Called the Rize and Scope, these new Class B camper-vans from Thor Motor Coach offer classic ‘van-life’ features with a couple of new twists. One that stands out is the pop-up roof, reminiscent of the one seen in the Volkswagen Westphalia. This feature is optional, meaning it can be added to whichever van floorplan you choose at the time of purchase.
Built on the Dodge RAM ProMaster 1500XT chassis, Rize and Scope are the smallest camper vans available from Thor, measuring just 18 feet in length. This is a similar length to an average SUV, which makes Rize and Scope vehicles that can be easily parked, driven and stored.
The idea here is that these two Class B’s could both act as a second vehicle that can also be driven daily if you choose. This certainly adds interest and value for folks looking to venture further away from home while not committing to the full RV lifestyle.
The ProMaster by Ram is a commercial Class 2 van and is also the base for both Class B’s. To begin, Thor buys them from Dodge Ram and upfits them to meet the unique needs of their customers. To begin, let’s look at the chassis that supports the new Rize and Scope models. Firstly, the ProMaster is unique among commercial van offerings in that it’s a front-wheel-drive (FWD) system. Its transversely mounted front engine makes for a reduced overall weight and less complex design, since all components are located beneath the cab. This also means that the van has a completely clean deck at the back of the cab (meaning no excess wires, hoses, driveshafts etc. under the floor). This benefits upfitters like Thor in many ways – all of which improve aftermarket design and offer cost savings. This particular FWD setup also keeps the cargo-load floor height and step-in height low. This trait alone is one that will be much appreciated by an owner who is getting in and out of the van all day long, or by older drivers or those who would benefit from increased accessibility.
Another advantage to the FWD system is traction. It’s important to remember that it’s always better to pull than to push in slippery situations. Improved traction comes from having the powertrain weight on top of the front wheels as previously mentioned. The overall result of this design for ProMaster is a purposely built, highly customizable van body that is unique in its competition.
The Rize and Scope from Thor are available in two different floor plans: 18M and 18T. The ‘T’ model will appeal to day-trippers and weekend warriors as there is ample storage, a pull-out bed, kitchen, and an optional pop-top sleeping area. I think the pop-up is going to be popular as younger families hit the road. That one feature alone will create additional headroom and a feeling of space, and is ideal for longer trips, especially with kids. The ‘M’ model features a fully enclosed wet bath, bench-style seating that converts into a sleeping area, and the kitchen.
The Euro-style cabinetry varies in colour between the two models, with two décor options listed of ‘Modern White (in the Rize) and ‘Miami Modern’ for Scope. It’s a nice extra to have modern options for styling that feels fresh.
Both Rize and Scope offer a standard 190-watt solar panel with a power controller. The solar-powered system fills and monitors the house batteries and prevents overcharging or damage. Note: this is a great feature for off-grid camping as well, so no one is without access to their devices.
Additionally, Thor installs the Winegard ConnecT 2.0 system which works as a Wi-Fi extender and 4G hotspot for more remote areas, meaning your work-from-home life can potentially change to working on the road – or just an easier way to check Facebook.
Most RV buyers tend to put more focus on the interior fixtures of the unit, but in the case of any motorhome, knowing more about the base vehicle matters most. Down-the-road reliability, service needs and options all depend on the vehicle manufacturer’s track record. Here is a bit of background history on the ProMaster. This van has been sold in Canada for the past five years now. However, it’s worth noting that it is a cousin of the Fiat Ducato van.
This popular van model has sold over 4.5 million units throughout Europe over the last 30 years, and the ProMaster we currently have in Canada is descended from this model. Mind you, this concept of ‘sharing’ is common among other popular van providers. Mercedes Benz’ Sprinter and Ford’s Transit both also originated in Europe.
The key difference to note is that most European-based vans are diesel powered, while the Canadian version of the ProMaster uses the 3.6L Pentastar V6 gas engine as its standard powerplant (280hp & 260 lbs.-ft of torque). This is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Pentastar V6 is also used in a host of Stellantis (formerly FCA) vehicles. Given that these models are popular, service and parts will be easy to source and the engine itself is a consistent ‘Ward’s Top Ten’ winner.
Thor’s advertising states these vans are designed with adventure in mind. That means they naturally offer many accessory options, including bike racks, grills and roof rack systems to name a few. The aftermarket will no doubt create further offerings from these.
Driving the ProMaster is relatively simple, a selling point that attracts many buyers who may be new to ‘van life’. It also comes with a host of safety features, such as a keyless entry system, backup monitor, and hands-free control of the radio with integrated steering wheel buttons. Even more is available with hands-free control of tunes playing from the 7-inch dash radio using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Dealers across Canada are now receiving shipments of this versatile Class B van that could be the answer to where you’ll find your next adventure.
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