What is a Super C Motorhome?

There are different types and classes of RVs available to own, each with perks that are enjoyable and well worth having. But every RVer is different and we all have different priorities based on our lifestyles and styles of camping.

When it comes to motorized (vs towable) you can choose from Class A, B, or C, each of which has its pros and cons. But there’s another class of motorized RV on the market that might surprise you and today I explore it in depth. Welcome to the Super C motorhome.

Class A motorhome (diesel pusher) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What are the classes of motorhomes?

As I mentioned above, there are several different classes of motorhome. What are they?

Class A motorhomes are the big, box-like vehicles that look the most like a bus and it’s what we drive. The house or living area extends from bumper to bumper giving Class A motorhomes the largest amount of living space for their length which is one reason for their popularity.

Class A motorhomes are available in two basic categories: Gas and diesel, obviously based on the fuel they use. Due to their rugged durability and higher torque, diesel engines are used to power the largest Class A motorhomes. Those powerful engines and the additional carrying capacity they bring allow for larger rigs with lots more heavy gear stuffed into them. Hence the higher price for a diesel-powered RV.

The engine in a Class A motorhome can be located at the front or the rear of the RV but gas rigs typically have front-mounted engines and diesel engines are usually in the rear. This is where the term diesel pusher comes from as the engine pushes the RV from the back.

Class A motorhomes come in a variety of lengths but because larger diesel models are built on rugged heavy-duty chassis they can extend up to 45 feet in length. Most diesel rigs also benefit from the luxurious ride that air suspension brings.

These large Class A motorhomes are great for people like us who live half-time plus in our RV. They can offer lots of space for both living and storage as well as large fresh, grey, and black tanks to accommodate more people and/or and more time in the boondocks. Depending on the size and floorplan, Class A motorhomes can sleep anywhere from 2 to 8 people and larger models provide ample storage space in full pass-through basement compartments.

New Class A motorhomes can range in price from over $100,000 to $2,000,000 (that’s mostly for the highest-end bus conversions) depending on their size, quality, and amenities. So the cost can be a big deterrent to owning one. And because they can get quite large, another drawback is that they can be more difficult to maneuver and harder to park. Some state and national parks won’t have sites large enough to accommodate them.

As they get larger, it becomes even more important to tow a small vehicle for exploring. Driving a Class A motorhome into town or to a remote trailhead falls somewhere between cumbersome and impossible depending on where you’re traveling.

Class B motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contrary to what may seem logical, motorhome types (A, B, and C) aren’t in size order with A being the largest and B being the smallest. If they’d consulted with me when they were crafting the naming scheme, I would have told them to put them in order!

Class B motorhomes are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Class A motorhomes being the smallest and most fuel-efficient motorhomes available. They drive and park like a van because they’re primarily built using van-based chassis: traditionally from Ford or Chevy but these days the more common choice is either the Mercedes Sprinter or Ram ProMaster. Their small size makes them easy to maneuver on city streets as well as in the boondocks making them versatile as both a home base at camp AND a vehicle to go out and explore in.

The drawback of a Class B motorhome is that they’re highly limited in terms of space and don’t usually accommodate more than one or two (very close, very tolerant) people and maybe a small child (or a small pet or two). There are people who full-time in them for which I give major props!

Class C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Class C motorhomes are the middle child of the motorized RVing world and can vary significantly in size and length. They’ll accommodate more people and have more amenities and larger tanks than Class B motorhomes and are less expensive and easier to drive and park than most Class A motorhomes. They’re recognizable because of the large over-cab extension that often houses an additional bed for kids or guests.

One surprising note about Class C motorhomes—if you need additional sleeping accommodations, many of them provide more than even the largest Class A rigs! That’s probably because they’re often designed with the ability to be the perfect family hauler.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So what is a Super C motorhome?

With all of the options listed above there are still travelers whose needs and desires are different. They want a motorhome that’s larger than a typical Class C with more luxury and more space but they don’t want the style of a Class A motorhome. They’re looking for a heavier vehicle, a larger chassis, and maybe a more significant towing capacity. What’s a traveler to do with this conundrum?

That’s where a Super C motorhome is perfect! It takes the best attributes of a Class C—and super-sizes it all

The benefits of choosing a Super C motorhome

Super C motorhomes have numerous benefits for travelers with specific needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the greatest perks of owning one.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More robust chassis in a Super C motorhome

The foundation of a Super C motorhome is a larger, heavier-duty chassis than a standard Class C—much more akin to the chassis used for a Class A. They can range from the more consumer-grade heavy-duty truck chassis from Ford (like the F550) up to full-on truck chassis from Freightliner and even Volvo. Everything about the chassis is more robust: chassis rails are larger and stiffer; axles are larger with greater carrying capacity; wheels and brakes (often air brakes) are bigger to support and stop the extra weight; and, of course, engines are bigger and more powerful!

More living space

The larger, heavier-duty chassis of a Super C enables the manufacturers to increase the size of the motorhome overall which means that it offers more living space, the ability to accommodate more travelers (for sleeping, dining, and riding), and loads of storage space for everything you want to bring along.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Larger tank capacities on a Super C motorhome

More space in holding tanks is another advantage of the Super C motorhome. Larger models can have freshwater tanks that hold 100-150 gallons of fresh water and grey and black tanks that hold up to 75 gallons each. That makes the behemoth Super Cs ripe for some serious boondocking.

Lots of exterior storage

The number of storage compartments as well as the large size of those compartments allows you to bring a multitude of recreational items for the enjoyment of the entire family. These might include bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards, parasails, skis, and golf clubs.

Most RVers carry some basic tools for minor repairs and modifications on the road but the Super C motorhomes allow for the carrying of just about any set of tools a DIYer might want to have on hand.

The large, heavy chassis allows you to carry heavy loads and makes it a breeze to bring lots of toys along.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Higher towing capacity

The bigger chassis and larger (usually diesel) engines of Super C motorhomes allow for larger hitch receivers and larger towing capacities.

A Super C motorhome might have a towing capacity between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds. For this reason, the Super C is a common choice for travelers who haul large trailers for car racing, for example.

Great stability on the road

The larger, heavier chassis and longer wheelbase mean that the Super C motorhome is more firmly planted while driving making it more secure on the road and less susceptible to buffeting by larger vehicles. This is an attractive feature for most drivers as tall, flat-sided vehicles tend to feel the wind from both nature and large passing vehicles in a dramatic way.

More comfortable ride

Just like Class A motorhomes, Super Cs often come with air-ride suspension. The large airbags that support the weight of the coach on the chassis help to soften the ride and make them comfortable options for long-range driving. Several Super C motorhome models go so far as to incorporate air-ride driver’s seats just like a long-haul commercial truck would. That extreme isolation from the bumps and vibration of everyday driving DEFINITELY makes for a super-comfortable ride.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Super C motorhomes provide easier access for maintenance

Another benefit of the Super C motorhome is that the engine is located under the hood in the front of the vehicle which makes access for maintenance easier than that of a Class A gas or diesel pusher. Whether you’re doing your maintenance or taking it into a shop that access can come in handy.

Safety

Another benefit of the heavy engine under the hood is that it serves as protection and may provide a larger crumple zone in the event of a collision. Additionally, heavy vehicles like the Super C motorhomes tend to fare well in all but the most serious crashes due to their sheer size and weight.

The extra stability provided by the design of the Super C motorhome is another safety feature that is surely felt as one drives down the road in such a heavy, stable rig.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The disadvantages of choosing a Super C motorhome

While the Super C motorhome provides many excellent benefits, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include in this overview some of the disadvantages as well.

Higher price point

One big disadvantage especially with larger or more luxurious models can be the cost. Super C motorhomes typically range in price from $150,000–$800,000 with most new models costing more than $400,000. As with any other class of motorhome, the make, model, and age of the RV (i.e. whether it’s new or used) are cost factors. But in general, Super C RVs come at a high price point.

Fuel economy

The advantages of the heavier, larger Super C come at another cost as well. The bigger, thirstier engines consume a fair amount of fuel. Most Super C owners report fewer than ten miles per gallon. Towing a heavy towed car or large trailer behind the RV only decreases the fuel efficiency further.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Super C motorhomesc can be harder to drive/park

Bigger is not always better. Larger RVs (regardless of Class/Type) can be harder to drive and certainly make parking more challenging. Not only can it be difficult to navigate city or small-town streets but not all parking lots accommodate such large vehicles. And even when they have sufficient space, those lots can be difficult to get into with a very large rig.

The other prominent issue is campsite accommodation. Many campsites are not equipped to handle a Super C motorhome especially one hauling a long trailer. Most national park campgrounds are unable to accommodate such a large rig, for example, or the few large sites they do offer are often full.

So, while a Super C motorhome may cruise down the highway with little effort, turning, navigating small streets, parking, and backing can present unique challenges for the Super C motorhome owner.

Less living space than a comparable Class A

While having the engine up front under the hood offers advantages for ease of maintenance and safety, it does have a negative: that space is lost. So a 40-foot Super C will have less living space than a 40-foot Class A. While many Super C motorhomes will have driver and passenger seats that swivel around to offer seating in the front living area, the space consumed by the hood is still lost.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need a CDL to drive a Super C motorhome?

Based specifically on the class of RV, a CDL is not required to drive a Super C RV. However, the size and weight of the rig can be a factor depending on the state or province in which you’re licensed.

For those who are unfamiliar, a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License must be obtained by truckers and commercial bus drivers. The driver of a Super C motorhome does not need to obtain a license like this based on the fact that he or she is driving a Super C but there are states and Canadian provinces that do require a driver to obtain a non-commercial version of this type of license if your rig weighs over 26,000 pounds, if it can carry more than 16 passengers, or if it’s equipped with air brakes.

Many Super C motorhomes weigh at or near 26,000 pounds but if you’re opting for a mode of Super C that exceeds 26,000 pounds you’ll likely need an enhanced license to do so. Check with your state or provincial motor vehicle agency to be sure. In general, it’s the state where you’re licensed that matters most. If you’re legal to drive a certain vehicle in your home state, other states offer reciprocity by allowing you to drive there as well even if they have more stringent requirements for their residents to be licensed.

Is a Super C motorhome right for you?

Choosing the class of RV that’s right for you involves evaluating your needs and desires as a traveler as well as where you intend to travel and where you intend to camp. Other important considerations include cost, fuel efficiency, and whether you need to accommodate a certain number of passengers and/or to be able to haul a small or large load.

A Super C motorhome is a wonderful, high-end rig that is just right for a unique population of travelers but it’s not a rig for everyone. While these fantastic RVs hold a multitude of advantages for some travelers they may be cost-prohibitive and/or excessively large for RVers who are traveling to explore smaller campsites in state and national parks, cities, or small lakeside campgrounds.

Many manufacturers offer Super C models including (but not limited to): Dynamax (Isata, Europa, DX3 and others), Renegade RV (Renegade XL, Ikon, Valencia, and Verona), Jayco (Seneca), Nexus RV (Triumph SC, Wraith, and Ghost), and Thor (Omni and Magnitude).

Super C motorhomes have become popular enough that even Newmar has gotten in on the game offering two models—the Super Star and the Supreme Aire. So there are plenty of options available for you to choose from.

Super C motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Conclusion

While the focus of this post has been the Super C motorhome, there are so many choices out there. From the multitude of driveable Class A, B, and C rigs to the wide variety of towables, there’s a rig out there for almost everyone who wants to travel and camp.

And if a Super C doesn’t sound like it would be the right choice for you, how about a look at some small Class A motorhomes, instead?

Worth Pondering…

Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.

—Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

The Class B +: Goldilocks of Motorhomes

Most RVers know there are Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes but did you also know there are Class B + motorhomes? It’s confusing, though. A Class B + is really a Class C motorhome.

Class B + is a made-up marketing term. But the term Class B + motorhome is so widely used now that people and RV salespeople commonly refer to them that way. Whether accurate or not the Class B+ motorhome is the choice for many who want something bigger than a B but smaller and less boxy than a C. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why choose a Class B + motorhome?

The short and simple answer for most people is because a Class B + motorhome has more space than the Class B but is a small enough motorhome to be easily maneuvered.

Class B motorhomes are also known as campervans. They consist of a van body. The RV stuff is built and formed inside the walls of the van. It can get pretty close quarters in a Class B van.

A Class B + motorhome (and the traditional Class C) is built on cutaway chassis. A cutaway chassis consists of the engine and cab and behind that just the rails and wheels without walls. That back portion of the cutaway chassis is what RV manufacturers build the motorhome part on. Think of the motorhome part as a box attached to rails and outriggers to that cutaway chassis.

The box is a bit bigger and has more living room than the B van.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is with the Class B + designation?

In short, a Class B + is an unofficial industry classification that refers to a Class C size (chassis/body) motorhome minus the cab overhang at the front that typically is used for sleeping in a Class C. For registration and insurance purposes, in fact, Class B+ motorhomes are considered a Class C.

People wanted something that doesn’t have that overhang so the industry came up with the name Class B +. In other words, it’s a marketing term. Totally made up!

A Class B Plus motorhome is built on the same cutaway chassis cabs used for Class C motorhomes typically from Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, or Ford. The living space of the Class C motorhome or any class for that matter is built by a third-party RV manufacturer. As an example, Leisure Travel Vans builds on the Ford Transit and the Mercedes Sprinter chassis.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Advantages of a Class B +

Since the only real difference between a Class C and Class B + motorhome is the absence of the traditional overhang associated with Class Cs, a Class B + offers more space and amenities than Class B campervans.

Class B + benefits

With a Class B motorhome you don’t usually get a full bath. And if they have a shower, it’s most often a wet shower meaning the entire bathroom gets wet when you shower in it. Most Class B showers share space with the toilet and sink.

Most Class B + motorhome models, however, offer an enclosed dry shower separate from the toilet and sink which stay dry as you shower.

There’s another thing: Because the Class B + motorhome is smaller than a Class A they are easier to drive and park. You can pretty much take a B+ anywhere you can take a B. It can even fit in a parking spot at most big-box stores.

In fact, you can use a Class B + as a second vehicle, running errands, shopping, doing everything we would with the family car.

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important features to look for in a Class B+

Despite being a niche rig type, you’ll find quite a few Class B+ models on the market. How do you decide which Class B+ motorhome is best for you? Here are a few features to consider.

Off-grid capabilities

Class B+ manufacturers understand that their nimble rigs appeal to those wanting to travel off the beaten path so units are designed with a range of off-grid capabilities. Expect to find solar power systems, water filtration, cassette toilet options, and more, either standard or as optional upgrades. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Platform

Do you want your rig to run on diesel or gasoline? What engine size do you want? Which van manufacturer do you prefer? These elements all relate to the Class B+ chassis which provides the platform on which the rig is built.

Class B+ motorhomes are primarily built on a Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, or Ford E-350-450 chassis and come with both diesel and gasoline engines. You can also find items like all-wheel drive and automotive handling features. There can be more than one platform available from the same Class B+ manufacturer. 

Style

Within the Class B+ motorhome category, you’ll find a range of exteriors to suit your taste. Some exteriors are stylized more like traditional motorhomes with graphic swirls and bright colors. Others use a single color for the exterior. 

Class B + motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Why are Class B Plus motorhomes so popular?

I think it’s because the big Class As are big and some of the smaller Class Bs are a little bit too small for first time owners. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…she found the exact right one. It’s not too big, not too small.

Worth Pondering…

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

—C.W. Ceran

Gas or Diesel Motorhome: Which is Better?

Which is better, a gas or diesel motorhome? That’s one of the biggest questions RV buyers need to answer. It’s important to ask and answer before buying a motorhome.

“Should I get a gas or diesel motorhome?” It’s a question that will repeat itself through the ages as long as we have fuel.

Maybe electric or another option will be added to the comparison charts in the future. In other countries, propane is a cheaper fuel. It’s used in many hybrid cars although it is rarely used in the U.S. and Canada  For now, it’s gas versus diesel.

RVers love to argue about the best RV fuel. Gas versus diesel motorhomes is the topic of many campfire circles. But we can’t argue until we understand the features and benefits of each type.

Let’s take a look.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gasoline powered motorhomes

Gasoline is the most used fuel.  It is easily combustible which allows for quick starts and fast acceleration.  It is also the leading contributor to pollution. According to AAA, nearly 1/5 of all emissions come from vehicles. Your engine determines which grade of gasoline you can use. You have regular (87), premium (91), and mid-grade (89).

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Diesel powered motorhomes

Diesel is more fuel efficient. In traveling, you can usually go about 20 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than gas-powered vehicles. This is one reason why you will see most truckers with diesel engines. It also produces less carbon dioxide. But, it still creates nitrous oxide which causes smog.

There are six things to consider. I’ll go through them one by one.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. The mechanical basics

For those who might not know the difference between diesel and gas engines, it’s worth spending a little time talking about the basics.

Without being overly technical, the first and perhaps most notable difference is the thermal efficiency of diesel engines which refers to the work that can be expected to be produced by the fuel put into the engine. As mentioned above, a diesel engine is about 20 percent more thermally efficient than a gas engine. That means a 20 percent increase in fuel economy.

Diesel engines also run at a much slower RPM (revolutions per minute) than gas engines. Slower RPM translates to less wear and tear and a longer life cycle for the engine.

Further, increased thermal efficiency also translates to more power and torque. A diesel engine’s high torque application is very beneficial for hauling heavy loads.

Gas engines, on the other hand, deliver a much higher volatility point but a lower flashpoint. A spark controls the combustion of a gas engine. Diesel engines do not use a spark but what’s called a compression combustion engine.

Essentially, a gasoline engine is a spark-fired combustion and a diesel engine utilizes compression.

Now that you have some background on the differences between gas and diesel engines, let’s look at the pros and cons of each about RVing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Costs of gas vs diesel motorhomess

The first consideration for many people shopping for a new RV is the price. Simply put, does it fit your budget?

On the whole, diesel-powered motorhomes are much more expensive than gas-powered motorhomes. For that reason, first-time motorhome buyers often decide to go with a less expensive gas-powered RV rather than a diesel or luxury unit.

However there are various degrees of quality within each type. Depending on what you are looking for, the best gas motorhomes on the market stack up against some lower-quality diesel units.

However, well maintained diesel engines have a longer life than gasoline ones and can still perform reliably after extensive mileage. This means diesel-powered motorhomes tend to retain their value longer and have higher resale values than gas-powered units.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Differences in mileage

As mentioned above, the second factor to take into consideration is the fuel economy. After all, fuel is expensive and adds up over time. Here are the main differences in mileage between gas-powered and diesel-powered rigs.

Gas-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on chassis, gas motorhomes will have between 80-100 gallon tanks (Class A) and 20-30 gallon tanks (Class B)
  • Average of 6-10 mpg (Class A), 10-14+ mpg (Class B and Class C)
  • Widespread availability at all fuel stations
  • Less expensive than diesel
  • Gas has an odor when burned; the smell can fill the cabin
  • Gas has a shorter shelf life due to evaporation

Diesel-powered motorhomes:

  • Depending on the chassis will have between 80-150 gallon tanks
  • Average of 6-18 miles per gallon with Class Cs and A motorhomes getting less, Class Bs and B+ RVs getting more
  • More expensive than gas
  • Diesel is available at most but not all stations but maneuverability presents a problem for most diesel pushers (Class A motorhomes)
  • Diesel has better fuel efficiency meaning less frequent refills at the pump
  • Diesel burns cleaner than gas
A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Maintenance

Gas engines are easier to maintain and repair compared with their diesel counterparts. If you have a general knowledge of gas engines, you can probably do the bulk of the repairs and maintenance yourself.

A downside of a gas engine is that it runs at higher RPMs meaning it will always be working harder than a diesel engine. Running at higher RPMs allows for a smoother, quieter ride with faster acceleration but more frequent upkeep is required.

Diesel engines are considerably more expensive to maintain and require specialized training to service. Diesel engines run at a lower RPM meaning slower acceleration and lower top speeds but less strain on the engine and you can drive more miles between servicing.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Oil 

All engines require oil. Diesel-powered engines use a lot more oil than gas-powered engines but the oil only needs to be replaced once a year or every 12,000-15,000 miles (depending on the chassis). You’ll need to change the oil in a gas engine every six months or less.

In a gas engine, if you know how to change oil you can do it yourself. Diesel oil changes are more complicated, so you’ll probably have to take it to a professional mechanic to do the work.

A diesel-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Speed and towing ability of gas vs diesel RVs

Gas-powered engines typically have higher horsepower and less torque so you can accelerate and maintain higher speeds. However, having less torque adds more strain on the engine while towing and climbing inclines.

Diesel-powered engines are designed for higher torque at lower speeds but are not as fast as gas engines. More torque means slower acceleration speeds but greater towing power and ease in steep inclines.

As you can see, there are some pros and cons to both styles of engines but ultimately the decision for you boils down to personal preference and your budget.

Are you planning on carrying a toad? Do you frequent the Rockies and the Northwest Mountains? Having the power to climb hills with a load lends to diesel-powered engines.

Or are you planning on RVing without a toad and in relatively flatter areas such as Florida and Louisiana? In that case, a gas-powered engine would work well for you.

A gas-powered motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gas or diesel: The bottom line

Simply put, the bottom line on gas or diesel comes down to your particular situation and preference.

YOU are the most important factor when it comes to the best RV fuel option. 

All the miles you drive, where you drive, how you manage your fuel usage, cost of ownership, how long you plan to keep your RV, resale value, and your RV maintenance habits affect you more in the long run. Hopefully, if you already own an RV, it meets your needs. 

We are RVers! We aren’t like everyone else already and neither does our fuel use have to be like everyone else’s. Whether we choose a motorhome that uses gasoline or one that uses diesel, the RV itself should match our travel needs. 

Every RVer’s bottom line is different. If you don’t plan to travel as many miles or aren’t concerned about resale value then a gas-powered RV might suffice for you.

Worth Pondering…

Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space.

Born To Be Free, words and music by Mars Bonfire