Automotive

Thor 4x4 camper van becomes America's newest backcountry Sanctuary

Thor 4x4 camper van becomes Am...
Thor Sanctuary camper van
Thor Sanctuary camper van
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Professional athlete, adventurer and Sanctuary dweller Kalen Thorien enjoys base camp
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Professional athlete, adventurer and Sanctuary dweller Kalen Thorien enjoys base camp
Two adventure rigs journey into the unknown
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Two adventure rigs journey into the unknown
Kalen Thorien puts the Sanctuary's handy drop-down outdoor table to use in the a.m.
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Kalen Thorien puts the Sanctuary's handy drop-down outdoor table to use in the a.m.
With few to no other 4x4 competitors on the market, the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 has established itself as America's classic off-road adventure van/camper
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With few to no other 4x4 competitors on the market, the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 has established itself as America's classic off-road adventure van/camper
Thor beats the mainstream 4x4 camper van competition on price with the Sanctuary's $148,680 base
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Thor beats the mainstream 4x4 camper van competition on price with the Sanctuary's $148,680 base
The Sanctuary comes standard with a Thule power awning
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The Sanctuary comes standard with a Thule power awning
Preparing breakfast at the Sanctuary kitchen
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Preparing breakfast at the Sanctuary kitchen
4x4 camper vans like the Sanctuary are built to make base camp at remote trailheads and adventure jump-off points
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4x4 camper vans like the Sanctuary are built to make base camp at remote trailheads and adventure jump-off points
Racing the sun on the trip to/from camp ...
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Racing the sun on the trip to/from camp ...
The 24 -in TV serves both the dining lounge and bed
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The 24 -in TV serves both the dining lounge and bed
A look back at the Thor Sanctuary interior from the cab
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A look back at the Thor Sanctuary interior from the cab
Thor Sanctuary wet bath
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Thor Sanctuary wet bath
Thor's oversized 70 x 72-in bed has more area than a king
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Thor's oversized 70 x 72-in bed has more area than a king
The large convertible lounge/bed necessitates a more compact kitchen, which has a dual-burner gas stove and sink on its main block
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The large convertible lounge/bed necessitates a more compact kitchen, which has a dual-burner gas stove and sink on its main block
The Sanctuary's fridge and microwave are across from the main kitchen block
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The Sanctuary's fridge and microwave are across from the main kitchen block
On the (dirt) road with the new Thor Motor Coach Sanctuary camper van
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On the (dirt) road with the new Thor Motor Coach Sanctuary camper van
Rear and side screens are standard
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Rear and side screens are standard
Off-road tires optional
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Off-road tires optional
Thor Sanctuary camper van
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Thor Sanctuary camper van
View gallery - 19 images

Around the same time sibling brand Airstream was putting forth a rather oversized, expensive Sprinter adventure camper, Thor Motor Coach was readying its own Sprinter 4x4 camper van. The all-new Sanctuary becomes one of the latest in America's growing 4x4 camper van market, pushing explorers farther out there and sheltering them with a unique floor plan with bathroom, oversized bed and multipurpose rear lounge.

Camper vans are finally getting some love in the US, where they've long been heavily overshadowed by large RVs. While they still lag far behind other RV styles in terms of total sales, camper vans (Class B) represented the hottest, fastest-growing North American RV segment of 2020, according to RVIA sales data, having experienced a 70 percent year-over-year sales increase while Class A and C motorhome segments were down on the year. Camper van popularity has continued throughout a 2021 that's on pace for an RV sales record. At the end of May, RVIA had camper vans leading all RV categories with a 152 percent year-over-year rise through the first five months of the year.

Manufacturers are scrambling to keep up with demand, feverishly adding new camper van models where few to none existed a short time ago. Just last year, Thor Motor Coach added its second camper van model, and only a year earlier it had a lineup of zero, represented in the Class B segment by only a concept camper van, which would make it to production shortly thereafter. Now, the all-new Sanctuary debuts within a six-model 2022 Thor camper van lineup that includes both Mercedes-Benz Sprinter- and Ram ProMaster-based vans, with base prices ranging between US$76,000 and $151,060.

On the (dirt) road with the new Thor Motor Coach Sanctuary camper van
On the (dirt) road with the new Thor Motor Coach Sanctuary camper van

Thor starts the Sanctuary off with the classic and obvious American all-wheel-drive adventure van of choice, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144 4x4, which brings along its 188-hp turbodiesel V6. Thor dresses the Sprinter exterior up with a standard suite of Thule components, starting with a power awning with integrated lighting and extending to a rear-door bike rack and roof rack with ladder. It also adds on a standard LED light bar up high and available off-road tires down low.

Thor offers two different sanctuary floor plans. The 19P featured in the photos comes anchored by a convertible rear lounge with three-seat front-facing bench complete with three seat belts. A pair of left- and right-side seats combines with that bench to create a wraparound lounge area with removable center table.

At night, the electric-folding bench and side bench seats combine into an oversized, near-square 70 x 72-in (178 x 183-cm) bed. The van is technically built to sleep two, but that lying area equates to more than a residential king, so parents could probably fit a child or two on the bed with them, putting those extra belted drive seats to good use for family camping. A 24-in TV mounted in the corner provides entertainment for those seated at the lounge or those lying in bed.

Thor's oversized 70 x 72-in bed has more area than a king
Thor's oversized 70 x 72-in bed has more area than a king

With its dining area integrated into the rear lounge, Thor dedicates the van's center/front to the kitchen and wet bathroom equipment. The compact kitchen block inside the passenger-side sliding door includes a dual-burner gas stove and sink. Countertop space is limited to the sink cover, so the sous-chef might end up slicing and dicing outside on the drop-down worktop integrated into the kitchen block's exterior wall. The tall stainless-steel fridge and microwave are stacked on the wall across the aisle, in front of the wet bath and its cassette toilet, drop-down sink and shower.

The large convertible lounge/bed necessitates a more compact kitchen, which has a dual-burner gas stove and sink on its main block
The large convertible lounge/bed necessitates a more compact kitchen, which has a dual-burner gas stove and sink on its main block

The Sanctuary lacks some of the multifunctional equipment found on competitors like the Winnebago Revel and Pleasure-Way Recon 4x4, things like indoor/outdoor induction cooktops and bathrooms that double as clothes/gear-drying closets. But it does include an indoor/outdoor JBL Flip Bluetooth speaker mounted to the side of the kitchen overhead cabinetry above the systems command screen.

The Sanctuary comes with a standard dual-AGM battery, 1,000-W inverter, 190-W solar charging system, and an Onan 2500 LP generator hooked up to an automatic shore-to-generator switch. Those who demand more power capacity can opt up to the 400-Ah lithium battery package with 3,000-W inverter and 170-A alternator.

With few to no other 4x4 competitors on the market, the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 has established itself as America's classic off-road adventure van/camper
With few to no other 4x4 competitors on the market, the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 has established itself as America's classic off-road adventure van/camper

Other standard features include an air conditioner, Truma Combi furnace/water heater and 72-L fresh water tank. Screens at the dual rear doors and sliding side door let fresh air in while keeping pests out.

Thor introduced the 2022 Sanctuary in June, with prices starting at $148,680. Sprinter campers are the most expensive among Thor's Class B offerings, but the Sanctuary prices in well lower than competitors from Winnebago, Pleasure-Way and Storyteller Overland.

Source: Thor Motor Coach

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1 comment
1 comment
guzmanchinky
These are great, but my 2019 4x4 Sprinter is not the one I would pick again if I converted another van. First of all it has had dozens of recalls. Service is expensive and hard to find, there is no code to unlock the van, Diesel can sometimes be iffy to find and only on one pump per fuel station, and makes noise when idling, and you can't turn the lights off if you need to run the engine at night for a/c. I would pick a Ford transit 4x4 next time for all those reasons.