Storyteller drops all-terrain Ford camper van onto US roads and dirt
Long, long ago, in the innocent, pre-Covid times of 2019, Alabama's Storyteller Overland arrived on the market with plans of launching its Mode 4x4 camper van in both Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit flavors. But since then, it's steadily grown its Mercedes adventure van line by going Beast and Stealth, with nary another word about the Ford Transit – that is, until this month. Storyteller has repurposed the Ford Transit AWD van into a new base off-road camper that brings a gas powertrain and a little extra space for a little less money.
Storyteller's original plan was to offer near-identical Mode 4x4 camper vans in buyer's choice of Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit, providing both gas and diesel options. It even showed both models at its world premiere at RVX 2019. Since Ford didn't offer a factory all- or four-wheel drive at the time, so Storyteller was set to go with an aftermarket Quigley 4x4 on the Transit Mode.
As fate would have it, just before the start of that RVX show, Ford announced it would be launching a Transit AWD in the US for MY2020, going head to head against the Sprinter 4x4, the only other American-market van with the option of four driven wheels. So instead of moving ahead with the Quigley system, Storyteller waited it out and worked with Ford's own factory Transit AWD model. It took a little longer, but now it's ready to start rolling out all-terrain camper vans for those that prefer the Ford badge and a twin-turbo gas engine in place of the Sprinter's turbo-diesel.
Storyteller introduced the Ford Transit-based Mode LT this month in celebration of the Fourth of July. At $4,000 less than the base-level Sprinter Mode 4x4, the Mode LT is technically Storyteller's entry-level model, but the company bills it more as an alternative for those that like the idea of Ford's service network, 310-hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission.
Unlike the Sprinter's selectable all-wheel-drive, Ford's AWD stays on all the time, distributing the torque between the front and rear axles based upon conditions and driving mode. The Sprinter 4x4 tends to get rated slightly higher than the Transit AWD for off-road driving, and that's consistent with how Storyteller is differentiating the Mode 4x4 and Mode LT.
"While Ford never designed the AWD Transit to serve as your vehicle of choice for rock crawling or hyper-aggressive off-roading, the fact is that it is still a truly capable and agile travel companion," Storyteller tells the story. "Whether it is leading you up to Tahoe for a weekend ski getaway or carrying you and your crew down a backcountry gravel road for a night of boondocking under the stars, the Mode LT on AWD Transit platform will make you feel right at home."
Since no factory all-wheel-drive van is really built for rock crawling or off-road hyper aggression, the Mode LT promises to be plenty of van for innumerable adventurers whose idea of off-roading looks more like meandering down a forest road in search of a particularly scenic place to make camp. Storyteller also says that the slightly larger Transit brings an extra inch of interior height, width and length, a nice bonus in a compact motorhome that puts every square inch to use.
Storyteller hasn't revealed pictures of the floor plan or interior of the Mode LT yet, but the new van includes the same equipment, features and options as its Sprinter sibling and will presumably be laid out the same way, as was the company's original Transit Quigley Model 4x4. The three-sleeper van includes Storyteller's Dreamweaver foldaway double bed with integrated worktop below the mattress; GrooveLounge convertible two-seat dinette/single bed; galley with portable induction cooktop, stainless steel sink, fridge/freezer and microwave; and swivel driver cab seats.
When folded up against the sidewalls, the bed clears out a rear garage area with tie-down track good for storing bikes and other gear. Another multipurpose, space-optimizing feature, the FlexSpace shower basin doubles as a bench, cooler and toilet room. The Halo Shower pops out of an overhead cabinet to deliver a steady flow of warm water behind a wraparound shower curtain, packing away neatly when the shower's over.
Other common features shared by both the Mode 4x4 and Mode LT include the 12-kWh Volta power system with 90 watts of solar, roof rack with side ladder, air conditioning and gas heat, water heater, power awning, Storyteller wheels with BFGoodrich KO2 tires, and 79.5/91-L fresh/gray water capacity.
The 2022 Mode LT is available for reservation through Storyteller's nationwide dealer network and carries a base price of $153,748. Storyteller warns that its allotment of Ford vans is limited, so those eager to start living the Mode LT life might want to reserve early. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2021/early 2022. The LT price is more than the Mode 4x4 was the last time we looked at it, but the Sprinter camper van's base price has been increased to $157,747 for the 2022 model year.
Storyteller is saving a few "confidential" details about each new 2022 model for the official world premiere at Overland Expo West, which this year takes place in late September. It will provide a look at the Mode LT interior at the show, but in the meantime, we've included a few more photos of the Mercedes Mode 4x4 interior to give an idea of how Storyteller lays things out.
Source: Storyteller Overland