Today we’re reviewing the best-selling motorhome in the U.S., the Thor A.C.E. 33.1, a smaller gasoline-powered motorhome. There are a lot of reasons that this is America’s favorite motorhome, and I’m guessing that price is absolutely one of those.
When you see what you get for the base price of the version we’re looking at today, which is $187,500, there’s actually a fair amount of value there. Now I see a big difference between value and price.
Value is that you get something you like for a specific dollar amount. Price is something that’s just cheap. Like that meat at the local butcher shop that’s marked for immediate sale. It’s cheap, all right. But should meat really be that color?
So the Thor A.C.E. is something I would describe as a value because you get things that are good—like a six-year warranty on the lamination and a 12-year structural warranty. Both good things. There are also frameless windows which require less maintenance. I like quite a quite a bit.
Preconceived notions; my view on the Thor A.C.E. has changed
I try to be very open-minded when I look at any RV. I’ve found some really interesting features and build factors when I have looked at some rigs—sometimes really positive and sometimes not. But, in the past, I’ve looked at these Thor A.C.E. motorhomes and haven’t been very impressed with what I saw. That changed here.
Recently I wrote an article about cargo carrying capacity in some motorhomes and this all started with an advert for an A.C.E., where the cargo carrying capacity was somewhere around 700 pounds. This got me looking around and spurred the story. I still think this is a very valuable thing to keep in mind if you’re buying a motorhome.
The chassis on which these are based is the Ford F-53. It features a 7.3-liter gasoline V8—the kind that used to be ultra-common in American cars. Ford has upgraded the chassis such that the entire rig has a gross weight of 20,500 pounds. The unladen weight of these is about 16,800 pounds, so that gives you about 3,700 pounds of cargo carrying. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Er, writing about.
Getting there is half the fun
One of the things that surprised me about this rig is that there is an anchor point for a forward-facing child seat in the dinette. I’m hoping that Thor did a pull test on this mount. But one of the issues with a lot of motorhomes is that there is no provision for the youngest of travelers. Plus. In fact, there are a total of eight belted positions here. You could bring your whole crew.
The passenger-side seat up front also has a nifty flip over desk arrangement. If you were traveling with some sort of author, like a dork who writes RV reviews, that author could sit in the passenger seat and bang out a bunch of reviews on a notebook confuser while the captain piloted the rig down the road.
The Thor A.C.E. is a space invader
There are a lot of seating choices in this rig including a jackknife sofa and dinette on the road side and theater seats on the camp side. Even with the slide in, all of these seating positions are accessible.
In fact, the entire kitchen, too, is accessible with the slide in, as is the bathroom.
The kitchen features a good amount of counter space and, wonder of wonders, a 21” oven for the three-burner stove unit. There’s also a decent amount of cabinet space and even two garbage cans. Presumably, you may want to use one for recycling.
The bathroom in the Thor A.C.E. is also surprisingly spacious with a rather large shower that features a curtain-style door. I so prefer this over the glass shower doors. I just don’t understand the thinking of putting a huge piece of glass in a moving vehicle. And, yeah, I filed lots of warranty claims on those stupid glass shower doors.
There’s also decent counter space in the bathroom. There’s even what Matt Foxcroft from Matt’s RV Reviews calls a prime poopin’ position. In other words, there’s sufficient space around the toilet to accomplish the task at hand including the paperwork.
Sleep on it
That space continues in the bedroom where there’s a king-size bed at 72” X 76”. The whole room really is well thought through and leaves good space beside the bed along with nice bedside tables.
Further, there’s a 12-volt “cigarette lighter” or power point next to the bed. That is great for some CPAP machines, so you can run it overnight without having to activate the generator.
More power to ya’
There is an Onan 4,000 series generator aboard. In fact, there are a lot of features here, including four TVs. Just imagine how many RV videos you could be watching at any given time with four TVs.
One of those TVs is behind the road-side couch, though. There’s a nifty shelf between the couch and the TV with cupholders in it. Another TV is on the rear-most wall in the galley area. I guess you could watch that one from the drop-down bed over the cab. Incidentally, that bed is only able to accommodate 250 pounds. That is fine for a couple of kids. But adults will lie about their weight and you’ll only find out about this after they’ve broken the bed. They’ll finally admit that, yeah, they were not quite telling the truth.
How much is that doggie in the window
Lastly, Thor states that they’re quite pet-friendly and this is borne out in two things. The first of those is a dog window in the passenger-side foot well. While this could be used for seeing if someone’s out there when making turns, it might be more popular with your pet, who can see what’s going by.
There’s also a pet bowl on a pull-out tray in the main bedroom.
The Thor A.C.E. in summary
The Thor A.C.E. is popular because it’s really affordable. But I was also surprised at how much I really liked this rig. I can’t say I was a big fan in the past, but that has changed.
Compared to some Class B vans, for example, this is actually less expensive but incrementally more usable. The newer Ford Chassis has really eliminated my big objection to these—which was poor cargo carrying capacity.
You could legally and legitimately bring several people along with you and have decent sleeping space for all of them while also having belted seating.
I know there are going to be some readers who argue in favor of the diesel. A diesel engine would likely have more torque and offer better fuel economy. But a diesel engine that could move this rig would likely easily add $5,000 or more to the price of the rig and for that, even at $5/gallon, you would have to travel a very long way to make up the difference.
The engine in the Thor A.C.E. is no slouch
Further, the Ford 7.3 liter V8 really does have a good torque rating (468 ft.-lbs.). So this engine is no slouch.
I have to say the improvements made to this rig, particularly in the chassis area, have really changed my mind. I kinda dig this.
I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.
Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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