by Michael Butler
It has been well over a century since Mercedes-Benz built its first cargo van: in 1896, it built what is probably the world's very first van, aptly named the Combination Delivery Vehicle. Since then, the automaker has always offered a cargo van in one shape or another, and the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van proudly joins the ranks as a small cargo vehicle that slots in below the larger Sprinter. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot delivering 208 horsepower. The Mercedes Metris van can carry up to 2,425 pounds and tow 5,000, which represents class-leading numbers. With a refined drive and good looks, the Metris looks like a good deal, but that three-pointed star on its hood raises the price significantly. The Metris Cargo Van goes up against the Ford Transit Connect and Ram ProMaster City Cargo Van.
The Metris Cargo Van goes mechanically unchanged for the new decade, and while its feature list also goes untouched, Mercedes-Benz did think it good to add its Mercedes PRO connect system, which is basically a digital assistant that helps to connect owners with their fleets. This system offers improved navigation and maintenance planning, and can digitally log trips. Five new exterior colors and new alloy wheels have been added, too.
As far as cargo vans go, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris doesn't look all that bad, especially when compared to the squint Ram ProMaster City, or the catfish-faced Ford Transit Connect Cargo Van. Standard exterior features on the Metris Cargo include a set of 17-inch steel wheels, a sliding side door, auto headlights, and a full-sized spare wheel. Optional extras include your choice of 13 exterior paint colors, including Graphite Grey Metallic, Cavansite Blue Metallic, and Hyacinth Red Metallic, each going for $990. The Metris Worker Cargo Van has rear doors that open 180-degrees, while the Metris Cargo Van offers options for a rear liftgate or 270-degree opening back doors. The latter also boasts fog lamps, which the Worker variant does not have.
The 2020 Metris Cargo Van is available in 126-inch and 135-inch wheelbase trim, with the shorter van measuring 202.4 inches in total length, while the long-wheelbase car measures 211.4 inches. Width, including mirrors, is 88.3 inches. The load height at curb level is 22 inches, and the side-door opening height is 49.3 inches. The Metris Cargo Van has a curb weight of 4,189 pounds in short wheelbase form, and 4,244 lbs in LWB configuration .
Powering the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This engine provides enough grunt to move the Metris Cargo around town with eagerness, and even when fully loaded will still manage to keep up on the highway. Its strong torque curve also allows it to tow an impressive 5,000 pounds. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a smooth-shifting 7G-TRONIC Plus seven-speed automatic transmission, which makes the most of the engine's power and does not struggle to find gears when pulling along a large load or when accelerating in and out of city traffic. No official top speed or 0 to 60 mph times are quoted by the manufacturer, which is hardly unusual for this category of vehicle.
Staying true to its brand heritage, the 2020 Metris Cargo Van delivers a handling and driving experience that is more refined and pleasurable than its competitors. It is by no means a small vehicle, especially in 135-inch wheelbase configuration, but a tight turning circle and light steering help it feel agile on city roads and other tight spaces, exactly what you want from a cargo van. Out on the highway, the Metris Cargo Van feels planted, and drivers will be able to cruise along for many miles without tiring. This van shines in both the city and on the open road, which will put it ahead of its less confident handling competitors.
Mercedes-Benz made the wise decision to move away from heavy and somewhat lethargic naturally-aspirated V6 engines as is so commonly found in cargo vans, and instead have gone for a lightweight, small-capacity turbocharged four-cylinder engine which offers great lowdown torque while sipping on fuel. The EPA rates the Metris Cargo Van at 21/24/22 mpg city/highway/combined. Both LWB and SWB configurations are fitted with an 18.49-gallon fuel tank, which in theory, should give the Metris Cargo van a maximum range of around 407 miles.
It says it all in the name: the Metris Cargo Van offers a ton of interior space because that's exactly what it was built for. Headroom in the front is 39.6 inches in both wheelbase lengths and is more than enough for six-foot-plus drivers and passengers. Legroom is slightly compromised at 35.8 inches. In the back is where the true numbers talk; cargo length with the through-loading partition is 111.5 inches for the SWB, and 120.5 for the LWB van. Cargo bay dimensions include a maximum height of 55 inches, with 50 inches of space between the wheelhouses.
Yes, the Metris will hold a lot of stuff, and its competitors will hold a lot less. Mercedes-Benz quotes a cargo capacity of 183 cubic feet behind the first row for the 126-inch wheelbase van. In comparison, the short-wheelbase Ford Transit Connect cargo van offers only 104.8 cubic feet of space. The LWB Metris Cargo Van offers up to 199 cubic feet of space, which is considerably more than you get from the LWB Ford Transit Connect, which can only muster 127.4 cubic feet behind the first row. The Metris Cargo Van has a maximum payload rating of 2,425 pounds.
As you'd expect with almost any cargo van, the Metris comes with the bare minimum in terms of features and basic comforts; it's built to work and shrugs off Mercedes-Benz' luxury image for a more utilitarian one. Both the driver and front passenger get manually-adjustable seats, and a bunch of cupholders; the driver has an adjustable steering column, while there is also manually adjustable air conditioning, a rearview camera, and a lockable glove compartment. Optional extras include a comfort driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, cruise control, and illuminated vanity mirrors, available only to the Base Metris Cargo Van, and not the Worker. The Premium Safety package specs lane keep assist, a leather steering wheel, rain sensor, blind-spot assist, as well as collision prevention assist, a first-aid kit, and an instrument cluster with a pixel-matrix display. The Metris Worker van gets none of these options, and is as bare as they come.
Your trustworthy employees won't be caught blasting DMX in the Metris Cargo Van anytime soon: on offer is a barebones infotainment system that covers only the most basic of needs. The display itself is a dated 5.8-inch unit that offers clear enough imagery, but feels ancient in terms of actual use. Despite this, it is still larger than the 4.2-inch display in the Ford Transit. Features on offer include groundbreaking AM and FM radio, a single USB and aux port, as well as Bluetooth streaming. Four speakers offer a tinny auditory experience, especially when the cargo area is void of goods.
The Metris range of vans has been recalled a number of times in the past three years, most recently for an integrated backup battery compartment that was missing a cover, and a loss of power steering caused by improper assembly. This issue affected 2016-2019 models, so the newer iterations may offer better reliability. Mercedes-Benz will cover the Metris Cargo Van with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, including drivetrain cover and roadside assistance for the same distance or time.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van has not been tested by the NHTSA or IIHS, but comes with a good amount of standard and optional safety gear, especially for a vehicle in this class. There are six airbags on offer, including front-row window and side thorax/pelvis airbags. Driver assistance features include driver attention assist and crosswind assist. Optional extras include blind-spot monitoring and rain-sensing window wipers.
Whereas in the past, you could get away with offering a basic shell, four wheels, a steering wheel, and an engine when it came to cargo vans, these days owners expect more in terms of comfort, safety, and tech. While it may not be an S-Class, the Metris, Mercedes-Benz's midsize van, offers good looks, a mildly refined ride, and good power. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine offers strong torque from way down low, exactly what you want when you're lugging around a heavy load, and the overall driving experience is pleasurable. Sure, in base trim, it doesn't come with much, but there are enough options to make it a decent daily driver. The only major issue we have with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van is the fact that the Mercedes-Benz branding on its nose adds a few thousand dollars to the asking price, which will push many towards the US-made Ford Transit or Ram ProMaster City.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van costs more than its close rivals, the Ram ProMaster City and Ford Transit Connect but offers a more refined drive, a more powerful engine, and competitive carrying and towing capacities. The Metris Worker Cargo Van carries a price of $27,180, which excludes registration, tax, and a delivery fee of $1,195. The SWB version of the Metris Cargo will set you back $31,390. The LWB Mercedes Metris is priced at $31,910 MSRP.
Seeing as both the SWB and LWB vans come with the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and uses a seven-speed transmission, you won't have to scratch your head regarding powertrain configurations. The major decision you need to make is whether you want the truly bare-bones Worker Cargo Van, or the slightly better equipped Base Metris Cargo Van - on the inside, both vans share the majority of their features, but the cheaper Worker Van makes do without any potential upgrades by means of packages or standalone options. Standard interior features include manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, and a 5.8-inch infotainment display with Bluetooth streaming and a single USB port. With the LWB version of the Metris only costing a few hundred dollars more, we would suggest getting the bigger van, because you can never have too much cargo space.
Ram is targeting small business owners in the USA with its sturdy little Promaster City Cargo Van, which offers class-leading towing and payload capacities. Under the hood of the ProMaster City lies a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with outputs of 178 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, which sends its power to the front wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. We found that while the powerplant in the Ram was adequate, it lacked the low-down punch of the Metris Cargo Van, and could struggle under full load. In saying that, the Ram has a cargo bay payload capacity of 1,883 lbs. We like the reasonable fuel-efficiency and the general versatility of the interior, which offers above-average payload capacity, an expansive cargo bay, and a comfortable seating arrangement. On the other hand, it's not as enjoyable to drive, displays lots of body roll in the corners, and is susceptible to crosswinds on the highway. We would pay the extra money for the more refined Merc.
The Transit Connect Cargo Van hails in a new era in van-driving; you don't have to look like an absolute creep while trying to run your small business. With Euro styling and car-like handling, the Connect strikes a balance between work and play, which we seriously dig. Under the hood lies a 2.0-liter four-pot engine that produces 162 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. Both the SWB and LWB versions have a maximum payload of 1,510 pounds, and both are able to tow a maximum of 2,000 pounds. We like the fact that the Ford drives like a much smaller car, its impressive standard and optional feature list, and workable interior layout - but, unfortunately, the bouncy ride, sluggish engine, and cheap feeling base interior puts us off slightly. It's less expensive than the German and gets a lot right, but the engine in the Metris by itself will make us go for the Mercedes-Benz.
Check out some informative Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van video reviews below.