After years of waiting, North America has finally gotten the 4x4 version of the Mercedes Sprinter van, which is quickly gaining popularity amongst camper van converters. We took a look at the rugged Sportsmobile Sprinter 4x4 expedition van a few months ago, and now Winnebago has rolled out a more highway-friendly 4WD Sprinter camper called the Era 4x4.
Winnebago may be best known for its large, bus-sized RVs, but it has also been offering Class B motorhomes (camper vans) for decades. It currently sells both the Sprinter-based Era and the Dodge ProMaster-based Travato.
With the Era already in its lineup, the Era 4x4 was just a matter of getting the 4x4 option from Mercedes. Winnebago advertises the new model as its first Sprinter-based off-road RV, but an engineer admitted to us that the model is designed more for road driving. It appears to be well-equipped for all-weather highway driving and light off-roading, like navigating the dirt road to the campground, but it falls well short of a more serious off-roading expedition van.
Inside, Winnebago offers several floor plans from the standard Era options list. At last week's Outdoor Retailer show, it displayed a van with the 70A layout, which has two twin beds in the rear. The beds expand into a single queen bed via a removable wedge-shaped cushion, while the sofa directly behind the driver's cab converts into a single bed.
Behind the front sofa-bed is a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. The kitchen area with dual-burner cooktop, refrigerator and sink is located across from the bathroom.
The Era 4x4 brochure we picked up also shows an available 70X configuration with the front sofa-bed replaced by a pair of swiveling seats, which work with the swiveling driver and front passenger seat to create a four-person lounge area with removable pedestal table. That floor plan has a 70 x 80-in (1.8 x 2-m) convertible bed in back.
Winnebago hasn't quite reached EarthRoamer's level of premium outdoor living, but it has designed the Era 4x4 with a sleek, convenient exterior equipment package. The camper comes standard with a powered awning featuring built-in LEDs and exterior speakers. An external gas hook-up makes it easy to fire up the grill.
The Era 4x4 at Outdoor Retailer wore a sticker price just under US$127,900, which included a few optional add-ons. Based on that sticker, an Era 4x4 with the base 188-hp 3.0-liter diesel six-cylinder would start around $120,500 after delivery, without the extras from the show model. Standard equipment includes a 22-in HDTV, stereo system, 16,000-BTU furnace, 13,500-BTU air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, and electrical system with 2.5-kW LP generator. The camper has a 28-gal (106-L) fresh water tank, 26-gal (98-L) gray water tank, 10-gal (38-L) black water tank, 16-gal (60.5-L) propane tank and 26-gal (98-L) diesel fuel tank.
The Era 4x4 was the highlight of Winnebago's display outside the entryway of Outdoor Retailer, but the company was also showcasing a new floor plan on the sporty Travato camper van. Introduced in 2013, the Travato is part of the first wave of Ram ProMaster-based camper vans, along with competitors like the RoadTrek Zion. The ProMaster is the American version of the Fiat Ducato, an established leader in the European camper van conversion market.
Based on the Travato's look at Outdoor Retailer and advertising that calls the van "a nimble, versatile basecamp to launch your next adventure from," it's clear Winnebago is going straight after younger, more adventurous campers. The Travato is more action sports support-mobile, less road-touring motorhome – or at least that's the type of marketing surrounding it.
Designated the 59K, the new Travato layout sees the bathroom pushed to the very rear of the van, with the bulk of the cabin dedicated to the twin beds along the walls. The kitchen area is located between the driver's seat and left-side bed. This configuration creates a center aisle that runs straight through to the bathroom and gives the cabin a very open feel, and is a nice alternative to some of the claustrophobic camper van designs out there. On the downside, that openness leaves room for only two sleepers. The Travato 59K starts just over $89,500.
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