Owning a four-wheel-drive RV can be beneficial to those who want to get off the road and go on adventures that ordinary camper vans wouldn’t be able to go. Your typical Class B RV is only a two-wheel-drive and isn’t designed for off-road excursions. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few awesome options that are made for this.
I have a standard 2WD Promaster van and it has been very capable in less than perfect conditions. I have been to many places with it that had me a little nervous and it always came through for me. It does have some drawbacks and if I were to do more off-road driving, I’d want to upgrade to a van with 4X4.
I have researched most of the 4×4 models of camper vans on the market to see what I might be missing out on. The list below include some of the best ones that I have found. These are great for those who are ready to get off the pavement and head into some more remote areas over difficult terrain.
1) 2021 Winnebego Revel 4×4
Starting MSRP: $185,838
The Winnebego Revel is a capable 4×4 camper van that is designed to get you off the road. It’s built on the Mercedes chassis and offers all the comforts of the Sprinter van on a rugged frame that will get you into locations that standard camper vans could never go. Beyond the capability of the 4×4, it features a powerful diesel engine that can power you through the most difficult terrains.
The Revel is a pricey van but for those who want all the advantages that a 4×4 can offer, it may be worth the price. It offers a spacious interior with everything you could want for a comfortable living space. It’s small but contains the amenities that the off-road adventurer might need. Is it worth the steep price? Only you can decide that.
2) 2021 Winnebego Boldt 70BL
Starting MSRP: $215,092
The Boldt is a much different van than the Revel mentioned above. It comes in different floor plans and all are larger and feature a roomier interior for those needing the space. Although 4×4 isn’t standard, there is an option for an on-demand 4WD system. You probably won’t be going off the road as easily as you can with the Revel but the Boldt will give you a little more peace of mind that you will be able to make it safely through bad driving conditions.
The Boldt is not a cheap RV and requires a large financial obligation for those looking for a premium experience with 4X4. It is also built on the Mercedes chassis and includes the luxuries that you would expect from these vans.
3) Sportsmobile Classic 4×4
Looking for a rough and tough looking van? The Sportsmobile Classic is a great example of an off-road dream vehicle. This van will get you into places that may be only accessible with a 4X4 of this nature. It is built on a low roof Ford Econoline but has a pop-up roof so that it creates a nice amount of interior headroom.
The Sportsmobile Class is super expensive and is probably only an option for those who are serious about off-roading. The casual camper, like me, wouldn’t want to shell out this much money for a van like this. It has more of a rugged feel with minimal interior amenities.
4) Storyteller Overland Mode 4×4
Pricing: $149,748(Classic) – $154,454(Stealth) – $189,743(Beast)
The Mode 4×4 comes in three different models with each having different features. Each model is built on the Mercedes Chassis and the only difference between the “more affordable” option and the most expensive one is some features and colors. The van is on the smaller side at 19′ 5″. The interior features an open layout that is roomy enough for a couple of people to enjoy staying in it.
It’s smaller size allows it to get into places that many larger vans won’t be able to. It’s similar to the Winnebego Revel mentioned earlier in the article and is a capable van for those looking to add adventure to their trip.
5) Custom Class B Camper Van 4×4
Perhaps the best option available is the custom camper van. For those who are handy and want the DIY experience, you can purchase a 4×4 van and convert it for MUCH less than you could buy a readymade van for. A standard 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter High Roof 170″ Wheelbase can be purchased brand new for around $65,000. The Ford Transit 4×4 Long van can be purchased for under $50,000 (current 2020 pricing).
Once the van is purchased, it’s just a matter of converting it. You can spend as much as you want to with this but most conversions end up costing between $5000 – $25000 depending on how luxurious you want it to be. These prices are assuming that you do the entire build yourself and do not hire others to do things for you.
Here is one of my favorite Youtubers who is currently converting a 4×4 camper van from a Sprinter.
He is a photographer as I am and is building his van for the same reason as I did. Although my van isn’t a 4×4, it has served me well for getting me to great locations and allowing me to sleep for the night. Don’t be scared to take on the challenge of converting a van. It is a difficult process but it can be very rewarding and quite a bargain when compared to some of the more expensive options.
The great thing about building a custom 4×4 camper van is that it will be done to your specifications. You will only have the things you want in it and it can be built to suit your needs perfectly.
Pros & Cons of a Four Wheel Drive Camper Van
It Can Take You To More Places
The obvious benefit of a four-wheel-drive camper van is that it can take you to places that you might not ordinarily go. The four-wheel-drive aspect of the vehicle will allow you to take a turn off of the main road and drive into rougher terrain. This can be beneficial for those who want to camp in areas that are often free of other people. Taking a four-wheel-drive van down a rocky or hilly road is more achievable than its two-wheel-drive counterpart. You will be able to camp in locations with nice views and privacy.
Higher Ground Clearance
One of the things that I dislike the most about my Promaster van is the low ground clearance. I have to be careful when going down rocky roads or areas where I may bottom out. I have often scraped the bottom of my van in locations with ruts and other obstacles.
The great thing about a four-wheel-drive van is that it will be lifted with more ground clearance. You won’t have to worry about driving over land areas that might damage the bottom of your vehicle. Bottoming out can also be a cause of getting stuck which is more unlikely when in a 4×4. Of course, there is a limit on any vehicle but for the most part, the places you are likely to drive will not be a problem for your four-wheel-drive.
Confidence In Getting In and Out Of a Campsite
There have been times when I have pulled into a campsite and was scared that I might not be able to get back out of it. It has always worked out well for me and I have always gotten out but this wouldn’t likely be a problem with a 4×4. It’s not that a four-wheel-drive can magically go anywhere, it’s just that it has more capabilities than that of a two-wheel-drive. A four-wheel-drive van with some good all-terrain tires will go a long way towards getting you in and out of pretty much any campsite you might imagine.
Let’s face it, a four-wheel-drive camper van just looks super cool. With the off-road tires and the high ground clearance, it looks like a vehicle that is ready for adventure. This is a cool look that can turn heads and if you’re into that kind of thing, this type of van is great. On top of that, the roof racks, ladders, and spare tire on the back of the van just adds to the awesome look of the vehicle.
There is a whole host of off-roading accessories that you can add to the van to make it look awesome. For the most part, these accessories are only aesthetic but can make you feel like you are on an adventure every time you sit in the driver’s seat.
As you have seen from the examples above, a four-wheel-drive camper van is quite expensive. Even the more affordable options are still more than the majority of people would ever want to pay. You have to really want to live the lifestyle in order to make it worth putting that much money down on one. The cheapest option will likely be to build your own or find a good used model.
With either of these options, you will end up paying quite a bit less than you would when buying a brand new 4×4 camper van. No matter what you choose, the costs will add up. There is no getting around the fact that owning a four-wheel-drive camper van can be costly.
More That Can Go Wrong
The fancier the equipment, the higher likelihood there is that something can tear up. A four-wheel-drive adds an extra layer of possible mechanical issues that could go wrong. Although in today’s models, you aren’t likely to have very many problems with normal usage. However, the problem is that many people who own four-wheel-drives are the type who like to use and abuse them.
Going off-roading can take a toll on your van and cause damage if you are not careful. You may get stuck in an area that causes damage to the vehicle or parts to come loose if you do not know what you are doing. Sometimes the extra confidence that people might gain by driving a four-wheel-drive will cause them to be riskier when driving it.
False Sense Of Security
A four-wheel-drive often creates a false sense of security. Many people assume that since they are driving a four-wheel-drive, there is no possible way that they can get stuck in an area. Even during snowstorms, I often see people driving four-wheel-drive vehicles down the road as if it’s impossible for them to slide. I also see them in the ditch on occasion because they had too much confidence in their vehicle.
Owning a four-wheel-drive is great but don’t be fooled with the thought that it is much more capable than that of a front-wheel-drive. This may be the case in some situations but it isn’t necessarily always true. My front-wheel-drive van has been more than capable in most situations that I have ever been in. It does quite well in the snow and if I had better all-terrain tires, I would be fairly confident in taking it nearly anywhere.
Is A 4×4 Camper Van Worth It?
There is no doubt, a four-wheel-drive vehicle adds more cost to an already expensive item. Camper vans are not cheap whether they have four-wheel-drive or not. However, as mentioned in this article, four-wheel-drive vans are very pricey and not everyone will be able to purchase a van with this feature. Is it worth it? This is up to you and your purpose for wanting to purchase it. No one answer will be true for every person.
It would not be worth it for me. I do not see the extra benefit of having a four-wheel-drive since my two-wheel-drive van has been more than capable. Throw a set of off-road tires on a front-wheel-drive van and you are good to go for the most part. I can’t imagine where I would go that I haven’t already been in my van.
I’m not particularly in love with off-roading and spending time on difficult trails. My goal is to get to a location where I can camp peacefully and take photographs. I enjoy boondocking and parking in secluded areas. I have been to a handful of places where I had to turn around because my van wasn’t capable of getting in and out. However, for me, It wouldn’t be worth the cost of buying a 4×4 for the occasional use. In reality, I’m not sure I would have even driven a 4×4 camper van into these areas.
I could understand having a four-wheel-drive if I lived in an area that was more prone to lots of snow. In this case, it would make sense to spend the extra money on a four-wheel-drive vehicle if I spent a lot of time in it.
It’s up to you to decide whether or not the locations that you intend to go to will require a four-wheel-drive or not. There are options if you choose to go this route. You can always choose to purchase used for much less than you will get them new. You can also choose to convert your own van and save money in the process.
Purchasing a used four-wheel-drive cargo van will allow you to complete the van conversion For much cheaper than going the brand new route. Read my article here before making a decision to purchase a used van. There are some things to consider and I have put together some tips to help you purchase a van without getting ripped off.
Four-wheel-drive camper vans are becoming more and more popular. With some of the main van chassis offering options in four-wheel-drive, more and more class B motorhomes are being built on them. These vans are becoming quite capable and are great for those who are not satisfied with the standard adventure and are looking for something that can take them further.
It used to be that a 4×4 truck with a camper on the back of it was the way to go for off-roading. However, 4×4 camper vans are becoming more capable and able to take you to places just as remote as a truck could.
While they are more pricey, a four-wheel-drive van can make for a better experience and help to get you in and out of places with more confidence. The examples of current models on the market that I have listed above are great vans and are among the top options that you’ll find. They are also very expensive! It comes down to how much you are willing to spend for what they can offer that the two-wheel-drive van won’t be able to.