Anybody who has the chance (and the money) to get the RV of they dreams, will usually want to be as comfy as they were in the apartment or house they were living in before jumping into their new RV. By that, I mean getting the same kind of services and luxuries that they had and not be shocked too much by the change of habitation.
By "Holy Grail RV" I mean an RV that can pack as many "Big Sections" as possible in the smallest space possible.
So when I say "Big 6 Sections" I DO NOT MEAN "Residential size" Sections here. It can never be. Nobody can have a 20' X 20' residential size bedroom in an RV because the width of the RV must fit into a highway lane which are around 10 feet wide and even with big slide outs (extension on the sides of the RV) they cannot reach that size.
However, my main goal is to get all 6 (or as many of these BIG 6 sections I can) in my next RV. Not sure if it's possible but I'll give it a shot.
So if those Big Sections are not residential size, what do I mean by "Big" then? Let me define...
Big Bedroom: A bedroom that contains a big permanent bed like a queen or king size bed (not a folding sofa bed).
Big Bathroom: A bathroom that has separate sections for the toilet and the shower (not a wet bath).
Big Kitchen: A kitchen that has a big fridge (almost residential size and not a small 2' X 2' cube fridge) and a kitchen counter that has room for a sink, a stove and space to cut your food (with or without the help of a folding counter extension).
Big Dining Room: A room that has a table where AT LEAST 4 people can sit around, preferably 6 or more to have friends over to play games when it's raining outside.
Big Living Room: A room that has a big sofa where people can sit and watch a fireplace or a big screen TV.
Big Garage: A big storage compartment at the bottom of the RV, preferably a passthrough storage enough to store many boxes of stuff, bicycles, etc...
To understand and know which RV can store as many "Big Sections" as possible into the smallest RV possible, you first need to know the 4 major RV classes (Class A, B, B+ and C).
The definition of each class may change from RVer to RVer but usually, those classes are fairly easy to differentiate. So let's start with the Class A.
You can't miss a Class A RV when you see one. It's usually VERY BIG, 30 to 45 feet in length and with some crazy paint job telling you that it's NOT a Greyhound Bus but an RV.
Here's an image of one.
As you can see, they are big and because of that, they can easily contain all those Big 6 sections. For example, here's the picture below of that RV's living room... Right behind the living room sofa, we can see the kitchen counter on the left with the microwave on top and across the RV, the dining room to sit easily 4 or 6 people.
They usually have a big bathroom (some even have a standard bathtub!!) and of course the big standard bedroom with the queen or king size bed. As for the last of the Big 6 sections (Garage) just look above at the big doors these RVs have on each sides and how much stuff you can put in these big storage compartments.
The Class A is the king of the RV world, but they have many drawbacks. The 1st one is of course their price, they cost a fortune (usually above 200K to many millions of $), they consume A TON of gas, pollutes a lot and are too big to enter many state parks and cities, that's why many RVers (usually younger generations) are leaving those behind to go with smaller classes of RVs like the B, B+ or C classes.
We now move from the big Class A to the Class C RVs (skipping B for now) because the Class C is the next biggest RV in terms of width and length.
As you can see below, they are big but a bit smaller than the Class As (usually between 25-35 feet). When you think of an RV and families taking off at the beach or campground, the Class C usually comes to mind for most people. No wonder it's the most popular class of RVs because it's not as big as a Class A and not too small like a Class B and the parents can sleep in the back while the children can sleep in front in this big bunk above the driving cabin.
They also cost a lot less (between $100,000 and $200,000 for most of them) but because of the 10 feet or so that this class loses compared to the Class A, you do not have all the Big 6 sections anymore. You have at best 5 of them. The living room is usually the one that goes away.
The bedroom is usually big with a queen or king size bed in it, the bathroom has a stand up shower, the kitchen has a decent kitchen counter and big fridge but the dining room and the living room are now merged into 1 with a booth dinette at the front where 4 people can sit comfortably, eat and watch TV and finally they have decent storage space but not everyone has a big passthrough garage that goes from one side to the other of the RV.
For many people like myself, 30-35 feet, that's still too long. Losing another 5-10 feet would be the best.
Let's move to the Class B RVs (aka camper vans).
As shown below, the Class B is the smallest category of RVs (usually between 15-22 feet), so much so that it's often hard to see right away that this is an RV because they look like regular delivery vans. The awning on the roof usually betrays them but most of the time, you will need to get inside to know that it's an RV by seeing a sofa bed, a fridge, a stove, a bathroom, etc...
Many love them because of their "stealthiness" because they can park and sleep in parking lots or on the side of the street and very few people would know that people are living in them.
Because of their small size, they will usually contain only 1 or 2 of the Big 6 sections. Rarely 3 and certainly not 4 or more. That's the price you pay for the big reduction in size.
For example, here's the top view of this Class B RV shown above. You could say that because it has a big fridge and long kitchen counter that it has one Big Kitchen and you are right. It also has a fairly big Living/Dining Room section in the back with the sofa and table ready to sit 4 or 5 people around the table so that would make it the 2nd Big section. You can fold the sofa and make it a big bedroom but if you do, you no longer have a Dining Room. Here's where it gets a bit complicated.
If you look closely, you can see that you do not have a stand up shower. In fact, it's called a "wet bath". It's basically a bathroom the size of a closet where they have put the shower, the toilet bowl and the bathroom sink all into 1. So when you shower, you usually sit on the toilet and water and soap splashes everywhere on the toilet bowl, the sink and faucet. Some people like it, I prefer a stand up shower separated from the sink and toilet.
Also, because those Class B RVs are not extended on it's width or length (at least not as much as the Class B+ RVs), they don't have the space for a queen or king size bed and even if they have one, you don't have the space to walk around them. They usually offer instead a folding sofa bed that you can turn flat and that becomes your bed.
So by having a big kitchen and dining room, Class B RVs only have 2 of the big 6 sections. They do not have a Big Bedroom and Bathroom with a stand up shower and let's not even talk about the garage here. They have small storage cabinets inside and a few ones outside around the RV sides.
The reason why they call it a B+ (B Plus) category is because they are Class B RVs that have been extended a few feet on the width and length sides. They are usually between 22-25 feet long so around 5 feet longer than the B Class and 1 foot wider on the side as you can see below.
The way to do this is as follow...
First they take a regular Class B van like this..
Then they remove the cargo box right behind the driver and passenger seats. You can then see what is known as the cab chassis of the RV.
The red rectangle is the size of the "RV house" that will be installed right behind the cabin on top of the chassis. You can see below how larger and longer the B+ will be compared to the Class B.
Then they start building the house with all the standard amenities, fridge, stove, shower, bed, etc....
Let's look back at each class of RVs and their overall length (of course some may be a bit shorter or longer but these numbers are their average length)...
Class A: Between 30-45 feet
Class C: Between 25-35 feet
Class B+: Between 22-25 feet
Class B: Between 15-22 feet
Now that you know each RV class, you can then see which one is the best for you. To me, as I mentioned at the beginning, my Holy Grail RV contains the MOST amount of Big Sections inside the SMALLEST size RV and that leaves behind the Class A and even the Class C because at 25-35 feet or more, they are way too long for my taste.
As for the Class B, they are the perfect lenght because they can park into a regular parking spot on the street (Max 20-21 feet) but I haven't found one that contains more than 1 or 2 Big Sections so it looks like that I will have to go with a B+ RV in the range of 24-26 feet but not longer than that. Here's why...
I want to visit state parks and many do not let in RVs that are longer than 24 feet so no Class A and Class C here. Below is a chart of State Parks in the state of California alone and right there you can see that for 33 feet RVs or longer, they won't be able to get in while look at the 24 feet or less column, you see a lot more green squares saying that those small RVs would be able to get inside the park.
So who makes the best Class B+ RV you may ask?
Well... I have been searching the net and watching 100s of Youtube videos of RVs in North America, France, Italy, Germany, UK, Spain, Australia, Japan, you name it and being born in North America, I can say that we are losing the battle here. The best Class B+ RV designs are all in Europe right now.
They have 19-25 feet RVs that have it all and by that I mean not just 2 or 3 but ALL 5 Big Sections as I will comment in more details in the next chapter.
For now, the best North American Manufacturer of B+ RVs I have seen is LTV (Leisure Travel Vans). They beat Winnebago, Thor, Itasca, Roadtrek, Pleasure Way and a few other ones in the US and Canada by their quality of work. Don't believe me? Just do your own research. You'll see... ;-)
Despite that, all the floor plans at LTV are missing 1 or 2 Big Sections in all their Class B+ RVs. Here's a few of their floor plans, you'll see what I mean... Btw, those floor plans are commonly used by most Class B+ Manufacturers in North America.
However, the Dining/Living Room is a little bit squeezed for my taste with a small table with a seat on each side. Thank God for the 2 driver and passenger seats that can be turned around to make it a 4 seater room but still, they can do better. Also, because the bed is not elevated, they do not have the "Big Garage" Section under it. So out of a possible 5 "Big Sections", it has only 3.
Once again I want to say that this is my opinion of the holy grail RV and I KNOW that this definition will NOT fit everyone because everyone has different needs.
In Europe for now (coming soon to America I hope) I found a floor plan called the EB for "Elevated Bed" that has it all, and by that I mean ALL "Big 5 Sections". They managed to do that by raising the bed about 6-8 inches, enough to create a "Big Garage" just under the big queen size island bed...
All this in a Class B+ RV that is only 24-25 feet long which is in itself, a major engineering accomplishment. Most big RV manufacturers in Europe have this floor plan in their RVs as you will see below.
Basically, the floor plan goes like this. They decided to spread the bathroom on the width of the van instead of on the length. Look at the bathroom, you can see that the sink is placed in the middle of the RV This saves space and the front sections can now move 1 foot in the back giving more space for the Dining Room Section.
There are European RV maufacturers in many countries offering this specific floor plan so I guess they all see that it's a winner so let's start with one of the best looking RVs I've seen... The Adria.
This is the Dining Room of the Adria Matrix Supreme 687 SBC.
As you can see, as soon as you come in, you have this nice Big Dining/Living Room where you can sit easily 5-6 people.
The kitchen counter is pretty small but if you add a little counter extension, it would give you the space to cut your food and with a big fridge on the opposite side, It covers the Big Kitchen Section.
As mentioned earlier, the bathroom is spread across the width of the RV so the toilet is on one side of the RV and the stand up shower is on the other side making this a Big Bathroom to me.
This is a residential queen size bed and not a sofa bed that you have to fold and unfold each day and remove and put back on the bed sheets twice a day. So "checked" for the Big Bedroom.
Because this queen size bed is elevated, that leaves some room under for a nice passthough storage so Big Garage Section...checked!
You can watch a video about the Adria Matrix Supreme 687 SBC here... Adria RVs are made in Slovenia but sold across Europe.
Here's another similar floor plan from Chausson, a French RV manufacturer. This one is called the Titanium 728EB.
Here's one from Caravans International, an Italian RV manufacturer. This one is called the Nacre 66 XT.
Here's another French RV manufacturer. Challenger. This one is called the 388 EB Graphite.
So there you have it. A floor plan that looks like the IB (Island Bed) but where they elevated the bed a few inches giving us enough room for that huge garage that will make everyone happy.
Then, by moving the bathroom sink right in the middle of the bathroom, it adds room in the Dining Room for another seat.
If European RV manufaturers have done this floor plan, I wonder why North American RV manufacturers can't do the same!
This page is part 1 of my Holy Grail RV. In part 2, I will discuss how I would upgrade it to make it almost Hook Up free. Click here to read it...