When I first became interested in purchasing a motorhome, I assumed a class B would be the least expensive way to go. After all, a class B motorhome is the smallest type that you can buy. Why wouldn’t they be the cheapest?
I assumed that the smaller the RV, the lower the price.
However, what I found once I began my search was the exact opposite. The expense of these types of motorhomes was much greater than I expected.
It just didn’t make sense to me that a small camper van can be as expensive and often even more expensive than a larger motorhome.
After much research, I concluded why class B motorhomes are so expensive.
Class B motorhomes are expensive because they are in demand and aren’t as mass-produced as larger motorhomes. They are built on expensive chassis and are more difficult to create since there is less space to work with. They often have higher-end components and materials and are built by skilled workers. They have great fuel economy and are easy to drive, unlike many larger motorhomes.
I can attest to the fact that class B motorhomes are difficult to build. I learned this the hard way as I set out to build my own camper van from scratch.
I used a Ram Promaster van for my build which a lot of manufacturers use. These types of vans have tight spaces in which you have to work with. It takes skilled workers to create one of these masterpieces in such a small vehicle.
I am not a skilled worker but I did manage to create my custom van after some trial and error and lots of four-letter words.
Beyond the Ram Promaster, class B motorhomes are often built on other expensive chassis. The most common ones include the Mercedes Sprinter and the Ford Transit.
When you factor in the cost of the chassis, which is the starting point of the motorhome, the additional parts and man-hours can add up quickly to make these types of motorhomes very expensive.
The Ram Promaster 2500 with a high roof and 159-inch wheelbase starts around $36,000 and the Mercedes sprinter starts around $40,000 for the 170-inch wheelbase, high roof cargo van.
By the time you add high-end materials and man-hours, it is easy to see the cost of these motorhomes reaching the levels that they do.
I learned that it isn’t just about the size of the motorhome that matters. There are many factors involved in the expense of the motorhome.
You are probably well aware of the prices that some of these RVs can reach but just in case you aren’t, here is a list of some of the popular class B motorhomes and the prices that you can expect to pay for them.
10 Examples of Class B Motorhome Costs
The following is a list of popular class B motorhomes and what they cost. These are the approximate MSRP costs for new units. Keep in mind that you will likely be able to purchase these for less than what the MSRP is.
1. Winnebago Revel – $163,292
The Revel starts at $163,292 and is built on the 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter chassis. This motorhome is made for off-road adventure.
2. Winnebago Travato – $114,455
The Travato starts at $114,455 and is built on the Ram Promaster chassis.
3. Carado Banff – $71,625
As one of the more affordable class B motorhomes, the Banff starts at $71,625 and goes up depending upon the options you choose. It is built on the Ram Promaster chassis.
4. Roadtrek E-TREK – $178,211
The Roadtrek is a premium motorhome that comes with a hefty starting price tag of $178,211. It is built on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis and is made for those who want a luxurious camping experience.
5. Roadtrek Zion – $101,681
Cheaper than the E-Trek but still a hefty price tag. The starting price is only $101,681 for the Zion and it is built on the Ram Promaster chassis.
6. Pleasure Way 2020 Plateau FL – $150,735
Built on the Sprinter chassis, the Plateau FL is a luxury motorhome that starts at $150,735. It is among the most luxurious class B motorhomes that you will find.
7. Pleasure Way 2020 Tofino – MSRP $70,850
If you are looking for a cheap class B motorhome, the 2020 Tofino may be your best bet. Although not cheap, it starts at only $70,850 and is built on the low roof, Ram Promaster chassis. It has a pop-up roof for additional headroom.
8. Coach House ARRIVA – $151,000
The Arriva is another expensive class B that is built for those who want a premium experience. At a starting price of approximately $151,000, it is for those who are serious about wanting a top of the line motorhome. It is built on the Sprinter chassis.
9. Fleetwood Irok $100,000+
Built on the Ram Promaster chassis, the Irok is a luxury class B with a starting price of over $100,000. There are different models and options, making it difficult to determine an exact MSRP.
10. Thor Motor Coach – $91,875
Starting at $91,875 for the 20L model and $93,125 for the 20K model. The Thor Motor Coach is built on the Promaster chassis.
As you can see, buying a class B motorhome takes a large financial commitment. The prices of some of these rigs seem like total nonsense for some people and I can understand that feeling. It’s a high price to pay for such a small place to live in.
If you aren’t interested in paying a small fortune for one of these motorhomes, you can always opt for used units. Buying a used motorhome can be a great way to get into a class B for less.
Buying a Used Class B Motorhome For Less
A used vehicle can often be a risky thing to buy. A motorhome can certainly be risky as well and could come with issues that you may not be aware of.
It may be more difficult to obtain information on the history of motorhomes. This means that you may not know anything about the motorhome, who owned it or if proper maintenance was done on it.
However, the cost of a used class B can be significantly less then a new one is. This is mainly because motorhomes, like any vehicle, depreciate.
Similar to cars, motorhomes also lose value as soon as you drive them off of the lot. It’s usually better to let someone else take the initial loss through depreciation rather than you.
You can simply buy a used one for less money and enjoy using it just like the original owner did.
Cost To Build Your Own Class B Camper Van
Building a camper van yourself may be your best bet for obtaining one for the lowest price. However, you should also realize that the cost can add up just the same.
You will have to start with one of the same chassis as one of the manufactured class B’s use. You can choose to purchase a used one to keep your costs down. A used cargo van can often be purchased for a small price compared to what you would pay for them brand new.
Buying a standard cargo van will also have a history attached to it and you will likely know of any issues and maintenance records as reported on Carfax reports.
For example, I purchased my 2017 Ram Promaster for $23,300 and it was less than a year old with only 27,000 miles on it. This gave me a solid base in which to begin building my camper van and allowed me to have a finished motorhome for much less than I would have spent otherwise.
However, if you value your time, you will need to consider how much you will be putting into the van to convert it to a camper van.
Working on a van like this is a huge time commitment. Especially if you are like me and have to learn as you go. I am not an RV builder and each component of my motorhome had to be researched and I learned through trial and error during the whole process.
In the end, I spent around $10,000 converting my van which gave me a ready-to-use camper van for less than $35,000. I ended up with a camper van that cost a fraction of what a manufactured one would have cost me.
I also had the opportunity to design it the exact way that I wanted it. I prefer my build to most all of the manufactured class B motorhome’s that I have looked at. Mine has character and isn’t sterile and cheap-looking like a lot of motorhomes.
Buying a Used Custom Camper Van
If you like the idea of converting your own van but don’t want to do the work yourself, you may consider purchasing a used conversion van.
However, don’t expect these to come at a cheap price either.
Custom camper vans are often expensive because a lot of work and material has gone into creating it, not to mention the time put in.
Building out a camper van is no easy task. I know from experience that it is extremely challenging, especially if you want to do things the right way so that it will have resell value in the future.
Many people don’t have the handyman skills required nor the tools or place to even work on a van so this makes it a no-go for those people.
Buying a used custom camper van may be the way to go if you want to spend less and want a custom van.
No matter how you look at it, a class B motorhome is not a cheap way to go. If you want the convenience of a smaller RV that has all the comforts of home and will allow you to travel nearly anywhere you want, you will have a pay a price.
Many people that purchase these types of rigs, plan on living in them full-time so it is their home. Some people sell everything they have, purchase a class B and travel the world in it.
It can be a very rewarding experience and although the cost seems high, the experiences you will have in it are priceless.
As I’ve shown you in this article, there are ways that you can have the same experience for less. Whether you opt for a used unit or build one yourself, a class B has its advantages over other types of larger RVs.