CC Outtake: Mercedes Sprinter 4WD Conversion Van – Ready For Anything, and Me

Since we’re on the subject of current vans, this is the hot one in this part of the world these days. Sprinters, especially the 4WD version, have become a genuine status symbol, conveying a youthful, affluent-hip vibe along with the cool image that you’re about to head of to Patagonia, the long and slow way. Well, I’ve been rather lusting after a Sprinter since they first came over here, some 15 years ago, to replace my venerable ’77 Chinook, but it just keeps going, for short trips anyway. And I just don’t have the freedom to hit the road for an extended period of time and given what these go for, unless it’s going to get some serious use, I couldn’t begin to justify it.

This all-dark gray version is a bit hard to see properly on an all-dark and gray Oregon late afternoon (it’s been an exceptionally wet and cool winter). This is a medium-length version, with a high roof. The Sprinters run a bit bigger than the Transit, which in turn runs a bit bigger than the Ram Promaster.

The cab is nice; probbaly the nicest of the bunch. The Sprinter is also the priciest, not surprisingly. I “built” one like this, and it came out to some $51k (That’s before the interior conversion). That includes the 188hp V6 diesel-4WD powertrain, but no the hi-lo range version, which costs another (whopping) $6800. It’s easy to get into some serious money with these, but that’s the case with any truck these days. And this is an exceptionally versatile one. That’s about the same as the starting price of an E Class sedan, but I’d take one of these over that in a heartbeat. A lot more vehicle for the money, in my book.

The windows were tinted so dark, I couldn’t get much of a shot of the interior. This is outfitted as something I’d call a “casual camper”, with a folding table ahead of the three-seater rear seat. Sort of like a jumbo VW bus.

Obviously, this is a professional conversion, and it undoubtedly adds a whole other chunk of change to the total price. The very back appears to be a bed (duh), although I don’t know if it folds out further to the front, or one sleeps transversely. And there’s cabinets overhead. But no real cooking or bathroom facilities. We would need a bigger version, and a serious camper conversion with amenities suitable for the longer trips.  These folks likely haul their kids with it too. In fact, I’m seeing more and more moms driving Sprinters as kiddie haulers.

Here’s more like what I have in mind. I’m torn about which of the three Euro-style vans I like best. The Sprinter is of course top dog, and is the only one that offers 4WD (in the US), but then the maintenance costs (never mind any possible repair costs) of the diesel are a bit scary. The Promaster is attractive, mostly for its very low floor, but its FCA powertrain is also a bit scary. The Transit is probably the safest bet.

But not the coolest.