Well, it’’ s about damn time.

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Today, Mercedes-Benz has actually taken the interesting action of providing a factory-built pop-top camper to the American masses. Thanks to a just-announced collaboration with Seattle’’ s Peace Vans and Mercedes-Benz Master Solutions partner Driverge , you will have the ability to stroll into any U.S. Mercedes-Benz Vans car dealership this spring (a company date has actually not been revealed yet) and buy a totally warrantied Metris Weekender design camper with seating for as much as 5 and sleeping for as much as 4. It’’ s the very first time a maker has actually used a pop-top camper in America considering that Volkswagen ended its Winnebago-built Eurovan camper program back in 2003.

Thanks to Harley Sitner, owner of Peace Vans, among the biggest VW camper organisations in North America, I’’ ve been offered a sneak peak of the Weekender design camper, that makes its launching this weekend at the Chicago Auto Show. As somebody who’’ s owned 7 VW Westfalia Vanagons , a 2003 VW Eurovan camper, and driven a Metris (called a Vito in Europe) all over Scotland, I feel comfy calling this rig a beneficiary obvious to VW’’ s storied campers.

. What ’ s theDeal?

In late 2016, Sitner made a journey to Germany to check camper-equipment producers for his company. Gladly bring back, offering, and leasing all way of aging VW campers to excited clients at Peace Vans, Sitner was annoyed that midsize pop-top campers like the California and Marco Polo weren’’ t readily available in the States. After extensive conversations with German makers Reimo (camper interiors) and CF Maier ( pop tops), Sitner filled a shipping container with parts from those 2 business and dealt with his team to craft a U.S.-built Metris camper. That camper, which he called the Weekender, rapidly offered, and he quickly persuaded the owner of surrounding Mercedes-Benz of Seattle to stick a number of Peace Vans rigs on his lot. Sitner was quickly offering as a lot of his Weekenders and full-camper designs—– geared up with a range, heater, sink, and fridge—– as his little store might provide.

Around a year earlier, Sitner was gotten in touch with by Mercedes. The group at the Mercedes Vans factory in Charleston, South Carolina, had actually been paying very close attention to the U.S. camper-van market. While there were all way of RVs readily available on the bigger Sprinter platform, the group concurred with Sitner that the smaller sized Metris may show to be the best pop-top rig for a much bigger fan base.

Sitner didn’’ t have the resources to develop a factory, however simply up the roadway from the Charleston plant, upfitter Driverge had the space and capability to produce Peace Vans campers on a maker’’ s scale.

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“ One thing we fought with was, How do we catch the enthusiasm and understanding these smaller sized, terrific upfitters give the table?” ” Mercedes Vans upfit supervisor Don Maxwell informed me. ““ That ’ s what we’seem like we ’ ve done partnering with [Sitner] It’’ s the very best of both worlds, having [Sitner] and his trustworthiness and style and our relied on partner Driverge, which has actually invested a lot here in Charleston and can produce with the exact same product and procedures [Sitner] usages however at a quicker rate.” ”

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 Mercedes Benz( Photo: Courtesy Scott Erickson)

. What You Get.

Size-wise, the Metris remains in a class of its own. It ’ s a larger automobile than Dodge ’ s ProMaster City , Ford ’ s Transit Connect , and Nissan ’ s NV2000, however it ’ s not almost so big as a full-size Sprinter, ProMaster, or Transit. The pop-top-equipped Metris will’fit inside a basic seven-foot-high garage and use a really tight 36-foot turning circle( which damages my Eurovan Camper ’ s 47-foot circle however is somewhat less than the 34.5-foot circle made by my active Vanagon Westfalia). It ’ s as maneuverable as an automobile.’

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Pricing isn ’ t totally pin down, however for someplace in between$ 26,000 and$ 30,000 above the base Metris’’ s price tag($ 31,000) you ’ ll get the following.( The beginning cost for an empty 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter freight van is’$ 34,495.)

. A Pop Top.

The difficult, crash-tested, raising fiberglass roofing includes a waterproof sturdy camping tent and has a sleeping location for 2. The upper bed is really comfortable, with an incorporated spring system, a two-inch memory-foam bed mattress, 3 windows, and included USB ports for lights and charging. 2 of the 3 zip-open windows are equipped with fine-mesh screens, while the 3rd zips to expose a clear plastic window– an excellent choice for seeing outdoors when it ’ s rainy or cold. Another thing I truly dig is that both the leading and the bed are gas shocked/spring filled, so they—increase with a simple push. Unlike the Eurovan or Vanagon, the Metris leading turns up around 19 inches– high sufficient in back that you can sleep with your head towards the back.( At the leading edge of the bed mattress, that height increases to 38 inches.)

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Unlike with a Eurovan or Vanagon pop-top, you can—’ t actually leave your sleeping prepare leading after the bed is folded away, however there ’ s a lot of space for that behind the rear seat.

. Drapes.

Hand-sewn by Peace Vans, the Weekender has personal privacy drapes all around, consisting of a huge one that covers the front motorist and traveler windscreens, similar to in an old-school Westy.

.Rear Bed/Seat.

The Reimo seat has 3 shoulder belts and accessories for 2 kid seats. The seat doesn ’ t come out however slides forward on rails into 4 various positions– consisting of flushup versus the front seats– enabling the van to work as a freight rig ought to you require it. It folds down into a double-size bed , and the seat itself pops open up to expose a substantial storage location. There ’ s a swing-out leg that permits the installing of a tough table inside( and even outdoors) the van. The table, which installs to the back of the seat, likewise has freestanding legs. Since it ’ s Reimo, and a basic style, the seat tracks need to accommodate all way of Reimo hold-downs for equipment. This adaptability enables you to make fast modifications to your living location while you ’ re on the roadway.

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 Mercedes Benz( Photo: Courtesy Mercedes-Benz)

. Turning Front Seats.

The firm and comfy stock Mercedes seats turn 180 degrees with the flip of a lever, making it simple to lounge in the van ’ s interior.

. A Coach Battery.

Key for any camper van, the 2nd auxiliarybattery will keep an ARB-style refrigerator running without draining pipes the starter battery and will power lights, a little inverter,&or other devices.

. A Rear Receiver Hitch.

The rear functions a basic receiver, wired with a trailer brake and solar adapter for portable panels, to supply extra power to the coach battery. The Metris includes a strong 5,000-pound tow capability. Pull a tow-behind trailer and you have 2 bed rooms.

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 Mercedes Benz ( Photo: Courtesy Peace Vans )

. On the Road.

It ’ s essential to keep in mind that Mercedes has a greater security requirement forthis camper than basically any other vanlife outdoor camping rig on the roadway. Recreational vehicles aren ’ t topic to the exact same crashworthiness requirements– that ’ s why a lot of have rear lap belts rather of shoulder belts and no rear air bags.If an automobile is offered’through a dealership, more stringent guidelines use. The Weekender preserves the Metris ’ s stock rear air bags and crash avoidance, and it includes its outstanding crosswind-assist innovation , plus a rearview video camera.

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I had the chance to drive a turbo-diesel Vito– the European variation of the Metris– all over Scotland. I was impressed at the van ’ s stability, power, and crash avoidance, and I fell for its steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which were an advantage on long Highlands downhills.

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For a bit more details ona real Peace Vans construct, I connected to a Weekender owner called Scott Erickson. Erickson resides in Ojai, California, with his partner and 2 young kids. He purchased a Weekender in 2015, and the household calls it Scout.

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Like me, Erickson has actually had a decades-long love affair with VW vans. After owning whatever from microbusesto a Eurovan Weekender camper, he stated he and his partner were trying to find the security and dependability of a brand-new car. “ You put on ’ t have time to stress over dealing with a van when you have 2 kids, ” he stated. “ Our van needed to be an everyday chauffeur. When we saw the Peace Vans Metris, I resembled, Holy shit, this is it. ”

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Erickson stated he took a look at a number of other Metris upfits, however none had the Peace Vans complete and fit or what he called the van ’ s “ wonderful ” moving’seat. “ Plus, the double swivel seats supply an incredible quantity of space, ” he stated. “ In the summertime, we take her down the beach when I leave work and play and swim for an hour and after that sharea pizza right in the van as the sun sets with our canine at our feet. It ’ s a lovely thing. ”

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He explained the 2.0-liter, 208-horsepower turbocharged motor as plenty effective for easily moving Scout through the High Sierra at” 80 miles “per hour. Geared Up with Peace Vans ’ 1.5-inch lift, and shorn with all-terrain tires, the rear-wheel-drive van has actually camped all over he ’ s wished to choose’little drama.” In economy mode, which shuts the motor at traffic lights, he ’ s seen 25 miles per gallon. By contrast, my 201-horsepower 2003 Eurovan camper averages around 18 miles per gallon anywhere I go.

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Mostly, he’ stated, the household simply stacks into the camper and goes, without a care worldwide. “ We get dropped in individuals all the time. Getting gas, individuals stumble upon the street– ‘ Hey man, can I inspect it out? ’ ”

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“ [Sitner] constructed a contemporary variation of what we desired from Volkswagen, ” Erickson stated.

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 Mercedes Benz( Photo: Courtesy Scott“ Erickson)

. Optional Upgrades.

The alternatives list for this van are anticipated to quickly broaden as productionincreases. The present rundown is as follows:

. Photovoltaic panel, which can be installed to the pop top, an off-grid battery charger, and a plug-in outlet for charging at camping areas. A Kenwood touchscreen head system with navigation and Android/Apple user interface to changethe stock design.3M body cover with an option of over 200 colors. If you ’ re going to be taking a trip off the grid and desire to secure your paint, this really makes an excellent bit of sense. An eight-foot Fiamma F-45 awning– a market requirement with an incorporated rain gutter to keep rain from diminishing into the hatch. Mosquito/bug screens for the rear hatch and moving doors. This would be crucial for locations like my house inbuggy Charleston, where the van is upfitted. A rear camping tent that rapidly connects to the back lift gate to include area and personal privacy. Swing-out rear doors. The van comes requirement witha lifting hatch, which is much better in a lot of circumstances due to the fact that it obstructs sun and rain. If you desire to connect something to the rear doors like a bike rack, or cut out a hole for a window air-conditioning system, optional swing-out doors can make sense. Roofing system racks for carrying surf boards, freight boxes, or skis. A pullout rear cooking area custom-made by Trail Kitchens . A 1.5-inch lift, offered if you buy a van straight through Peace Vans. Prior to Mercedes uses this choice on dealer-purchased vans, it will need to go through extra screening. Possible Upgrades. A middle seat. It will need to go through extra screening, however a detachable middle seat is on the horizon, according to Sitner. A complete camper. If you desire among Peace Vans ’ remarkable, European-sourced interior complete campers , you ’ ll need to buy it straight from them for a minimum of the next 6 months. After more screening and accreditation, Maxwell stated, Mercedes intends to developcomplete Peace Vans camperstoo. .

Read more: outsideonline.com