I helped judge the van life contest at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado, once, and what was interesting was that a Chevy van took the overall award, but the model that was best represented, far and away, was the Mercedes Sprinter.
This won’t be particularly surprising to anyone who’s paid attention to what’s parked at trailheads, campgrounds, and along dirt roads. In the past five or ten years, the Sprinter has become the predominant dream vehicle of choice, eclipsing the beloved VW camper van. It’s aided by the fact that the Sprinter is new, reliable, safe(r), large, supported with parts, and easily customizable. The Vanagon, especially the four-wheel-drive Syncro, is becoming rarer and much more difficult to keep on the road. I saw the writing on the wall and sold mine when it took me six months to find a wiring harness—which I was able to track down only by hiring someone in Canada to search junkyards, as American salvage facilities have been picked clean. Sprinters are available with four-wheel-drive and an automated stability system to deal with wind gusts.
Vanlife has been fetishized to the point of self-satire, though, and the best vehicle is the one that you own. My son is searching for a car and we recently visited the annual local auto show to investigate all the new models; his first move was to get behind the steering wheel while mine was to put the seats down and get in the back to see if you could sleep inside fully stretched out. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. So, what rig are you dreaming about?