EarthCruiser makes ultra-capable off-grid motorhomes out of Mercedes' most rugged
In the United States, EarthCruisers come built on Mitsubishi Fusos or pickup trucks. Over in the company's original stomping grounds of Australia, though, they come in other flavors. This year, EarthCruiser has been pushing some all-new Mercedes options, building its most capable exploration machine on a Unimog U430 and a smaller, more nimble escapee on a G-Wagen base. Both feature pop-top cabins, plenty of capability in getting you out into the wildest of wilds, and more than enough everyday comforts to keep you out there awhile.
EarthCruiser declares the Unimog-based Explorer XPR440 its "most advanced expedition model." The new model relies on 300 hp worth of Mercedes muscle to propel it forward and further benefits from the base 'Mog's portal axles, locking differentials, permanent all-wheel drive system, short overhangs and low-range transmission ratio. The available central tire inflation and monitoring system helps in keeping pressure fine-tuned to the ground below the rubber, and available run-flat tires help in getting the big, 12-tonner to safety in the event of a puncture.
Another handy feature the base Unimog brings with it is its VarioPilot adjustable driver cab hardware. The steering wheel and drive pedals slide quickly from left to right, or vice versa, helping the pilot maintain the best vision and performance while rambling up mountains, through canyons, across ice fields and over national borders.
With canvas pop-ups and basic interior trim, EarthCruiser's colossal expedition vehicles aren't quite as fancy as competitors from EarthRoamer or Unicat, but they certainly don't lack in creature comforts. Two individual fridges combine to give the XPR440 nearly 300 liters of cold storage, and the kitchen area includes a microwave, cooktop, sink and plenty of worktop in between.
As in other EarthCruisers, the shower and toilet are just inside the entryway, encouraging dirty adventurers to wash up immediately before tracking dirt around the cabin. A washing machine, wet/dry vac and air conditioner are luxuries you might not to expect to enjoy in the middle of nowhere, and a DVR surveillance recording system, FLIR thermal imaging camera, and five-HD camera system with 45 days of recording and live broadcasting capability are additions you might not think about at all, if EarthCruiser didn't list them on its brochure.
The XPR440 sleeps up to four on a main double bed and one or two lifted "Skybeds" and seats up to five. A multi-touchscreen command system keeps tabs on onboard capacities and system operation and incorporates 3-axis pitch and roll tracking and an ultrasonic weather station. The infotainment-nav system is upgraded with Hema mapping, Bluetooth and iPad connectivity, and there's also an 80-channel UHF radio and 4G cellular connectivity.
The outside of EarthCruiser's living module is equally impressive, housing an outdoor shower, slide-out kitchen area with electric grill, and rear motorbike carrier to hold your other adventure ride.
Lest you think EarthCruiser is going soft with all that fancy equipment, we should note that the XPR440 also counts a chainsaw, axe, and front and rear 20,000-lb (9,000-kg) winches as part of its special equipment package. It'll conquer the path ahead, even if that path is anything but clear and straightforward.
The 440 is designed to wander for up to 2,175 miles (3,500 km) without making a stop, owing to its 800-L fuel storage and 860-L fresh water tank. A thousand watts of roof-mounted solar keep the lithium battery bank topped off to ensure all that electrical equipment stays in running order. An Arctic-grade weatherproofing system keeps the water flowing, heat running and clothes drying in temperatures right down to -40 C (-40 F).
Like other pop-top EarthCruiser models, the XPR440 is sized to fit in a shipping container and ship off to the starting line of your overland adventure. It starts at a cool AU$580,000 (approx. US$421,000), and EarthCruiser says the fully optioned model featured in photos wears another $140,000 worth of upgrades.
As an interesting aside, we tried to get a more complete breakdown of base and option pricing, but EarthCruiser's sales and production manager Mark Fawcett said the full kit would be too large to send via satellite. He was deep into an overland trek through the heart of Australia doing some touring with the XPR440 but still managed to reply to our email inquiry within the hour, demonstrating how a machine like the 440 can keep you connected even when you're out well beyond the boonies. The photo just above is one of the most recents that EarthCruiser posted to Facebook from its trip across Oz - looks like our type of "office".
Also a part of EarthCruiser's current Australian cross country trip, the G-Pro Escape is the very latest addition to EarthCruiser's lineup. It finds itself at the opposite end of the EarthCruiser size/weight scale from the XPR440, riding on a much more compact but still highly capable Mercedes – the G-Class.
The G-Pro Escape isn't a G550 4x42 so it lacks the portal axles of the XPR440, but EarthCruiser does offer them as an option. The G-Class base also brings front, rear and central differentials, a 181-hp diesel engine with 295 lb-ft of torque, and a five-speed auto transmission. Also present is the infotainment system complete with Hema mapping, Bluetooth and iPhone connectivity.
Earthcruiser mounts its walkthrough motorhome module directly to the chassis, filling it with a walkthrough toilet/shower room, sleeping for three and a kitchen with diesel cooktop and 122-L fridge/freezer. A dedicated air conditioner keeps things cool.
With 250-liter fuel and water tanks, the G-Pro doesn't have quite the nomadic autonomy of the XPR440, but its much smaller footprint will allow it to travel places the Unimog can't while offering a nimbler ride on the way.
Like the XPR440, the G-Pro offers lithium battery storage, solar panels, the 80-channel UHF radio, DVR recording, 4G cellular, the five-camera external recording system, and front and rear winches. It starts at $320,000, and the photo model prices in at $360,000.