By Tony Barthel
Mountain View Adventure Vehicles in Tucson, Arizona, started life with a very different philosophy than most RV companies. Founder Greg Conser was more focused on modifying high-end yachts than RVs, although he had also modified a lot of Class A RVs as well. And by modification, I refer to building extreme off-grid vehicles that are fully self-sufficient and, as Conser said, “We give you everything we think you’re going to need so you don’t have to go somewhere afterwards.”
So what does that mean, exactly? Well, they started with a 4X4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van using the 144” or 170” wheelbase. They make some suspension modifications to reinforce the off-road capability of the chassis and then turn their focus to the interior.
Using all CNC (Computer Numerical Control machine) cut Baltic Birch for the interior wood, the interior can be described as both very attractive and functional. Some Class B RVs have a confined feel, but that’s not true here.
One of the things that really defines these vans is flexibility. That starts with the bed, which occupies the rear of the vehicle when down in sleeping position. But that bed also flips up and there are tracks along the sides of the space that you can then use to tie down cargo like bicycles and such.
But Greg Conser was very adamant about the fact that you don’t ever have to convert the bed, just flip it down and it’s ready for sleeping.
The two front seats swivel around, which isn’t unusual in a Class B – but each seat also gets its own Lagun table. That’s cool.
In talking to Greg Conser, it’s clear he doesn’t think like your typical RV executive … at all.
For example, the long-wheelbase versions of the Mountain View Adventure Vehicles are outfitted with 630 amp-hours of lithium batteries from Lithionics. “I want the HVAC to last 12 hours.”
There are two inverters in the vans, each able to provide 3,500 watts of power in a master-slave arrangement. Power to the batteries comes from any of three places: a 150-amp alternator on the engine, shore power, or 640 watts of solar panels on the roof in the long-wheelbase models.
There isn’t an ounce of propane in the vans, which means the cooktop is a two-burner induction model. Refrigeration comes from a 12-volt “ice chest”-style refrigerator/freezer. There is a 1,500-watt electric water heater, and Conser says, “Yes, you can run the water heater and HVAC at the same time.”
Having come from the marine business, you can see some very different thinking here. But in a good way.
Oh, that HVAC!
But the thing that surprised me is seeing a mini-split HVAC system in the van. There are a lot of individual van builders (people doing it to their own vans) who have installed these and I’ve also seen it done in a lot of cargo trailer conversions/ But I haven’t seen it done in any commercially produced RVs.
In fact, a battery-powered mini-split HVAC system is so cutting-edge that the highest numbers of calls to MVAV are from people asking how they did this. Mini-split heat pump air conditioning systems are extraordinarily efficient, quiet, and reliable. When I owned a resort this is all we would use – just because there is nothing better.
Conser indicates that all the systems they use are bench-tested first. He won’t employ any system that isn’t listed by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL), and the specific systems they use come from Halcyon.
The company is currently working on modifying the platform somewhat, but the basics are staying in place for the Mountain View Adventure Vehicles. So that means, as you enter the sliding side door you’ll find the cockpit on your right, of course. Above that is storage.
On the road side is the galley, where you’ll find that induction cooktop and the 12-volt refrigerator/freezer. There is a sink right at the door and, to the rear, is the bed. Aside from where the air conditioner is, there are cabinets circling the entire ceiling of the van. There are also drawers in the lower cabinets.
The ceiling lights are all dimmable, and there are accent lights as well.
In a cabinet is a portable toilet – though word is that a different solution is in the works for future builds.
I obviously cannot predict the future as my crystal ball is in the shop for some repairs after I threw it across the room. But seriously, I will say that from what I can see, this is an extremely well-made and very-well-thought-out machine. But, you get what you pay for – and these aren’t inexpensive.
If you’re looking for a Class B RV that has off-road and championship-level off-grid capability, a van from Mountain View Adventure Vehicles might be the rig for you.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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