Airstream’s Atlas Touring Coach Is an Ideal “Home on Wheels” for Summer Road Trips

The most recent collaboration between Airstream and Mercedes-Benz is a high-minded sprinter van with thoughtful and flexible features.
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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.

Owners can choose between a variety of colors and finishes for the Atlas interiors, all of which retain Airstream’s signature, aluminum-clad vibe. Two heated captain’s chairs at the dashboard swivel to expand seating options in the living area when it’s time to relax. Flexible elements like the removable cafe tables and concealed television cabinets provide various options for how the social space is used.

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.

In the compact kitchenette at the rear of the Atlas, you can muster up meals beyond the road trip standards of hot dogs and s'mores. A Kohler faucet, deep sink, two gas burners, and a convection microwave oven help expand your menu options, in addition to an impressive amount of storage.

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.

The bathroom features a porcelain toilet, Kohler fixtures, and walk-in shower, as well as a cedar-lined storage closet and a tankless water heater.

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. 

The cleverly concealed-until-deployed Murphy bed features a Froli ergonomic mattress with individual coils that provide both comfort and air circulation.

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.

Thoughtful engineering and design optimize every inch of space in the Atlas. These external storage bins create room for the extra gear that can make a road trip easier.

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. 

The Atlas is compact enough to navigate small town streets but roomy enough to truly stretch out in.


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