Road Trip: Mercedes Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III winter driving trucks travel car test drives mercedes benz
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III. Click image to enlarge

Day 4
Since day one had been such an easy drive between Anchorage and Fairbanks, we were expecting the return drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage would be the same, and it started out that way. Everything started out great. Instead of being -45 C overnight as it had been two days earlier, it was a relatively balmy -13.5 C when we left Fairbanks for the final drive.

Along the route the weather was great, the skies were clear, and as we approached the Denali Mountains we were presented with a spectacular view that I will never forget for the rest of my life. But then began the snow flurries, which turned into a full assault of snow, reducing visibility to that of a backyard swimming pool filled with milk. Even with the rear fog lights on it was difficult to see the van in front of us and were left to follow the moving snow cloud in front of us, hoping it was still on the road and not the ditch.

After the snow let up, we had our first major incident on the trip. The same van that had sunk into the parking lot yesterday, and subsequently had its rear tow bar split in two during the frigid temperature evacuation attempt, had a cloud of bad luck following it. It was following another non-Sprinter van, when an oncoming big rig hauling two 53-foot trailers misjudged its closing rate on another oncoming car waiting to make a turn.  The semi-truck driver panicked and hammered the brakes. With nowhere to go, he ditched his truck into the snow bank to avoid smashing into the car in front. Our driver and the driver of the other van saw this and stopped immediately, but the inertia of the dual trailers on the rig caused it to snap out and collect both vans in a slow-speed sideswipe.

Road Trip: Mercedes Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III winter driving trucks travel car test drives mercedes benz
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III. Click image to enlarge

Thankfully, everyone was okay in both vehicles and after all the proper police reports were filled out, we were on our way once more; with the battered but not defeated Sprinter still driving under its own power. This is one tough van.

In the end, I learned a lot about versatility and endurance of not just the Sprinter van, but also the human body. When a vehicle whose primary purpose is not about driver comfort, but is still able to provide a compliant ride, confidence inspiring control and enough heat to keep you warm in the worst of conditions, well, that says a lot about the engineering about this van. Those who need a long-haul commercial van, I highly recommend this rig.

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