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Old 12-06-2018, 09:37 PM   #21
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 94
I had all kinds of plans for suspension upgrades but after I put on better tires and some custom tuned Fox shocks (fairly cheap and easy to install myself), I was completely satisfied with the ride quality.

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Old 12-07-2018, 06:31 AM   #22
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Corvallis, OR
Posts: 4,983
I'm surprised nobody has brought this up yet.... The Sprinter gets a variant of the 4Matic system. The difference being that the Springer can disengage it for RWD operation, while their SUVs keep it active full time.

The 4Matic system is not a traditional transfer case, like the NV 271/273 most trucks and vans get. It uses a planetary differential, similar to that in the leading drive axle in semi trucks. The important thing to understand, is full torque is not available to the front axle. It maintains a 35/65 F/R split. This can limit you in some soft terrain.

A traditional T-case can transmit full torque to either axle, to the point you could drive in FWD if needed.

For bad weather, the 4Matic system will be more stable. But if you end up with poor traction under the rear tires, it's possible to overwhelm it.

Also, change T-Case fluid regularly if you use 4x4 much. My moms GLK earned itself a new T-Case around 50,000 miles (it uses the same unit, for the most part).

2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 12-08-2018, 03:26 AM   #23
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 325
I would say on our Sprinter 4X4 we're never going to use it for rock crawling or any other true off-road activity. I know full well the vehicle isn't as capable as our TRD Pro 4Runner. But I knew that going in. It's a significant investment, it's heavy, the system isn't designed for heavy off-road use. I think the original Sportsmobile vans are much more capable in that respect.

The Sprinter 4X4 is for snow covered roads for skiing in winter, maybe a logging road that requires me to kick in the 4X4, and heavy rain.

I can bomb up a logging road in my 4Runner at 40MPH and the washboards/potholes don't bother me at all. In the Sprinter, I stop, air down the tires, dial down the Agile Fox shocks, and I still drive no faster than 25MPH.
2017 4X4 2500 144" Stone Grey High Top
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:04 AM   #24
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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do you have a post on your switch from the Taco/FWC to the Van and the plus/minus of it all?
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:40 AM   #25
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1
We have over 55k on our 2016 155 4x4. Only upgrades are better tires. We bomb down dirt roads. Though we had a highly modified '95 f150 that rode like a tank so we are used to rough. This is a million time smoother and a better ride. Only issues we have had were some emissions sensors recently. We drove a few thousand miles with it wonky before we brought it in. It was taken care of under warrenty.

The heated windshield is so nice in the Utah winters!

We don't have alot of the other bells and whistles.
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Old 12-13-2018, 04:01 PM   #26
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Santa Rosa CA
Posts: 638
I went from a 2005 V10 RB Quadvan to a 2016 4wd Sprinter 144 bare bones Cargo van. I converted it myself over about 18 months. It's got 12k on it now and I couldn't be happier with it. Hopefully your van has the hi/lo transfer case.
My build added about 2800 lbs and at 8400 now the stock suspension was overwhelmed. The Van Compass suspension upgrade made a huge difference.
I don't think I'd try Goler wash or anything needing lockers but I'm growing more confident of the Sprinters capabilities in 4wd the more I use it.
2016 MBZ Sprinter 144" 4wd.
07 BMW 525xi wagon
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Old 12-21-2018, 07:24 PM   #27
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 38
Originally Posted by lc3920 View Post
do you have a post on your switch from the Taco/FWC to the Van and the plus/minus of it all?
No, but I can toss a couple out while I have a few minutes. For context, I had 130 nights in the FWC which I bought in Jan 2017. I now have 33 nights in the SMB which I picked up in Sept 2018.

I loved my FWC, and the only reason I sold it was because of dealing with the pop top with snow. Cold temps were not an issue, but trying to pop the top late at night in a snow storm sucks. Waking up and having 500lbs of snow on the top you can't reach sucks even more. People have collapsible ladders and other tricks, but it was a fight I was tired of fighting.

Because of that, we bought a high roof sprinter. I think the penthouse is more versatile (2 beds and great ventilation), but it's only rated to lift 200lbs so I would still have snow issues.

I could never go back to the FWC after the SMB. Here are the key stand outs for me:
* No popping the top. No dealing with snow and ice. No trying to pop the top with dead arms after surfing. No dealing with latches with frozen fingers. No smacking my head on the lifter bar over the bed.

* Pass Through. This is the luxury of van life. Need something from the fridge? Just reach back. Need a quick nap when traveling? Done. Want to make a quick lunch instead of grabbing some crappy fast food? Why not, it's all only a step away.

* Storage / Space. I had a FWC Eagle (prev version of the Fleet). On solo trips, there's plenty of space. With two people and a dog, it's tight. My layout was with the roll over couch (which is still my favorite configuration). The drawback is the bed pulls out over the sink. That means I can't go to bed until everyone has finished with the sink, and it also means I can't make coffee in the morning without pushing the bed in. Got old. Also, the SMB has a crazy amount of space compared to the FWC.

Now for the drawbacks.
* Off road capability. The Sprinter is surprisingly good, but it's not going to win against the Tacoma/FWC. I can get the Sprinter to most of my campsites, but there are a couple which I'm not going to try. But these are truly 4x4 only.

* Cold Camping. This has only been an issue when it's really cold (that's like <10F here on the West coast). The FWC battery was on the inside so not really affected by temperature. The SMB is outside so it is affected. Not a problem for one night, but for a long weekend with poor solar because it's puking snow, power becomes a concern when you lose 30% of your capacity due to the cold. Also, the Espar furnace uses a lot more electricity than the propane furnaces in a 2016+ FWC. Espar has a fuel pump, glow plugs, and is much louder. I also learned the hard way about diesel gelling when the Espar stopped working one night. Woke up to frozen water lines, a half frozen dog, and a less than happy wife. We are making adjustments and it will all work out, but we never had to think twice with the FWC.

* Complexity. The FWC is so simple compared to all the fancy SMB systems. Not much to go wrong. Now I have a 4" manual. It's not rocket science, but just different.

* Build Quality. SMB is built quite well. But the FWC? Top notch. That thing was bomb proof and unbelievably well made. It's like the difference between an A and an A+. The A is more than good enough, but the A+ stands a notch above. I notice a difference in quality in some areas like the cabinets and the head liner.

Bottom Line: SMB is a much better fit for me. Easier in the snow, easier to take the dog, and easier to move around in. Worth loosing a bit in off-road capability and learning to work with the new systems. However, the FWC/Taco combo was over $70,000 cheaper than the van setup if that matters...

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