The Class B motorhome probably got its start when some … ahem … creative individual bestowed his van with a green shag carpet remnant and a love seat. A refrigerator would come later, and perhaps a disco ball … but never a toilet. That wouldn’t be classy.
To say that van-based motorhomes have come a long way since then would be an understatement. Today’s offerings can be had with all of the amenities of a full-size motorhome, just on a much smaller scale.
A Class B motorhome can be a good choice if large motorhomes intimidate you, or you like the idea of an RV you can use more than a few times a year. Many people use a Class B like a second family vehicle (some people even live and work out of them), and they’re great for short outings or family events, like a trip to the beach. With a functional kitchen and bath, and enough room to stand up in, they’re more convenient than a full-size SUV, get similar mileage and require about the same skill to park — although underground facilities will still be out of the question in most cases.
The most popular Class B motorhome platforms are the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, both of which are offered with gas or diesel. The Sprinter is also available with 4WD, and Ford introduced available all-wheel-drive on its Transit vans for 2020, so mechanically, it’s a push. Another popular choice is the RAM ProMaster, which is the only front-wheel-drive van, but it’s not offered with 4WD. Unless you have your heart set on one or the other, our advice is to drive a Class B on each chassis and see which you like best, as they all ride and handle differently. After that, you can begin comparison shopping based on standard/available equipment, configurations, etc.
Despite their comparatively diminutive size, Class B motorhomes can still have a pretty hefty price tag, but if you stick to the basics, they still make sense. If you want more features and luxury, however, you can spend as much on a Class B ($100K-plus) as a larger and more comfortable Class C, so keep that in mind. Also, remember that Class B motorhomes have small holding tanks, limited interior storage and usually no exterior storage, which may necessitate other compromises, especially when traveling or camping with family.