When one imagines oneself in a Mercedes-Benz it’s usually a dream of a plush luxury car ride and the comfort or the reverie of a road-hugging sports car. The Airstream Interstate 3500, however, is something of both, smartly conceived in a 23-foot Class B motorhome. Its spry driving nature comes from the Mercedes-Benz 3.0-l V-6 turbodiesel engine that delivers 325 lb-ft of torque at a low and usable range of 1,200 to 2,400 rpm, while getting upward of 20 mpg. The Interstate 3500 is built on a Mercedes-Benz chassis, offering first-class handling and control.
That same smooth-handling undercarriage has a utilitarian side too, allowing the Interstate 3500 an 11,300-pound gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) and the ability to tow a dinghy vehicle, small utility trailer, travel trailer or recreational boat. A standard Class III (5,000-pound maximum tow rating) hitch receiver and wiring harness are integrated into the rear bumper.
The Interstate 3500 was designed as a compact touring motorhome and offers comfortable seating and a fully featured cockpit that provides the driver with all the pertinent gauges in the right places, an easy-to-use auto shifter, excellent mirrors, a large front window, and rear vision when the Airstream is in reverse through a 5.8-inch LCD screen mounted where a rearview mirror would normally have been.
The two front captain’s chairs and two more behind in the main cabin are upholstered in Ultraleather, supportive and five-way adjustable for ultra-comfort. Best of all, the four chairs swivel so they can face each other. Just add the removable table in the middle and you’ve got a convenient spot for dining, family gaming or planning the day’s expedition.
The Euro-styled galley is compact but attractive and well-planned. It features a 1.2-cubic-foot convection-microwave oven for convenient and quick meals. Below the countertop is a 3.1-cubic-foot AC/DC compressor-style refrigerator that can pack enough food for a long weekend getaway. A two-burner stainless steel cooktop and a round stainless steel sink, both with flip-up glass covers, are set into the counter.
Directly across the aisle from the galley is a wet bath with a unique design and construction. The middle wall pivots outward to expand the available room of the compact but workable wet bath compartment for more comfort during use. The sink and toilet are molded into the compartment’s walls; and a large, round mirror is mounted on a swinging swivel arm, making it easy to get just the right height and angle for any user.
The Interstate 3500 can be ordered in two configurations, twin or lounge, and that determines how the rear compartment is laid out. It also affects the galley and main cabin by switching the placement of the sink and stovetop and dropping a cabin seat in the twin model. Our subject was the lounge model, which offers a full-cabin-width bench seat with three seat belts (that converts via an electric motor to a 70-inch by 74-inch sleeping surface), and two small dinette seats (one belted) that surround a position where the same removable table used in the forward cabin could be placed for activities in the rear cabin.
Every inch from nose to tail not already utilized for some vital system or structural member has been turned into storage space and beautifully so. The cabinetwork is top-notch and uses high-quality aluminum extrusions and solid wood with flush hinges and push-button hideaway cabinet knobs. And despite the motorhome’s diminutive appearance, there is no lack of storage room in the Interstate 3500. We found plenty of it above the cockpit, the streetside overheads, the rear overhead, the galley and the wardrobe. There is also no lack of overhead counter lights, hallway lights and reading lamps, so cabin illumination is never a problem.
Our unit was outfitted with the onyx interior dÃ©cor, which is the darker of the two choices because although the upholstery is light, the cabinets are dark. The other choice is light camel, with both upholstery and cabinets in light tones. We would opt for light camel and think the brighter, lighter color scheme would open up the interior and give it a warmer and larger feel.
The Airstream Interstate 3500 can comfortably transport up to eight passengers and act as taxi and tailgater to a sporting event or become a touring coach for an all-day outing. Or it can handle duties as a long-weekend camper for two adults. Its dynamic ride, easy handling and good fuel mileage are all exceptional qualities, but the vehicle’s operational flexibility is what makes it a real standout in the Class B marketplace.
ENGINE: 3.0-L V-6 TURBODIESEL
FUEL: 26.4 GAL
GVWR: 11,030 LBS
LENGTH: 22′ 9″
WIDTH: 6′ 8″
HEIGHT With A/c: 9′ 7″
INTERIOR HEIGHT: 6′ 2.25″
FRESHWATER CAP: 26 GAL
GRAY-WATER CAP: 27 GAL
BLACK-WATER CAP: 16 GAL
LP-GAS CAP: 14 GAL
BASE MSRP: $121,274