The Mercedes-Benz Weekender is a pop-up camper van for the U.S. market.
Riding on the Metris platform, the Weekender seats five and sleeps for four.
Despite modern features, the Weekender reminds us of the glory days of vans.
Mercedes-Benz announced its first modern and practical pop-up camper van for the U.S. market at the Chicago Auto Show recently. Mercedes drew inspiration from previous camper models, but integrated the latest safety and convenience features. Put it another way: This is not a hippie van. No. This a very well-appointed Mercedes you can go camping in.
It Just So Happens . . .
By the strangest of coincidences I saw one of these things yesterday. I live next to an apple cidery and as I was walking through the parking lot, a big, black Mercedes Sprinter van came pulling in. It was all the stuff hanging off it that first drew my attention. From all the light racks and roof racks, it looked like there was tons of intense customization going on. I didn’t see the license plate, but I assumed they were down from Canada since Merc doesn’t import these things into America, until now.
The couple that got out looked like models in the REI catalog: mid-20s, fit, outdoorsy, rich. The perfect demographic for the new camper that Mercedes is unleashing into the wilds of America.
Incense & Peppermints
This new Mercedes-Benz for the great American vacation is called the Weekender, and it rides on the Metris van platform (unlike the outgoing world-market Sprinter). The Weekender camper is built by Driverge Vehicle Innovations in partnership with Peace Vans, one of the largest classic camper van repair and restoration shops in the United States. Yeah, I know, that’s kind of hippie-dippie tree hugger stuff, but, c’mon, we’re dealing with pop-top camper vans here. We couldn’t get through this with out some patchouli being involved.
Into The Wild
Anyway, Mercedes, Driverge, and Peace Vans have made a vehicle that is very adaptable. The Weekender can be used on extended road trips; taking the family on summer vacations or spring breaks; camping out in national parks; impromptu weekend explorations; or having a comfortable place to work or relax after an all day surf session. The pop-up camper gives you flexibility, while the Metris van platform is not-too-big, so you can deal with major metropolitan areas, city parking spots, garages, and narrow driveways.
Mercedes-Benz Weekender: Standard Equipment
The list of standard features found in the Weekender is impressive. For starters, there’s the roof, which is in the tried and true pop-top layout. Elevate the roof and not only can you stand up, but there’s a sleeping area for two with an integrated spring system, a two-inch memory foam mattress, three windows, and extra USB ports for charging all that modern stuff we still need out in nature.
There’s also a multipurpose rear bench seat that opens into a bed for two. Another neat trick about the back seat is that it can move along a rail into one of four locations, so you can haul both people and cargo more easily.
The front seats can rotate 180 degrees, so your Weekender can become “the perfect multipurpose lounge.” There’s also a second battery to power your devices as well as handling more traditional stuff, like lighting the campsite around you.
Plenty of Really Cool Extras
And check out the factory options. There’s built-in solar charging capability thanks to the integrated solar panels, and audio and navigation upgrades to improve your road trip experience. There are various personalization options with 3M auto body wraps, which allow the Weekender to come in any one of 200 available colors.
As for camping, no worries there. An awning is available for sun and rain protection, along with mosquito and bug screens for the rear hatch and sliding doors. Also (and get this), there is a tent that quickly attaches to the rear lift gate for added space and privacy. I will let you use your imagination on that one. There are also roof racks for hauling surfboards, extra gear or skis, and (get this!) a pullout rear kitchen.
A New Generation
As a vehicle, any worries are utterly unfounded. This is not 1967 and you’re not driving around in a VW Type 2 converted by Wavy Gravy. Since the Weekender rides on a Mercedes Metris platform, build quality and reliability is almost a given. Service intervals happen every 15,000 miles in some cases; the fuel economy is impressive for something this big (it comes with start/stop); and the tow rating is a healthy 5,000 lbs.
There’s standard Crosswind Assist to stabilize the van if it’s really windy, and there’s load-adaptive ESP that automatically stabilizes the vehicle if wheel spin, or understeer and oversteer is detected.
Mercedes-Benz Weekender: Availability
You want one, don’t you? Shoot, Merc will be selling these things like hot cakes around here. People are crazy about camping in the Pacific Northwest. I, however, am not one of them, but I can see why a number of my deluded friends will covet the Weekender. As if the van itself isn’t enough, Mercedes-Benz will give the first 100 customers a free National Parks Pass.
If this sounds like the camper of your dreams, then know that you can order the Weekender from any authorized Mercedes-Benz Van dealer nationwide starting this spring. In the meantime, you can see it in person at the Chicago Auto Show from now until February 17th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.