By on February 6, 2020

Van culture is making a comeback. We know this because the media has glommed onto the topic as young adults continue to share stories about how not having a mailing address (because they live in vans) is the best thing that ever happened to them.

While you’re unlikely to encounter these people all that regularly offline, the internet is full of them. And yet there’s no real consensus as to the appeal of custom vans. Plenty of people embrace the van life because they see it as an affordable way to tour the countryside; others view it as part of the minimalist movement, or simply as the best way to avoid becoming totally homeless.

Want more than a tent over your head while camping? Need a place to wait out the impending civil war? Simply feel the need to capitalize on a trend that’s growing in popularity on YouTube? Van living has you covered — and Mercedes-Benz is ready to help. 

On Thursday, the company’s van division revealed the Metris Weekender at the Chicago Auto Show. The model is said to have enough room to sleep four, a highly adaptable interior space, and a second battery for watching TV before bedtime.

Europe has greedy hogged the small camper segment these past few decades, leaving Americans to deck out Ford Transits or keep saving up for that recreational vehicle. However, with many younger individuals too poor to even entertain an RV as a serious option, it may be time to begin shipping smaller alternatives stateside.

Mercedes joined forces with Ohio-based Driverge Vehicle Innovations to make the Weekender what it is. Upstairs, the master bedroom features a 2-inch memory foam mattress that can sleep two — with USB ports for charging devices. Downstair accommodations include a bench seat that can be collapsed into a second bed, more USB ports and swiveling front seats to make entertaining guests easier. A second battery is also standard, allowing occupants to draw energy without having nightmares about the van not starting in the morning.

As for the options, Mercedes is offering everything from audio upgrades to integrated solar panels. Want a mobile apartment with a patio? Order the pull-out kitchen and 8-inch awning. Need more space? There’s a tent you can attach to the back of the vehicle, effectively adding another room. You can even select between 200 available 3M auto body wrap materials if you don’t like the standard Metris colors. You just have to pony up the extra dough.

While customization is an important part of the Weekender experience, powertrain options are limited to the Metris’ 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That comes with a seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive and 5,000 pounds of pulling power.

Driverge Vehicle Innovations plans to build the Weekender in South Carolina, though it will still be sold through Mercedes’ American dealer network. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but Mercedes said the first 100 deliveries will include a free National Parks pass. Frankly, using the Weekender to enjoy the U.S. National Park Service seems like an excellent use of one’s free time. We just hope this encourages other European nameplates to start shipping their own campers our way — starting with the Volkswagen California.

[Images: Daimler]

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8 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Commits Itself to #VanLife With Metris Weekender...”

  • avatar

    It’s not for me, but as stated, there’s really nothing in the US available between modding a van yourself and buying an RV or a trailer camper…which you may not have a place to park, and needs a vehicle that can tow. (Why VW hasn’t looked at selling the California in the US is a mystery to me.)

  • avatar

    “If it’s rockin’ don’t come knockin\'”

    Everything old is new again

    Peace and pass the bong

  • avatar

    About that 8 inch awning… My Westy slumbers here in MN. But it does have a 11.6 foot awning.

  • avatar

    This ain’t the “van life” of the ’60s and ’70s as remembered by Lie2Me and EGSE. That time it was mostly younger folks, often with disposable income (or parental money) who smoked weed and partied to Beach Boys or Jimmy Hendrix when they weren’t getting laid on the mattress on the floor. There were upfitters making mini-motorhomes, and (at least where I grew up) Pagan MC members who drank PBR, partied to Steppenwolf and drove Chevy vans when they weren’t on their Triumphs, but no-one remembers them.

    Now it’s older folks, usually fairly well-heeled looking to be downsized tin-can gypsies touring the country in their Golden Years. This is the target customer base for the Metris and others like it.

    If anyone is into vans because they’re trying to arrest their descent into homelessness they’re certainly NOT buying these, they’re getting clapped-out Chevy Astros, Ford E100s or soon-to-die fourth owner motorhomes. They park on side-streets near the gentrified neighborhoods they were priced out of and hope to stay one step ahead of The Law that shoos them away. Each of them are completely different demographics.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether it be homeless, stoners or the middle class enjoying the open road in their tricked-out party vans, vans have always appealed to the free spirited vagabonds in all of us, but as I rapid approach the “older folks” demographic nothing about this Metris appeals to me. If I have a hankering to hit the open road in my golden years it’s going to be in a 40′ Air conditioned Motorhome complete with kitchen, bathroom, widescreen TV and WiFi

      Because that’s how I roll ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I think it’s a mixed crew getting into Van Life 2.0. You see a lot of hip youngsters with deep pockets (often too deep to be their own) tricking out new custom vans and then taking the show on the road over YouTube. But there are plenty of middle aged (and classed) people who just want to vacation and can’t rationalize RV life. I even know a couple of people that travel a lot for work and wanted a forward operating base and thought “A van… that’s the ticket.”

      But I will agree that it’s still very different from the original van movement. The sex and partying seems to have dissolved entirely and there is a decided lack of funkiness on these modern customs. Where are the psychedelic paint jobs, crushed-velour upholstery, and clever names? I want a gold flake Dodge B Series with a mural of a dog painted on the side but it looks like I’ll have to build it myself.

      • 0 avatar

        I would be one of those middle class/age folks who want a van for camping on weekends. However, after 10 years of lowered expectations from the Great Financial Crisis, a new Metris Weekender is out of the question.

        I really don’t want/can’t afford to have a vehicle just sit for chunks of the year, so a dedicated camper is a non-starter.

        I’ve been looking at used Dodge Grand Caravans and several kits you can buy to convert them into campers, yet slide all the stuff out and you can haul sheets of plywood during the week. This or a Promaster City with a kit would be my choice.

  • avatar

    I would love to get one of these. Hope they sell well.

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