As much as we love bikes, we also geek out hard on the vehicles that take us to and from the next ride. While the 2015 Winnebago Travato touring RV may come prepackaged and ready for any road trip, there’s something special about dreaming up our own personalized adventure van. And for that, there’s simply no better platform than the new 2015 Mercedes Sprinter 4×4.
For years, aftermarket outfitters have been converting sprinters into four wheel drive beasts, but Mercedes is finally offering it in stock form with a 3.0 liter V6 diesel with 188hp and 325 lb-ft torque. You’ll be able to pick from either the 144″ or 170″ wheelbase with low and high rooflines. The all wheel drive system (which tacks $6,500 onto the base van price) is activated at the push of a button and distributes power 35:65 front to rear and the traction control system takes over to keep the wheels with traction doing the work. There’s even a low-range upgrade ($300) that drops gearing by 42% for even better traction. To make the most of all that, it was lifted 4.3″ (110mm) front and 3.1″ (80mm) rear. While 4×4 models have been offered in other markets, this is the first time for the U.S., and it’s an all-new, lightweight system that adds just 265lbs to the vehicle. Lastly, there’s a new drift control available on all 2015 models that automatically counteracts crosswinds to improve stability.
Almost as exciting for North American customers, Mercedes is building a massive manufacturing plant in South Carolina to build new Sprinter vans under both theirs and the Freightliner brands, alongside their new Metris vans.
Stock configurations are passenger, crew and cargo iterations, which make a good starting point for your own adventure wagon…but it really is just the start. Oregon’s Outside Van has some ideas about how to finish it, and we picked their brains and image galleries to see what it costs to make these your dream vehicle…
Outside Van, based in Troutdale, Oregon, has been customizing vans for 20 years, and their portfolio is impressive. I’ve spent far too long on their website spinning through the models and planning my own dream Sprinter (someday, baby, someday). But really, their online gallery is, like the Sprinter itself, just a launch pad since everything they do is custom, and they can help take your concept and make sure you’re really getting what you want out of it. In fact, they even start some customers off with the Basecamp so you can spend a little time in the vehicle to be sure you really want what you think you really want.
The Basecamp 170 comes with five passenger seating, modular bed shelf, full insulation (sound and heat) with interweave wrapped panels, cargo net storage on the rear doors, overhead cabinets and 25 feet of tracks on the floor that’ll fit bicycle fork mounts. Dual multi-speed roof vent fans, powdercoated alloy wheels and stealth Mercedes logo are also included.
The Basecamp vans get reinforced and prewired to accommodate any future upgrades, and they help you get into the van sooner since they’re prebuilt and sold as shown here. A 144″ runs about $83,000 and the 170″ adds a the rear bench seat (shown) and probably about $10,000 to $12,000.
The reason the Basecamp exists is because there’s a healthy lead time for full custom options and they know we’re all the same – when we want something, we want it now! Never mind that all 2015 4×4 Sprinter’s headed for the U.S. are currently sold out through January ’16 (seriously, order now if you want to pick it up by then), but as of this story going live, Outside Van is booked through October 2015. OSV was smart enough to buy quite a few of the 4×4 models, though, so check with them, too.
Once you get your project booked (with a 50% deposit), they say the typical build takes anywhere from two to six months depending on complexity. And they can get pretty complex! Here’s a few examples:
The Karma conversion runs between $100,000 and $130,000 (that’s just the conversion cost, above the base vehicle price).
The gets you a high powered solar panel on the roof, four leather covered captains chairs and custom cabinetry.
Further back is a full stainless steel shower and sink with a hot and cold water system, a three panel bed over top the bike storage and plenty of room for boards, skis and other fun stuff.
The Brown Pow was made with mountain biking (and motocrossing) in mind thanks to front and rear hitches and interior storage under the bed.
The interior is higher up on the luxury scale with solid bamboo cabinets and LED lighting, extreme soundproofing, stainless shower with toilet, integrated Blendtec blender on the counter, mini-fridge and so, so much more.
Up top are three 80W panels, an AC unit and cargo box. The whole package runs between $180,000 and $220,000 depending the bells and whistles you choose. And you can definitely go bigger, with the most audacious custom projects running just north of $300,000.
The Syncline brings things back down to earth a bit with an upgrade cost of $60,000 to $80,000, but it’s still ready for you and a friend to get out there.
The galley has a sink and dual gas burner stove, mini-fridge and drawers, and there’s a solar panel on top here, too. There’s just two seats up front, though, so pick your partner carefully.
We’d heard varying opinions on what constitutes an RV when it comes time to financing these things, and Sonja at Outside Van says it depends on the lender whether the vehicle needs a toilet to quality, or if you can get away without any water features, so shop around. Just be aware that you’ll likely start paying off the vehicle the time you take ownership, not the time you drive it away, so you could be paying on it for quite a while before it’s truly ready for adventure.