When you look at overall RV sales, it’s no secret that they’re skyrocketing. But the category that is the hottest right now is Class B vans with a sales increase of more than 150 percent. All those van lifers sharing images of themselves doing yoga on the roof of their rigs has done the trick, apparently, and lots of folks are wanting these.
So the manufacturers are stepping up their games, too, when they can get these vans. They’re coming out with an increasing number of floor plans and options. That includes Thor with their Thor Sanctuary 19P Class B.
Thor’s Sanctuary line is a series of two different models based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4X4 van. I’ve written before that Mercedes-Benz is well known for vehicles with some significant off-road prowess, including the incredible Unimog. But they also have quite a good reputation in this field.
So when they took their popular delivery van, the Sprinter, and let their off-road folks at it, they also did a good job with it. Combine the raised height and more aggressive tires and other features and you have a rather capable off-road vehicle for a stock machine.
To this Thor adds a very bright roof light and packs on Thule bike racks and a Thule portable ladder. Those features further make this rig useful to those with an active lifestyle looking to bring that adventurous spirit to hidden places.
There are other advantages inherent in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. The company has seen so many more sales to individuals looking to create van life rather than just fleets looking to deliver your packages.
So they’ve upped their interior game, finishing the newer models of these vans in an aesthetic more pleasing to individuals. Then they added in some of the safety technology the company is known. Those include lane assist, adaptive cruise control, preemptive braking and more.
This might be why so many folks are looking at this category of vehicle. You get much of the safety technology along with camper credibility in a vehicle that’s not any bigger than the average pickup or large SUV in terms of footprint.
Thor then takes these vans and converts them to motorhomes. Funny thing, the company specifically calls out that they don’t add slides or other things that affect the structure of the van itself. And, let’s be honest, having steel walls and a steel roof might make these types of RVs outlast virtually any other configuration.
Since van life is more about being outdoors, it makes sense to start there. The place to go is what we used to call the “way back” when I was a younger lad.
Through the double back doors is a pretty sizable storage area with two sliding drawers that really make it convenient to get into whatever’s back there. There are also various cubbies and compartments back there. This is all under the permanent bed – which is up pretty high to accommodate all this storage. There’s a screen cover available so, if you choose to leave the doors open and want to keep nature at bay, that’s certainly doable.
You’ll also find that Thule bike rack on the exterior door.
The sliding door on the side of the van features a drop-down table. The screen that covers this space is cut so that the table can drop down even with the screen in place. Magnets hold the screen in place for easier egress/ingress.
There is a power awning on this van, but it’s the type where you have to put legs down once it’s extended.
Okay, folks. It’s tight in here so we may have to only go in one at a time for this portion of the story.
On the camp side, the counter extends halfway across the sliding door – which is very typical of Class B RVs. Standing inside looking out, there’s a small sink and a really entry-level two-burner propane cooktop. I would much prefer this had an induction cooktop rather than propane, frankly. It would be even better if it were portable to be able to use it outdoors or in. As such, honestly, it cheapens the otherwise upscale feeling interior, in my eyes.
Below the stovetop and sink are a number of pretty decent drawers. When they’re opened, they almost extend the entire width of this hallway. As mentioned, this is a small space.
There’s a 12-volt refrigerator further down the hallway with a drawer underneath that, as well. But I also question the logic of putting the drawer there. This is a short fridge and the space above it would actually be usable counter space if the drawer weren’t there, but it’s now inconvenient.
Again, my logical brain would have put drawer-style refrigerated cabinets here or, perhaps, a 12-volt cooler-style fridge on a sliding tray. That way you could access it from either inside or outside. You’re welcome, Thor.
Across the hall starting at the front is a side-facing short bench seat above which is the TV. The seat does have two belts, but some states restrict people riding sideways. So know the laws before you go on this.
The tiny bathroom in the Thor Sanctuary 19P
Next up is the bathroom. Let me pause a minute to catch my breath before entering because this is a space that will promote claustrophobia. Inside this very tight space, Thor has the cartridge toilet and a shower head. But then there are protruding mirrored cabinets. Honestly, I cannot see anyone using this tight space to shower more than once. It is literally the smallest RV bathroom I can remember seeing.
I am going to let my mind wander here and wonder if the folks who designed this have ever been camping. I’m thinking of Winnebago and how well they do flexible door designs to make a Class B bathroom actually usable. Perhaps Thor should look for some van lifers with an imaginative soul to do the interior design on this.
There are so many things that could be changed with minimal imagination that would take this from almost unusable to really terrific. Like a different bathroom door or taking that drawer out from under the fridge. Honestly, this interior is pretty lousy.
And that’s a shame because the cabinetry is really nice in here with Euro-style cabinet doors and nice finishes. I love the fact that there is all that space under the bed accessible from the rear. But just shrinking your thinking from the Class A coach department doesn’t work on this interior.
Speaking of the cabinetry, there are more cabinets surrounding the bed in the back of the van above all that storage accessible from outside. But, unless you’re pretty limber, you are not getting past that fridge into the bed without considerable effort. Then add a second camper and good luck.
It’s a shame how close this van comes to being pretty terrific – just minor adjustments would make all the difference in the world. But I just don’t see this as a viable option, frankly. The bathroom is incredibly claustrophobic which could be cured with just a more imaginative door design.
The fridge, at this height, makes the counter space above it essentially unusable. I don’t see who could watch the TV up on the wall facing the outside, although it is on a swivel bracket. But it’s still a dumb place for it.
Also note that the model year on the chart is weird – it states 2022/2020. What happened is Mercedes-Benz supplies the bare vans to Thor, which then builds the motorhome itself. So the vans can sit on the lot waiting for Thor to actually turn it into a motorhome, and that was the case here. I don’t know how this affects the resale value of this rig. But I know if you can find one branded as a 2021, you can save a bunch of money.
So I would recommend the Winnebago Revel head and shoulders above this. And there are some smaller van manufacturers that are even more innovative with this space. Sorry, Thor. Definitely time to let some younger true van lifers loose in the design department.
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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