2017 THOR Compass “RUV” Recreational Utility Vehicle

Road test and photos by Norm Rosen

This road test first appeared in RV Lifestyle Magazine Vol. 45 No. 6.

To view the full content of this issue, please visit our DIGITAL EDITION Archives, and use the password RVLFREE2017 – here is the link:



We had the pleasure of visiting the team at The Hitch House, in Barrie, Ontario, to road test one of the first 2017 THOR Compass “RUV” motorhomes to arrive in Canada.

The front section of the Compass provides a very comfortable living area.

This compact motorhome is a very interesting blend of utility and versatility. Built on a 350 HD Power-Stroke diesel Ford Transit motorhome chassis, with a 3.2L I-5 Power Stroke® Turbo Diesel engine producing 185HP and 350 lb-ft of torque, it is a very maneuverable unit with an interesting interior layout, ideally suited for extensive touring adventures.

In the ongoing saga of RV terminology, THOR defines this model as an “RUV” – recreational utility vehicle, and lists it as a class C motorhome… some RV dealers classify this as a class B+ motorhome, because it has the classic “C” style overhang above the cockpit area, but the Compass does not offer a front bunk – one of the characteristics of a typical class C motorhome. While the industry wrestles with the classification and terminology, let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Our test vehicle was elegantly equipped with the Moonlight interior décor package, with the Beech wood cabinetry package, which features a dark valence and lower cabinet colour scheme, with light-coloured upper cabinet doors, countertops, and flooring. This gives the unit a distinctively modern “look” and conveys a style that is very attractive.

The rear slide extends to substantially increase the interior living space.

Of the many innovative design aspects that distinguish the Compass from other RVs in this size range, the most interesting is the use of a rear slideout section, which is outfitted with a flip-up queen size bed. When the slide is extended, you can keep the bed in the raised position to enjoy cushioned lounge seating, or flip it down for use as a conventional master bedroom. The concept is quite unique in the industry, and it maximizes the interior space of the unit without adding significantly to the weight or complexity of the construction.

With the rear slide extended and the flip-up bed lowered in place, the master bedroom is quite spacious for a vehicle of this type.

RV enthusiasts shopping for a compact and affordable, yet fully-equipped motorhome will find the Compass to be a very well designed and very well constructed unit, with many features that can be utilized in a variety of configurations. For example, the front lounge area has a 42” x 64” leatherette sofa bed, and a removable pedestal table. This table can also be used in the bedroom area when the queen bed is in the upright position.

THOR Compass Floorplan

While the motorhome is rather compact, the ingenious interior floorplan lets you create two separate living areas – just open one of the twin bathroom doors to split the floorplan into a front dining and entertainment area, and a rear master bedroom suite with full access to the bathroom. The galley is essentially divided by this door – with the sink and cooking area in the front section, and the refrigerator in the rear section.

We were very impressed with the 80” interior ceiling height – but taller people may still have to watch their head when entering and exiting the vehicle.

On The Road

The Compass 23TR is a delight to drive, with a strong yet fuel efficient Power-Stroke diesel engine providing quiet, smooth performance in all driving situations. The Ford Transit motorcoach chassis is very well suited to a vehicle of this type, with a tight turning radius and very driver-friendly handling.

We were particularly impressed with the comfort and convenience of this chassis, which is engineered to serve in the commercial delivery fleets of countless businesses worldwide, and very well adapted to the needs of the RV enthusiast.

The motorhome components of the Compass include deluxe heated and remote-controlled exterior side mirrors, a rear view mirror with back-up monitor, power windows and door locks. Automatic transmission, power brakes, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, map lights and a full range of automotive features make this a very easy vehicle to drive in city or highway conditions.

While you are driving, you can enjoy the AM/FM dash radio with CD player, and the overhead skylight in the front cap brightens the cockpit area very nicely.

At the Campsite

THOR has incorporated many of the best RV concepts into this compact motorhome. From the clever placement of courtesy LED lighting at numerous locations, starting with the lighted step well at the entrance to the unit, and progressing through the full range of exterior storage compartments, to the use of a keyless entry system, the unit is filled with the little touches that you would normally expect to find in a far more expensive vehicle.

In the campground, the Compass has a 30-amp electrical hookup. For dry camping, the Compass comes with an Onan® RV QV 3600 LP generator. An automatic “shoreline-to-generator” transfer switch kicks in when you connect to the campground electrical hookup, saving fuel and hours on the genset. For long-term storage, there is a battery disconnect switch to isolate the coach systems from the automotive systems.


The Compass is built on a Ford Transit motorhome chassis, with a welded tubular steel floor system, and the

RV component is designed with a welded tubular aluminum roof and sidewall cage structure, with vacu-bond laminated roof, walls and floor, and one-piece fiberglass front cap with integrated wing walls. The RV body is insulated with block foam, and the crowned roof is finished with a one-piece premium TPO material. The rear wall is a two-piece design, with upper and lower fiberglass caps. Black frameless windows add an extra touch of class.

The Rotocast storage compartments are generously sized for a vehicle of this type. All exterior compartment doors are flush-mounted. There is a partial-paint on HD-MAX exterior graphics package that is modern and appealing to the eye.

Our test vehicle sported the “Trail Blazer Champagne” graphics package.

The Compass is equipped with a range of RV features, including a power patio awning with integrated LED lighting, a built-in skylight with electric shade, and an awning over the slideout section. The unit comes with a roof ladder, exterior shower, and a 5,000-lb. capacity trailer hitch.

The galley features refrigerator, stainless steel sink, cooktop, and counter space.

In The Galley

You might expect a vehicle of this size to have a very compact galley, but the Compass offers a surprisingly spacious pressed laminate countertop, with a European-style 2-burner gas cooktop with glass cover, and a large stainless steel single bowl sink with cover. The single handle kitchen faucet has an integrated pull-down sprayer, just like the residential models. There is a microwave convection oven below the cooktop, and task lighting under the cabinets. At the end of the galley there is a 5.5 cu. ft. 3-way refrigerator with stainless steel door inserts. Above the galley, a power roof vent provides sunlight as well as reversible airflow.

All of the Euro-Style curved cabinet doors have soft-close hidden hinges and nickel finish hardware. Full extension metal ball bearing drawer glides are smooth and quiet. Storage space in the galley is excellent for a vehicle of this size.

The Compass has residential vinyl flooring throughout the unit, all of the surfaces are easily cleaned and maintained.

Comfort and Convenience

The Compass has a 19,000 BTU furnace and a 13,500 BTU ducted air conditioning system to keep your interior environment comfortable. The systems control panel puts control of all of the RV systems at your fingertip. The unit is equipped with a fire extinguisher and the required smoke, LPG and carbon monoxide detectors.

The engineers at THOR have provided all of the modern conveniences – including a power charging station for your portable electronic devices, a digital TV antenna, and a 24” LED TV in the bedroom.

Entertaining in the Compass

The interior floorplan of this compact motorhome is very well suited for entertaining the family. A 32” LED TV mounted above the entry door is well placed to provide easy viewing from the sofa, and the unit has a very good Bluetooth® coach radio system, complete with DVD player. The entertainment system is HDMI ready to accept a range of satellite or fibre-optic TV signals. The entertainment system has App control, and plays through your choice of interior and exterior speakers.

In the Bedroom

While the bedroom area in this compact motorhome is essentially a convertible rear lounge while you travel, when the rear slide is extended and the queen bed is lowered into position it creates a very comfortable rear bedroom. Décor in this area is very tasteful, with designer headboard, bedspread and pillow shams. There are privacy roller shades on the windows, and a privacy door to separate the bedroom from the front of the vehicle. You can enjoy a 24” LED TV mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed. As with the other TV locations in the vehicle, this spot is pre-wired for satellite or cable TV hookup.

The corner shower stall is a very clever design element that gives the Compass a very nicely appointed bathroom for a vehicle of this type.

In the Bathroom

The Compass has a very spacious bathroom for a vehicle of this size, with a corner shower stall, a vanity with a stainless steel sink, and a foot-flush toilet. There is a skylight with a power vent above the shower. The unit uses an instant tankless water heater to supply the bathroom and galley with a continuous flow of hot water, without the need for the space and weight of a conventional water heating system.

Optional Equipment

The Compass comes very well equipped, but there are a few options that you might want to consider, especially if you travel to very hot or very cool destinations.

To handle the hot weather, you can order a 13,500 BTU low-profile roof air conditioner with heat pump, in place of the standard roof a/c unit. For cold weather camping, you can order holding tanks that are equipped with heat pads, and if you enjoy “dry camping” you might want to add a second auxiliary house battery.

If you like to entertain at the campsite, there is an optional exterior 32” LED TV on a manual swivel that hides in your exterior storage compartment – this is a popular choice – it makes the Compass an excellent tailgating vehicle for football fans.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for a compact motorhome, and the class B models are just a bit too small, then this Compass

model might be just what you need. Compact but fully-featured on a very nimble diesel powered chassis, this RV

is an excellent value at an attractive price.




Chassis – Ford® Transit

Engine – 3.2L I-5 Power Stroke® Turbo Diesel,185HP & 350 lb-ft Torque

Fuel Type – Diesel

Gross Vehicle Weight: – 10,360 lbs.

Gross Combined – 13,500 lbs.

Wheel Base – 156″

Exterior Length – 23′-6″

Exterior Height – 10′-5″

Exterior Width – 90″

Interior Height – 80″

Awning Size – 14′

Fuel (gal) – 25 gal.

LPG (lbs.) – 68 lbs.

Fresh Water – 31 gal.

Black Water – 19.5 gal.

Gray Water – 19.5 gal.

Water Heater – Instant Tankless

Furnace – 19,000 BTU

Exterior Storage – 25.3 cu. ft.

Trailer Hitch Rating – 5,000 lbs.

Sleeping Capacity – 3

Seat Belt Positions – 4

MSRP as tested: $101,625 USD AS OF SPRING 2017

F.O.B. Barrie, Ontario. There are further manufacturer options that can be selected at an additional cost to the retail customer.

Many thanks to the crew at The Hitch House, Barrie, Ontario, for their assistance with this road test project.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and never miss another update!