Future Campers, 4X4 Van Life and Ape Explains? [Ask Nathan]

Future campers? Maybe in Japan… From the 2015 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Honda N-Truck hooked up to the N-Camp. a pint-sized caravan/trailer. It’s a concept.
(Photo: Honda)

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and full name will be omitted – leaving your first name, initials or nickname, your preference.

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Future campers for us?  
  • Van life 4X4?
  • What is “Ape Explains?”

The first question comes from a young fan who is thinking about future campers/ 

Q: (Via NathanAdlen@Twitter) I am wondering about future campers. 

I am Sam and just turned 13. My dad pulls a trailer and said people will stop doing this once EVs begin to sell. You showed this on your Tesla video. Will there be future campers?

FUTURELIGHT™ Camper Concept.

A: Hi Sam! Thanks for the question. 

The RV (Recreational Vehicle) industry is evolving and changes are already happening. Lots of builders are developing higher-utility, rugged, lower footprint campers and trailers. We are already seeing super-rugged RVs (overlanding vehicles) become massively popular.

These vehicles still need a power plant that can take them further than an EV.  

Sure, EV trucks and SUVs are coming, but I don’t think EVs will kill trailers and campers. The future will see lighter weight and smaller units become more popular. 

Overland XT12 Trailer
(Into the Wild Overland)

In time, we’ll see expensive, lightweight materials come down in price as well. This, combined with novel ways of recouping energy, will help transform campers and trailers into more efficient units. At the same time, it will take decades before drastic changes to the current RV industry will be felt.

People are looking at more self-sufficient, green vehicles right now. Tech that is crazy expensive now, will come down in price. You will see that tech applied to some slick RVs in the future.



The next email comes from a fan who is looking at buying a 4X4 van that he can transform into his own motorhome (RV). 

Transit Cargo AWD (Photo: Ford)

Q: Hi Nathan and Andre! Love your shows and I enjoyed watching your Volkswagen California van videos a bunch!

I was beginning to look at motor homes to play with after I retire. It’s a five year plan where my wife and I disappear off the grid for weeks at a time around the country. I need something that can handle deep snow and light off road excursions. It has to have good range and it has to tow about 2,500 pounds to pull our cargo trailer.

My wife paints nature vistas and I like to photograph indigenous animals wherever I am located. We have a vision of heading to a remote, seldom visited location and staying there for up to a week completely self contained.

We need a motor home that has four wheel drive and can hold us comfortably with all the trappings of home. An extra bed, a galley and a nice bathroom are needed too. There are lots of motor homes out there to look at.

Yes I have a good retirement coming thanks to over thirty five years working for the Great State of Texas. But I don’t want to squander it all at once on an overpriced motor home. Some of the new ones I’m looking at are over $220,000!

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Summit Adventure van.
(Image: TFLtruck)

The problem for me is pricing given the ridiculous prices of motor homes that have what I need. My needs are not cosmetic and I don’t need to look like a bad ass like some over-landers. I can do some fabrication on my own, so I was thinking about buying the van from the factory with the factory warranty and adding the modular components I need.

I need range, performance and a good 4×4 system. Also, I want a new vehicle, not a used one. That way, I can bring it to a dealership to fix mechanical issues. ‘

With all that in mind, which van should be on my list? Please let the whole team know how fond we are of all of you. You guys are fiercely independent and you do it your way. I admire that and I know millions of others do too!

Check S.

A: Hi Chuck!

Thanks for the email and your patronage!

I asked Andre and we agree that there are truly only two choices: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4X4 and the Ford Transit. They are very different vehicles with very different setups.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter –

Recently (significantly) updated, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter gives you the option of a diesel or gas engine and a higher load/tow potential. Unlike the new Ford Transit, we have driven many of the MBZ Sprinters, including the 4X4s.

They are remarkably capable and comfortable. It is the only van we can recommend and they start around $51,000 for a setup that may work for you.

Ford Transit –

The 2020 Ford Transit has gone through a major upgrade and it now has an all-wheel drive system available. While it is not lifted any higher, nor is it available with a 4WD-low transfer case, it does have a sophisticated AWD system that allows for easy daily driving, even in challenging driving conditions.

We have no driving time with the Transit and the AWD version is not yet available in test fleets. We configured one and found it to be slightly less expensive than the MBZ, but that’s all we could do for now.

Best of luck with your project!


Mercedes Benz Sprinter 4x4

The next last question comes from a Twitter friend who heard about “Ape Explains.”

MMUSA Nebraska Plaquea
Nathan next to the plaque marking the highest point in Nebraska

Q: (Via NathanAdlen@Twitter): Heard you were doing a new project called, “Ape Explains.”


A: Thanks for the question.

It’s pretty simple. “Ape Explains” is a small series where I demystify and simplify certain vehicles. Not everyone wants to know about the mineutia regarding each vehicle – right? Sometimes, the basics can go a long way.

For example, the Kia Niro EV – it’s a technically advance vehicle, one that we’ve explored the depths with. Some of you want to know about what it’s like as a mode of transportation.

In this video series, I show you the basics of how it starts, runs, drives and what it’s like to use as an ordinary car.

That’s it. Simple.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the series, but I want your impute. Please let me know what types of information you think this video series needs. I will definitely be making tweaks as we move on.


Speaking of TFL Apes…

From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.