Outdoors

Winnebago launches Mercedes Sprinter 4x4-based Era 4x4 camper van

Winnebago launches Mercedes Sp...
With the addition of the Sprinter 4x4 to the North American market, Winnebago now offers a 4WD Mercedes camper van
With the addition of the Sprinter 4x4 to the North American market, Winnebago now offers a 4WD Mercedes camper van
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With the Travato, Winnebago is going for the mountain biking/ kayaking/climbing crowd
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With the Travato, Winnebago is going for the mountain biking/ kayaking/climbing crowd
A peek inside the sliding door of the Winnebago Travato
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A peek inside the sliding door of the Winnebago Travato
The Travato was first introduced in 2013
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The Travato was first introduced in 2013
The new floor plan opens up the cabin by keeping the bathroom in back
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The new floor plan opens up the cabin by keeping the bathroom in back
With the addition of the Sprinter 4x4 to the North American market, Winnebago now offers a 4WD Mercedes camper van
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With the addition of the Sprinter 4x4 to the North American market, Winnebago now offers a 4WD Mercedes camper van
The newest Travato layout keeps things open with two single side beds
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The newest Travato layout keeps things open with two single side beds
With help from a support piece, the front sofa on the Era 4x4 turns into a single bed
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With help from a support piece, the front sofa on the Era 4x4 turns into a single bed
The Era 4x4's rear loading area includes a slide-out gear tray
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The Era 4x4's rear loading area includes a slide-out gear tray
Loaded up and ready for adventure
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Loaded up and ready for adventure
The Mercedes-based Era 4x4 includes two front swivel seats
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The Mercedes-based Era 4x4 includes two front swivel seats
Winnebago Era 4x4 kitchen area
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Winnebago Era 4x4 kitchen area
The Travato 59K floor plan includes a rear bathroom with toilet, shower and drop-down sink
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The Travato 59K floor plan includes a rear bathroom with toilet, shower and drop-down sink

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.

Winnebago Era 4x4 kitchen area
Winnebago Era 4x4 kitchen area

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.

With the Travato, Winnebago is going for the mountain biking/ kayaking/climbing crowd
With the Travato, Winnebago is going for the mountain biking/ kayaking/climbing crowd

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.

The new floor plan opens up the cabin by keeping the bathroom in back
The new floor plan opens up the cabin by keeping the bathroom in back

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.

2 comments
Calson
If the $89,500 is even close to the out the door price it will provide a big drop from the cost of the Roadtrek class B motorhomes that start at over $140,00. That it sleeps only 2 adults is not a problem as anyone with children is going to need a Class C motorhome which will provide a lot more living and storage space and cost less than a Class B motorhome. The advantage of the Class B is in not having to tow a small sedan to provide mobility as in being able to get into many parking lots at national parks and other recreation areas. The furnace is overkill for the amount of cubic space that will be heated and the same goes for the air conditioning. The oversized AC unit will make the motorhome less comfortable as it will shut off sooner and so remove much less moisture from the air as compared to a properly sized 9200 btu unit. I had a similar problem with a Toyota pickup that had a AC unit sized for a sedan and all it was cooling was the cab and this meant I had to manually cycle it on and off as even the least cooling setting still made the cab uncomfortable. Home AC units are put in by builders and not air conditioning specialists and more than half in the USA are oversized by 100% and so these units also do a poor job removing moisture and cooling the house as they do not have a long enough cycle time to be effective. Unclear as to whether the location for the kayaks and bicycles are going to be practical for actual users. How wants to climb up on a roof to haul up a 60 lb or heavier kayak that is stored 8 feet off the ground. Same applies to the bike rack which is too high for the average mountain bike that most RVer's haul around and weigh 40 lbs. or more. These roof racks also add a lot of drag and will hurt fuel economy which is a prime reason for buying a Class B motorhome. No mention of the capacity of the fresh water, grey water, and black water tanks (or if it uses a cassette toilet) as these are important for people who want to camp somewhere other than at a KOA campground.
Bill Bennett
Sorry I would save coconuts and buy a used VW Westphalia Vanagon Syncro. no I would put the camping stuff in my little trailer, put up the tent, pump up the airbeds, put the bikes on the roof rack on my Audi Turbo quattro Coupe. BTDT.