Mercedes camper van blows van life open with spacious, motorhome-style interior
Germany's Frankia doesn't just name its new camper van "Yucon" to send visions of epic trips amidst colossal mountains and glacial turquoise dancing through your head. Naming the Sprinter van after Canada's sparsely populated northwestern territory also emphasizes the sheer feeling of size and space inside. With the Yucon, Frankia packs a roomy living area derived from its larger motorhomes within the compact driving footprint of a camper van. Clever space-saving features slide and swivel throughout this "microliner."
Frankia has traditionally stayed on the motorhome side of the market, building large Class A and C RVs atop chassis from Mercedes and other makes. That experience shines through in the brand's first camper van, as Frankia strives to give the Yucon a Class C feel inside the factory walls of a third-gen Sprinter van. The new van line promotes the idea of enjoying trips "from the inside out," relishing your time between the Mercedes badges as much as or even more than you enjoy exploring the world outside the van.
The #vanlife movement seems to be very much the driver of Frankia's camper van campaign, and both Yucon models are two-sleepers perfect for youthful couples bounding from place to place. Each floor plan puts emphasis on the rear bedroom area, as if carefully arranged to serve as window dressing for Instagram photos of underwear-clad, golden-haired females mesmerized by orange sunlight spilling across the ocean beyond the rear double doors.
Frankia doesn't simply support van lifers by making living in a van possible but by making it downright comfy and enjoyable. The king of that category is the flagship 274-in (697-cm) Yucon 7.0 Lounge, which finds its legs on a Mercedes Sprinter 170 with super high roof. Loaded with space-optimizing innovations, this van follows directly in the footsteps of the FutureConcept layout that Frankia experimented with at last year's Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, abandoning the conventional camper van formula of rear bed-central kitchen/bathroom-front dining lounge for something more spacious and homey.
Frankia designers worked extensively on the eponymous lounge in the rear, where occupants enjoy an L-shaped sofa and plenty of elbow room. The versatile layout allows for both vis-a-vis seating around the removable pedestal table and multi-person sofa seating facing the passenger-side entertainment unit, much the way one would do in a residential living room or TV room.
The large, full-height media console includes a TV stand, bookshelf with retention straps, and hidden mobile charging compartments below hinged surfaces. It also conceals a pull-out table that serves as a handy coffee table for cocktails, game-day snacks and more. A wardrobe is integrated into the same wall console.
Frankia's lounge layout appears to create a much more spacious and home-like feel than other camper van rear compartments, but it does come with one downside. The passenger-side media console cuts into the convertible bed width, so the 53 x 79-in (135 x 200-cm) longitudinal bed sleeps narrower than it needs to in a van load area that stretches up to 70 inches (179 cm) across. For comparison, the Winnebago Boldt Q70 BL, another new-Sprinter camper van with convertible longitudinal bed, offers 66 in (168 cm) of bed width. We do like Frankia's lounge better than the dual-sofa layout of the Boldt, though.
Frankia raises the 7.0 Lounge's floor, which serves both to separate the living area from the more task-oriented central and front sections of the van and to create underfloor storage. As shown in the photo below, the rearmost bench cushion (the foot of the 'L') retracts away, opening up the lounge floor for through-loading. Owners will have to lift items up and into the rear of the van, but there's plenty of length to store them and available tie-downs to help ratchet everything into place.
Stepping down into the kitchen, you'll notice the main cooking block has jumped over to the opposite side of the van from where it'd usually be in a European camper van. By keeping the larger structural elements on the driver side, Frankia adds continuity to the spacious lounge floor with a wide floor that runs from passenger seat to kitchen. Available floor tracks can be installed on this floor section, securing down cargo or up to two optional belted seats. The kitchen itself is stocked with a dual-burner stove, sink and 90L fridge/freezer.
Packaged between that kitchen block and the driver's seat, the wet bathroom includes a toilet, shower, countertop with built-in sink, mirror and storage shelves. The toilet retracts to increase shower floor space.
As attractive as the Yucon 7.0 Lounge's roomy interior is, Frankia's betting that some buyers will prefer more maneuverability and less wheelbase from their Sprinter camper, so it also launches the 233-in (593-cm) Yucon 6.0, based on a Sprinter 144. This floor plan gets compacted down but maintains a feeling of openness and separated space.
The rear lounge is noticeably lost in the model name and is also lost inside the 6.0 van, giving way to left and right twin beds. The rear floor is still raised, however, giving the area the feel of a Class C bedroom. Central cushions fill out some of the space between the beds, creating a larger bed for two. So the van is good for adventurous duos who want to get close as well as those who want to retire to their own beds. The headboards fold up, useful for both sitting up in bed and clearing more storage space in the load area behind them.
The central kitchen and bathroom in the 6.0 are the most conventional things about either of the Yucon interiors. The kitchen block with dual-burner stove, 69L compressor fridge and sink stands right next to the sliding entry, and the fridge can be accessed from inside or out thanks to a dual-directional door. The bathroom compartment with shower, sink and toilet finds home behind the driver's seat.
While the middle of the van is conventional, the front strays from the norm once again, losing the rear bench typical in a front dinette. Instead, the retractable table extends out diagonally, putting a dining surface in front of the swiveled-around cab seats. The loss of the rear dinette bench makes room for the longitudinal beds in back and just makes sense in a two-person van — why waste space with two seats you won't use? The table can also secure to the outside wall of the kitchen area for al fresco dining.
Frankia was clearly thinking of #vanlife when it created these vans, but judging from its photos, it's aiming less for the twenty-something, post-college wanderlusting set so famous on Instagram and YouTube and more for older professionals and retirees willing and able to pony up €69,900+ (approx. US$77,550+). That base price is for the Yucon 6.0 with 3.5-tonne chassis and 112-hp four-cylinder CDI engine, and the Yucon 7.0 Lounge starts at €79,900 ($88,650) on that same Sprinter chassis. The 4.1-tonne models start at €81,600 ($90,525) and €91,600 ($101,625), respectively, bringing a variety of additional goodies, including a 161-hp CDI engine, 7G-Tronic transmission, 7-in MBUX infotainment system and rear parking camera.
The 6.0 and 7.0 Lounge each comes standard with a 100L fresh water tank, 60Ah lithium-iron-phosphate battery, Truma Combi D6E heater/hot water boiler and dimmable LED lighting. Along with familiar options like engine upgrades, all-wheel drive, solar charging and TV set-ups, Frankia offers some interesting ways to enhance the interior, including the floor rails and extra drive seats mentioned above and a kitchen enhancement package with pull-out countertop extension, inset stove below hinged worktop panel and coffee corner with dedicated 230V outlet for the 7.0 Lounge model.
Frankia will present the new Yucon at the 2019 Düsseldorf Caravan Salon, and we'll be stopping by to see just how spacious and livable those new layouts feel in person.