2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS – Next-Gen Heavy Hauler Combines 6×6 Grip, 110-Ton Max GVWR

We love the Special Trucks section of the Mercedes Commercial Vehicle website.

Just the name is a bit exciting!  It speaks to their obscene engineering and armageddon-proof construction strength, as well as their purposes for buyers.

Few two are exactly alike thanks to MB’s Custom Tailored Truck group — that is able to upfit the three truck bases into virtually anything. Luxury motorhome, fire-fighter, crane/loader, locomotive…. pick your purpose! Unimog, Zetros and Econic are the Special Trucks crew, and each is exceptionally special indeed.

We all love the new Unimog — or any ‘mog, actually — with its sleek new styling for the top U4023 and U5023 models adding some modern looks to the stunning off-road icon.

Unimogs are famous for their versatility — handling everything from mining and construction, to oil field services and mountain rescues.  Like a tractor-killer for farmers, the Unimog can do it all.

Or can it?  There are inherent limitations in the design of the Unimog — notably its max payloads, comfort/ride quality, and its overall height when wearing giant tires.

Mercedes has a big brother to the Unimog that we should all aspire to drive (around the globe) some day: the ZETROS.  
zetros_cabs_safety_desktop-1682x5732016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS 84

This vehicle is actually a Unimog ‘Max.’  The ‘max’ nickname comes in with its overall capabilities, which are ridiculously stout.

The biggest engine displacement?  12.0 liters.

Max payload and towing tonnage?  110!

That is 220,000 pounds of rolling courage, and takes a tough truck to handle.  Shouldering the loads not just on smooth interstates/autobahns — but everywhere. Standard AWD for all ZETROS models makes them unique haulers in either 4×4 or 6×6 configurations.  Unlike most big rigs, the ZETROS is nearly limitless in terms of terrain it can skip over.

Up for four locking differentials get the traction where other trucks would bog down in the mud or mine tailings.

The model range is broad: three cab styles with seating for up to seven people, axle and wheelbase length choices, plus that near-infinite custom upfitting service.


Mercedes sells the Zetros as an all-terrain tractor trailer.  As such, even its easy-entry steps and wide cabin are still seriously crude versus the firm’s luxury cars.  Even so, the Zetros makes a big point of its comfort and efficiency.

The ‘cab-over’ engine description from Mercedes is a confusing description.  Mostly because this is a cab-behind look, while the Unimog proper employs a traditional cab-over design.

For the Unimog, its short overall length is a priority to keep it nimble and maneuverable.  Its central engine location also helps off-road with a low and balanced center of gravity. But the height of the ‘Mog on mud tires means it cannot pass through all bridges or tunnels, nor haul trailers as easily.

The ZETROS puts its giant straight-six diesel engines out front. This is said to smooth things off-road dramatically, while also aiding traction. The deliberate chassis flex points behind the cockpit still let the entire bed bend to find traction.   Approach and departure angles suffer slightly in the ZETROS versus the Unimog, but barely.

The top straight-six engine makes 426 horsepower through a 16-speed gearbox.  This is the long-nose version meant for hauling giant trailers and driven by experts.  2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS 86

A friendlier version is the ~320HP 7.2-liter straight six that comes standard in most bodystyles.  This engine still pulls like a train, but offers a 9-speed automatic as well as the 9-cog manual that comes standard.

Our favorite upfit among the ZETROS customs shown by the Truck Tailors, our favorites are easily the civilian versions.  What we believe is a 1933A Motorhome with two axles and the autobox is a dream for overland adventures.  A mobile command/control office — the 2733 6×6 model — is also extra cool.  Check out the Raytheon  “o-b-t.eu” radar and satellite comms pod above the passenger seat!  Or the fold-down panels that let ATVs come flying out the sides?

It is all action for these ZETROS trucks — hauling big-rig tonnage… literally anywhere on Earth.

The intense ZETROS might also find grip on the moon…!

When capability beats cost among buyers, ZETROS wins the bids.2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS Custom RV 7

2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS Custom RV 2air3zetros-highres7320_desktop-1628x525 2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS Custom RV 20

2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS – Custom Motorhome




Why Zetros?

  • The Zetros is the superior truck concept combining large-scale production components with a tailor-made vehicle design following the demand and history of Mercedes-Benz bonnet-type trucks.
  • Powerful engines, future-proof technology and a vehicle concept offering easy access for maintenance and service, make the Zetros the perfect fit for a huge range of operations.
  • The Zetros is perfectly equipped for operations on the most challenging terrain – even under the most extreme conditions.
  • Outstanding traction, supreme mobility and extremely wear-resistant. That’s how the Zetros satisfies customers in various industries.
  • The Zetros’ durable design with low fuel consumption, together with perfectly tuned gears, a smart axle combination and the Telligent® engine system, makes for an efficient, diesel-saving powertrain.

2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS – Custom Mobile Command Center

Unimog, Zetros, Econic: high-performance star-studded specialists for construction
  • Unimog: the indefatigable all-rounder on the construction site
  • Zetros: the robust cab-over-engine truck for challenging applications on and alongside the road
  • Econic: new career in urban construction transport
Special Trucks – these are star-studded special trucks for equally special applications. All-rounders which can transform themselves into high-performance specialists with individual equipment, bodies and implements. Take the Unimog, for example, the living legend as an extremely versatile utility vehicle and overcomer of everything in off-road terrain – indispens-able for construction. The Zetros as an extraordinarily robust cab-over-engine truck with all-wheel drive, a reliable colleague for the toughest applications on and at the side of the road. And the Econic, which is now embarking on a further career in urban construction transport thanks to its visibility as a major safety factor.
Zetros: the robust cab-over-engine truck for challenging applications on and alongside the road
The Mercedes-Benz Zetros combines extreme off-road ability, indestructible engineering and the load-bearing capacity of a truck. It plays out its strengths in the most difficult applications away from surfaced roads. So you are likely to meet it in mining, on oilfields, in quarries or in other tough applications.
A hallmark of the Zetros is its design as a cab-over-engine truck. This results in low contours, easy entry and exit, a level, spacious cab plus equal weight distribution and excellent ride comfort, in particular in off-road use. Permanent all-wheel drive, robust planetary hub reduction axles with high ground clearance and single or twin tyres, up to four differential locks, a two-stage transfer case – the cab-over-engine concept of the Zetros provides the foundation for outstanding capabilities in off-road terrain. As an option a tyre pressure control system offers choices for on- and off-road use, sand and a particularly low air pressure for extreme situations.

2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS

The Zetros is available as a two- and three-axle version, in weight variants from 16 to 40 t as a rigid vehicle with single- or twin-tyred rear axles. Over and above all this the Zetros also reacts to special requests: tailor-made by the in-house Mercedes-Benz Custom Tailored Trucks (CTT) division it can also be delivered with a crewcab or as a tractor unit.
There is a choice of two engines. As a two-axle and three-axle model the Zetros is available with the six-cylinder OM 926 LA in-line engine with a displacement of 7.2 l and output of 240 kW (326 hp), and the three-axle version is now also available in conjunction with the particularly powerful OM 457 LA. It achieves 315 kW (428 hp) from a displacement of twelve litres. This variant can be recognised from its cab moved 300 mm to the rear and 120 mm higher, and the wheelbase continues to be extended by 300 mm.
For the 7.2 l six-cylinder in-line engine customers can choose from a nine-speed manual transmission and automatic transmission with a torque converter. In conjunction with the 12 l six-cylinder in-line engine a manual transmission with 16 gears is used. Where service is concerned one advantage of the cab-over-engine concept becomes particularly evident: simply tipping the bonnet forwards suffices to make the powertrain components and maintenance points freely accessible.

2016 Mercedes-Benz ZETROS – Use-Case Applications

What do you think?