If you wanted to bake the world’s best brownie, you would invest in the finest ingredients—but chances are pretty good that instead of hand-harvesting the cacao pods, you would opt to buy top-shelf chocolate to add to the batter. Similarly, when Airstream expanded beyond its iconic travel trailers to build a new line of touring coaches, the legendary brand started with a top-shelf, extra-sweet foundational ingredient: the chassis of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van.
Deciding to use a tried-and-true building block like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500 body was less a shortcut than an act of genius on the part of Airstream—maker of the aluminum-clad "silver bullet" trailer, a machine-age emblem of the American open road. Why not start a custom design with an already assured structure, especially one that rolls in with the reputation for being safe, solid, and exquisitely engineered?
The fifth and latest collaboration between Mercedez-Benz and Airstream is the 2021 Atlas, which—even before any custom add-ons—includes a litany of over-the-top features that make it a pretty luxurious cocoon on wheels.
On the road, the Atlas offers standard Mercedes-Benz safety and power, including Garmin navigation, side- and rear-view cameras, and advanced suspension for a smooth ride (yes, even in the back section). When you’re ready to pull over, the high-performance vehicle discreetly transforms into a tiny home away from home under Airstream’s signature silver ceiling.
A slide-out wall expands the interior space, while two up-front captain’s chairs swivel around to create a conversational grouping with the three-seat Ultraleather sofa. A Corian countertop across from the sofa conceals a 40-inch television that soundlessly glides into sight with the touch of a remote control. Meanwhile, a super-efficient kitchenette is just right for making road trip meals—and the bathroom is granted a generous amount of real estate, spanning the entire back wall of the vehicle.
At bedtime, you can hang your clothes in the cedar-lined closet and tap the wall control panel to transform the sofa into a Murphy bed with a power slide-out. The nook that surrounds the bed is thoughtfully designed with built-in bookshelves, reading lights, and USB charging ports.
But, for goodness sake, head outside: The exterior of the vehicle—decked in signature Airstream silver, naturally—is as streamlined as the inside. A set of steps automatically slide into place as the door opens, and an awning unfurls to offer ample shade. For one of life’s most simple and divine indulgences, there’s even a hookup for an outdoor shower.
Freedom on the road also means you aren’t tethered to a power hookup. If you’re exploring off the grid, the Atlas boasts a diesel generator (tucked into its own external compartment), which is backed up by 300-watt solar rooftop panels. In addition to fresh water tanks, there is also a graywater tank and a blackwater system.
The Atlas is no RV in the usual sense of the word. Its compact size makes it easy to maneuver through town or on narrow backroads, but the design-minded interior (honestly, a cedar closet in a moving vehicle?) is roomy enough to make road-tripping your preferred mode of travel.
Airstream’s 2021 Atlas Touring Coach is available starting from $244,046.
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