Why Choose a 4X4 Sprinter Van
“I will never own a Minivan” -Every Dad Ever
A quote I still stand by. But when we learned we were going to be adding two more kiddo’s to our family we needed to figure out how to transport them all. Right now we have our 2013 double cab Tundra and a Civic, neither can hold 2 carseats, a 5 year old, 2 adults, and 2 large dogs. So what the heck were we to do? The minivan seemed like the only horrifying answer. But no, we stood strong.
We had to brainstorm and figure out what vehicle to transition into. Do we get rid of the car? Which would mean getting rid of our good MPG and our commute car? Get rid of the truck? Which would mean getting rid of our 4X4. We need both a vehicle with 4X4 (we live where it snows and rains, and live on a dirt road), and a vehicle that gets good MPG for the commute. So if a minivan was out of the question we would have to look for a 4X4 that can hold us all.
Toyota Sequoia would fit the bill with a wallet breaking $60,000 for the 4X4. There is a 3rd row of seats but the cargo space is enough to put a small amount of groceries but that’s about it; no room for the dogs. Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon are the same story. It looked like our search was hopeless.
I was flipping through Overland Journal one day and came upon an ad for the new Sportsmobile Sprinter. It was lifted with off-road tires, roof rack, winch and bumper, and LED lightbar. A light went off in my head. Well, why not? We wouldn’t want a Sportsmobile but the Sprinter, maybe.
I started doing some internet research, low and behold, after years of people turning Sprinters into 4X4, Mercedes just started production on a factory 4X4 Sprinter. Oh snaps!! I know what you might be thinking, a Mercedes Sprinter as a family mobile? Like I said before, why not? Sprinters come in 144″(19.4′ total) and 170″ (22.8′ total) wheelbase models and low roof (7.9′) and high roof (8.8′). As well as multiple floor plans, Cargo, Crew, and Passenger. Cargo is like your standard delivery van, no windows or seats in the back. Crew has 2 large windows and one bench seat in the back directly behind the driver and passenger seat. Passenger has 4 rows of bench seats and windows everywhere.
For our needs we wanted to go for the 144″ wheelbase low roof, in the Crew layout. We needed one more row of seats, but the great thing about the Crew layout is that the floor, under the rubber carpet, have the mounting hardware for extra rows of seats. All you need to do is some cutting in the rubber and bolt in the seats. It is a little bit more technical than that but I’ll be posting a write up on the install in a bit. With seating for 9 and we still have about 5′ in the back for the dogs, camping gear, Costco grocery runs, bikes, and almost anything else. It literally was everything we needed and more.
So we went into our local-ish Sprinter Dealer in Flagstaff, Az. No 4X4 model in stock and the salesman played 20 questions with us to see why we needed a 4X4. After I told him for the 5th time that I needed a 4X4 he told me they can order one for us. I mean who does that…. for a van? Well it turns out Mercedes will only be selling/making 1,800 4X4’s in the USA per year, in total, not of each model. So we did some research and found only 6 4X4 Sprinters “in-Stock” at a dealer in the US. Crap. So I guess we will be ordering a van. It sounds ridiculous but it was pretty fun, we were able to customize the crap out of it. Without the pressure from the salesman to buy the model in-stock, we were able to add only the feature we really wanted. So when it was all said and done the van cost a little less than $50k, not bad when you think the Suburban would cost $10k more and has less room.
The down side, the wait was about 4-5 months. Kind of sucks having to wait 5 months, when the kiddo’s are due in 4 months…. But what other choice did we have, so we signed the paper and crossed our fingers. 2 months go by and we haven’t heard anything from our salesguy in Flagstaff. So we call him up, he said he had no idea when the van would be built, not a good sign. We wait another month and start to get really worried that the van would never get built and the salesman might have fudged the build timeline. So we call in again and the salesguy doesn’t have the time to talk with us. So we call his manager. Manager does some digging and finds out of van went to production a few days prior. Manager asks why salesguy didn’t check for us, we had no answer. Silence on the phone, Manager, “Hum”.
The van was delivered on time.