Back in 2006/2007 when I started to look at replacing our old Toyota chassis motor home, I saw a few brand new class-A's in $49k-$54k price range. They surely offer a grand view out the front, and more outdoor storage. But some very important matters quickly shy'd me away.
- the mechanicals related to the chassis like the dash board, under-hood, etc. was very poorly assembled using poor quality materials and poor wiring methods and connections. Those low end rigs looked like they'd be coming apart after 25,000 miles. Since we are long term RV owners with plans for 30+ years with the rig we bought, long term reliability was very concerning.
- quality, construction of the structure was lowest grade, including windows, the only door, storage compartments, etc. with concern of water getting in under strong storm conditions. Fit and finish fell short as well.
- quality of the interior, finish and materials were poor. I was concerned for trouble during trips, having to make interior repairs along the way.
- a common overwhelming production material or chemical odor from such interior finish materials had me nearly passing out. I couldn't breathe in a class-A that was closed up. I was very concerned for my health.
I suppose an entry level class-A would be worth consideration if I planned to own it a short time, as long as I wasn't sensitive to the odor.
Years ago, my wife and I stayed at my cousin's house who owned a 5th wheel. We slept in the 5th on his driveway. It was maybe 5 years old at the time, yet that same odor was present. We had the windows open which made it managable, but I was still affected by that chemical odor for the duration of the visit and a few days after.
If you step in a brand new rig of any kind, and the odor inside affects your respiration, don't think it's only temporary.
BTW, in the end we spent $67K on a new quality built B+, roughly $15k more than an entry level class-A. That was the wisest $15k extra we ever spent.
We had to pass on the low-cost A because the wife could not get used to sitting right behind a big window with no structure close around her. She couldn't ride in the right front seat of a motorcoach, either, although she was fine with the seat behind the driver.
I had Hurricane, Mirada and Sightseer models at the top of my shopping list in 2004 (I eventually ruled out the Mirada of that vintage after close inspection), but she just couldn't handle the right front seat and would not consider riding anywhere in back.
I have a small class c 24 ft and was considering to upsize. On my last trip to garner state park (texas) my genset was having problems and we have to rely on cab AC only. It's really hot here in south Texas. To my surprise the cab AC was plenty enough to cool my small space. My friend on the other hand have a 33 ft hurricane class a and cannot survive in this heat if his genset was broken. Bigger doesn't always mean better.
Wow, that Sprinter class C (the headlights give it away) took two hits and the passengers were not even needing the ambulance.
From what I know, since the class C is on a cutaway van chassis, the airbags and other items tend to be present. A class A may or may not have those features, as the RV maker builds everything atop of the chassis, including airbags or other safety systems (if any.)
Class Cs have a baseline of safety, while a class A can be excellent on down.
If you want MPG with a class C, I'd recommend looking at Sprinter based class Cs which get mid to upper teens, although there will be a cost difference. There are always downsides, and there are a number of posts about the good/bad/ugly of Sprinters versus Ford van cutouts. It really depends on what you want/need.
If you want a class C with mobility, Phoenix Cruiser has Quigley converted 4x4 class Cs available. It won't rock the gnarly terrain on Moab, but it will be able to go to some fairly remote spots.
If you want storage space, you can always tow a trailer. The nice thing about a small trailer is that it can be used to reserve your place while you are gone. Most 24-26' rigs will have similar storage space in volume. Cargo-wise, Fords will tend to have more CCC than the Sprinters.