by Jay Traugott
Straddling the territory between minivans, compact passenger vans, and full-size vans, the Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger Van is a small-size commercial runabout from the premium manufacturer, serving a dual purpose as both a commercial vehicle and a commuter-friendly passenger-wagon. This benefits the Metris Passenger Van, which is more commodious than core rivals like the Nissan NV200 or Ford Transit Connect; it is also an easier van to drive and is a nimbler offering than the larger Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. There's plenty of power beneath the hood of the Metris Van too, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends up to 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque to the vans rear-wheel drivetrain via a stock seven-speed automatic transmission. There are two trims for buyers to choose from as well, with the budget-friendly Worker Metris initiating the lineup at an MSRP of $30,650 and the Base Metris closing it off at $34,800.
There have been only a couple of adjustments made for the 2019 model year Metris Passenger Van: an ECO start/stop system is now standard on the Base Metris Passenger Van, although not on the Worker, while the latter is equipped with black-painted steel wheels as standard. Also new for 2019, power-adjustable front seats are now available as a standalone option for both trims.
The forward-slanting hood of the Metris is structured over a relatively short front overhang. A prominent, curved contour line runs the length of the profile to better integrate the sliding-door rails on either side of the van, and along with the van's rounded edges, give it a sleek, backward-flowing appearance. Black lower front and rear fascia on the Worker model are swapped out for body-color fascia on the Base model. At the rear are 180-degree swing-out cargo doors. Automatic halogen headlights are standard on both trims along with 17-inch fully-covered steel wheels, which are featured in black on the Worker Passenger Van.
Despite only seating a maximum of eight, the Metris is substantially larger than other small vans like the Ford Transit Connect. Overall, the Metris is 12.4 inches longer than the Transit Connect with a body length of 202.4 inches, while it has a wheelbase that's 5.4 inches longer at 126 inches. The Metris is about 2.8 inches taller too, with a height of 74.4 inches, and - at a width of 75.9 inches - is 3.7 inches wider. Both the Worker and Base Metris Passenger Vans have curb weights of 4,718 lbs, which are on par with most vehicles in this class.
There are a total of eleven exterior color options available for the Metris Passenger Van, of which only three are available for the Worker Metris passenger Van, namely Arctic White, Obsidian Black Metallic, and Brilliant Silver metallic, the latter two carrying an additional charge of $990. The metallic hues available on the regular Metris Passenger Van include the Passenger-exclusive Mountain Crystal White as well as Flint Grey, Dolomite Brown, and Cavansite Blue Metallic. Both Metris trims look best with any of the metallic hues optioned on, but in the case of the black-bumpered Worker, a simple shade of black works best.
The Metris Passenger Van is rather nifty for a commercial van: its acceleration is to no extent vigorous, but is more than adequate enough for the city runabout. Some may even find it somewhat car-like. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder's 208 horsepower is enough to scoot the Metris from 0-60 mph in an unsurprising 8.4 seconds, which is about average for the class. But, the turbocharged four-pot is a robust workhorse too, availing the van with a class-leading maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, significantly more than the Ford Transit Connect's maximum of 2,000 lbs and the Ram ProMaster City Wagon's 1,867 lbs.
An all-wheel-drive system would be beneficial to the Metris in improving all-weather traction and general handling dynamics, but as with most vehicles in the compact van class, the Metris is solely available as a rear-wheel-drive van.
A Mercedes-family 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder lies beneath the hood of the Metris, producing 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It performs well in most conditions, with the turbocharger affording it a good slug of mid-range torque, although responses low-down can suffer, and the van struggles a little with hill starts when heavily loaded. Acceleration is steady thereafter, though, and the seven-speed automatic gearbox does a fine job of dealing with the available torque and shuffling gears around to best manage power delivery and efficiency. While larger vans require big V6 engines or diesel alternatives, the Metris' relatively compact dimensions and low weight mean that the turbocharged engine is more than capable of hauling it around, giving it a greater sense of capability than naturally aspirated rivals.
Not much at all is expected from vans within this segment in terms of handling, but Metris manages to impress. Not only is the Metris far from being heedless, but it's actually even a little fun to wheel around. With ample power always at hand, it's easy to get on the move, which, along with its precise and responsive steering and relatively compact turning circle, ensures it feels nimble around town - more like a minivan than a commercial vehicle. It tracks well, too, even on the highway where crosswinds would usually be the undoing of a passenger van, although the Metris isn't immune to it either. The steering effort is light enough for easy maneuverability but heavy enough to instill confidence at speed, and it pairs well with supple suspension that handles most bumps and abrasions with ease. Body roll is kept to a minimum and chassis composure stable around most extended corners and sharp turns.
The Metris' brakes are progressive and easy to modulate, which is especially ideal in everyday driving. It also remains stable under heavy braking, and the stoppers bring the van to a standstill exceptionally quickly.
The Metris returns relatively subpar gas mileage estimates for a van. On the EPA drive cycles, it returned estimates of 19/23/21 mpg city/highway/combined. If you're looking for something a little more economical, the Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon fairs notably better, returning 24/29/26 mpg on those same cycles. Even the Ram ProMaster City Wagon is a little more fuel-efficient, returning EPA estimates of 21/28/24 mpg respectively. Some may also be put off by the fact that the Metris utilizes premium unleaded fuel only, meaning that it could get quite pricey with extensive use. But its relatively large 18.5-gallon gas tank is one thing the Metris has over its rivals, availing it with a maximum range of around 388-miles before running empty.
The inside of the Metris is reasonably pleasant, the build quality overall is exceptional but there are many low-grade materials utilized here and there, although at least they're disguised with a classy design that mimics Mercedes' passenger offerings. The most obvious element is the standard vinyl steering wheel, but other hard-touch plastics are found throughout the cabin. Build quality seems solid, though, with few squeaks or rattles from anywhere in the vast cabin, and all fixtures and fittings are firmly attached. The steering and the driver's seat don't feature much adjustability, which means drivers on the taller side may not be able to find an optimal position. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and power-adjustable front seats are available as standalone options which go some way to improving the overall feel.
While the Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon offers a maximum occupancy of six passengers and the Ram ProMaster City Wagon a maximum of only five, the Metris is geared to seat a total of eight passengers across three rows. There are also seven and five-seater configurations available, though. The seats are well-cushioned for comfort and are nicely contoured to provide adequate support for daily commuting, but the front seats lack adjustability, which means not everyone will fit comfortably. Head and legroom are otherwise ample throughout the cabin; the driver is positioned well behind the controls and with good outward visibility, too. Rearward visibility is, however, hindered by the rear seat headrests. Accessing and exiting any of the seats in the van is as easy as can be thanks to a moderate step-in height and large sliding doors featured on either side of the van - additionally, the doors can be specced with power-opening and closing functionality.
Tunja Black Fabric upholstery is standard in both Metris trims with Black Leatherette as a cost-free option for both as well, but only with either the Comfort or Appearance Packages optioned on as a prerequisite. The Comfort Package also upgrades the standard vinyl steering wheel to a softer-touch, leather-wrapped multi-function one. The dash and door panels are predominantly comprised of black hard-touch plastics; the pillars are covered with a white hard-touch plastic that integrates with the white fabric roofline.
There's a relatively decent 38 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third-row seats in the Metris - that's more than double that of the Ford Transit Connect Passenger Wagon, but just more than half that of the Ram ProMaster City Wagon. A lot can fit in the 38 cu-ft of cargo room, however, and the high roofline means a lot of stacking can be done too, and there's about enough capacity for every rear occupant to store a medium travel bag. The third-row seats can be removed quite easily to expand cargo room to 97.3 cu-ft if required. 180-degree-opening rear doors are standard, but if wanted, a rear liftgate can be optioned on. The Passenger Van carries a maximum payload capacity of 1,896 lbs, while the roof can carry up to 331 lbs of cargo too.
In-cabin storage solutions are limited to three sizeable dash trays, a typically-sized passenger-side glove box, two large cupholders up front for the driver and front passenger, and only two cupholders provided in the third-row of seats.
Most of the Metris' features are rather low-grade and utilitarian. On the outside, it's fitted with automatic halogen headlights, fixed rear windows, driver and passenger-side manual sliding doors, and hinged 180-degree-opening rear doors. Remote access is standard on both trims, while on the inside there's only standard air conditioning with A/C vents in the front and rear of the cabin, a manual day/night rearview mirror, and heat-insulating glass. Non-Worker Metrises get an ECO start/stop system for the new year. In the way of safety and driver-assists, both Metris vans get features such as attention assist, crosswind assist, hill-start assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, rearview camera, and a load adaptive electronic stability program. But even though the base offering is fairly utilitarian, things can be improved with the addition of numerous packages and standalone options available. Included in these packages are items like power heated exterior mirrors, power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, cruise control, and parking sensors with active park assist.
The Worker Metris is devoid of even a simple color display, with only a small monochrome display fitted to the center of the dash instead. The Base Metris - it's called this despite being the upper trim - is at least outfitted with a 5.8-inch color display. But even this isn't a touchscreen and relies on hard buttons to control it. Both trims are set up with an AM/FM stereo and a nine-speaker audio system, with five speakers up front and four in the rear. The system includes Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free calling and provides device charging via a single charge-only USB port. There is pre-installation of a Becker Map Pilot navigation system available for both trims, which is a worthwhile investment as neither Android Auto or Apple CarPlay are available. The infotainment setup is rather disappointing considering even the larger, more utilitarian Sprinter gets access to Mercedes' latest MBUX software.
There have been a total of six recalls for the 2019 model year Metris alone, with issues ranging from an exposed backup battery opening to the loss of the power steering. Mercedes-Benz must have wanted to get the Metris off the production line as quickly as possible, as some of the other recalls pertained to missed quality checks and the fitment of incorrect operator manuals. Mercedes-Benz covers the Metris Passenger Van with a common three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, powertrain warranty, and complimentary roadside assistance. Corrosion damage is covered for five years/100,000 miles.
As a commercial vehicle, the Metris Passenger Van is not subject to crashworthiness evaluations by the NHTSA or IIHS road safety authorities. The basic safety features are covered, however, although you don't get many advanced features found in true-to-type minivans.
There aren't many safety and driver-assist features in the Metris at the base level, but there are quite a few favorable options available. The standard consignment includes six standard airbags, attention assist, cross-wind assist, hill-start assist, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a load adaptive electronic stability program. The Base Metris is fitted with a rearview camera as far as driver assists go. Optionally available is a blind-spot monitoring system, as well as cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, parking sensors, and automated parallel parking.
Straddling two segments may seem like a benefit when it comes to the Metris, attracting both commercial and family shoppers alike, but it also means that it needs to try and do twice as much as a vehicle in either of those segments. From a commercial perspective, up to eight seats and loads of cargo volume are huge advantages, as are the impressive handling dynamics which see the Metris behaving more like a minivan. But the Metris is spartan compared to family minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica, with rudimentary infotainment, sub-standard material quality, and lacking advanced safety and convenience features any self-respecting minivan wouldn't do without. So what is it then? It's a capable commercial van, but one that charges a premium for a luxury badge and impressive handling dynamics. It may offer a number of advantages over its cheaper rivals, but those like the Ford Transit Connect are just as capable, and all for a lower price, making the Metris Passenger Van a hard sell.
The Metris Worker Passenger Van is the budget-friendly trim option from the lineup, priced with an MSRP of $30,650. The Base Metris Passenger Van brings with it a few more features at the standard level and receives extended add-on potential, available at an MSRP of $34,800. Those prices exclude Mercedes-Benz's $1,195 destination charge as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees. With so many specified packages and standalone options available, fully-loading a Base Metris Passenger Van can increase its cost dramatically by up to $20,000 if you select all the available options.
There are only two trims in the Metris Passenger Van lineup, the Worker Metris, which is positioned as the budget-friendly stripped down version of the better-outfitted Base Metris. Both are available with five, seven, or eight-passenger seating configurations and with either 180-degree hinged rear doors or a rear liftgate.
On the outside, the Worker Metris is fitted with a black front and rear bumper. Standard features on the Worker Metris include remote access, manual front and rear air conditioning, a tilt-only steering column, manually-adjustable front seats, a day/night rearview mirror, and heat-insulating glass windows. In the way of infotainment, there's a small monochrome information display located in the center dash.
The Base Metris comes fitted with body-color front and rear bumpers; it's equipped with an ECO start/stop system as standard, and the monochrome infotainment display is swapped out for a 5.8-inch color display. What differentiates the Base Metris from the Worker most obviously, is its exclusive access to a vast selection of available options - options that enhance the interior and exterior cosmetic and material quality, add power-adjustable front seats, and upgrade the infotainment system with navigation software.
While both Metris trims get a fair few available options and packages, the lion's share of these goes the way of the Base Metris. However, a few worthy options are available on the Worker, too.
For the Worker Passenger Van, there's a Convenience Package that equips the van with cruise control, heated, power-adjustable side-view mirrors, heated rear windows, washers, and wipers, and a rain sensor for $1,220. The $3,565 Appearance Package throws in black roof rails, black leatherette upholstery, a rear liftgate, plastic wheel covers, body-color bumpers, and all the contents of the Convenience Package. The $5,810 Comfort Package comprises the contents of the Convenience and Appearance Packages plus a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with a trip computer, power-operated sliding doors, and a 4.2-inch Pixel Matrix display with chrome dials.
There's a whole lot more available for the upper Metris Passenger Van trim, the more notable ones including a Driver Efficiency Package, which, for $1,250, adds fog lights, cruise control, a storage tray in the lower console, and a Becker Map Pilot Navigation System. There's a $2,400 Premium Safety with Parktronic package, which throws in lane-keeping assist, blind-spot assist, Parktronic with active parking assist, a leather multi-function steering wheel, heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, a rain sensor, collision prevention assist, a 4.2-inch Pixel Matrix display, illuminated front exits, and a first-aid kit.
The Base Metris Passenger Van is certainly the trim to go for. Unlike the Worker Metris, the Base comes with a considerable number of features straight out of the box, as well as with a variety of optional extras. The Premium Safety with Parktronic Package is recommended for the upgraded leather steering wheel, and mostly for all the advanced driver-assist technology it contains. We also suggest adding in the electrically adjustable front seats just to improve driver and front passenger comfort and convenience. For improved exterior appeal and added convenience, also include the Premium Exterior Package for the alloy wheel upgrades and chrome exterior enhancements, as well as the Electric Sliding Door package for the hands-free power-operation.
The Toyota Sienna is in the same price range as the Mercedes-Benz Metris, and there's a lot to like about the Sienna that boasts a whole lot more value in its base form. It's certainly the more passenger-centric van with creature-comforts such as three-zone automatic climate control, and safety measures such as Toyota's Safety Sense package included as standard. There are also a lot more trims offered in the Sienna lineup, with mid and top-spec trims offering even more creature comforts, which the Metris doesn't even have access to. The Sienna is also equipped with a more powerful engine, making it a bit faster and easier to use on the road - and it's more fuel-efficient too. The Sienna also gives buyers the option of an available AWD system. There's a little more cargo room behind the rear seats of the Sienna, but the Metris takes the win when it comes to maximum towing capacity, with the Sienna's capped at 3,500 lbs compared to the Metris' 5,000-pound maximum. Overall, the Sienna is the better passenger van: it's more accommodating, safer, and packs a whole lot more value. The Metris makes the most sense as a commercial people carrier, but not a family car.
The Sprinter is the Metris' bigger, more capable brother, priced at around $10,000 more than the Metris in its smallest and most basic configuration. However, for the money, it provides a package that caters to commercial passengers far better than the Metris. You get more configurations and greater seating capacity, with up to 15 occupants able to be transported depending on how you equip the Sprinter. It's equipped with a less potent engine, though, which makes it slower and less wieldy, and when combined with its size and weight, the Sprinter is a less efficient option altogether. There's an optional diesel V6, however, which is efficient and although it only just matches the Metris's maximum towing capacity, it makes hauling it a lot easier. The Sprinter isn't just more practical from a people-moving perspective, though. It's more capacious as far as cargo goes, and in the driver's quarters, it's more refined, less utilitarian, and is vastly better equipped, with the option to add a 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment system with full smartphone compatibility. You buy the Sprinter for a different set of needs to the Metris, but on the whole, it's more refined and better outfitted, easily justifying the price premium if you need the additional capability.