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Old 03-16-2016, 06:23 PM   #1
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Opinions wanted on 4x4 Sprinter

I have a 2005 RB V-10, Quadvan conversion with a penthouse, solar and DIY interior. I'm attracted to the Sprinter and wonder how capable the 4x4 is off road. I'm ready to move to a professional conversion with a damn heater, comfortable bed and......I hate myself....a toilet! I would choose the high top model. I started my odyssey with my SMB in 2007 with much input and guidance from forum members. Why not do it all over again!
Chris and Ruth
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:57 PM   #2
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Sprinter-source.com is a good place to find 4x4 sprinter owners.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:04 PM   #3
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Say it isn't so ... a built in toilet!
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:29 PM   #4
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Chris, Ruth: as Onefin said, there is a lot of Sprinter discussion on the Sprinter forum he linked to, and it is a great resource for technical information about the care and feeding of Sprinters, including the 2015 and 2016 factory 4x4s.

That forum however, does not have much information about actually using Sprinters the way the Sportsmobile folks use their vans. As for how capable they are as a 4x4, there is very little out there yet. Those of us that have them are still getting used to them, I guess.

My wife and I have had our 2015 144" high-roof 4x4 Sprinter with a Sportsmobile RB 150 conversion since November of 2015. Our first 30-day trip in the van included 10 days or so poking around in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and 4 or 5 more in Joshua Tree National Park. We took some baby steps into the 4-wheel drive arena, mostly in Anza Borrego. We drove some class 2 roads, and then worked our way up to a few class 3 roads.

I don't have much 4x4 experience, although I have a lot of 2x4 dirt roads behind me. The Sprinter did just fine on everything except for one crossing of a ditch as we exited a wash. I made a few attempts at a diagonal crossing of the ditch, and started spinning a rear wheel each time. Fearing I would dig myself in, I just backed off. With more experience, I will probably be able to handle that situation with some pressure on the brakes (says Alan at SBM west), but we were out there alone with limited recovery gear, so we turned around before we made a mess of it.

In May, we are planning a tour of the dirt roads in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument of southern Utah. We will stick to class 2 and 3 roads again, this time armed with more recovery gear. I will know a lot more about what it can do, and what our comfort level is after that. We're pretty cautious though, because it is such a nice rig and we don't want to scratch it.

Stay tuned...
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:33 PM   #5
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Understand the comfort Chris, but the question is are you willing to give up the places where your van goes now as compared to being restricted from driving off road trails like Mengel? I understand the typical forest service roads are probably not an issue but I doubt a Sprinter can do something like Mengel or Shuteye Peak without damage to the undercarriage. I'm looking forward to seeing SMB getting that cutaway project going...they're working on it and the new fiberglass body is supposed to be out w/i the end of the month. We'll see. I hate being a beta tester but want a more stout 4x4 for places I go.
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:16 AM   #6
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http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ice-16758.html

Suggest you take a look at the above thread, it is dealing with much the same question.
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Old 03-17-2016, 01:15 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. DaveB I'm conflicted about the loss of access to those tough crawls but in reality Ruth and I need to trade some mobility for some creature comforts. And truth be told I'm a nervous wimp when the road gets too steep or too bouldery or the drop off inches away is more that 20 ft. I'll trade a couple of inches of clearance and some axel travel for a furnace and a john and a ready made bed. Now I just have to find what I want...
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:39 PM   #8
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Yeah, I'd like a vehicle with a real shower & head. Someone posted a video some time back of a Sprinter on the Mojave Road and although they didn't go into the sand dunes between soda lake and Afton Cyn, it looks like it did OK on the Soda Lake & the rocky terrain outside of Fort Piute. FWIW I had to use 4x4 to get up that section. I've seen a few with winch bumpers on them which helps with the rugged type look.
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Old 03-18-2016, 12:04 AM   #9
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By chance I passed by the local MBZ dealership today and right out front was a 170" 4wd high top. Found out there is also a custom Sprinter builder right here in the neighborhood, GTV-North America, so I'm now moved up to the point of pulling the trigger after I see what the builder can do and what it will cost. I also looked at a 144" 4wd model. I'm actually highly impressed with what I saw today. I have an appointment tomorrow to visit the builders shop and see his work. By tomorrow I should be able to decide whether the 144 or the 170 will be best for me. Stay tuned.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:10 AM   #10
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IMO 170" is going to be more of a hinderance off road than anything else. Thats crew-cab/long-bed territory. Even the 144" is a tad longer than the E-series wheelbase.

I can think of a few times I've had to turn around on a trail, sometimes require some Austin-Powers style maneuvering. 170" would simply be more real estate than many trails and even forest roads offer if you had to turn back.
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