Volkswagen has not sold its camper van state-side for going on two decades, leaving the active road-tripper with choices including:
- Buying a bed on wheels from some dirtbag who used it for decades before selling it (gross);
- Buying a full-on 'merica-style RV that is impossible to park on a suburban (to say nothing of urban) street;
- Buying a trailer, with the same parking problem;
- Paying gobs for some third-party shop to convert your Econoline van, likely voiding the warranty in the process.
There's also buying a tent from Walmart for $50, but here at HBC we are about technological improvements to our lifestyle rather than obvious smart choices.
I was getting plates put on the new wagon this afternoon and found this:
|Metris Weekender Pop-top. This was listed at $72,000 as configured, but this is also Bethesda and the car was a 2020 - suggesting there may be ways to find them cheaper.|
This is the Mercedes Metris popup van in the "Getaway" configuration. One reviewer says it is the "first daily driver" popup van. Obviously this reviewer was born after the first bursting of the tech bubble.
At 202" long and 76" wide, this is just a few inches bigger than the normal full-size Euro SUV (which seem to run 195"-200" in length). So plenty manageable on city streets. Reviewers report 208 hp and 258 torque, kind of puny by modern specs but almost identical to my Ford Ranger from 2001. And the Metris is AWD. So should drive fine for a camping use model, probably less than perfect for autocross.
There are apparently three versions.
- You can get a basic pop-top, which lets you raise it and stand full-height without getting wet in the rain. That would probably be the bike road trip mobile, with a sleeping deck built into the pop top and the main storage reserved for bikes.
- You can get the "Weekender," a semi-constructed camping offering with sleeping and eating inside but cooking etc. outside. This is the picture above. With the awning as pictured it looks pretty perfect to park for a week at Tahoe while riding all the High Sierra passes.
- You can get the full camper configuration, which includes the cooking and food storage options one expects in a motorhome, but in the smaller package. This isn't cheap, at all - $50K on top of the basic Metris cost (which is about $40K already).
Who can justify such a thing, really, but if one could, this would be an attractive option.
A few more pics of the Weekender I saw:
|Reversible front pax seat is nice.|
|Cooking outside in the back. I wonder if that raised hatch serves effectively as a rain shield.|
|And interior table. That can pivot so it is easily used by the person sitting in the reversed pax seat.|
It's an intriguing proposition for sure. I go back and forth on this. A big van can have all the creature comforts, but easily pushes $100K well equipped and is a bear to drive anywhere but a highway. A van like this is perfect for a 2-day weekend, but I wouldn't want to spend much longer in it. I also want interior bike storage.
I keep coming back to a cheap-ish trailer as the most sensible option. Pull behind the vehicle you've already got, and a lot more options in terms of configuration. Depreciation is a killer but it's a lot easier to manage when the price of entry is $25K instead of $70K+.
Of course that all assumes you've got a place to store a trailer...
Right, good observation. Though no different from vans, it takes all of 10' to find yourself needing the features that cost closer to 40K.
In particular, while I'm happy with a rustic accommodation (bench with mattress above 4 bicycles) I would want some kind of HVAC for heating/air quality, as well as some kind of windows etc.
Are there trailer mfrs. that enable good customization?
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