Extending a helping hand to the rootless and wanderlust-filled masses, Alabama startup Storyteller Overland has launched a rugged, ultra-versatile 4x4 camper van in Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit flavors. With flexible multi-use furniture, the Mode 4x4 van reconfigures on the fly to adjust to the changing needs of driver and campers, working something like a rolling, habitable multitool. With solar-backed lithium power and a suite of equipment for all seasons, the Mode 4x4 travels the world in complete comfort, on pavement and off.

Storyteller held its official debut in March at RVX, where its booth stood out like a sore thumb, the compact, fully ruggedized Mode 4x4 camper vans contrasting sharply with the sea of oversized motorhome and fifth-wheel boxes. The company returned to a more natural habitat this month at Overland Expo West, where its Transit and Sprinter campers were but two of many 4x4 adventure camper vans on show. Still, the Storyteller vans managed to stand out from the pack with innovative interiors designed to shift quickly from weekday errand runs, to weekend camping, to full-time road tripping.

Storyteller lets each buyer choose a base van, either a 144-in (366-cm)-wheelbase diesel Mercedes Sprinter with factory all-wheel drive or a 148-in (376-cm)-wheelbase gas Ford Transit with Quigley 4x4. It showed both variants at Overland Expo, and each van featured some of the usual exterior accoutrements: off-road wheels (18 in) shod in BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 tires, large, rugged roof racks, side ladders and awnings. Storyteller stamped its signature on with stripes and badging.

Storyteller's floor plan looks entirely conventional and European at first glance – a kitchen block just inside the sliding door; a convertible dining area with dual-seat bench, swivel cab seats and adjustable table; and a flip-away rear bed and gear garage in back. The van sleeps a family of four.

Where the floor plan really separates itself from average is in its multifunctional furniture, starting with the FlexSpace wet bath positioned right behind the dinette. Rather than a full-time bathroom compartment, this space-saving solution rides inconspicuously as a storage bench. When it's time to wash clean after a long day outside, the bench pops open to reveal a shower basin with drain, and the privacy curtain and shower head drop down from the storage cabinet overhead, quickly transforming the space into a slim, functional shower room.

The bench also stores a portable toilet that can be used behind the privacy curtain and removed when it's time to shower. And if you prefer, you can pop the toilet out and use the bench storage compartment as a cooler.

Another versatile element of the Mode 4x4 build, the rear bed splits into two halves that fold against the side walls, freeing up a garage area for bikes, boards and other gear or tools. Tie-downs on the load floor make it easy to secure gear down. Rather than a slatted frame, the mattress is supported by a solid platform that doubles as a worktop, functioning as anything from a garage workbench for adjusting and repairing sports gear, to an overflow meal prep space, to a standing desk.

Up toward the front of the van, the convertible dinette offers a little multifunctional performance of its own. Storyteller calls it the GrooveLounge, and in addition to laying completely flat as a bed or standing up straight as a dining/drive bench, the seating unit can adjust into lounge position for reading and relaxing at camp. So buyers enjoy a dining area, bed and recliner in one.

The Mode 4x4 is designed as an all-season, all-terrain adventure van and includes a powerful electrical system with 9-kWh Volta lithium battery bank, 3.6-kW inverter, heavy duty alternator and roof-mounted solar panels. The diesel/gas cabin and water heating system keeps things warm in colder weather, and an air conditioner cools the cabin down on hot summer days. Storyteller says the battery is robust enough to keep the air conditioner firing through the night without plugging in to shore power or idling the engine. The kitchen block comes with an electric cooktop, a refrigerator, and a sink plumbed to 79-L fresh and gray water tanks.

Storyteller is preparing to begin production and will announce a list of dealerships in July, ahead of deliveries. It will offer uniform, no-haggle pricing across its dealer network, and both the Ford and Sprinter Mode 4x4 models will base in around US$150,000. Storyteller also intends to focus on after-sales support and customer service, relying on a widespread dealer network and on-demand customer service app to ensure that customers are able to resolve issues quickly and get back out on their adventures.

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