Outdoors

New Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 camper van: The most fuel-efficient Sportsmobile ever

New Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 camp...
The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
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The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
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The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
Sportsmobile told us that this show model would retail in at around $110K
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Sportsmobile told us that this show model would retail in at around $110K
A look in the rear of the Sprinter 4x4 camper van
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A look in the rear of the Sprinter 4x4 camper van
Sportsmobile has added a snorkel to this show Sprinter 4x4
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Sportsmobile has added a snorkel to this show Sprinter 4x4
Inside, the Sportsmobile at Overland Expo has a full kitchen area and plenty of storage space
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Inside, the Sportsmobile at Overland Expo has a full kitchen area and plenty of storage space
Inside the all-new Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
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Inside the all-new Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
The show model wears upgraded wheels and BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires
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The show model wears upgraded wheels and BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires
An outdoor shower pops out of a compartment on the rear door
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An outdoor shower pops out of a compartment on the rear door
The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
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The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
Inside the Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4
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Inside the Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4
Water and electrical connections
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Water and electrical connections
After much waiting, US customers have a Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 camper van option
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After much waiting, US customers have a Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 camper van option
This 2006 Sprinter 4x4 done by Sportsmobile was meant to be the first in a series of conversions but ended up being a one-off
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This 2006 Sprinter 4x4 done by Sportsmobile was meant to be the first in a series of conversions but ended up being a one-off

For 54 years, Sportsmobile has been building rugged campers on a variety of base van platforms. We recently took a look at its work in transforming a Ford E-Series Cutaway into a custom-built van, but that wasn't the only new model it had on show at this year's Overland Expo West. With the recent introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 to the US market, Sportsmobile now offers an efficient, all-terrain Sprinter diesel camper.

Sportsmobile has been building Sprinter campers since 2003, but they've long been limited to 2WD. In 2006, when the Sprinter was being sold under the Dodge brand in the US, Sportsmobile developed a Sprinter 4x4 conversion with parts from Oberaigner, the Australian outfit that builds the Sprinter 4WD hardware for Daimler/Mercedes. Sportsmobile showed the van at the 2006 LA Auto Show and planned to be the exclusive US installer and supplier of Oberaigner-based Sprinter 4x4s beginning in Spring 2007. That never materialized.

This 2006 Sprinter 4x4 done by Sportsmobile was meant to be the first in a series of conversions but ended up being a one-off
This 2006 Sprinter 4x4 done by Sportsmobile was meant to be the first in a series of conversions but ended up being a one-off

Some reports suggest that Mercedes stopped Oberaigner from moving forward with the Sportsmobile deal, but Sportsmobile told us it was more of an internal decision to shelve the project based on word that Mercedes planned to bring the 4x4 Sprinter option to the US. Either way, the result was the same: no Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 for the better part of a decade.

It took a few years, but Mercedes finally brought the Sprinter 4x4 over the Atlantic for the 2015 model year. Many people looking for a quality van with four-wheel drive have been ecstatic about the news, the folks at Sportsmobile chief among them.

"After years of working withMercedes-Benz to bring these vans to the US market, we are excited to finally have our hands onthese vehicles for our customized camper conversions," president of Sportsmobile West Jonathan Feld says. "We know the features of this Sprinter 4x4van will fit the needs of our customers for years to come."

Beyond just adding the prestige of the three-pointed star, the Sprinter's real selling point for the Sportsmobile customer is better fuel economy for a 4WD Class B motorhome. The base Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 with 188-hp 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine is estimated at 20 mpg (12 l/100km), and Sportsmobile is telling customers to expect 14 to 18 mpg (17 to 13 l/100km) for a converted camper van. It calls the model its lightest, most fuel efficient 4x4 conversion ever.

Inside the all-new Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015
Inside the all-new Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 at Overland Expo West 2015

Sportsmobile offers a wide variety of floor plans, packages and options for the Sprinter 4x4 camper, with prices starting around US$70,000. The van can sleep up to four adults with the available Penthouse Top and folding in-cabin bed. Available equipment includes kitchen with sink, propane stove and refrigerator, in-cabin heating and air conditioning, hot water heater, cassette toilet, shower, TV and entertainment equipment, and solar panels.

The company estimates that the average Sprinter 4x4 build will run around $90,000, based on popular equipment and options. The model in our photos from Overland Expo, with its snorkel, exterior shower, Penthouse Top, wheel and all-terrain tire upgrade, and other equipment, prices in at $110K. The Sprinter 4x4 is proving quite a popular product for Sportsmobile, with the converter saying that it's already sold out of 2015 models and is now taking orders for 2016 Sprinter 4x4s.

Source: Sportsmobile

5 comments
bergamot69
Having driven standard 2wd Sprinter vans over unmade roads, I can't think of many vehicles I've driven in the rough that were less comfortable. The culprit is the front suspension with its transverse leaf- meaning that on rough surfaces the van pitches quite aggressively from side to side. And for a passenger wearing a seatbelt it is worse- as the belt is too high at the lowest position and chafes the neck. And then there is the problem that Mercedes seem to have with rust- very unusual in a modern vehicle.
bobbejaan
I wish I liked Sportsmobile more, but their clunky interiors are a real let down. I'm sure the 70's styling has it's fans, but European campers are a lot cleaner looking, lighter & cheaper.
Tom Benson
Lets see them redo a new Ford Transit Connect diesel.
Joe F
tom, they do a Transit camper and diesel is an option http://www.sportsmobile.com/transit-van-info/
Adam Non
Disappointing to see sportsmobile touting "lightweight" at the same time as loading up with wood interior ... why not go to lightweight 100% recycled aluminum and zero-toxin sustainable plastics -- go green with USGC.com/LEED design, products and materials? As or the Sprinter, the limitations I see are the small 24 gallon tank (our Excursion has 44 gallons and averages 15 mpg) and primitive suspension. Maybe VW is bringing a 4x4 camper to the USA? http://www.vwvortex.com/news/volkswagen-news/volkswagen-unveils-new-t6-based-california-camper-van/