Advanced $300K camper van goes green in more ways than one
Ohio's Advanced RV got a hold of one of the last imported third-generation Mercedes Sprinter vans and turned it into a green camping machine ... quite literally. The van features a bright-green interior, complemented by a noise/emissions-cutting 800-Ah off-grid battery bank. Throw in custom-designed solutions and high-end features like a Vizio smart TV, multi-fold extendable table and comprehensive touchscreen control and you have one serious small motorhome.
This is going to sound odd for a US$328,000 camper van, but Advanced RV's mission in making the van it calls "Baja" was to respond to calls for a less fancy fit-out. So it ditches the granite counters and wood wall paneling some might call old-fashioned and stuffy and goes all-out funky with a bright lime green theme throughout. The van is so green crazy, in fact, that the green-trimming extends right past the camping furniture and onto driver cab elements like the MBUX infotainment screen and door handle surrounds.
ARV started the project off with a 170-in wheelbase 2019 Sprinter it says was the last German-built Mercedes Sprinter it received ahead of the start of American-built Sprinter production. As such, the conversion shop had a little extra time to spend in developing equipment and solutions from the ground up, so as not to show a new Sprinter build too far in advance of getting more 2019 Sprinter inventory.
ARV intersperses stainless steel surfaces amongst the green furniture and cabinetry, and one of the new features designed specifically for the Baja is a stowaway countertop extension/dining table combination. Instead of the pedestal or side-mount table you usually find in camper vans, the Baja has a dual-panel tabletop that slides and folds out from a compartment below the end of the kitchen counter. This table works to create a larger L-shaped counter and two-person dining area for the rear sofa. It looks a bit scrunched for dining but is an interesting alternative to the usual dining layouts.
The sofa folds down electrically at the push of a button to become a double bed, and a new cushion design gives it a more personalized level of comfort. Whether in sofa or bed configuration, it is positioned in prime viewing distance of the 24-in Vizio smart TV hooked to Apple TV. A set of green-tinged flush-mounted ceiling speakers tickle the ears with sound waves.
Strangely, we don’t see any indication of a stove in the kitchen, so it appears that Baja campers are left to bring their own portable stove or rely on the microwave across from that extra-long stainless steel counter. Below the microwave, the large 193-L standing fridge/freezer provides plenty of food storage.
Between the kitchen and rear lounge, the wet bathroom houses a sink, shower and toilet. Unlike many wet bathrooms and their combination sink faucet/shower sprayers, the Baja bathroom has a separate shower sprayer and more residential-style sink faucet.
Onboard electrical equipment is powered by a large 800Ah lithium-ion battery pack designed for off-grid usage. ARV doesn’t mention anything about roof-mounted solar, but it has added in a second alternator for keeping that lithium charged. The newly developed Mercedes MBAC smart camper system is just launching in Europe and not currently available in the US, but ARV adds a Silverleaf touchscreen command system to bring together various component control and data display functions, including temperature adjustment and power system monitoring.
Multi-color-adjustable ambient lighting throughout helps tie the bright green and stainless steel together. Other features of note include diesel heating, on-demand hot water, a run-quiet air conditioner, a keypad entry system and Compustar security. ARV also adds a VB air suspension and tire monitoring system to the base Sprinter. The van carries water in 151-L fresh, 102-L gray and 68-L black tanks.
While ARV has done some nice work on the Baja, we’re rather perplexed by the US$328,013 price tag, which looks more like what you’d find dangling off a fully equipped, go-anywhere expedition vehicle or spacious multi-expanding motorhome. This van simply doesn’t have the size or packaging to command such a price, and honestly, while the Baja does have a higher level of standard features, we’d much prefer a layout like the $89,000 Frankia Yucon 7.0 Lounge.
We assume ARV’s price takes into account the extra development time behind some of the new solutions, but we just can’t see paying such an exorbitant price for what amounts to a nicely equipped one-off when other ARV camper vans list in between $130,000 and $250,000.
ARV seems to recognize that the price and/or day-glow Kermit green interior might make the van unsellable, in which case it plans to add it to its rental fleet. Current listings for ARV camper van rentals show prices starting at $390 a day.