Thor’s roomy 35M Class A gasser has the features and space for families
Somehow we lucked out and splendid RVing weather coincided with our test of the Hurricane 35M smack in the middle of winter. Even though we’re in Southern California where weather patterns aren’t extreme, there are still surprises. For the time we had the motorhome booked, the only hurricane — or any other storm — in the forecast was Thor Motor Coach’s family-focused Class A. Built by Thor for Camping World, the Hurricane rides on a Ford F-53 chassis and, at 37 feet 2 inches, is the longest of six floorplans in the Hurricane lineup.
Motoring out of a lakefront campsite that was no longer lakefront due to California’s drought, we headed to where we were guaranteed there’d be water: the Pacific Ocean. After miles of highway and another 15 on a stunningly gorgeous road with rolling hills carpeted in green after recent much-needed rain, we turned off on a slow-going two-lane road to the coast. The Hurricane’s enormous one-piece windshield and sliding side windows afforded a fantastic view of the undulating hillsides dotted with California live oak, ruminating cows studying passers-by behind barbed wire, and the road ahead, where we turned into one after another posted 15- and 20-mph curves.
The Ford’s 320-hp 6.8-liter V-10 engine, which took the narrow climbing and diving twisty road in stride (while I did my best to dodge overhanging branches), toted the 17,620-pound Hurricane with ease. I’d dropped off Bill, my husband, to tackle this road on his bicycle while I continued on, and I could have kicked myself for not raising the shade for the window over the sink before starting out. The weighted bar at the bottom of the shade clanged into the single-handle chrome faucet with each turn until there was finally a place to pull off.
Reaching the beachside campground, we backed smoothly into a site with help from the rear-view camera monitor showing an image of the hill behind us plastered on its 10-inch screen in the cockpit. The touchscreen has an AM/FM radio with Bluetooth and iGo primo navigation that shares space with HVAC controls and is surrounded by multiple cupholders, and USB and 12-volt DC outlets. As a bonus, there is a 19-by-25-inch workstation built into the dash that hinges up and toward the copilot. The Hurricane is pet-friendly, with a (non-opening) window placed at the passenger’s feet level, giving your furry friend and the driver a view. Outside the entry door, behind the compartment door for accessing the 20-gallon LP-gas tank, is a Pet-Link tie-down for attaching a dog leash or cable.
Facing the ocean, we watched the sunset from the comfort of the cockpit’s leatherette swiveling and reclining captain’s chairs with adjustable armrests while enjoying the warmth from the 35M’s 35,000-Btu furnace. The Hurricane is outfitted with 50-amp power but the campground offered only a 30-amp connection; not a problem since we didn’t need to use the two 13,500-Btu air conditioners (or even one of them). And when heavy-duty wind gusts came knocking during the night, the 35M didn’t budge on its Lippert auto-leveling jacks.
Sliding off my front-seat, ocean-view perch once the sun had set, I whipped up a quick dinner. The kitchen’s solid-surface counter houses a two-basin stainless-steel sink and three-burner Dometic range with a glass cover that leaves only 8 inches of countertop space between the two for food prep unless the covers are in place. In that case, the length stretches to a 5½-foot flush surface, and with two push-button LEDs over the sink, it becomes a great space for slicing and dicing. The faucet is located close to the window over the sink, so when moving the handle to the hot-water position, it bumped into the window’s metal casing.
Full access to kitchen and appliances and half-bath when galley slide is retracted, abundant storage and ROCCC, comfy places to lounge
Panel-operated light switches in bathroom difficult to see in the dark, a step stool may be needed to open and close vent hatches and to operate galley fan
The stain- and tear-resistant Armstrong ToughGuard vinyl flooring (with a three-year cold crack warranty) is part of the Sterling Mist II décor that not only looks great but barely showed dirt during the test. Each time I swept, I was amazed at how much ended up in the dustpan. An attractive glass-and-tile backsplash protects the walls from food splatters between the range and overhead 1.6-cubic-foot High Pointe microwave. An 11-cubic-foot Whirlpool residential refrigerator with icemaker locks for travel by simply moving a lever. The two-door electric fridge is powered by an 1,800-watt inverter during travel. We weren’t plugged into electric when loading up the Hurricane for our trip and the fridge petered out after about seven hours, but the contents were still cold six hours later. Potential buyers would do well to take a look at their prospective travel and destination plans, and the types of campgrounds they plan to visit, when selecting a residential-type refrigerator that runs on 120-volt AC power. The test motorhome was also prepped for solar, though not set up with solar panels.
The Hurricane’s one-stop panel for monitoring holding and freshwater tanks and operating the Hurricane’s various functions, located on the wall next to the range, can be paired to a smartphone or tablet for easy viewing within range. The single-speed fans in each bathroom can be turned off and on from the panel (as well as from a touchpad in the bathrooms). The galley’s four-speed MaxxAir ceiling fan (with roof shroud), however, is manual, which means a 7-plus-foot reach to operate it; some folks will need a step stool.
The galley’s slideout, which houses the side-by-side booth dinette and sofa, opens the living area into a spacious room where each family member can relax in their own zone, whether it’s on the extended L-shaped sofa, seated at the dinette, in the captain’s chairs or on the hideaway power drop-down front bunk’s Cotton Cloud mattress. There are seat belts for two in the sofa and two more in the dinette’s forward-facing seat, for a total of six positions, with a child’s safety tether in the dinette available as an option.
Even with the slide retracted, the galley is livable, with 27 inches width at its narrowest point and full access to the kitchen and amidships half-bath. When the 35M’s bedroom slide is closed it smooshes the king-sized mattress up against the wardrobe’s drawers, blocking access to the Hurricane’s rear loo, unless you want to crawl over the bed.
There’s an impressive amount of storage in the 35M, with multiple cabinets and drawers all done in Malibu Maple. Thought clearly went into designing each nook and cranny, with the possible exception of the kitchen’s four-shelf pantry. Two lower pull-out shelves on ball-bearing glides make it easy to reach the contents but, curiously, the upper 25-inch-deep shelves are not on glides — it’s as if the shelf design was reversed. I’m 5-foot-9 and was on tiptoes to reach boxes of rice in the back of the top shelf, where they had made a beeline during travel.
The dinette’s firm 5-inch-thick cushions were a fine place to kick back lengthwise with my back to the frameless window, and drinks stayed upright in the table’s two cupholders. A single lever unlocks the table, which can then be pushed down to create a 70-by-40-inch bed. There’s a winsome glass lamp situated on the wall between the dinette and sofa that is bookended by large windows with bottom outward-opening glass and pleated pull-down privacy shades.
Moving to the comfy L-shaped sofa for front-row viewing of the 40-inch LED TV that’s mounted on a bracket so it can be moved away from the wall, we pulled out the sofa’s extension to add another seat. The extension is great for accommodating extra people but those sitting in the corner will be tangling legs. On the other hand, the person lounging at the extended end has to lift but one arm to pluck a refreshment from the fridge, and there are strategically placed cupholders and a shelf behind the sofa where drinks can be parked. The sofa, with its 6-inch-thick cushions, jackknives into a comfortable bed.
Over the sofa is a deep storage cabinet that is almost 7 feet long and accessed by four doors that open via gas struts toward the ceiling. A Sony Blu-ray/DVD player occupies the space in the cabinet over the microwave, out of reach of children (and some adults, too). A Winegard Rayzar antenna is mounted in the ceiling over the entry steps, and there’s a WiFiRanger for boosting Wi-Fi signal.
For a peaceful night’s rest, smooth-sliding wood pocket doors section off the bedroom from the living area and rear bathroom. The 72-by-76-inch king-sized bed with a 6½-inch-thick Euro-top mattress is across from a large three-door mirrored wardrobe with a hanging clothes rod and six deep drawers. There’s no storage under the bed, but plenty above it, as well as in the dresser and the hidden cabinet to which a 32-inch LED TV is attached.
A 12-volt DC outlet is next to the bed, and there are narrow shelves and cubbies on each side, and a padded headboard covers two-thirds of the wall. Over the dresser is a charging center with four USB ports and a GFCI outlet. There’s good floor space in the bedroom at the foot of the bed, which transitions into the rear bath. In fact, a friend was able to use her standard 2-foot-wide walker to travel from the front of the Hurricane to the rear bath and ADA-compliant 19-inch-high porcelain toilet.
The bedroom has three windows; the largest, at 26 inches wide, doubles as an emergency exit. Smaller windows bookend the head of the bed and with no other slides obscuring the view, I awoke each morning to a perfect view of the ocean with a simple turn of my head.
The master bathroom boasts great lighting, a long countertop and, as in the rest of the interior, lots of storage, including handy open shelving. The backsplash, like in the half-bath, is finished with a peel-and-stick material in colors that pair well with the laminate counter and cabinets. Stepping up about a foot through a 17-inch-wide three-section glass door that curves smoothly in its track places you in a shower that is a couple inches shy of 7 feet tall with the skylight. The shower pan, at more than 5 inches deep, can act as a shallow bathtub for a child or dog. Being tall, we appreciated that the showerhead is mounted at 6 feet high, and thumbs up to easy-to-grip hot and cold levers and a shut-off valve.
The 35M could benefit from an instant water heater like Truma’s AquaGo. In this family-friendly motorhome set up for multiple people, its 6-gallon DSI water heater is likely to make someone unhappy if showers aren’t timed appropriately. Towel hooks are conveniently located outside the shower so no need to step out to reach a towel, and a heat register at floor level can keep your feet toasty after you do step out. There’s also a hand-towel ring by the sink, and a 17-inch towel bar by the toilet.
One gripe about the bathrooms is that the light switches are in the same panels as the fans and water-pump, so when groping around in the dark we inadvertently turned on the fans or couldn’t find the lights at all. This could be remedied with a night light or by leaving a bathroom light on. And although this isn’t an issue for tall folks, reaching the manual cranks to raise the vent hatches in the bathroom ceilings can be a challenge.
Among the extensive storage in the half-bath are large cabinets behind the porcelain toilet; the toilet seat needs to be down to open the lower cabinet. If the cabinets are left open, I pictured exuberant kids seeing this as an invitation to use the four deep shelves as a ladder. A corner-set mirrored medicine cabinet extends over the low-set sink in a spacious counter — a great perk for kids, but anyone taller than 4 feet who leans over the sink to wash their face or brush their teeth will have a mirror in the way. Across from the half-bath is a large cabinet prepped for a washer and dryer.
With such a captivating view, we enjoyed sitting outside and chatting with happy campers who walked by with dogs and fishing rods, so the Hurricane’s 32-inch outdoor TV stayed behind lock and key. But for those who like that outdoor entertainment, the system fills the bill with a swivel TV mount, sound bar, radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity — all under cover of the 18-foot lateral-arm awning with LED lighting.
Side-opening storage bins line both sides of the Hurricane and with its 4,380-pound realistic occupant and cargo carrying capacity, numerous items like inflatable watercraft can be toted along. The company calls it pass-through storage and technically it is; however, there’s maybe 6 inches height clearance through the center portion of the pass-through.
The tallest exterior storage bin offers 41 inches height and the longest 5 feet width, and they are made of rotocast plastic molding and a drain so they can be hosed out for easy clean-up. Curiously, there were no individually switched LEDs; the lights are operated from a panel inside by the entry steps and when they’re turned on or off, it’s all or none. A drawer resides in one of the entry steps, and the first step up onto the Hurricane’s roof ladder is a doozy at 33 inches. The 35M is outfitted with a 360-degree siphon vent cap for tank odor prevention, an 8,000-pound-rated hitch receiver, an outside water sprayer, and dual gray and black tanks. The large holding-tank capacities are great, but you’ll need three hoses and a T-fitting to make it work, unless you want to remove a sewer hose and move it from one place to the other.
The Hurricane 35M is set up well for a family, whether for a weekend break or an extended outing. This Class A offers plenty of room and amenities for lounging and entertainment inside if the weather’s not cooperating, as well as the space to bring along plenty of gear for outdoor fun.
Model Ford F-53
Engine 6.8-liter V-10
SAE Hp 320 @ 3,900 rpm
Torque 460 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic with
Axle Ratio 5.38:1
Front Tires 245/70R19.5
Rear Tires 245/70R19.5
Brakes Front/Rear Disc, anti-lock
Suspension Front/Rear Leaf springs,
gas shock absorbers
Fuel Capacity 80 gal
Fuel Economy 7.61 mpg
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic,
5 years/60,000 miles drivetrain
Exterior Length 37′ 2″
Exterior Width 8′ 3″
Exterior Height with A/C 12′ 2″
Interior Width 8′
Interior Height 7′
Construction Laminated walls and floor with block foam insulation, one-piece roof,
fiberglass front and rear caps
Freshwater Capacity 50 gal
Black-Water Capacity 40 gal front/39 gal rear
Gray-Water Capacity 40 gal front/39 gal rear
Water-Heater Capacity 6 gal
LP-Gas Capacity 20 gal
Air Conditioner (2) 13,500-Btu
Refrigerator 11-cu-ft residential
Batteries (1) 12-volt chassis, (2) 12-volt house
AC Generator 5.5 kW
MSRP as Tested $155,444
Warranty 1 year/15,000 miles bumper to bumper,
3 years/45,000 miles structural
(Water and water heater, fuel full; no supplies or passengers)
Front Axle 6,540 lbs
Rear Axle 11,080 lbs
Total 17,620 lbs
GAWR, Front/Rear 8,000 lbs/15,000 lbs
GVWR/GCWR 22,000 lbs/26,000 lbs
ROCCC 4,380 lbs
GAWR Gross Axle Weight Rating
GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
GCWR Gross Combination Weight Rating
ROCCC Realistic Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (full water, no passengers)
Thor Motor Coach | 877-855-2867