Explorer Compass

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street

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Made in New Zealand, the Explorer Compass is not the largest motorhome around, but this 4WD base vehicle has a great deal of versatility for the best off-road experience

Explorer Compass
Explorer Compass
  • A good sized rear boot for this sized motorhome
  • Luton peak bed step
  • Generous drawer space in the kitchen
  • Severe road undulations are going to be much less of an issue with the 4WD base vehicle
  • In town situations, the size of the Compass makes it an easy manoeuvre through traffic

Explorer has been building their Compass motorhome on the back of Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and Holden Colorado for several years, and recently built a Colorado 4WD-powered unit for a customer.

A feature that lends the Explorer motorhomes to 4WD use is their structure. The body is a urethane core, vacuum-formed fibreglass moulding – all one piece. That structure not only gives considerably strength but is fully waterproof and provides good insulation.

External features

Apart from the body, everything else is conventional – Dometic half-window door and hopper windows, Fiamma F45 awning and above-door wall light.

The Explorer has a good sized rear boot with a rear access bin door and a locker door on the nearside as well. Occupying the offside corner of the boot is a 4.5kg gas cylinder. Also at the rear is an external shower.

Clip-on protective covers for the front lower half of the motorhome body just behind the driver and passenger doors protect the area from road damage.

The external size of the Colorado-powered Explorer is an asset – it’s a very easy drive and only 215mm wider on each side than the base vehicle. Sure it’s a light truck but the Colorado is kitted out with all the usual driver comforts and is really a breeze to handle on the road. It will also fit into most conventionally sized car parks without to much difficulty.

One of the disadvantages is that it’s not a flat floor motorhome and while there is access to and from the rear, assisted by removing the centre cushion, it’s more like for emergency/bad weather use.

Stepping into the Compass via the electric step reveals a simple but effective layout. A Luton peak bed sits above the driver’s cab. In the rear is a U-shaped lounge that can be made up into a bed if needed. In between is part of the kitchen bench on the nearside, with the rest on the offside, along with a bathroom directly behind the driver’s seat.

External features

Inside Explorer has opted for the practical rather than the ornate. There are no curtains, the windows instead having integrated blinds and insect screens. Internal lighting is a mixture of energy efficient halogen and fluorescent fittings.

In the rear is the "NZ back" layout – a generous area of Microsuede upholstered seating with windows all round. Under seat storage is in part taken by the rear boot and water heater but there are overhead lockers on both sides and a shelf across the back. Made up (with the table lowered), the rear bed measures 1960mm x 1150mm.

The kitchen is split with the nearside bench containing a Spinflo three-burner hob plus grill and oven and a Waeco 80-litre 12v fridge. Also fitted into the cabinet is a moderate amount of bench top space, one largish drawer, one floor locker and two overhead lockers. Above the bench, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV is swivel arm mounted.

On the opposite side, making up the rest of the kitchen area, the bench contains a stainless steel sink sans drainer, three drawers and a cupboard. A hinged flap at the bench end would be a useful addition. Under the sink are mounted a few essential controls – hot water controls, water tank gauges and battery voltmeter. Above the bench, the microwave oven is mounted lower than overhead locker height.

The bathroom has a Dometic cassette toilet and a flexible hose shower. The latter shares the faucet with a small corner sink. There is also a translucent bathroom door and ventilation window.

Although the Luton bed is lower than most motorhomes, Explorer has solved the problem of easy access with a simple folding step, which can be moved out of the way if not needed. The bed itself measures 1960mm x 1360mm and has small windows on either side for cross flow ventilation. An offside wall mounted fluorescent light provides illumination.

With a 4WD unit there is the possibility of freedom camping, but that’s a bit limited with an all electric fridge. However, the Compass comes with a 105-amp hour deep cycle battery and, in this case an 80W roof-mounted solar panel to cover that situation.

To read in-depth RV reviews, see the latest issue of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine, on sale now.


Base vehicle Holden Colorado LX 4x4
Engine 3.0-litre turbo diesel
Gearbox Five-speed manual (no auto on Colorado)
Max power 120kW @ 3600rpm
Max torque 360Nm @ 1800rpm
Brakes Front disc, rear drum. Anti lock, ABS
Tare weight 2420kg
GVM 2900kg
External length 5500mm
External width 2030mm
External height 2850mm
Internal height 1950mm
Hob Spinflo Triplex three-burner and grill/oven
Fridge Waeco 80-litre
Microwave oven Sharp Carousel
Gas 1 x 4.5kg
Lighting 12v fluorescent and halogen
Toilet Dometic cassette
Shower Extendable flex hose, hot/cold
Hot water Truma 14-litre
Fresh water 80-litre
Grey water 80-litre

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