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Old 03-16-2011, 03:23 AM   #1
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Default 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Great West Van, Inc. is a small converter company in St. Andrews, MB, Canada located just north of Winnipeg and 480 miles almost due north of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. The currently convert the Chevy Express cutaway chassis to make their Titan Wide Body, the Ford E350s to make their Ford Classic and the Mercedes Benz 3500 170" WB Sprinter to make their Legend. The Classic is the smallest, the Titan Wide Body is the widest and the Legend is the longest of their Bs. All three share similar design features and layouts in enclosed bathrooms, zone living with front swivel seating with table and choice of bed setups most prominently with a unique tri-fold electric sofa.

We bought the Sprinter and it is the subject of this review. This is our second B. Our first B was a 2005 Pleasure-Way Plateau Sprinter. GWV's current competitors building on the same model are the Roadtrek RS Adventurous, the Leisure Travel Vans Free Spirit, The Pleasure-Way Plateau, the Airstream Interstate and maybe soon the Winnebago ERA. You can convert the same model in your own custom configuration through Sportsmobile. The platform is simple with few options. It is a Mercedes Benz 3500 Sprinter 3.0L diesel engine with automatic transmission. So that factor is a given for all the manufacturers which makes the choice easier to just concentrate on the conversion features and design layouts. They have all gone to the 3500 model with the dually wheels which gives you much more load capacity than the 2500 model Sprinters. The manufacturers convert either Freightliner or Mercedes Benz badged models. GWV is currently converting Mercedes Benz. Sprinters are no longer badged as Dodges starting in 2010.

The new Sprinter model starting with the 2007 chassis is 10" longer at 22'-9" a few inches wider at 6'-8", has an increased wheelbase from 158" to 170" and an change of diesel engines from an I5 to a V6. Horsepower increased to 188 and the torque of 325 lb-ft. The interior height increased from about 6' to 6-3".

The old Sprinter was sprung from a bygone era of spartan utility and very distinctly felt exactly like what it was - a cargo work van. The new Sprinter is more auto like with a tilt steering wheel and loads of comfort conveniences and storage. The engine and cab are much quieter. The V6 diesel engine no longer has that traditional diesel rattling especially during acceleration. The ride is softer and smoother. The one debit. Less fuel mileage but still net better than the Chevys and Fords.

In addition to the dashboard storage nooks and crannies and shelves above the sun visors the GWV Legend adds built-in wooden shelves above the cab. Both driver and passenger seat swivel (a MB standard) but unlike some B models the driver's seat has ample room to swivel all the way around to a table that can be set in place. A third or fourth passenger seat was not desired.

We upgraded to a new GWV Legend to satisfy several desires we accumulated over five years of B van use. The first obvious one was getting a new and newer design Sprinter as described above.







Secondly, we desired more zoned living in being able to utilize the driver and passenger seat swiveled around toward the back of the van and set up to a temporary table. We didn't have that in our Pleasure-Way.



Thirdly, we desired a fly and mosquito screen solution so we could come and go from the B without opening and closing the large sliding door. We also needed to keep our cat inside the B. GWV has come up with a screen enclosure and a sliding screen door that is unique to meet this desire. I don't think any other manufacturer has addressed this issue.



Lastly, we own a 20 cubic foot hitch receiver cargo carrier in order to carry two inflatable kayaks and various other items. After a couple of lengthy trips including one six week trip where we used our kayaks in only one place we decided a cargo carrier that extends the B length another 3 feet just wasn't worth the aggravation. It completely changed where we drove and where we parked. So on one trip we left them at home and you guessed it, we passed up many unanticipated opportunities where we could have used the kayaks. So the desire to carry them inside the B yet not in the way became a huge desire. Again, GWV came up with a unique design no other B has in the Tri-fold electric sofa to give us the storage area we desired.

THE TRI-FOLD ELECTRIC SOFA

The Great West Van Legend is an electric tri-sofa design without the attending ottomans and backrest cushions to fill in for a bed as most other Bs have. The sofa flattens and fills in the back area into a King bed utilizing three panels - the seat, the seat back and another panel behind the seat back. I think this is unique to GWV. You can sit three legally while underway and you can adjust the back slope. The wheel wells of the 3500 dually chassis are carpeted and serve as foot stools.

The single biggest advantage of the GWV tri-fold sofa is its tremendous storage. It rides on side rails so the underside storage is 12"D x 69" x 40" and mostly free of interfering support hardware. We can store everything we had stored under the sofa in our P-W plus everything we had stored in a 20 cubic foot cargo carrier shell on our hitch receiver. In addition it has a 13"D x 20" x 27" basement storage. We haven't sleeped in it yet so are hoping on the come it will be what we wanted.

The Tri-fold Sofa


The Bed


Clear storage under the sofa


The bonus. If you want you can glide the whole sofa forward and have standup storage behind for things like bicycles while traveling.


This view is with the sofa all the way forward. What you see stored is what will fit under with the sofa all the way back or in the bed position. It is everything that was carried in our previous P-W Plateau with the hitch cargo carrier. The two gray bags are inflatable kayaks that were previously carried in the cargo carrier.


There were also a lot of other things we were looking to upgrade to that almost every B could have satisfied such as two house batteries, but this B in aggregate satisfied the most desires for us and in more unique ways.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Davydd, nice review.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

I like the rail system for the folding bed. I agree about the need for more thoughtful use of space in the B RVs.

In our R/T 190V, we don't intend to use the bed as a couch, and I would be happy to just have a sturdy platform, with none of the mechanism taking up space under the bed.
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Great West Van has a fixed platform king bed as an option. We have tried traveling with the bed left made up but didn't like it for a couple of reasons. One is a practical reason. You would have to crawl on your knees to reach stuff stored in the overhead cabinets in the back. But the main reason is Bs are small enough and leaving a bed made up feels to us to cut down on the livability and make the B even smaller than it is. We hope to find just pushing the switch to make and unmake the bed instead of infilling between the ottomans will be quicker and more pleasant.

We are already thinking of traveling this summer to Washington DC to visit our daughter and take along our son and two grandsons (6 and 2). The sofa will handle the three and the TV could show DVDs while under way. We have plenty of room for their tent, camping gear and clothes under the sofa. We didn't consider that with our Pleasure-Way because of storage space and the feeling that adding passengers and stuff was overloading the back end for an over the road trip. We only did that for in town short trips.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Here is a video from Prosser RV in Milwaukee, WI that explains in detail how the electric Tri-sofa works.

[youtube:3pahulfy]QWDdA5I0BZA[/youtube:3pahulfy]
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Old 05-09-2011, 01:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

2011 Great West Van Legend on the road in the southwestern states - a gallery of photos.

Great Sand Dunes National Park


Rocky Mountain National Park


Hoosier Pass at 11,551 Feet in Colorado


Joshua Tree National Park


Cholla National Forest Campground Lake Roosevelt Arizona


Parking in Downtown Bisbee, Arizona


Petrified Forest National Park


Route 66 at the Petrified Forest


Screens side and back ventilation in Arizona desert


Overnight Free Parking in a Walmart parking lot in North Platte, Nebraska
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

It looks like you had a great trip Davydd. You went through the land I grew up in; Arizona. We need to get back down there a couple times. Once for family & once for photography/pleasure. Thanks for the pics. Your rig looks great.!
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:30 AM   #8
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Photog
I like the rail system for the folding bed. I agree about the need for more thoughtful use of space in the B RVs.

In our R/T 190V, we don't intend to use the bed as a couch, and I would be happy to just have a sturdy platform, with none of the mechanism taking up space under the bed.
We think the same way, and have put in a permanent bed that is totally clear underneath, with no supports, and hinged access in the front. Here is a link about permanent beds. Ours is a few posts down, with pics. We have been very happy with the setup.

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...1.cfm#23566231
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Old 05-10-2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

We've tried traveling with the bed left down and didn't like it. Thus, what was appealing about the GWV Legend was the simple tri-fold design to convert rather than the standard electric sofa bi-fold combined with two ottomans and board and infill cushions of most of the other manufacturers.

The B is small enough as it is and I think having the sofa in the back with added floor space just expands its use. Often in the evening one of us will occupy the front with the cab seats swiveled around reading a book and one of us in the back watching the tube.

I can certainly appreciate a big platform bed. It most likely would be more comfortable to sleep on and storage would be enormous. Great West Vans offers the platform bed as standard but I have never seen that configuration.
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Old 05-10-2011, 02:23 PM   #10
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I should mention we plan to take a thousand mile trip to Washington DC and back in July hauling our son and two grandsons (2 and 6). The sofa has three seat belts enabling us to do that. That's a rare occurrence but a flexible option. We've done that arrangement as a local hauler but never on a road trip. I think too it is a more practical space saving option than Bs with a second row of seats up front. Those seats eat up a lot of space with only two travelers at most.
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:04 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

We just completed over 2 months on the road and put nearly 9,000 miles on the Legend. Early on we were averaging about 18 mpg but as the engine broke in the average climbed to just over 20 mpg. The last three fills coming from Midland, Michigan, the UP, northern Wisconsin to Minneapolis was 20.4 mpg. That's a solid 2 mpg less than what we were getting with our 2005 Sprinter. The bonus was even though diesel was still costing more than regular 87 octane gasoline, at some fill-ups the price was the same. The gap was closing again and diesel is 30% more energy efficient.

I did have to add a quart of oil. Also the new diesel engine has what is called a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)tank that holds about 5 gallons of what is essentially urea, a colorless, odorless liquid. I was led to believe it only had to be topped off at the 10,000 mile service intervals but I had to add two gallons at 7,600 miles. It was available at a NAPA store for about $6 per gallon. It was easy to add. This is a clean air strategy. When the warning light comes on to add they tell you that you have about 1,200 miles of driving and at that time you will have 20 engine starts. If you don't add DEF then the electronics will shut the engine down until you do after the 20th start. I didn't want to tempt fate. So I added.

I slept great in the Legend. It proved to be much more convenient, comfortable and livable than our previous Pleasure-Way. The new Sprinter cab makes a lot of difference. We will be making some minor changes. We plan to put a new bathroom door on as we were not overly pleased with the bi-fold design. GWV had already moved on in this and will work with us to redo the door to more current design thinking. Also the night curtains to close off the sliding door windows was somewhat of a nuisance to put up. GWV had already moved onto a new design for this and promised to work with us to modify ours. With those corrections we will end up with a B almost exactly as we could ask for.

We drove a lap around the famed Indianapolis 500 Race Track. This is us as we crossed the finish line at a top speed of 30 mph instead of an Indy car speed of 230 mph.

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Old 06-05-2011, 12:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Great info. Nice rig! I like that option of driving with bikes inside the rear for things like ferry travel and parking while touring in the B. Very versatile configuration.
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Old 11-26-2011, 06:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Great West Vans is getting innovative with Class B development of late. They now have an extended body Legend ex Sprinter. That is a 24 ft. long body. My Legend is the 22'-9" long body on the 170" wheelbase. I got an e-mail promising some other new developments:

Quote:
When we say "you will be surprised", we really mean it. The new options and features stretch from larger fridges to diesel Hydronic heating and hot water systems, from an 84" bed to a new water filter and best of all, the larger generators and air conditioners. Most are only available on a Great West Vans model, some have never been offered in a Class B motor home before. So will you be surprised, we think so!
They are also developing an new Sprinter Activa model, a short Sprinter 144" wheelbase. They said they are going to stay with the 3500 dually design with a higher payload even for this shorter B.
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:44 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Great info. Nice rig! I like that option of driving with bikes inside the rear for things like ferry travel and parking while touring in the B. Very versatile configuration.
Absolutely agree , it's totally useful.
I sometimes wish we had a longer van with some extra space behind the bed for more secure storage of some
nice little folders, but what can you do? I guess if we ever decide to grab a couple of 2 wheeled "toads", they'll
have to be used/cheap, for the reasons mentioned in another thread (theft, and not of identity ).
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Old 02-10-2012, 04:56 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Here are some detailed photos of the new 2012 Great West Van Legend EX 24'-1" long van that I posted in a Flickr album.

2012 Great West Van Legend EX

This was the most innovative Class B at the show.
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Old 02-11-2012, 12:22 AM   #16
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter



Love the fridge.....
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:01 AM   #17
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Looks like the fridges in travel trailers.
Some are awesome!
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Old 02-11-2012, 02:12 AM   #18
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo


Love the fridge.....
I believe that refrigerator and freezer double door combo might be the biggest of any of the true Class B vans.

Some other innovative things in that Great West Van Legend EX Sprinter are:

A full 84" long bed.

Quiet diesel hydronic heating instead of the Suburban propane furnace everyone else uses.

Diesel on demand hot water heat.

85 watt solar panel.

3.6 KW Onan generator.

15,000 BTU air conditioner

Capacity for four 6 volt batteries.

LED lighting

A filtered water spout at the kitchen sink.

Alpine navigation system integral with backup camera.

55 cubic feet more storage in the 16" back extension than the standard length Sprinter.

Bathroom doors that can zone off the aisle to make a large bathroom area without having to close window curtains.

I don't think anyone else comes close to the innovation that Great West Vans is willing to do. A lot of this has been coming from requests by customers that they have been willing to do and then adopt as standards and options.
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Old 02-11-2012, 02:44 AM   #19
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

You could argue, that at 24'1", you are almost a B+ or class C in spite of the fact that it's on a Sprinter (van?) chassis. The prices are certainly escalating to something far beyond anything close to what I think were the original, and affordable, class B vans.

If MB or Daimler were to build a 26', or 28', or even a 30' Sprinter, and still called it a van (although mini-bus or light truck chassis might be more appropriate?), and conversion companies continue to use it as a chassis, at what point do we have to consider it a B+ or small C? Would it then become something with little similarity or affinity to the original class B camper vans?

Food for thought?
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Old 02-11-2012, 03:20 AM   #20
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Default Re: 2011 Great West Van Legend Mercedes Benz Sprinter

My sentiments exactly! And that is why it took us so long -10 or 12 yrs to finally bite on the RoadTrek 190V. We looked at PleasureWay B & B+ & various Sprinter based units as well as some of the smaller C's. None was able to "grab" us like R/T did. But, Oh the prices!!? We own rental properties that were less initial cost AND pay us a sizeable return on investment to own them.
Then we considered the 'driveability' of most rigs over 20+ ft long. What a turn-off! We like to travel fast & light. So the R/T fills most of our requirements (well not so fast). But it is easy to drive and is far more comfortable than the car &/or motorcycle /tent camping we used to do.
And I think it is a pretty fair investment. We bought used from private party! We've used it nearly 20,000 miles in two years and I think/hope it is holding most of its value.
So give us a true Class B for our money & use - thankyou. Just my not so humble Opinion!
Ric. in AridZona...
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