As the 2022 New York Auto Show comes to a close, there are more than enough thought gremlins buzzing around proceedings. There’s a sense that at every point during the show, everything was geared towards questioning whether or not our motoring habits were sustainable or not.
But what if you don’t give a hairy rat’s rear-end about sustainability? What if you want the traditional cosmopolitan approach to ultra-luxury and leisure applied to a roadable RV/van chassis? Well, dear friend, we have a bit of a confession to make. Deep down inside, we kind of do too, but on the sneak. But wouldn’t we all? Especially when you see what California’s premiere RV coachbuilder hauled 4,600-plus miles to the Jacob K Javits Center.
This is the Gretch Strada Lounge, courtesy of a 35 year strong privately owned Southern California coachbuilder certified by Mercedes-Benz/Sprinter themselves to convert their heavy-duty cargo van chassis into a $200,000-plus road-roving fortress that’s a set of armor and a couple of cannon pods from being the heist vehicle of choice in Grand Theft Auto.
But rest assured, anybody who buys this Strada Lounge already has enough diamonds on his fingers and around their wrists to make a jewelry store heist a non-necessity. Mercedes-Benz themselves manufacture a semi-luxurious passenger van based on the very same chassis as this Cali-pampered millionaire’s throne room.
The top-tier, high-roof configuration model on sale by Mercedes-Benz themselves is around $58,000. But even so, by Mercedes-Benz standards, it’s not exactly lavishly equipped. Not so with the Strada Lounge, because some vans are more special than others.
Be it the lightweight power awning, solar cell power generation, the access door to the van’s external power and water ports lined with stainless steel, or the copious amounts of metal trim pieces across this van’s exterior.
It all makes for something of a luxury condominium back porch wherever this van drives. The custom fiberglass body kit does wonders to accentuate the muscular curves and mirror-finished silver paint to make a look that screams dollar signs. No 15 seater mass transit seating arrangements here, that’s for sure.
Entering the cabin, the memory foam, ultra-leather, hand-stitched front seats hug your hips and back quite unlike almost anything else at the Javits Center. Eat your heart out, Jeep Grand Wagoneer. This van makes that feel cheap. Unlike most Sprinter RV van conversions, the driver’s cockpit has a luxurious and modern look that’s every bit worthy of its Mercedes-Benz badge.
Its center-mounted infotainment and navigation screen isn’t exactly the biggest around. That title goes to Ford at the moment. But everything looks, feels, and operates in a matter befitting of a prestigious luxury brand. Remember, prestige is the name of the game in this market segment. That’s why it’s not built on a Ford or a Chevrolet chassis.
But it’s in the rear of the vehicle, where luxury flavor permeates the palate like a spoonful of MSG. It starts with a further set of two ultra-leather stitched leather captain’s chairs. Because billionaires aren’t called “captains of industry” for nothing.
Not so far out of reach from these chairs is a crystal-clear FireFly Integrations Control System multi-touch display from which you can control the interior lighting, music, and climate controls. Moving to the kitchen, and it is a full-sized kitchen, mind you.
There are quality polished hard-wood cabinets aplenty to go along with the fine quartz countertop on which the dual burner propane cooktop resides. Further back, the full wet bathroom uses the latest mobile plumbing solutions to keep you supplied with enough drinking water and toilet pressure for the average camping trip.
Polished wood overhead storage lockers make for tasteful storage of all your nick-nacks. At the very rear, the back seats are appointed in the same ultra-leather as the front converts into a positively envy-inducing sleeping quarters that’s one set of silk sheets away from a luxury penthouse.
It’s all tied together by a robust three-liter V6 turbodiesel engine with plenty of low-end torque to keep everything cruising at 65 miles per hour all day long. It will do so while sitting on a pillowy soft air suspension system, the likes of which would make Bentleys and BMWs blush, and while listening to 50 Cent from a stereo surround sound system from Bose.
All while being bathed in soft-blue LED accent lights for a vibe that only wealthy people are allowed to feel in large doses. The price for it all? You don’t want to know. But in case you do, the base Gretch Strada without all the lovely Strada Lounge accouterments is $217,900 before taxes and fees.
So then, this is a luxury RV for the person whose daily driver is a Bently Mulsanne or a Rolls Royce Ghost. Still, it was nice to LARP like a rich guy at an Auto Show press day for a bit.