Benchmark Vehicles Introduces AWOL Sprinter Van Build

Benchmark Vehicles has introduced its new AWOL custom sprinter Iglhaut Allrad 170 van, the company announced.

The AWOL Iglhaut Allrad 170 started as a standard 170 two-wheel drive Sprinter ordered directly from Mercedes-Benz, according to Benchmark, and was immediately shipped to Iglhaut Allrad in Germany, a specialist in creating all-wheel drive systems for mining rigs and overlanding expedition vans. In partnership with Iglhaut, Benchmark Vehicles equipped the AWOL with front and rear electronic locking differentials as well as a center locking transfer case.

“At Benchmark Vehicles, our commitment is building the very best, most capable adventure vans that bring the ideas and visions of our clients to life,” said Benchmark Vehicles Owner and Founder Leland Gilmore. “Our build team features top-tier experts in every aspect of design, cabinetry, electrical, and bodywork. Each Benchmark Vehicles made van is engineered for everything from tough terrain to everyday driving in a high-quality, dependable rig ready for anything life throws at travelers on or off-road.”

Iglhaut modified the programming of the factory ECU and power control modules to allow an installation of 37-inch off-road tires while maintaining active brake and lane assist systems, the company said. Lifted a full 11 inches, the new Benchmark custom can comfortably wear the large off-road tires. Iglhaut then engineered re-geared front and rear axles into AWOL’s design to accommodate lower RPMs for overlanding.

On the open road, AWOL matches the driving performance of any factory made 170 Sprinter, according to Benchmark Vehicles, managing speeds of 70-plus mph, while have the capability to manage extreme off-road conditions. Benchmark Vehicles also enhanced AWOL’s power steering to allow the heavy duty 37-inch tires and weight of the van to feel responsive, light, and nimble behind the wheel, the company said.

The wheels are machined out of lightweight alloy billet by Trail Ready in Prineville, Oregon. Factory struts are replaced with Bilstein Heavy Duty struts with coilovers. Benchmark Vehicles adapted one of Agile Off-Road’s two-wheel drive Ride Improvement Packages and installed a full-leaf pack rear spring operating alongside Fox 2.5 rear shocks, the company said. AWOL also comes complete with two sets of interchangeable tires and wheels: BF Goodrich KO2 all terrains and mud terrain KM3 (both 37-inch 12.5R17). A rear spare tire carrier is also on board.

The transmission is a 7-speed shiftable automatic that derives power from a 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel powered engine. The van runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel with an upgraded 47-gallon fuel tank and includes an Iglhaut snorkel with a centrifuge and pre-filter cap to avoid hydrolocking.

Benchmark Vehicles Introduces AWOL Sprinter Van Build | THE SHOP

The interior living space of the Benchmark Vehicles AWOL Iglhaut Allrad 170 is 170 inches in length, 68 inches in width, and 76 inches in height to allow travelers more than 6-ft. tall to completely stand up straight in the cabin, Benchmark’s designers said. Within the cabin, Benchmark Vehicles integrated a full rear bed, and a couch and table area that also can be converted to a bed area.

The interior galley consists of an induction cooktop, sink, and a bank of upper cabinets. All on-board cabinetry is crafted from poplar core light plywood which is half the weight of standard Baltic birch. The upper cabinets are finished in a tan nanotech laminate.

Removable canvas bags are in place of upper cabinets in the bed area for more headroom. A stainless steel sink is paired with a two-stage filtration system from Guzzle H20. Every Benchmark Vehicles build is fixed with a 35-gallon heated stainless steel water tank and a 4-gallon internal boiler unit which provides hot water from the tap and allows warm air into the cabin in cold weather conditions.

Benchmark Vehicles installed Scheel-Mann orthopedic driver and passenger seats. The cockpit seats are capable of turning 180-degrees away from the windshield to face the cabin and are upholstered in a middle brown color to match the interior colorways.

The passenger bench to bed seat from French seating manufacturer Scopema seats three and features custom upholstery in the same middle brown leather color and cream stitching from Scheel-Mann. The living area of the interior can be fixed with a 80 inch x 70 inch lower bed that is fully removable and able to be packed away in the rear garage compartment of the van. The flooring is built with marine plywood with a finished layer of marmoleum. Custom Chilewich mats provided by Inhabit Design Works further insulate and provide acoustic dampening of the van’s cabin. A pair of high efficiency roof fans, as well as a Dometic RTX 3000 AC unit keeping interior temps at bay.

The exterior of the van is fitted with a Roambuilt Safari 2.0 Rack and two, 83-liter ROAM Adventure Company storage boxes mounted to the roof rack for storing leveling blocks, axes, shovels, and other equipment. Owl Vans rear carriers complete the exterior kit.

The electrical system includes a 640-amp hour lithium battery bank and is controlled via a custom-made Blue Sea 360 breaker panel, the company said. 245-watt solar panels are mounted to the top of the van’s roof rack that can help increase usage times and further charge the vehicle’s on-board lithium battery bank. For audio entertainment, Benchmark Vehicles uses twin JL Audio amps, Focal speakers, and a 10-inch JL subwoofer.

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at ahecht@cahabamedia.com.

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