OK, you want to buy an RV. It should be simple, right? Well, because there are so many sizes and brands it can be a confusing process. Since this is a substantial purchase, you really need to get it right. There are many helpful resources for advice on the Web but here is our summary of how to find the right RV for you.
Most of you have already gone straight to looking at zillions of models on the internet so right about now your head is probably spinning. Start by letting go of that mouse! Your first and most important assignment is to slow things down and calculate your “Van/RV Quotient.” That phrase is just a fancy way to describe your needs and what roles your RV needs to fill.
This self-assessment process begins with determining where and how you will use your vehicle as well as identifying your personal travel style. Are you a rugged, backcountry explorer taking bikes or motorcycles into the boonies? Perhaps you are a nature photographer or researcher that must be able to access specific backcountry locations? Or, are you more interested in relaxing in traditional RV sites with the priorities being comfort and space? Are you a solo adventurer out for epic-length trips? Maybe you are focused on weekend trips or short vacations with the family. What type of terrain will you encounter? What type of weather? The answers to these questions dictate what size vehicle you need.
When deciding whether you would be best off in a Sprinter-based recreational vehicle (Class B) or instead, a much larger Class A or C, the decision is often influenced by whether a full-sized bathroom is required. Our MVAV Premium Sprinter design features a stowaway toilet and the convenience of a quick, hot shower just outside the slider door. However, some folks insist on a more traditional shower/toilet which quickly implies purchasing a large RV.
Another reason to go bigger is if you have a larger family or just want lots of space and/or luxury. The MVAV crew travels both ways. While we manufacture Sprinter campers, our solar/battery power technology, interior designs, and air-conditioner systems were developed and tested on MVAV owner Greg Conser’s full-size RV. Just after purchase, Greg stripped out all the power components, A/C, and interior. Once gutted, it provided a great opportunity for him to test and refine his unique ideas. It is an amazing RV; the family still “goes big” on trips when the extended family heads to the mountains.
Which is best for you?
The pros and cons of full-size RVs: their space, luxury, full bathroom, and wide range of brands and models are the big draws. But the cons of large RVs are higher purchase and insurance costs, much lower gas mileage, difficulty in maneuvering, and the requirement to empty the waste tank. Since they are so large, some RV owners need to tow an automobile behind their RV for side excursions and shopping.
Sprinter-based campers elegantly avoid these cons. They deliver very reasonable fuel economy and they can be parked in your driveway. They are very maneuverable so parking and negotiating tight, twisty roads to get to the best camping spots is a breeze. Because of these traits they are almost always the choice of active, adventurous people. Ruth Conser of MVAV says it best: “Our vans are built for doers.”
The next step in defining your Van Quotient continues with the type of interior you require. Would you prefer a turn-key, fully outfitted model that allows you to immediately blaze a trail and camp with most of the comforts of home? Choose our Premium model. If instead you are a proficient Do-It-Yourselfer that wants to design and build most of the systems yourself, our DIY model could be perfect for you.
MVAV “DIY” Model
Perhaps you want a ready-to-go van but prefer a simpler approach to an interior. Our Minimalist model gives you a comfy, flip-up bed, a solar and battery power system, slide out galley kitchen, fridge, and room for your hobbies and sports equipment. We have seen bicyclists, field scientists, and motorcyclists go this route.
MVAV Minimalist Model
Additional considerations are the choice of 4WD vs 2WD, short, long, or extended wheelbase, and roof height. These choices are often dictated by your camping style and/or activity. Naturally, 4WD will give you access to places that might be a challenge in a 2WD vehicle. Similarly, a longer wheelbase gives more room but makes it a bit tougher to handle extreme terrain.
The amount and type of electronics you require is also dictated by your needs and camping style. The Premium model has a full range of electronics to allow you to power and operate your Sprinter off the grid. That includes the air conditioner/heater. Additional options such as sound systems are fun to consider. We at MVAV are tech experts (and music lovers) so we can help you navigate all these electronic choices.
MVAV Premium Sprinter
Almost there? Or still confused? We suggest that you jot down in a “Wish List” all the components, amenities, and abilities that your ideal Sprinter needs to provide. If you are realistic with your assessments and really engage with the pros and cons, the answers will emerge.
A quick word about used vs. new. A slightly used vehicle can be a cost-effective way to acquire your vehicle. (MVAV has several vehicles that are technically “used” but only have transport miles.)
But if buying from an individual, have an expert do a “Check for Purchase” inspection first. Naturally, a new vehicle will have a full warranty which promotes peace of mind. Perhaps the best reason to choose new is that it can be easier to get a vehicle that perfectly matches your “Wish List.”
Internet research is great, but there is no substitute for actually experiencing prospective vehicles. Go visit your local dealerships, check the specs, get inside, sit in the seats, and try that bed. Operate the various components and evaluate each design element. Does it feel cheap or refined? Can you see yourself living in it? Does it feel like a good fit?
Speaking of good fits and hands-on inspections, we have an excellent relationship with our local Mercedes dealer, and we think you will benefit from it as well. Adrian Schumacher at Mercedes-Benz of Tucson can show you multiple models so you can get a feel for our design approach and aesthetic. Call him at 520-886-1311 or email him at [email protected] He can quickly help you with pricing and show you our MVAV Sprinters.
Naturally, a well-designed Sprinter is a significant investment, so it is wise to weigh the purchase options. Cash purchases often allow for the best price. If financing, carefully compare personal vehicle loans against dealership financing. There are pros and cons to both.
Delivery is another important consideration. Our location is convenient for some but many of our clients live elsewhere and choose to come to Tucson to pick up their new MVAV Sprinter (we can pick you up at the airport). Some arrange for a transportation company to deliver their van.
Owning the perfect RV is a joy. Sprinters are freedom machines that open you up to new and fulfilling adventures. Take the time to choose just the right one. Please let us know if we can help you refine your unique Van Quotient.