Ok, here it is. Our personal comparison.
2016 Roadtrek Zion – Dodge Promaster (21ft) vs. 2014 Sportsmobile – Mercedes Sprinter EB (22ft)
Our first camper van was a 2001 Eurovan, we took a few roadtrips in our van, and enjoyed the expereince. The last trip we took was when I was pregnant with our son (in 2005) and we had one 5 year old Newfoundland dog and another 8 month old Newfoundland puppy. We loved the this van, but for the size of our family and the type of travel we like to do we decided it wasn’t going to work and that someday we’d like to have a larger van. Fast forward 10+ years our dream of van travel has come alive again…
2016 Roadtrek Zion – Purchased new, owned for 4 months.
Pros – Length, Layout, Colors, Turning Radius, Parking, Solar set up, Lots of electric features – also a con for us.
Cons – Quality of Roadtrek build, Materials, Electric features that need to be repaired, Squeaky cabinetry, Low clearance and lots of delicate stuff underneath that makes you worry about driving off the paved road.
We purchased our Roadtrek Zion with dreams of traveling for a couple of months at a time, traveling off the beaten path, and getting out deep into nature. We took many short trips and one two week trip to SW Utah in October of 2016, we enjoyed many things about the van, but decided it was not the vehicle we had hoped for. The clearance prohibited us from driving on several roads, our awning broke the first time we used it, several latches broke on the cabinets on that trip and we arrived home with duct tape holding several things together, the overall quality of the Promaster and the build-out just felt too cheap to hold up the way we wanted to use it. On our next trip to Joshua Tree for Thanksgiving we visited the Sportsmobile West factory in Fresno CA and were impressed by their build quality, their experience building custom vans, and the potential for us to build the van for the way we wanted to use it. We returned from that trip to Joshua tree, sold the Roadtrek put in a deposit for a 4×4 Sportsmobile Sprinter. The Sportsmobile Sprinter 4×4’s had over a year lead time in the fall of 2016, so I set out looking for a used Sportsmobile to use on our Alaska trip the following summer in 2017.
Photos of our 2016 Roadtrek
2014 Mercedes Benz 3500 Sprinter Sportsmobile Conversion – Purchased used owned for 1 year.
Pros – Quality of the Sprinter van, Quality of the Sportsmobile built out. No squeaks at all!! No generator, no electric motors for the seats or awning, or macerator. Just overall much simpler, there were things that we thought we’d miss, but we didn’t miss much. We will get a solar set up on our next van, but we did just fine with one house battery, and this set up had a factory high idle. It also had an Espar diesel heater, that we loved, and no propane tank to worry about.
Cons – The wait for a 4×4 Sprinter Sportsmobile conversion. The Espar diesel heater only put out scalding hot water, we never figured out how to dial this in. The 1980’s looking velor fabrics. The separate twin beds.
I found this van at a RV dealer, it had a strange layout, but low mileage, enough space and enough of the right features to work for us. We took off the running boards that made it look like an RV, modified the bathroom door, that didn’t open when one of the beds was down, added a fantastic fan, roof rack, ladder, rearview camera, and some minor interior stuff and took it out on a small camping trip and loved it. It drove great, super stable, and much more solid than the Promaster, and no squeaks. This build was solid, cabinet doors stayed closed! We really loved this van, and traveled for 60 days and nights up to SE Alaska and back in 2017.