Airstream's newest camper van bridges local city streets with distant destinations
Over at the recently concluded Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, the all-new, 3rd-gen Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was one of the big stars of the show, serving as the base of some of the most technologically advanced camper vans on the floor. The new Sprinter hasn't landed in the US just yet, but that doesn't mean that the gen-2 Sprinter isn't finding itself at the center of attractive, new camper conversions, as the all-new Airstream Interstate Nineteen proves. A nimbler, more compact Airstream touring coach, the Interstate Nineteen brings much of the comfort of home wherever you travel.
With the new Interstate Nineteen, Airstream looks to blend city-friendly style and handling with long-haul touring comfort. The shorter 19.4-ft (5.9-m) length ensures that the van is able to work its way around downtown corners with car-like agility and park in traditional parking spaces, actions that will give the 24-ft (7.3-m) Interstate EXT models some trouble.
There's a reason that Airstream calls its Class B motorhomes "touring coaches" instead of camper vans – marketing, sure, but it's a more upscale name for what is clearly a more fully loaded, upscale (and pricey) breed of live-in van, well upmarket from the base-level pop-tops popular with climbers, surfers and mountain bikers. Whether or not Airstream van owners journey between the California coast and Napa Valley on a regular basis, as the company's advertising would have us believe, they probably have the means. And a van like the Interstate Nineteen allows them to do so without giving up too much of the comfort they'd enjoy at home.
Airstream starts things off with a 144-in-wheelbase (3,658-mm) Sprinter 2500 that includes heated driver cab seats, heated power mirrors, a heated windshield, and a robust suite of driver-assistance features like collision prevention assist, lane keeping assist, automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers and headlamp cleaning system. A 188-hp (140-kW) 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel and five-speed auto transmission keep the wheels spinning, and four-wheel drive is available for those that pony up the option price. Mercedes' 8-in touchscreen navigation system includes satellite radio and smartphone connectivity.
Airstream keeps that high level of fit and features rolling into the camper cabin, where it launches a single floor plan with a power rear bench integrated into the very back, well behind the kitchen block and wet bath. At night, that rear bench folds out and merges with the side seats to create a 66 x 73-in (168 x 185-cm) bed. Boat deck-like plank-style flooring below adds a touch of marine class. Occupants can keep the temperature dialed to comfortable with the air conditioner and furnace.
The kitchen area includes the usual dual-burner stove and sink, but it also comes stocked with a 3.2-cu ft (91-L) fridge/freezer, microwave, and Corian countertop and side shelf. Meals are served on the adjustable pedestal table with Corian top.
Airstream claims its wet bath is the largest in its class, and it includes a shower, sink and toilet, along with a retractable clothesline and towel rack. The riveted porthole door stands as another nautically inspired design cue. A 20-gal (76-L) fresh water tank keeps the fixtures flowing, and 15-gal (57-L) gray and 10-gal (38-L) black water tanks collect water on the other end. A hot water heater is standard.
Airstream adds a variety of other modern conveniences around the open floor plan, including power window shades, an LED HDTV, a fan with rain sensor, and LED lighting. The TV comes wired to an omnidirectional, in-motion VHF/UHF antenna, and the van is prewired for cable and satellite. A 250-watt solar array, 2.5-kW LPG generator, shore power hookup and dual deep-cycle AGM batteries keep the power-hungry motorhome humming along, and a touchscreen command center offers full energy management.
The Interstate Nineteen's exterior is well-equipped as well, with custom bodywork, a power auto-retract awning, outdoor shower with hot and cold water, power entry step, LED lighting and LP gas grill hookup.
As its list of features tips off, the Interstate Nineteen is most definitely not your value-packed entry ticket into #vanlife. Airstream launched it last week for a starting price of US$149,240. So it really is a "touring coach" suited best to well-to-do professionals and retirees.