Motorhome review: thl Navigator

By: Peta Stavelli


thl Navigator Don't be fooled by the 'entry level' tag: you still get a lot for your money here. thl Navigator
thl Navigator The rear lounge is tucked well away from the main door. thl Navigator
thl Navigator Room for a small family... or space aplenty for a couple. thl Navigator
thl Navigator A simple but well laid-out galley. thl Navigator
thl Navigator thl Navigator
thl Navigator thl Navigator

Peta Stavelli road tests the entry level thl Navigator and finds a little beauty that goes a long way – fast.

To kick off our entry-level four-berth series, the co-pilot and I were excited to be picking up a compact Navigator from thl's RV Super Centre in Albany.

As is usual, the co-pilot did his homework and excitedly told me that the vehicle was just 6.27m in length. This compared very favourably to the majority of two berths we had recently tested, but managed to provide room for twice as many people.

I was beginning to become very fond of our next home on the road, and we hadn't been formally introduced. And since first impressions count when it comes to assessing a test vehicle, my initial viewing reinforced the notion of a lot going into very little.

Inside

The u-shaped rear lounge with big surround windows is an immediate winner. The feeling of space and light is immediately conveyed by the broad seating area which converts to a large bed at night.

The Navigator is advertised by RV Super Centre as one that "sleeps up to four, but perfect for two". I subscribe wholeheartedly to this.

There is plenty of room for a small family, but there's a luxury of space for two, which we appreciated. We're reasonably compact, but less vertically challenged owners would also have plenty of head height with a roomy interior height of 2.10m.

The rear seats have seat belts for two young passengers and I imagine they would make good use of the table for a range of activities when underway. The rear lounge is also tucked away from the galley and side entry; a design which makes perfect sense for corralling the kids away from the pressure points.

I also imagine there would be a fight for the double over-the-cab bed, but personally, I would let the kids think they had won that one and save my tired legs the climb.

This is a very cosy little ship. The diesel heater, which can be run when underway, keeps the space toasty warm and is so efficient that we sometimes had to turn it down, or take our clothes off – whichever seemed the most appropriate at the time. At night we simply opened the roof hatch a fraction and kept the heater going throughout to normalise the temperature.

Thl _Navigator _3

The bed was easier to deploy the more days we spent practising. We learned there was an art to unfolding the rear squab, which – once mastered – could be done without appearing to be engaged in a possibly terminal form of Tai Chi, or entangling the rear seat belts.

When made up, the bed was massive and sufficiently comfortable for a good night's sleep to be had by all. But once again, if this was my own vehicle, I would add a topper pad as I prefer to melt into the squabs, floating on a sea of soft cotton as I slip off to snoredom.

Kitchen and bathroom

There is a well laid-out galley with four burner gas stove top and an oven with grill; good sized fridge and microwave too. I really liked the drinking water tap over the sink. The bench tops were very wide and this made cooking a lot easier than we had recently experienced, although if this vehicle was mine, I would have added some extra lighting at the cab end of the bench which I used for prep.

The bathroom is generous, combining a shower toilet and hand-basin in a very functional, light room.

Driving

The five-speed auto gearbox married to a 2.2-litre turbo diesel Mercedes engine was a popular combo for both passenger and pilot as there was a never a time when this grunty little vehicle missed the mark. We had no trouble keeping up with the flow of traffic and neither would we have had trouble leaving the majority in our wake had we been reckless.

Suffice to say the Navigator gobbled up a long incline like a sugar-deprived child eating a large lolly.

With an overall height of 3.13m and a width of 2.32m, this vehicle has quite a bit of road-age which was noticeable after driving a clutch of two-berth vehicles. There is always a compromise when you opt for a vehicle with more space, and this was certainly more of a space ship than a galleon blown by the wind.

The verdict

If the vehicle had a downside, it was mostly caused by the extremely damp weather conditions which caused condensation to amass in the cab overnight. It was later explained to me by Rob Axton at Country Caravans, who also sells the Navigator; that this is due to the cab being the only uninsulated space.

Rob recommends a space blanket for the window (around $150 from your RV supply store, and worth every cent) which will cut out almost 90 percent of the damp. But frankly, given the wet and windy conditions experienced during the weekend, we might have expected a great deal worse and were delighted that the condensation was confined to the cab.

The Navigator affords comfort, space, speed and good design with a lusty engine. It would make a great starter for a family, a racy roadster for a couple, or a perfect getaway for the grandparent who hopes to coerce the grandkids along for the occasional road trip.

For the latest motorhome reviews and destinations, subscribe to Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine here.

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook