Maybe Don’t Drive a Mercedes Camper Van Up a Utah Jeep Trail With No Experience

With only four hours of off-road experience, this Sprinter Van owner was in over his and his van’s head.

byNico DeMattia|
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Hooking up a Mercedes Sprinter Van for off-road use might seem like a good idea if you watch a lot of active lifestyle YouTubers. And while they're fine for some mild off-roading, they aren't exactly the best-equipped vehicles for some of the United States' more dangerous trails. That's something one owner recently found out, hanging off of a cliff on the Honeymoon Trail in Utah.

In this video from Matt's Off Road Recovery, you get to see exactly why off-roading a Sprinter Van on one of America's most difficult trails, with very little experience, is not gonna be a good time. When the channel's host meets the Sprinter's owner, his Mercedes is stuck on some loose, stacked gravel, leaning on its passenger side near the edge of a pretty steep drop-off.

"I've got about four hours of off-road driving under my belt," the owner admitted. Hey, at least he's honest.

After some trouble, the Sprinter Van was driven out of its tough spot without any assistance from another vehicle. In a nutshell, it wasn't really stuck as much as in a very precarious situation. Even with someone like Matt's expertise, it still wasn't an easy drive, though. With a raised suspension, all-terrain tires, ladders, and roof racks, a Sprinter Van might look like it can tackle anything. However, its powertrain just isn't made for rock crawling.

The particular Sprinter Van in this video sounds like it has Mercedes's 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel, which uses a nine-speed automatic sending power to all four wheels. It does not have a center-locking differential, however. It uses brake-torque-vectoring to control the open diff and try to send power where it's needed. This system seemed to struggle to put the van's power down, as its electronic stability program (ESP) kept cutting power. It may have worked better with ESP off, but that's tough to say from my desk chair.

I get the appeal of an off-road Sprinter Van. They're incredibly spacious, allowing you to make go-anywhere mobile homes out of them and they look pretty cool when they're fully kitted out. Plus, that three-pointed star might make you feel a bit fancy while you're off the beaten path. However, they aren't cheap to build and can often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So if you want to try your hand at tackling some pretty tough trails, make sure to have more than four hours of experience and something a bit more rugged than a glorified work van. If you don't, and God forgive me for saying this, you might end up on Youtube.

Got tips? Send 'em to tips@thedrive.com

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