Unless you are really tall, you can easily walk around inside without bending over. The seats will recline and swivel all the way around. There is a portable table you can set up to play games and cards on.

The back seat folds out to a very comfortable bed and there are curtains over the windows. There are also cup holders and lights by every seat. Everything is also very plush and comfortable.

The only downside to driving something like this is they don't get very good gas mileage. Other than that, this is a very comfortable way for a family to travel without feeling like you are cramped in a car for a long trip.

By shell4life — On Mar 12, 2012

@summing – It depends on the class that you are looking for, I'm sure. I can tell you that I got a used 2007 class B RV for $50,000.

I noticed that the price range for models in the '06 – '07 range was $50,000 - $80,000. If you are looking for something newer, expect to pay more.

I don't know about the prices for class A and class C vans, but I would imagine that since they are larger and feature more amenities, they would cost significantly more. Definitely do some extensive research before settling on one, because the deals are likely out there.

By StarJo — On Mar 12, 2012

The Class As are awesome for long road trips. My husband and I are actually living in one of these right now, because buying a used one was cheaper than buying a house, and we love to travel.

We both telecommute, so we can work from anywhere. We don't have anything tying us down to one location.

Since it is just the two of us, the small space is fine. We have every type of room and appliance that we would have in a regular house, anyway, so I think we got a good deal. Plus, we get to take our home with us wherever we go, so we never get homesick!

By orangey03 — On Mar 11, 2012

Class C RVs are my favorite. They are like small hotel rooms on wheels!

My dad has one of these, and we take it on vacation wherever we go. Last year, we camped out at a park on the Gulf coast, and it was so nice.

We didn't have to pay those high prices for a hotel room on the beach, yet we got all the advantages. We were steps away from the ocean, and we had a private place with no noisy neighbors!

Our RV has a bedroom and a sofa, as well as a booth with a table for eating. We have a kitchen and a bathroom. It's everything we could need for a long trip.

By summing — On Mar 11, 2012

So what would an RV van cost me, especially if I was able to find one used? They sound like a lot of fun and I think I could convince my wife to do a big road trip this summer if we had one. But of course it would not become a daily driver and would probably spend a lot of time under a tarp in my garage.

By whiteplane — On Mar 10, 2012

@truman12 - That sounds like a lot of fun. And I definitely see where you are coming from when you talk about saving space. My parents have an RV and they spend a lot of time at various RV and camper sites around the country. I have visited them a few times and I am amazed at how big and spacious some of these motor homes are.

At first it seems kind of impressive and then it begins to seem silly. Who really needs to have a spacious living room when they are driving their home across the country? I know that RVs are super comfortable, but I think there still needs to be some kind of sacrifice involved. It is not supposed to be a palace.

By truman12 — On Mar 10, 2012

My family used to have an RV van and it was great. There was room enough for me, my brother and my parents to sleep comfortable. We had a microwave and a hot plate and a charcoal grill. We had TV and lights at night as well as a few other modern amenities. It was climate controlled and had good storage capacity. Basically, it had all the advantage of an RV without costing nearly as much or using as much gas.

We would take it on family road trips and camping trips. It probably paid for itself with what it saved us in hotels and restaurants. And it was never cramped. I think everyone in the family like it quite a lot actually.

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