The appeal of a Class B motorhome has always been that, unlike larger motorhomes, it can serve as the family runabout in between family vacations. Just imagine being able to take the kids to a soccer game, for example, and have both a full kitchen for snacks and a clean bathroom for them to use whenever they want. A Class B is also a lot less intimidating to drive, handling very much like what it is, a big van. The steering is light and the motorhome corners very easily without excessive lean or sway. The turning circle on the Sprinter chassis is also surprisingly tight, so U-turns on larger surface streets shouldn’t pose a problem.
Whether or not the ERA can serve your needs depends on who you are and where you live. The ERA is big as Class B’s go, measuring 24 feet long. From our testing around the suburbs of Los Angeles, that’s about a parking space and a half – so you’ll have to drive past those smallish spaces at the mini mall and find alternate parking. It’s also tall, so parking structures are going to be out of the question in most instances. Just be careful parking at the curb, though, because tall curbs can scrape the integral running boards if you get too close.
As a motorhome, the ERA is about compromise. After all, you can’t have everything in a van conversion with no slideouts. The galley is miniscule, but is well equipped with a genuine Corian solid-surface countertop, a two-burner range with glass cover, refrigerator, sink and microwave oven. There is an abundance of well-made cabinetry within reach, and 6 feet 3 inches of headroom, so no ducking is required for all but the tallest users.
Frankly, it is amazing that a motorhome this small has a bathroom and shower at all, but it does. Located amidships, the wet bath even includes a small stainless steel sink, and a handy three-compartment soap dispenser so you don’t have to worry about stepping on soap or small shampoo bottles. The area is tall enough for most, but it is narrow so NFL linebackers need not apply. Our only complaint here is that there is no handle on the inside of the door, so we had to use the towel rack to pull it shut.
The three-place bench seat at the rear of the motorhome converts to a bed with the touch of a button, which is convenient, but it requires the tabletop to act as an extension so you can lay lengthwise. Not a big deal, except that the tabletop stows under the seat and is secured by two straps. So to retrieve it, you either have to lay on your stomach inside the motorhome, or go outside and open the back doors. Once in place, the bed is surprisingly comfy, but being upholstered in Ultraleather means it’s also cold to sleep on. Bring flannel sheets.
Bear in mind that this motorhome started its life as a van, so there’s no insulation to speak of. That means the 16,000-Btu furnace clicked on almost constantly once the exterior temperature dropped to about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. As soon as it turned off, we could feel the cold creeping in again. The furnace is also right next to the bed and it’s noisy, so we found it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
On the upside, the ERA comes very well equipped with features such as a 22-inch LED HDTV, AM/FM CD/DVD player, MCD American Solo blackout shades, powered roof vent, TrueLevel holding tank monitoring system, exterior service center and more. Our motorhome was also equipped with some options, including an Infotainment System with GPS ($1,190); Sirius satellite radio ($336); water purifier ($91); removable front storage cabinet ($336); A/C heat pump ($259); a 2,500-watt Cummins Onan MicroQuiet LP-gas generator ($2,835); patio awning ($1,085); stylized aluminum wheels ($2,135); and an exterior accessory package (polished stainless steel grille bar covers and rocker panel trim) for $1,645, which brought the as-tested price to $104,005. That’s a lot of green for a small motorhome, but if you’ve been looking for a family van that you can vacation in, the ERA is one of the best.
- Fuel Economy: 21.3 mpg
- 0-60 mph: 19 sec
- 40-60 mph: 11 sec
- Model: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
- Engine: 3.0-L V-6 turbodiesel
- SAE HP: 188 hp @ 3,800 rpm
- Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 1,400-2,400 rpm
- Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manual tip-shift
- Axle Ratio: 4.18:1
- Tires: LT215/85R16
- Wheelbase: 170″
- Brakes: 4-wheel hydraulic disc with ABS
- Suspension, F/R: Independent with mono-leaf spring and stabilizer/leaf spring with stabilizer
- Fuel Cap: 26.4 gal
- Warranty: 3 yrs/36,000 miles
- Ext Length: 24′ 1″
- Ext Width: 6′ 4″
- Ext Height: 9′ 11″
- Int Width: 5′ 10″
- Int Height: 6′ 3″
- Construction: Steel framing, steel skin and roof
- Freshwater cap: 34 gal
- Black-water cap: 10 gal
- Gray-water cap: 21 gal
- Water-heater cap: 6 gal
- LP-Gas cap: 16 gal
- Air Conditioner: 13,500 Btu
- Furnace: 16,000 Btu
- Refrigerator: 5 cu-ft
- Converter/charger: 45 amp
- Battery: Group 31 deep cycle (AGM maintenance free)
- AC Generator: 2.5 kW LP-gas
- MSRP: $94,093
- MSRP as tested: $104,005
- Warranty: 12 months/15,000 miles
- (Water & heater, Fuel, LP-gas tanks full; no supplies or passengers)
- Front axle: 3,600 lbs
- Rear axle: 5,120 lbs
- Total: 8,720 lbs
- gawr, F/R: 4,410/7,720 lbs
- gvwr/gcwr: 11,030/15,250 lbs
- rocc: 2,310 lbs
- (Deduct weight of passengers for net cargo capacity)
- gawr: Gross Axle Weight Rating
- gvwr: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
- gcwr: Gross Combination Weight Rating
- rocc: Realistic Occupant and Cargo Carrying Capacity (full water, no passengers)