I’ve written plenty about the allure of the Volkswagen unicorns, the Syncro vans and trucks from the T3 generation. Ranging from high $40ks to over $100k(!!!), they are not to be trifled with. But as my brother points out any time I write one up: “Why not just get a Sprinter van?” In my mind they occupy a slightly different echelon, although that last Vanagon proves that there is plenty of overlap in price. Up until now, you could argue that Syncro brought a different level of capability, but Mercedes-Benz has released the Sprinter 4×4 with a 3.0-liter diesel V6. The auto gods are still there, van fans, and have bestowed upon us a modernized, go-anywhere van ready for any adventure.
This example has the high-roof option, a huge boon for vanliving when you’re over 6 feet, but is pretty basic other than that. It provides a great blank canvas, and the cabin looks functional though work-truck austere. Same goes for the exterior with black on black on black on black on black, but the black wheels and flat plastic bumpers look purposeful and perfect for the GoPro generation. I’ve driven an older diesel Sprinter quite a bit for work, and despite being abused and simple, they were surprisingly fun. I can only imagine what a significantly improved diesel engine and 4WD do to the experience. Sure, it may not have the every-option-possible approach of the white Syncro, but the $40k you’d have left over would allow you to take it in just about any direction you could dream up.