In Search of a Compact C at the Hershey RV Show


If you’ve seen one of our latest videos, you know lately I’ve been really digging a type of motorhome we saw in Europe that we don’t have in North America at all.  Just to give it a name, I’m calling it a “Compact C”.  I tried calling it a “C-minus” initially, but all my RV company friends told me that would be a marketing nightmare.  So “Compact C” it is.  I suppose I could also go for “Ultra Compact” if you want to get rid of the Class C association.

Just so there’s no confusion, let me list exactly what I think are the critical characteristics of the Compact C:

  1. Built on a cab-chassis as a traditional Class C would be – and probably a cab chassis that is also available as a van. Building as a C has two key advantages over a Class B.  First, it’s easier (meaning less expensive) to build.  Second, the straight walls open up more room and floor plan options inside.
  2. No longer and no wider than the Class B van on which it’s based. This lets you retain all the maneuverability and drivability advantages of the Class B.  Nobody should be afraid to drive one.
  3. It could be taller than the Class B van it started as, but not vastly taller. A few inches, OK.  A few feet… no.
  4. It shouldn’t have any slides. Because it shouldn’t need them.  Think of this as an alternative to a Class B van.  Do NOT think of this as trying to cram everything you might find in a 30 foot class C into 22 feet of space.  There are plenty of alternatives for someone who wants two recliners and a 64 inch flat screen TV in their rig.  This is not one of them.
  5. It should have a garage.

And beyond that, I’m kinda open to suggestions.  Sure, I’d like it to have lithium batteries, double pane acrylic windows, and a host of other features.  But let’s start there.

I know that there’s nothing like this in North America.  But since we were at the Hershey RV show, which they say is “America’s Largest RV Show”, I thought it might be fun to go out looking and see how close we could get to this concept.  We found a few things that got close, but nothing that hits the mark exactly.  Basically, I learned who’s partway there already.

 

The Typical “Small C”

If you go into an RV dealer in North America today and ask them to show you a small Class C, they’ll probably show you something that looks about like this.

This is a Renegade Villagio.  But honestly, there are about 47 different makes and models that are all basically the same thing, so take your pick.  (I don’t mean to pick on Renegade here – this is just the first one we saw.  If we had walked another 25 feet before taking the picture, you might be looking at something else.)

This is built on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis, which is also the base van for a lot of Class B conversions, so it meets the first criteria.  But this van is considerably wider than the Sprinter van it’s based on, and it has a slide.

It’s also a bit longer and a metric crapload taller.

Now, to be fair, all that extra width, depth, and height does translate to more interior room, and some of these can be quite nice inside, as the Renegade was.

This isn’t really what I’m after, but it’s what you’re likely to find.  But if you look harder, you can get closer to the Compact C idea.  Take, for example, this next one:

 

The Pleasure-Way Plateau XL

This one is also built on a Mercedes Sprinter, so it checks the first box.  And Pleasure-Way makes sure that when they are done, the vehicle is EXACTLY as long as the extended Sprinter van, so thumbs up there.  There are two floor plans of the Plateau XL, and neither of them has a slide (yay!), but they are wider than the Sprinter Van.

They’re also about a foot taller than a Sprinter based Class B.  Or so it seems.

Pleasure-Way does a good job with that extra space though, and upon walking in, you’d almost swear you were in an RV with a slide-out.

But again, this isn’t about extra room, it’s about staying compact.  So while the Pleasure-Way is closer than the typical small C, and Pleasure-Way clearly has the skills to build a Compact C… they’re not. (and I’m sure they have their reasons.)

 

Coach House Platinum

We saw this one at the show and I found it pretty interesting for a couple of reasons.  One of those reasons is the Coach House signature one-piece fiberglass construction, which you just have to like.  The other reason is that it is built on an E450 chassis that gives it plenty of carrying capacity.  I don’t think they’re making vans on the E450 anymore, but they did once, so it counts.

It’s not terribly long, at just over 23 feet.  Since they don’t make the van anymore, I don’t know what to compare that to, but it’s on the shorter side (though it does have a bit of an overhang on the back).  It is somewhat wider than the van would be though.

Though happily, it doesn’t seem to be all that much taller.  The specs say 10’5”, so maybe it’s just that slick curved one-piece fiberglass shell fooling us.

There was a mid-split-bath floor plan at work in this one.  Mid bath floor plans generally make compact coaches seem a bit more cramped.  But this Platinum seemed to be larger inside than you might expect, and it does it all without slides, so nice job Coach House.

Again – close.  Maybe even closer.  But not exactly what I mean by the Compact C.

 

The Leisure Travel Vans Wonder

What made me seek this one out at the show is its height.  It has a published height of just 9 feet 11 inches, including the AC.  That means it will (just) fit into a ten foot opening.  We hadn’t brought a tape measure, but Stef is about 5 foot 4 or so, and if you stack two of her up, I think the RV would be shorter.

This one is built on the Ford Transit chassis.  The Transit is a bit wider than a Sprinter, and the Wonder is wider than that still.

The Wonder is also a bit longer than a Transit van, so again, still not a direct hit.  But check out the interior!  They’ve just released a second floor plan of the Wonder, and we’ll be doing an in-depth review of that new floor plan soon.

 

The Winnebago Trend

We went looking for a Trend at the Hershey show, and we came up empty.  But then we noticed our friends at Truma had brought theirs to the show so we were able to get some pictures after all.

The Trend is built on the Ram ProMaster chassis, as is our current Class B van, Lance.  We really like the way the ProMaster drives, so we hope that any future “Compact C” development moves forward on this chassis.  (Plus, pretty much everything in Europe is built on its cousin, the Fiat Ducato, so there are plenty of designs to copy.)

The ProMaster is wider and lower to the ground than any of the other common cab-chassis.  So this gives it a leg up in the Compact C game.    Even with that advantage, the Trend is still a wider than a regular ProMaster van.

You also can’t help but notice that, at 24 feet 4 inches, the Trend is a good bit longer than the 20’11” ProMaster van.

The Trend is also taller than the ProMaster van.  I just measured Lance, our Travato a few weeks ago, and he was just grazing 9 feet 2 inches.  The Trend is a foot taller than that at 10 foot 2.  Not huge, and it helps that it starts off closer to the ground.  But still probably a bit taller than I would like.

Now, since the Truma guys were actually using the Trend, we won’t show you pictures of the inside.  Hope that’s OK.  You can find plenty of Trend pictures on the official Winnebago site.

 

The Conclusion

And so, you can see that a number of manufacturers are able to check some of the boxes for the Compact C, but none of them currently hits them all.  (At least not the ones we saw at the show.)  But rather than be discouraged by this, I’m trying to be encouraged.  This means that there are a number of makers out there that could easily make the Compact C if they chose to.

Now all I have to do is convince one of them to do it.  If you want to help by bugging them or commenting here, that’s totally fine with us.  😉

That’s all from Hershey!

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he’s not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or – that one time – doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    77 thoughts on “In Search of a Compact C at the Hershey RV Show

    1. George Kepler

      Hey Guys, We only recently discovered you guys as we peruse the Internet for RV information and are also playing catch up with your blog. So… I was wondering why “leveling” the unit didn’t make the “must have” list of the perfect Compact C? You went through a lot to level a B unit in an earlier blog. I too find keeping things on the level is important but only find them in the Class C’s and A’s.
      Later…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, like a lot of things, I figured “leveling”, I could add.
        Adding a garage though, is a different matter. 🙂

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        A little bit. But we want it *smaller* than the typical bloated “B+”. The floor plan he came up with was interesting though.

        Reply
    2. Martha Manigross

      YES! I’d be really interested in something like a B+ or a compact C – exactly like you’re speaking of. Not wider than a regular B if possible. More square for sure. All the rounded edges inside a B is not user friendly.

      Martha

      Reply
    3. Greg

      Compared to all the other C class RVs, the Trend is compact … problem solved, right? Plus the Trend has huge fresh, black and gray tanks.

      As much as I’d like a Roadtrek or Hymer, I think a B is too small for full-timing which is my plan. On the other hand, C vans seem to only offer absorption refrigerators which are pretty close to the top of my must avoid list. Along with Onan generators. Hmmm, I guess I better look at the Roadtreks again.

      Reply
      1. Stefany

        The Trend is compact as far as North American Class C’s go, but it differs from European Compact Class C’s because it is wider than the original van and it doesn’t have a garage. But it is up there as one of our favorite small C’s! We’re still hoping we can convince a North American manufacturer to build a European style Compact C offering. Fingers crossed! 🙂

        Reply
        1. Greg

          It should be a really cool RV but, word of warning, the legacy of vehicle designs by rocket engineers includes tail fins and the AMC Pacer.

    4. Roger Ramirez

      I enjoy your blog and youtube videos. Based on your engineering background what are your thought about the airtabs that you see some trucks and even RVs are putting on. One advanced RV video was about the airtabs on one of their test models. It would be great if you made up some tests to checkout the airtabs and make a video of it. Thanks and keep up the good videos.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Doing a proper experiment on AirTabs would be quite an undertaking! I’d prefer to have a wind tunnel, and that means big bucks.
        Maybe if AirTabs wanted to sponsor the test or something I might be able to do it.
        Thanks for the suggestion though!

        Reply
    5. Bob Peto

      I totally agree with you about the void in the Class B market in the U.S. of a smaller version of the Winnebago Trend with a rear garage with either an elevated rear queen or twin bed. We just returned from a 16 day European vacation and saw several of this type of class B on the road. As you referenced earlier, Hymer already has 2 models in Europe with this layout (Exsis-T & Van 374). It would be easy for them to bring this model to the US & Canadian market There are 3 other European manufacturers that manufacture this layout:
      Arial Mobil “Sunliving”
      Burstner “Travel van & Lyseot 690”
      Cathago “C-Tourer 143 & C-Compact 143 Super
      The above mentioned manufacturers vans range in 19.5, 22.7, &24.5 in length. It would be interesting to see if any of the above European manufacturers would consider partnering with American manufacturers to expand their market. One question comes to mind in this type of constructed model for the US market: does the cab only chassis meet the same safety constraints as a van body chassis?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Good question.
        I know on the Sprinters, some options are only available on the full vans, and not available on the cab chassis. And both versions are over 10,000 lbs GVWR, so they are exempt from passenger car safety regulations.
        But on the ProMasters, even the cab chassis are under 10,000 lbs GVWR. SO for the ProMasters at least, I believe all safety regulations would still apply.

        Reply
    6. Todd

      We also just spent some time travelling in Europe (italy mostly) and were drooling over the smaller RV’s everywhere (and understand that smaller is better on many roads outside the US). From your trip to Caravan Salon, (interesting video, thank you) was there one you liked the best?

      Just as a thought experiment, how would you construct your ‘fantasy’ RV? ie: Take a ______ (european RV?) as a base, and add lithium, solar, a microwave, a/c, etc? We are also seeking a “micro toyhauler” “Compact C”. Likely a raised rear bed with a large rear garage.

      For us, we love cooking (and being) outside. Part of my fantasy RV would contain something which is common on the aussie trailers: a low profile slide out kitchen:
      http://www.kimberleykampers.com/cooking-options
      http://www.tracktrailerforums.com/index.php?topic=2001.45
      https://agssam.com/book-of-camper-trailer-slide-out-kitchen-plans-in-us-by-jacob.html

      Again, not common in the US?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’d have to say our favorite on that trip was the Hobby Optima Deluxe. Still no AC, no Microwave, Smallish battery capacity. But we loved the layout and the styling.

        As for the outdoor kitchens – they don’t really match up with the way we roll, personally.
        But the ones that are available here are considerably larger, and take up more space inside the rigs. Smaller options would be welcome for those who wanted them.

        Reply
    7. Pete

      I have had a Roadtrek 210P for 6 years. I chose it back then over the Sprinter due to the 210’s floorplan, greater external storage and width, and shorter length (21 vs 22 ft). Those extra 6 inches width make the inside a lot roomier than you would think. I like your article here and wonder if something similar to the 210 could be done on the Promaster Cab chassis. Make the shell just a little bit wider, like the 210, and build in all the new features you list: garage, modern electronics, etc.. I also learned that Roadtrek had hired a designer to create the 210’s shape, which I find generally pleasing although the side overhang over the rear wheels looks a little clunky. Unfortunately all this would likely drive the price up. Perhaps some advanced manufacturing processes could be applied to keep the cost down. Like you I am a former NASA rocket scientist (actually retired but work part-time), and am looking for the perfect Class B size vehicle to replace my 210P, but I haven’t found it yet. Thoughts?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I don’t think there’s any reason why the 210, or a similar floor plan couldn’t be made on the ProMaster. But nobody is doing it!
        As soon as someone does – judging by the interest on this post – they’re going to have a winner!

        Reply
    8. NJS

      James and Steph,

      Thanks for all the great looks at smaller RVs! My wife and I have a 1992 Catalina Coachmen. Great rig but has trouble getting up hills, and we want to go up some hills! We’re looking for our next and hopefully last RV. Our criteria is much the same as yours except we don’t need a garage as our bikes aren’t that great and can survive the ride on the back hitch ok. We’re taking a hard look at the REV 24rb – lots of space in a relatively small footprint. Have you driven one and if so, what are your impressions?

      thanks!

      Reply
    9. Bill Rollins

      Hi James, Your site got us looking at B’s, and then C’s, and even A’s for a year at RV shows, and at Forest City. We also rented a Class C to try it. We wanted a high clearance, not too wide, not too tall,, well engineered RV for our outdoor pursuits. No luck, so we gave up looking at new ones and started looking at older ones. One day I was crawling around underneath (that is where I always start) a 2005 Itasca Cambria. It was the cleanest design I had ever seen on any RV. Built on an E450 chassis, it had excellent clearance, was narrower than a C, had a roof lower than a C, and was less than 24′.long. They were only built for 2 years, and were really made for people who are less than 5’10” high. It also had the advantage that its e450 chassis resulted in a cargo carrying capacity of 3600 pounds. Given its size, it would be difficult for even my wife to overload it. And, its road handling was somewhat similar to her big suburban. And, although the interior is not as clever as today’s designs, my wife is easy going and said she “could live with it”. So, we are currently part way through a half year trip in it, after having spent 3 months of maintenance to get it ready. In relation to this discussion, I would just mention that if you can not find what you want in a new RV, you may be pleasantly surprised to find an older one that will be more acceptable.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The E-series chassis is a beast. Glad to hear you found something that works for you and you’re out on the road!
        Used could be an option, but I’m not giving up just yet that I can get a manufacturer to make one.
        I should probably set a time limit on that though. Like in the next 3 years.

        Reply
    10. Scott Baldassari

      I think you’re onto something… I’m not sure how many models one company can justify in its line up, but a Trend-ato (Something between a Trend and a Travato) sounds like it could be ideal!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Interesting.
        I like the length. But it’s a bit wide and “old school”.
        It also has the over-cab alcove, which I forgot to mention, shouldn’t be there.
        That’s about the shortest Class C I’ve ever heard of though!

        Reply
    11. Andy & Kim

      I think the “C/B” size would would really sell well over here. Who will be the first to go there?!?! I would bet on Hymer/Roadtrek as Hymer has those models in Europe already. As far as others, possibly LTV because Dean-O just loves climbing into those outside storage compartments :-p.

      Come on Industry, raise those rear beds and give us garages!
      Andy & Kim

      Reply
    12. Lorrie

      Great summary, James!

      I would add that a “Compact C” ought not to have any graphics so you can travel more inconspicuously, like most Class B’s.

      I respectfully disagree on the slide issue. I think 1 is fine – in the living area would be my preference so you could enjoy it – and I like not having to open a slide to catch a cap nap.

      Lorrie

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        No slides for us means keeping the weight down (we want this on a ProMaster chassis, after all, which is the lightest of the current crop of vans).
        It also means less complication at stops, and fewer things that can break.
        A floor plan that is designed for slides is just awful if you try to use it without them deployed. We don’t want to have to deploy slides to eat lunch when we park at a trailhead (and there probably won’t be room in those parking lots anyway).
        We see a slide as feature creep towards a regular class C. None of the compact Cs we saw in Europe had a slide, and we’d like to stick to that.

        But that’s us. To each his own. We won’t hold it against ya if you like slides. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Don

          Help me convince Winnebago to build a Fuse 23a without the slide and you would be most of the way there. We only rarely use the slide and would not miss it if it was gone.

    13. Tom Cahill

      Hi, As always, thanks for the blog posts and newsletter. Why don’t you like slides? I get that they add cost and weight but anything else? I don’t own an RV yet but we have rented them. I liked the extra room that the slide gave us when we were forced indoors because of the weather (cold and wet in AK).

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Reasons we don’t like slides:
        1. Extra cost
        2. Extra weight
        3. Extra leaks
        4. Floor plans designed for slides are almost always un-useable with the slides in. And even if they’re not un-useable, they’re always awful to use with the slides in.
        5. Extra stuff to break
        6. Extra stuff to do every time you park
        7. Extra stuff to do every time you leave
        8. That extra room it creates is just floor space. If we want to dance, we’ll go outside.

        I’m not saying they’re a terrible thing if you keep your RV in place for days at a time. But if you move every day like we typically do, then they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

        Reply
        1. O'Connors

          James – a reply to your #4 about floor plans that have slides being awful with the slide in: we have a new Winnebago Fuse 23A twin bed model. The last two week-end trips we made were short overnight stops and we never put the slide out. The 23A works just great without the slide and to be truthful we never noticed until morning that we forgot to put it out. It is plenty roomy without the slide. Just a comment that some plans are great even without using the slide.

        2. James - Post author

          Super cool that you’ve found a slide floor plan that you don’t mind using with the slides in!
          That’s far from the norm, for sure. But I’m sure there are exceptions, so thanks for keeping me honest.

          But I guess that begs the question – if the floor plan is fine with the slide in… and you don’t bother putting it out… isn’t it just extra weight/cost/complexity?
          It seems like you’d also be fine without the slide. Right?

    14. mike

      We also would be interested in your New Compact C with the garage for our bikes and a dry bath with a sink.Also better roof and wall construction for less maintenance and no water leaks.
      Keep up the pressure and search for the New Compact C.

      Reply
    15. David

      Winnebago just released info on their new Revel this morning at 11AM. A MB diesel 4X4 with no propane, compressor refridge, solar, and rear bed that goes into ceiling when not in use giving a large garage area. Induction cooktop and on the 2500 Sprinter chassis. Russ Garvin announced the news. Google to get info. Russ must be listening to you James.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We were there. It’s a nice machine. (And Russ listens to us… well, sometimes.)
        The shorty Sprinter makes it a bit too small for us – we’ll go out for a month or more at a time. But it would be oh-so-awesome for a monster adventure weekend!

        Reply
        1. David

          I agree. The Promaster is the best out there since it has no drive shaft and rear differential. I don’t know why there are so many diesel van’s when Promaster is so nimble and no fuss manageable. I suspect the Travato, in time, will have some more iterations coming. No slides means no trouble. The 59K is perfect but no garage but the largest rear wet bath in the industry. Wonder how Russ is thinking of some future mods for his Travato. Our 2017 59K is sweeter than ‘a box of chocolates’! Your comments in the past year helped us with the purchase decision.

        2. James - Post author

          Thanks, David! So glad to hear that we helped with your purchase decision in some small way. See you on the road!

        3. David

          I bet in the future, the 59G will receive the rear lift bed to the ceiling since they incorporated it in their new Revel. I am just guessing…

        4. David

          James, I had dream where buddy Russ installed a rear lift bed in a 59G, added a compressor refridge, beefed up the batteries and called it a 59J. “J” for, you guessed it, James…

    16. Yvette

      We are still in “fantasy shop” territory. And I kept checking the website all weekend if maybe you guys had been to the Hersey show and had any reviews. And even better, you checked out the top two on my list. LTV wonder FTB and the Pleasureway wide body (tb). I have now been to both factories. And the pro and con list is extensive. All to say … I can’t wait for the LTV wonder FTB review.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        There are two more shows this fall where we should have an opportunity to grab it.

        So many RVs… so little time to edit video!

        Reply
    17. Art

      Very informative. You’re right in saying the RV industry may be slow to change. But I’d feel more secure with an expensive bicycle in a garage. Room for my Harley perhaps ? I’m still leaning towards a toy hauler type of rig, but keep these reports coming. Excellent review……

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Art.
        You’re like us. There’s NO WAY we’d leave our expensive carbon fiber road bikes outside overnight.
        (I don’t know if a Compact C could haul a Harley though. A Vespa maybe?)

        Reply
    18. CJ

      We did the same thing, we were there at Hershey looking for exactly the same type you were, small, no longer than a B maybe even shorter 22 to 23? with a garage, certainly no longer than our Era 24 ft B we have now and not much taller. We have been calling manufacturers trying to get them to bring the European models here for a couple yrs now. And exactly what you said, you will see several small C’s or what we used to call B+ all with the same exact floor plans, close but not quite right mainly not having the outside storage. Yes as mentioned raising the beds would allow this to be an option. We saw Hymer Aktiv which is close but not a huge fan of the cassette toilet. Slightly bigger version similar to their European models with the garage would work. Hoping maybe Winnebago may do this as they made a start doing their Travato’s and we do own an Era but would trade in a heart beat for the others and are always keeping an eye out for someone to do it. Another we also really like was the Fuse with the twin bed in the mid floor, this floorplan is gaining popularity but it misses in that it doesn’t have the outside storage.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We like that Fuse too – but you’re right. No garage.
        The Hymer is interesting, but there’s something amiss in that floor plan for us. (Well, me mainly.) I can’t walk down the aisle without turning sideways. The aisle is narrower than my shoulders!

        Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, now that it’s released, the Winnebago Revel is probably the closest. But it needs to be a few feet longer, and on a ProMaster.
        Of those we saw, probably the Trend was the closest. Just a bit too long and wide, but on a ProMaster. No slide. Just needs a garage.

        Come to think of it. If they sold me an empty and downsized Trend box, I could probably make it into the Compact C on my own…

        Hey Stef! I have an idea!

        Reply
        1. Aaron

          There probably will be plenty of affordable used Trends available for gutting in a few years. You and Stef might even have enough fans to chip in towards buying the used Trend? Rebuilding the interior, adding lithium and replacing the Onan with an alternator would make for a great series of posts and videos.

          When our two oldest are grown, there’s a good chance we’ll convert our Trend 23L’s corner bed into a garage. The Trend is wider and much longer than my ideal, but we already own it and we’ll know it’s maintenance history.

        2. James - Post author

          Not a bad idea, actually. To add your own garage when you no longer need the bed…
          Trend is still wider and longer than we’d like.
          I’m not giving up on convincing a manufacturer to make one yet!

        3. Randy Gerdes

          I knew you’d come up with more stuff to do! I was kinda faked out by the Truma Trend you pictured. They’re not making the Trend with a Truma heater/water heater system yet, are they?

    19. Will

      I’m normally a fan of your thinking but I’m not sure you’ve really thought this through. A Class C- built like a B would be a….B! Why are you so worried about the Sprinter based class Cs length, width and height? I have a Unity Twin Bed which does not have a slide and it drives exactly like a Sprinter without the cab on it. I can park it in a standard parking space if there is a landscaping strip allowing the rear to hang into it. If not I have often parked it in on-street parking; the width is a non-factor. Where I do agree with you is in wanting a garage. We go to Europe every year and believe me, I’ve drooled over some of the floor plans with the raised beds and large storage. I’ve asked Leisure Travel why they don’t do that; no answer.
      In closing, I know you like your Travato but how would what you’re describing differ from what you’ve got now? I have no idea where they’d fit the garage. Keep thinking. What you’re describing that you want is exactly what some of the vans in your article currently are except with a lifted bed with garage under. You’d better go ahead and actually drive a Leisure or Coach House without a slide before you worry too much about their width and height.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, let’s start with where we agree. The Garage. It’s so easy to do, but nobody here does it. WHY??!!
        Now, while our current Travato does have somewhat of a garage, when we have bikes in there they get in the way of us being able to use the cabinets. The garage with lifted bed solves that. The interior cabinets would be completely accessible regardless of what is in the garage.
        Building like a “regular RV” makes things much less expensive to build. You can buy a brand new HUGE class A or C for $80k. But that price won’t get you a Class B.
        And we find the regular extended Sprinter vans a bit too long for our taste. We like the 21 feet of our ProMaster much better. After having it, we’d rather not have anything longer

        Reply
    20. Other Steph

      I also went to Hershey to see the new LTV Wonder FTB in person as it’s one of the models I’m considering for my “retirement house” RV – easy enough to drive in national parks and cities, but nice enough inside to actually want to live in it full time. But lucky you! I see you were there on one of the sunny days… and not on Sunday when it was overcast and drizzly for much of the morning! Still – I got plenty of time first thing in the morning to sit in many rigs by myself and pick the brains of reps!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That’s great! It’s one of the big benefits of going to an RV show – if the factory guys are there, you can ask them questions!
        Hope you got to spend as much time in your target rigs as you wanted!

        Reply
    21. Interstate Blog

      It would be nice to see something like a compact C in the market, yes. But I tend to look at this issue more in terms of solving the inverse problem, particularly because North American market evolution is not going to happen any time soon. Why is a garage so important? Just bikes or something else?

      What I did was identify what I needed to carry and then I retrofitted our Class B (T1N Sprinter-based Airstream Interstate) accordingly:

      (1) I modified the existing closet to accept my Brompton folding bike.

      (2) My husband and I designed a custom hitch carrier to suit our specific needs (my husband is a mechanical engineer and we have our own welder).

      (3) And one of my favorite mods of all – I created a carrier so that we could store an inflatable kayak on the roof under the leading edge of our vaulted solar panels (#vansizedsewing). We added supplemental under-chassis storage in void spaces so that we could carry the kayak accessories (pump, seats, PFDs, paddles) without cluttering up the interior.

      ^^ Those mods easily involved 10x the work, perhaps 100x the work, vs. having a garage into which gear would simply be fitted, yes. But when all was said and done, there is basically nothing that I cannot carry that I would want to carry, in a 22-foot Sprinter-based Class B. It can be done, is my point.

      Reply
      1. Michael Stern

        For this sea kayaking couple the RV+Kayak solution was the TRAK folding kayak. We easily get two of them + gear in the storage on our Winnebago View. The version 2.0,, available next year, will be lighter and fold more compactly. We love being able to get our class-C into a launch site, put the kayaks together, and paddle in kayaks that perform as well as the carbon/kevlar hardshells at home..

        Reply
    22. Rob Woods

      I would also like to see a small European like rv with a small garage, I own a Trend but hate putting a nice carbon fiber road bike via a hitch bike rack on the back for a long trip or driving in the rain.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Thanks, Rob. The carbon fiber bike on the back of a vehicle in the rain is not a happy scenario.
        The garage is the best answer for that, but also the best answer for a LOT of other storage problems, too.

        Reply
        1. Alain

          As I mentioned on previous post in the past, our Safari Condo Promaster Flex with the elevator bed is essentially a garage in the back. After touring this summer with it for the first time with 2 bikes and 2 inflatable paddle boards, bbq, portable campfire and a few plastic storage boxes, all inside, I can safely say it should fit the space requirements of most active couples and their toys. Easy to load and the bed was still at a reasonnable height to sleep without banging our heads on the ceiling (and not to rub it in, a queen bed !!! I love my wife but the narrow bed of the Travato would be a show stopper for us…LOL).

          I know you can’t buy one directly from the USA, and would need to send your US bought Promaster to Quebec to have it converted, but if it’s really what you need and are ready to wait the present 14 months waiting list, it might be worth it. And probably faster that waiting and hoping for the traditional manufacturers to develop and market something like it ot the C+. One day our paths will cross and you can get a chance to review it live.

          PS: We have the Truma AquaGo Comfort Plus instant water heater as a factory installed upgrade and it is fantastic. Another happy Truma fan…

        2. James - Post author

          Hey Alain – Yes, your Safari Condo is probably the closest thing going out there. Unless you count the just-released-today Winnebago Revel.
          We met the Safari Condo folks, and they seemed pretty cool. But…
          If I had to buy my own van, and it sat in my driveway for 14 months… I’d just build my own!

          Glad to hear you’re liking the Truma. Their products are just awesome! We see those Truma guys all the time. We’ll tell them you said Hi!

    23. Jim Scott

      I think you should take a closer look at the LTV Serenity. It is a little wider, but is only 10′ 3″ in height, 24′ 6″ in length, and no slide. We traded a “B” in a year ago and really enjoy the extra room.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We were just in a Serenity this past weekend, and I’ve even driven one in the past.
        It’s a great option, but taller than the Wonder and (like all RVs here) has no garage.

        Reply
    24. Ted

      One option that was available until recently was from Sportsmobile which resorted to building their own fiberglass van bodies onto Chevy Van cutaway chassis when Dodge stopped making the Chevy Vans and transitioned to Promasters.

      I think one way to obtain the “Big Garage” is to try to convince manufacturers take B-Vans and Class C motorhomes with mid bathroom/kitchen and rear bed layouts to put in lift beds and sacrifice the upper rear cabinets to allow the bed to lift completely to the roof creating a huge garage space. They could market this as a sort of Micro Toy Hauler. The closest I’ve seen anybody come to this is your own customized Travato with the higher bed, the Winnebago 4×4 Sprinter concept and a couple of other manufacturers (Avion, Outside Van) that have mounted the rear bed high enough to store bikes underneath.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yep – our own rig is about as close as we could get. (And now you know one of the main reasons why we drive a Travato!)
        I didn’t know that Sportsmobile ever made a class C? Interesting. Got any pictures? Or something from the way back machine?

        Reply
        1. James - Post author

          Interesting!
          I don’t know if I’d call it a B or a C though. I know technically by the book it’s a C. But really?…

    25. Suzan Lamberson

      They did the 2002-2004 Vista 21 B motorhome with VW 6 engine, 21 feet, full bath in back, 3 burner stove, double sink, dinette seat 4, coach seats 3 with belts. storage on the side. I contacted Winnebago to tell them bring it back and with the Dodge Fiat it would be great. Could be shorter but I am looking to buy one with less than 55,000 miles, non-smoking.
      I love your information. Keep up the great work.
      Blessings!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Love the length of that one, but it’s a bit “boxy” compared to the European models in our video. (I do realize it’s been 10-15 years, so designs have changed.)
        That’s kind of the right idea though. Just needs to be updated to more of a Class B than a Class C feel.

        Reply
    26. Andy

      This is Andy and Eileen from the Hershey show. Thanks so much for answering our questions about RVs and how to exercise inside a class B.

      We did end up purchasing a Pleasureway Lexor and can’t wait to get on the road next year. Maybe we’ll see you out there…

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That’s FANTASTIC news, guys! Congratulations!

        We hope JC treated you right! 😉

        Hopefully we’ll see you out on the road soon (exercising) in your new rig. We’ll be looking for you!

        Reply

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