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Old 08-13-2013, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

We are thinking about buying a LTV Unity (Mercedes, Sprinter Chassis). We will not have a tow vehicle.

How well do these small Mercedes diesels climb in the Rockies?

I have a 400 HP cummins now diesel pusher and it got down to 35 mph 3rd gear on a couple of the long climbs in the Rockies.

How do you control your downhill decents with no engine break?

Thanks!
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

I just got back from 3 weeks in Colorado in my Pleasure Way Plateau Sprinter and I have to say she did great!

I drove her over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and it was fabulous! The van just went right up and I put it in 2nd and coasted right on down! Later in the trip I climbed Hoosier Pass & Monarch Pass - both were fine, however the up on Hoosier pass was steep (I was heading south from Breckenridge on whatever road that is) and had me paranoid about the trip down - the downs are more intimidating to me than the ups b/c I'm paranoid (probably overly) about overheating the brakes and have a hard time getting it in the right gear to hold it and go an appropriate speed! I'm more likely to super slow! Luckily the down from Hoosier Pass wasn't nearly as steep as the up. Monarch Pass was really easy! In fact about a 1/4 way down there was a truck going about 10 mph - I put my van in 1st and didn't even have to apply the brakes sitting in traffic!

For me, the key was just going slow on the downhill and not worrying about the other cars - usually there are places to pull off and let people pass. Going up I was usually able to mostly keep up with traffic...

I will say that while CO has the higher mountain passes, the roads are better out there than over the mountains in West Virginia! My theory is that by the time roads were built over the Rockies the people building them knew what they were doing...out here the roads were built over wagon roads and probably not graded as well! I don't think I encountered a grade greater than 7-8% in Colorado! Even still, I've tackled 9-10% grades in West Virginia and had no problems with the van!
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Hoosier Pass? No problem.



teachergal described it well. I can vouch for the Sprinter van Class Bs. The bigger, heavier LTV Unity Class C might be a different experience. So I will defer to someone with that experience.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

This brings about a great question. The LTV Unity is a much larger rig than the Plateau, but I think they have the same size of engine. The difference is that a Plateau or any "Sprinter Van" based unit will have a lot of steel because of the original Mercedes shell. I think that the LTV Unity is built on a flatbed "chassis" rather than from a Sprinter Van. I believe the shell is fiberglass or plastic or something, but I don't know that for sure. I don't know how the weights compare.

Does anyone know whether these B+ vans are as capable as our "true class Bs"? Are they heavier? Lighter?

All of this information would be great to know, and I'm sure someone on this forum probably has researched the situation.

I have to say that whenever we're feeling cramped in our GW Legend SE, I always wonder what it would be like to be in a Unity (or Serenity) either of which would be my first choice if I went B+, or the Winnie Via (similar, but cheaper).

I've heard that the B+'s are a bit harder to maneuver, but I've also heard that they are about the same price that our Class B's are.

Just wondering if there is anyone out there who has used both and can flesh out my limited experience.

............Rocky
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Thank you all for your quick replies!

Teachergal: Amazing, we just did the Trail Ridge Road yesterday in our Ford truck! We also did the 9 mile trek on the Old Falls River Road leading into Trail Ridge Road. I would not had the courage to take the 24' 7" Unity on the Old Falls River Road, even though it said you could a 25' on that road, and indeed we did see a 25' Freelander do that trail! Thanks for your comments about how will your Pleasure Way did climbing and descending in the Rockies! That was very helpful. Yes, descending even in my diesel pusher I own now, takes a lot of experience to reduce the use of your brakes. I'm getting better using my engine breaks on my MH and my transmission together.

Just a non-related note, we drove back from Rocky Mtn NP to Loveland and came apon a heard of Elk numbering over a hundred at 11,000 feet! This was at twilight with 1/2 a bright moon above the shadow of the mountain peaks. That is why we love to travel. Not to mention we stopped and took pictures of 2 different Moose families earlier that day!

Davydd and Rok: Thank you both for your comments as well!
I need some clarification on what defines B, B+, and C class. I formed in my mind over time the following definitions, but I have no proof, and I mean no disrespect to anyone:

B - Van 22' length, 9' height

B+ - Bigger 25' - 28' length, 10' height, no over hang over windshield, but enough room for entertainment center.

C - Bigger 25' - 32' length, 10' - 11' height, overhang above windshield for extra bed.

Listed below are specs for a Pleasure Way B Van and the LTV B+ Unity:

Pleasure Way TS B Van:
MEASUREMENTS AND CAPACITIES
FRESH WATER CAPACITY 30 U.S. GAL
GREY WATER CAPACITY 35 U.S. GAL
BLACK WATER CAPACITY 12 U.S. GAL
PROPANE TANK 12 U.S. GAL
EXTERIOR LENGTH 22 FEET 9 INCHES (Bumper to Bumper)
EXTERIOR HEIGHT 9 FEET 8 INCHES
EXTERIOR WIDTH 7 FEET 10 INCHES INC SIDE MIRROR
INTERIOR STANDING HEIGHT 75 INCHES
QUEEN BED SIZE 70 X 76
11,030 LB GVWR WITH DUAL REAR WHEELS

LTV B+ Unity
GVWR - lbs. 11030
Wheelbase - in. 170"
Length Not Incl. Spare - ft. 24' 7"
Width - ft. 7 8.5
Height Inc. A/C - ft. 10' 5.5"
Interior Height 6' 5"
Fresh Water Cap. - Gal. 36
Black Holding Tank Cap. - Gal. 29
Grey Holding Tank Cap. - Gal. 37
Fuel Cap. - Gal. (L) 26.4 (100) 26.4 (100) 26.4 (100)
Propane Cap. - Gal. (L) 13.2 (50) 13.2 (50) 13.2 (50)
Exterior Storage Capacity 70 / 62 CU.FT. 40 CU.FT. 34 CU.FT.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Technically there is no such thing as a B+ other than dealers and manufacturers trying to sell you a bill of goods that the RV can perform like a B. Some dealers call their Class Cs a B+ that are over 30 feet long. Ridiculous. Simple explanation. A Class B is built off a van chassis. A Class C is built off a cab chassis as is the LTV Unity. Spec wise they may seem similar but when you get an RV over 10 feet in height and nearly 8 feet or more wide no matter what the length (as there are Class Cs shorter than 20 feet) they simply will not be able to travel on a lot of roads comfortably if at all like the Needles Highway, Going to the Sun Road, deal with oncoming traffic on extremely narrow roads, parallel park on a street with mirrors sticking into the traffic lane, etc. People adapt well usually to what they drive but the so called B+s seem to attract toads since they lose their drive anywhere appeal.

Even some of the Bs are starting to get up in size. The Sprinter van extended body is 24'-1" but it is still a B. That is kind of pushing the comfort limit of a B and exceeding parking stalls and making you more cognizant as to where you drive. But when you put a cargo hitch carrier on a shorter B you run into some of the same constraints.

Saying all this, I'm not trying to dissuade you on an LTV Unity. They are in my opinion the best of the small Class Cs, B+ if you want to call it that. Just don't convince yourself it is and expect it to be a B.
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

The real issue as far as size goes seems to be the width rather than the length. Our ERA is normal van width all the way back at 6'6". Thus driving it in tight construction zones, etc is not really a problem. The length of 24' is not really an issue. When parking in a Walmart, etc, we just park at the end of a parking row and walk a bit. We did pass on some model Roadtreks and others because the often "build out" wide behind the drivers area, just like a class C. We just had a couple stay with us and they bought a short class C about 8' wide. They are not happy with the width. The 24' length does not concern them.
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

My PW is 24' and I have found that I can get it into a regular parking spot as long as I can back in and there's room for the overhang. Usually I aim for the edges of a parking lot, just gotta watch for trees and the height of the curb - the generator is in the back and hangs kinda low - I've never hit it, yet, but I'm always cautious. I haven't perfected getting into a spot with cars on both sides, but I can easily get into one spot if there are 2 spots next to each other. I don't mind walking, actually I prefer it, I'm always trying to get in more steps, and usually park as far as I can from the destination whether I'm driving the RV or my SUV. I prefer however to just park in a big lot where I can take two "head to head" parking spots.
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

I do think that some towns have been shrinking the on street parking, especially the inline ones. When I retired, I got rid of my compact commuter and bought a big old Buick Roadmaster wagon, at 18' long, so we could haul stuff better. A recent trip to the city of Anoka to take care of some county registration stuff, I found there was no way to parallel park it on the street, except on an end spot where you could get in and out. Maybe a foot at each end of the car when in the spot. I also looked and saw that there were no pickups or big SUVs like Suburbans parked anywhere but at the ends. There is no way our Roadtrek C190P would have fit in any of the spots at just over 21' with the spare tire carrier.
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

I've noticed that too. I guess towns assume everyone drives a SMART car these days.
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:44 PM   #11
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

We recently went from Iowa to Washington State in our 24' ERA pulling a 5X8 U-haul trailer fairly well loaded. The Sprinter handled the Rockies like a dream and in the 2 years of ownership, parking has NEVER been a problem.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:32 PM   #12
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Parallel street parking without markings is fairly easy if not busy. If they are marked usually for meters then the standards are 22' to 26' with 23' being about the standard from what I can deduce. Of course that means there has to be space to maneuver. That makes an end space desirable. They are going to mark spaces optimally on a street block so if they can get 22 footers in and gain a space that is probably what they will do.

Width wise the standard is 7' or 8 for street parallel parking'. Unless you rub the curb with your wheels you can see driving a C is going to stick into the driving lane.

Bs, vans and pickups all have the same problems with spaces assumed for average sedans.
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:40 AM   #13
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Quote:
Originally Posted by hawk6868
We are thinking about buying a LTV Unity (Mercedes, Sprinter Chassis). We will not have a tow vehicle.

How well do these small Mercedes diesels climb in the Rockies?

I have a 400 HP cummins now diesel pusher and it got down to 35 mph 3rd gear on a couple of the long climbs in the Rockies.

How do you control your downhill decents with no engine break?

Thanks!
You'll probably be fine in the mountains, as suggested by teachergal, and some of the specs that are typical of each type of RV, the Plateau and the Unity. The Unity (small C?) is the about the same length as some of the comparable class B vans at 24' 7", just under a foot wider at 7' 8.5" not including mirrors, and slightly taller (9") including A/C at 10' 5.5" tall. Since it's got either a fibreglass or composite shell construction, the curb weights may be similar. The specs show the identical GVWR of 11,030 lbs. for the Plateau and the Unity, but that doesn't necessarily equate to the curb weight fully loaded, which would affect fuel economy and hill climbing ability. The drive trains are similar enough that you should get comparable results to teachergal. IMO, of course.
http://www.leisurevans.com/unity/specif ... tml#anchor
http://www.pleasureway.com/plateau-specs/
I wouldn't get too hung up on the definitions of the various classes of motohomes. There aren't many real issues that depend on the official "class" of RV you buy. The physical characteristics of the specific vehicle are more important, and will determine what you can and can't do with it. If I were in the market, I would probably create a short list of "must haves" for us (full dry bathroom, permanent bed, good off grid capability), and look for the vehicle that most closely satisfies that list of items first, regardless of what it's official classification might be.
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Old 10-16-2013, 01:03 AM   #14
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

I have an LTV Unity 2013, 25ft long, and LOVE IT. I feel I've UPGRADED from two prior class A coaches: 39ft Monaco diesel pusher, 31ft Winnebago. They were both fine motor homes to LIVE in, but so-so to drive and drive.

After years of wandering mountains, deserts and cities (part time but many trips) my wife and I eventually realized that for our type of travel, driving is more important than camping. And driving only a coach, no toad, makes almost everything easier (not everything, but close). That's what the Sprinter chassis provides. I've already traversed several mountain ranges, a desert, and several major cities, all with total ease -- it's literally fun to drive.

The Unity might seem wide compared with a pure class B, but of course it is narrower than a class A and to me feels just like I'm driving my minivan. My wife (who also drives it) and I have to remind ourselves we are not driving a normal-size car, because that's what it feels like -- only better.

All RVs are long enough that parking is different than a car. But now that I'm not towing, it's much much easier because I fit almost anywhere and I can BACKUP (not possible when towing a car) to maneuver. It's a huge simplification of driving.

All RVs are tall enough that trees are the real enemy. That creates more road restrictions than any twists, grades or other factors. But the shorter Unity makes it much easier to dodge branches.

The big adjustment is inside, much less space -- but enough! It seems funny now but we fretted about moving from 39ft to 31ft, but that was no problem at all. It's much more of an adjustment to fit into 25ft, but we are making it work and loving the result.

The actual only big hassle is the much smaller tanks so dumping/filling are more frequent. So is fueling due to the Sprinter's smallish tank, but that is counterbalanced by how easy it is to use almost any gas station that has diesel. In our larger Winnebago gas coach, we had an ongoing challenge, so typically used Flying Js which usually have pull-through fuel islaands (but not their sister brand Pilot since their gas pump areas typically can't handle anything larger than a normal car because they dead-end tightly at their stores).

Another factor: Because we are on shore power much less (since we must use the coach to drive around and see stuff), we need to run the generator more, which forces us to seek propane much, much more often than before. Annoying, but a known trade-off and worth it.

But we are already contemplating how to add more house batteries (it was built with two) and a solar panel. And, probably because they only provide two batteries, they installed a smallish inverter, limiting what can be run from batteries. LTV provides solar wiring, but they didn't make it easy to add batteries, which in my experience is the much bigger need. (Many people think solar gives them more dry-camping electricity, but solar is only a slow battery charger; the quantity and type of house batteries are what dictate how much electricity is available between recharges.) All of this is fixable, but the cost to me will be much more than if LTV had done it at the factory and added a few bucks to the price tag.

Our goal (working so far) is to not tow anything behind the Unity. Not towing improves fuel economy and lets us drive with traffic rather than the much slower speed required when towing here in California. We own a towable Jeep Liberty so transferred over the towing system used on our prior coaches. It works, and we can tow the Liberty behind the Unity if necessary. We just don't want to, and hope to not find a need.

As an RVer for several years, I've been to some places, on some roads, where the Unity won't fit. Even a pure class B might not fit or be wise (Iron Mountain Highway in South Dakota, various dirt roads in Utah, a couple of really crazy mountain passes where 20 feet is too long, etc.) Fortunately, I've been to most of them. And we usually encounter friends towing Jeeps or whatever so we can bum a ride. We intend to rent cars locally when the need arises, if it arises.

In summary, and "so far", we are very happy to be driving a LTV Unity. I think we'll see more of the country, enjoy the ride, be less tired when we get there, and have an ever better time on the road.

I hope this info is useful. Questions are welcome.
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Quote:
Originally Posted by teachergal
My PW is 24' and I have found that I can get it into a regular parking spot as long as I can back in and there's room for the overhang. Usually I aim for the edges of a parking lot, just gotta watch for trees and the height of the curb - the generator is in the back and hangs kinda low - I've never hit it, yet, but I'm always cautious. I haven't perfected getting into a spot with cars on both sides, but I can easily get into one spot if there are 2 spots next to each other. I don't mind walking, actually I prefer it, I'm always trying to get in more steps, and usually park as far as I can from the destination whether I'm driving the RV or my SUV. I prefer however to just park in a big lot where I can take two "head to head" parking spots.
I thought you had a Plateau, Teachergal. I thought the Plateaus were all 22' 9". Am I wrong? Maybe the older Plateaus were a little bit longer.

..........Rocky
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:02 AM   #16
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

hmmmm....Roc, now that you bring it up, I don't really know. I know I got my information from the website or the manual or something...I've not measured it. I just goggled it and found 2 used 2011 Plateaus - one said it's length was 22'9" and the other said 24". I know when I bought it was wanting a short sprinter (so I thought) and the difference in length seemed huge. Maybe I rounded up a bit too much! I still round up to an even 25'! I guess I'm gonna have to go measure it! It's not bigger than 24ft, that I'm pretty sure of!
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Old 10-28-2013, 01:13 AM   #17
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Your 2011 P-W Plateau is 22'-9". Pleasure-way does not sell an extended body Sprinter that is 24'-1". Great West Vans, Advanced RV, Winnebago and Airstream do have 24'-1" models. Of courses pare tire mounts or back step bumper modifications will make those Mercedes Benz standard lengths longer, but I don't think the Plateau has them. Sellers sometimes just don't know the true length, just guess, or round up.
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Old 10-28-2013, 05:48 PM   #18
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

We actually last spring went from a class C Sprinter Winnebago Navion that's almost just like the Unity you've been talking about. By the way, the Unity is a class C. No such thing as a B+, just a term, ( and I think it's the way some RV makers are padding their sales numbers)
Anyway, we downsized slightly to a class B Winnebago ERA which is the 24' version of the Sprinter. The Navion was a 2008 chassis, and the ERA is a 2013 van. Both have handled the mountains with no problems at all, easily passing all the Ford & Chevy gas engined RV's while climbing the mountain. There's not much grade braking in a diesel without a Jake brake, but you use the TapShift feature on the Sprinter to aid in the downhill braking effort.
The Unity is definitely a sharp RV...
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:41 PM   #19
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

To actually comment on the topic at hand, we recently took our GW Legend SE (Diesel Sprinter Based RV) to the Canadian Rockies (Lake Louise, Jasper, Icefields Parkway, etc.). We drove from our house at appx 300 ft above sea level to the mountains that are up to about 7000 ft. (I think I saw the GPS altimiter read 6800 ft+ at one point.) Anyway, we didn't really notice the Sprinter complaining about the hills at all. I think they are a great rig for hills. We occasionally shifted down to 4th gear to get a little be of extra pep, but for the most part it negoiated the hills superbly.

..........Rocky
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:08 PM   #20
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Default Re: Mercedes Sprinter Chassis in Mountains

Hello all! I am new to this forum and will be happy to answer this question next week as I will be picking up our new 2014 LTV Unity 24UCB in St Louis and driving it back to Colorado .... Including over Rabbit Ears Pass I will let you know how it handles!
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