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.
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.
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 Motorhome
- 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: 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
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.