There are several classes of RVs available to own, all 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 drivable (vs towable) rigs, you can choose from Class A, B, or C, each of which has its own pros and cons. But there’s another class of motorized RV on the market that might surprise you, and today we’re going to explore it in depth. Welcome to the Super C RV!
- 1) What Are The Classes Of RV?
- 2) So What is a Super C RV?
- 3) The Benefits of Choosing a Super C RV
- 4) The Disadvantages of Choosing a Super C RV
- 5) Do You Need a ‘CDL’ to Drive a Super C RV?
- 6) Is a Super C RV Right for You?
- 7) Conclusion
What Are The Classes Of RV?
As we mentioned above, there are several different “classes” or “types” of motorhome. What are they?
Class A motorhomes are the big, box-like vehicles that look the most like a bus, and its what we own ourselves. The “house”, or living area extends from bumper to bumper, giving Class A RVs the largest amount of living space for their length, which is one reason for their popularity.
Class A RVs are broken down into 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 RVs. 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 all the way 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 and work full time 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 RVs 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 $80,000 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 of some kind for exploring. Driving a Class A RV into town, or to a remote trailhead, falls somewhere between cumbersome and impossible, depending on where you’re traveling.
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 us when they were crafting the naming scheme, we would have told them to put them in order! ????
Class B RVs are at the opposite end of the spectrum from Class A RVs, 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 RV 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 we give major props!
Class C RVs 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 RVs, 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.
So What is a Super C RV?
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 RV. 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 RV is perfect! It takes the best attributes of a Class C… and super-sizes it all!
The Benefits of Choosing a Super C RV
Super C RVs have numerous benefits for travelers with specific needs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the greatest perks of owning one:
More Robust Chassis in a Super C RV
The foundation of a Super C RV 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) all the way 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 & 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 RV 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.
Larger Tank Capacities on a Super C RV
More space in holding tanks is another advantage of the Super C RV. Larger models can have freshwater tanks that hold 100-150 gallons of water, and grey and black tanks that hold up to 75 gallons each. That makes these behemoth Super Cs ripe for some serious boondocking, RVgeeks style!
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, golf clubs, etc.
Most RVers carry some basic tools for minor repairs and modifications on the road, but the Super C RV allows 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.
Higher Towing Capacity
The bigger chassis and larger (often diesel) engines of Super C RVs allow for larger hitch receivers and larger towing capacities.
A Super C RV might have a towing capacity between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds. For this reason, the Super C RV 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 RV 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 RVs, Super C’s 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 RV 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 RVs Provide Easier Access For Maintenance
Another benefit of the Super C RV 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 own maintenance or taking it into a shop, that access can come in handy.
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 RV 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 RV is another safety feature that is surely felt as one drives down the road in such a heavy, stable rig.
The Disadvantages of Choosing a Super C RV
While the Super C RV provides many excellent benefits, we’d be remiss if we 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 RVs typically range in price from $150,000 – $600,000 with most newer models costing more than $300,000. As with any other class of RV, the make, model, and age 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.
The advantages of the heavier, larger Super C come at another cost as well. The bigger, thirstier engines consume a fair amount of fuel. Many Super Cs have a fuel capacity of 100 gallons, and 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 RVs 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 RV, especially one hauling a long trailer. Many 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 RV may cruise down the highway with little effort, turning, navigating small streets, parking, and backing can present unique challenges for the Super C RV 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 space inside than a 40-foot Class A. While many Super C RVs will have driver & passenger seats that swivel around to offer seating in the front living area, the space consumed by the hood is still lost.
Do You Need a ‘CDL’ to Drive a Super C RV?
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 license must be obtained by truckers and commercial bus drivers. The driver of a Super C RV 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 Cs fall at or shy of 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 own residents to be licensed.
For more information regarding licensing requirements for large RVs, check out our post about Class A RV licensing requirements.
Is a Super C RV 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 RV 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.
There are many manufacturers that offer Super C RV 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 RVs have become popular enough that even Newmar has gotten in on the game, offering two models… the Super Star (for a walk-through of one, watch our video embedded at the top of this post ???? ⬆️ ⬆️) and the Supreme Aire. So there are plenty of options available for you to choose from.
While the focus of this post has been the Super C RV, 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?
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Saturday 10th of July 2021
Air brakes. You don't mention air brakes BUT, RV drivers who's rigs HAVE air brakes are likely going to need an "Air Brake endorsement" on their drivers license.
I believe that there are a LOT of "wanna be" Super-C RVs. Sadly, NO federal or industry standards specify exactly WHAT constitutes a TRUE Super-C RV (or ANY other class for that matter). I've seen F-450 based RVs being offered as Super-C (they're simply beefy pick up trucks) NOT TRUE Super-C RVs in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned, a TRUE Super-C RV is built on a HDT ~ Heavy Duty Truck cab / chassis. Federal DOT sets rules by GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings). I understand that there may have been some recent changes but basically, Class 1, 2 & 3 trucks were LDTs (LIGHT Duty Trucks; think Ford F-150, F-250 & F-350 (and the comparable Chevy & Ram models). Class 4, 5 & 6 were MDTs MEDIUM Duty Trucks (think F-450, F-550 & F-650 and counterparts). Class 7 & 8 are rated as HDTs HEAVY Duty Trucks (think F-750, I don't think Ford makes an F-850). A "quick & dirty" way to check RVs is to look at the engine DISPLACEMENT. 6 ~ 8 liter engines are usually found on MDTs. Class 7 HDTs usually come in at around 9 liters. Class 8 HDTs start at 11 liters and can go up to ~ 15 liters (depending how the cab / chassis was "speced". It's a real shame that the RV industry would rather baffle buyers than give them straight, accurate facts. Perhaps MORE Federal regulation is needed?
Saturday 10th of July 2021
We owned a 2008 37’ Supernova by Gulfstream, I think they were the first Super C’s in the market. We put almost 50,000 miles over 2 years and, besides the rough ride (no rear airbags) we enjoyed the heck out of it. I think MSRP was $150,000. Newmar definitely raised the bar.
Saturday 10th of July 2021
Glad to hear you had such a good experience with the Supernova, Randy! Newmar definitely raised the bar on the class... but the price, too! LOL!
Friday 9th of July 2021
Just watched the Supreme Aire video. Impressive.
Looks like Newmar has taken it up a notch in the past couple of years.
If this is the type of RV that holds some interest then it's great to see that there are some very, very fine units out there now to choose from.
Friday 9th of July 2021
We were duly impressed with what Newmar did to take the Super C format up a notch. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the market. And, of course, we always hope that Newmar does well with whatever they pursue! Choice is ALWAYS a good thing (especially since no RV is ever 100% right for anyone, LOL!)
Friday 9th of July 2021
Sounds great, IF you happen to be a millionaire!
Friday 9th of July 2021
LOL! Can certainly be pricy to buy new, Jon. But there are often good deals to be had on the used market!