Everyone who knows anything about RVs knows what an Airstream trailer looks like – you can probably close your eyes right now and picture one almost perfectly. But did you know that there are Airstream vans?
As mainstays in the camping world for decades, Airstreams have truly stood the test of time. People love them for their timeless design, but a big reason for the company’s modern success is being able to adapt to the changing needs of campers.
These days, Airstream is helping to meet a demand for high-end Class B motorhomes.
Airstream Van… What’s That?
An Airstream van is exactly what it sounds like. In short, they offer the luxuries you would expect from Airstream in a smaller, self-contained package.
Built on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van chassis, these sleek and stylish Class B motorhomes can seat and sleep several people and have a full kitchen and bathroom. They don’t exactly share the iconic “silver bullet” look of the Airstream travel trailers, but they do live up to the company’s reputation for careful craftsmanship.
They have advantages that the classic trailers don’t have, as well. With the convenience of an Airstream van, you don’t need a separate tow vehicle and you can park in standard-sized spaces.
Pro Tip: While we love Airstream vans (a type of Class B RV), there are 5 reasons to avoid Class Bs.
Airstream Van Models
The distinctive line of Airstream vans traces its birth to 2004, when the Interstate touring coach first rolled off the assembly line. The Interstate lives on in the form of three separate next-generation models, and Airstream also produces the more luxurious Atlas.
Each is powered by a Mercedes-Benz 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine (which gives them 325 lb. ft. of torque and 188 horsepower) and has a 7-speed automatic transmission.
Here are some details on each of these modern classics:
The Interstate 19 is a more compact (and more nimble) version of the popular Interstate models. Designed for one or two people tops for overnight use, it rides smoothly on a Sprinter 2500 chassis.
The rear area functions as an eating and lounging area, and there’s a compact kitchen with Corian countertops, a sink and a two-burner cooktop. With the push of a button, the rear sofa flattens into a 66-inch by 73-inch bed.
A European-style wet bath neatly houses a sink, shower, and toilet, plus a built-in shampoo, conditioner, and body wash station and a clothesline. The shower head doubles as the faucet, the mirror extends and swivels, and there’s a totally waterproof toilet paper cover.
From bumper to bumper, the Interstate is smartly designed and loaded with so many extras that it’s no wonder that it’s been the top-selling Class B motorhome for the last few years.
Five feet longer than the Interstate 19, this model is built onto the larger Sprinter 3500 Extended chassis.
With two wide-screen TVs and four captain’s chairs, the 24GL is built to accommodate up to nine passengers and has a floorplan that’s specifically designed for entertaining in style. While it is fantastic for taking friends and family on shorter journeys, it is also fully equipped for longer camping excursions.
The GT version of the popular Interstate emphasizes the comfort of a smaller crew. With its spacious sleeping quarters and cleverly appointed bathroom, it is more specifically tailored for longer trips for couples rather than for group outings.
The differences may seem minor, but small details can pay off in a big way. Less seating with the GL means more galley space and a larger countertop to prepare meals. The GL also has a larger refrigerator/freezer, larger propane tank and bigger tanks for fresh water and black water.
In addition, the front television is mounted in a place that’s less conspicuous, and the front table is a little more out of the way, too.
The Atlas takes Airstream’s luxury to its top level – it takes the best features from the Interstate line and builds upon to create what the company calls a Class B+ touring coach.
A power slide-out makes for a much roomier living space, and other features include a Murphy Suite bed and a spacious bathroom with walk-in shower. A 40-inch smart TV with a built-in sound bar stays tucked inside an entertainment cabinet when not in use and, with the touch of a button, it rises into position over the bed.
The Atlas (also 24 feet long) is on a Sprinter 3500 chassis, has two 100 Ah deep-cycle lithium batteries and a 300-watt solar system.
Airstream Touring Coaches: Luxury Camper Vans With High-End Design
As you can see, a lot of thought went into the designs of these modern Airstreams. At first glance, they may look like regular Sprinter vans. Take a closer look and you’ll find many elegant touches and some surprising comforts.
Materials and components include solid-wood cabinets, marine-grade flooring and Kohler faucets in the bathrooms, for instance. Inside there are power window shades and adjustable reading lights and cedar-lined wardrobe closets. Outdoor extras include a powered armless awning and a shower with both hot and cold capabilities.
They’re easy to drive already, and extra-mile safety features include lane-keeping assist, collision-prevention assist and cameras for rear and side viewing.
The cockpit areas easily convert into an extra bed. Buyers can choose from among five different tasteful color schemes.
How Much Does An Airstream Van Cost?
All of these features and the sophisticated engineering and design that go into the Airstream vans come at a considerable cost.
The starting price for the Interstate 19, which is the lowest-priced of the four models we’ve outlined, is $165,143.
The Interstate 24GL and 24GT share a beginning sticker price of $194,256, and the Atlas comes in at $244,046
If these Airstream vans are too pricey, you may like our 7 favorite small RVs instead.
Innovative Airstream Still Making History
Airstream founder Byam started the company almost 90 years ago, and it was clear from the start that he was a visionary. In fact, he had this inspiring message as his personal philosophy: “Don’t’ live in the past or future. Make history.”
Though Byam passed away in 1962, the company’s continued innovations – including its line of Airstream vans – are proof that Airstream is still on track with that mission.
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