Benchmark Vehicles has introduced its newest expedition-ready vehicle, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD 170 DESO, which is equipped with a variety of overlanding equipment capable of handling extended off-road excursions.
Beginning with a brand-new 2023 AWD Mercedes Sprinter van chassis, Benchmark upfitted DESO with an off-road ride improvement package, front skid plate, BFG HD KT tires, Bilstein Heavy Duty struts, and more, the company said.
“Our main purpose at Benchmark Vehicles is to ultimately allow our clients the possibility of creating their own adventure and charting their own course no matter how long the road or remote the destination can be,” comments Benchmark Vehicles Owner and Founder, Leland Gilmore. “That spirit of freedom begins by tailoring each Sprinter van exactly to the needs and preferences of our end users while lending our expertise in a way that promotes their adventurous ambitions and facilitates their creative vision.”
Starting with the vehicle’s base and undercarriage, Benchmark integrated an Agile OffRoad Ride Improvement Package with Fox 2.0 shocks, Agile OffRoad speed sensor guards, leaf springs, a Backwoods Scout front bumper, Warn Zeon Platinum 12S winch, Van Compass front skid plates/rear tug step bumper, and Owl Talon wheels with BFG HD KT 285/70/17 tires. Factory struts are replaced with Bilstein Heavy Duty struts with coilovers. X Bull fender flares with full Line X coating were then added to allow for increased articulation and to widen DESO’s stance, Benchmark’s designers said. The transmission is a 9-speed shiftable automatic that derives power from a 2-liter twin turbo 4-cylinder diesel powered engine. The van runs on ultra-low sulfur diesel with an upgraded 45-gallon fuel tank.
The attachments added to the van include a Bravo air intake snorkel with Terrawagen pre-filter cap, Girard power operated awning with LED lighting, Benchmark custom-made gear tray with a 4-bike carrying capacity, Owl Vans rear door tire carrier/ladder, and AMP Power Steps next to the driver and passenger side doors. Exterior lighting is complete with Baja LP6 Pros and Rigid load lights integrated into the Roambuilt Safari Rack 2.0, Baja LP6s mounted to the bumper, Baja LP4s fixed to the hood, and Baja Squadron fog lights replacing standard factory fog lighting. For extended excursions, DESO was equipped with additional storage capacity on its outer hull, Benchmark said. Exterior storage includes ROAM Adventure Company 83L storage boxes, an Owl Vans Sherpa Cargo Carrier, and a gear cage with an attached DMOS Collective shovel. Mounted on the rack are 245 watts of Zamp Obsidian Solar Panels, a Starlink Satellite Surface Mount allowing for high-speed internet from almost anywhere, Nomadic Cooling X3 12-volt AC System, and a Maxx Air Deluxe roof fan.
The interior living space of the DESO is 170 inches in length, 68 inches in width, and 76 inches in height to allow travelers more than 6-ft. of height to completely stand upright in the van. Within the cabin, Benchmark Vehicles integrated a full rear platform bed, Scheel-Mann leather and cloth driver/passenger seats, matching upholstered slider door bench, and a Scopema Neptune 60-cm single jump seat with matching custom upholstery. Further interior features include soft storage bags mounted to the rear doors and garage area, Benchmark custom-made 4-season bug and weather screens at the rear and sliding doors, and added Flarespace flares with an Arctic Tern Overland window on the driver’s side. For colder weather conditions, Benchmark Vehicles designed the window covers, front seating curtain and interior walls all using insulated temperature-resistant insulation.
The interior gallery consists of an induction cooktop, sink, low-draw microwave, fridge, coffee maker, Lagun tabletop in walnut, interior cabinet lighting, and a magnetic mounted fire extinguisher. The base cabinets are finished in Fenix laminate, which utilizes nanotechnology to make the surface ultra-resistant to scratching, fingerprinting, and allows grease or oil to easily wipe off, the company said. Upper cabinetry is finished in Egger tossini elm. For cleanliness, DESO is equipped with a complete interior shower with a phantom door compactly built adjacent to the interior galley. An exterior shower at the garage door of the van comes standard. The Blanco silgranite sink is paired with a two-stage filtration system from Guzzle H20 that pulls water from a 35-gallon heated stainless steel water tank and a Isotemp hot water system that supplies hot water to the tap and showers.
The interior electrical system derives power from a 640 AH lithium battery bank. A control panel is placed in the middle of the van where users will have control of the interior breakers, water heater, tank level monitors, and all aspects of the van’s interior electrical system. For sound, Benchmark custom-designed A-Pillar speaker pods to house the Stage 3 audio system located throughout the van.