by Deiondre van der Merwe
Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed a reputation for producing high quality, dependable passenger-haulers, and the Metris is one of them. The smallest van on offer by Merc boasts class-leading towing capability and loads of cargo space for that family camping trip you keep bringing up at the dinner table, or for the commercial shuttle between the airport and hotel. Beyond functionality, the Metris offers a capable engine and comfortable interior. Shoppers will find many things to appreciate about the German cart, but it isn't all sunshine and roses for the Metris. It trails behind rivals with subpar fuel economy and it carries a much heavier price tag, too. Are there enough pros for the Metris to confidently compete against the Ford Transit Connect? Perhaps, but they may well be hidden behind the paywall of options.
There aren't many changes for the Metris in 2020, and the model carries over from 2019 mostly the same, except for a new package and five new exterior colors.
The Metris is as attractive as a passenger van can possibly manage, especially from the front. The short snout is complimented by a black twin-blade grille and upturned halogen headlights. The Worker van gets black front and rear bumpers, and the Base swaps these out in favor of a body-colored fascia. 180-degree swing-out doors are standard, but a regular rear liftgate is available. Both Metris trims rest on 17-inch wheels with full covers, but the Worker van gets matte black covers. Alloy wheels in a variety of designs are optionally available, as are roof rails in black.
The Metris is rather long in comparison to rivals and has a total length of 202.4 inches. This measurement makes it over 12 inches longer than the Transit Connect, and the same concept applies to its 126-inch wheelbase. Standing tall at 74.4 inches without the roof rails, the Metris owes its narrow appearance to the combination of its spindly height with a 75.9-inch width without the mirrors. That being said, the Metris is just under four inches wider than the Transit Connect. At base level, the Metris Passenger Van weighs in at 4,850 lbs.
Mercedes-Benz makes a total of 14 exterior colors available for the Metris, though the Worker feel-focused van only gets access to three of these. Five standard non-metallic hues are available for the Base, and these are Arctic White, Steel Blue, Jupiter Red, Pebble Grey and Granite Green. Two premium non-metallic hues cost an extra $990, and include Jet Black and Navy Blue. The premium metallic range comprises seven hues, and will also cost $990. Understated colors like Brilliant Silver, Graphite Grey, Mountain Crystal and Selenite Grey can be had, and more adventurous shoppers can choose between Hyacinth Red and Cavansite Blue and Obsidian Black. The Worker trim is exclusively available in three shades, of which one is standard. Arctic White is the no-cost exterior hue, and Obsidian Black and Brilliant Silver round off the metallic hues for this trim at the same additional cost.
Both trims are home to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot that gets the hauler from 0-60 mph in around eight and a half seconds. It's not an exciting figure, but the Metris has enough eagerness for trips around the city and outshines the Transit Connect that achieves the same feat in just over ten seconds. The 2.0-liter turbo doesn't just do the bare minimum, either. The Metris has a class-leading 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity when properly equipped. Additionally, the Metris has more than double the Transit Connect's hauling capability, cementing it as a worthy competitor despite its significantly higher asking price. No all-wheel-drive option is available for the Metris, so you'll have to make do with the standard rear-wheel-drive setup, but it's stable and dependable enough to get the job done without leaving too much room for concern, even in wetter weather.
Resting just beneath the snout of the Metris is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is the only engine available for the range, so if you're after more power, you'll need to look elsewhere. Still, the four-pot Mercedes outperforms the Transit Connect's standard non-turbo 2.0-liter engine that manages 150 hp and 144 lb-ft. Even the Ford's bigger 2.5-liter engine that can be opted for on the Transit Connect falls behind the Merc. A seven-speed automatic transmission rows the gears for the Metris, and does so deftly without any clunky navigation or hesitation. The engine performs dutifully in most situations, but visibly struggles with low-end torque. That being said, it cruises easily on the highway and overtaking slower cars is an easy task. While vans this size usually play host to much larger naturally-aspirated engines, the aid of a turbocharger for the smaller engine makes it more than capable of getting the job done.
Being mostly work and no play, expectations aren't high in this segment for impressive handling. The Metris pleasantly surprises in this regard thanks to an eager engine and capable transmission. Given its resemblance to a very large and expensive tin of corned beef, we wouldn't be shocked if people assumed that body roll is a common side effect of corners. We're pleased to say that it isn't, the Metris delivers a stable and steady ride even on twistier roads and may even be amusing to drive around the city. Standard cross-wind assist is also helpful on windy days. Direct and responsive steering makes it a pleasure to park in tighter spaces, and these traits are even more appreciable when you're zipping passengers back and forth on busy roads. Most precise steering setups sacrifice the weighted feel, but the wheel of the Metris is meaty enough, especially at higher speeds. Yet another victory for the Metris is its agreeable ride quality, and the van absorbs lumps and bumps with ease. The Metris puts on an impressive performance both as a workhorse and a family-hauler.
Given that most people buy these types of vans for long family trips or to add them to their business fleet, fuel economy is an important aspect to consider in the segment. Unfortunately, the Metris falls vastly behind its main rival in this regard. The Metris returns EPA estimates of 19/23/21 mpg city/highway/combined, meaning that the Transit Connect's 24/29/26 mpg figures leave it for dead. Still, the 2.5-liter engine found in the Transit Connect returns figures of 20/26/22 mpg, only slightly better for a far less powerful engine. It's also outperformed by the Ram ProMaster City's EPA estimates of 21/28/24 mpg. When the 18.5-gallon fuel tank is at its fullest, the Metris will manage around 390 miles of range.
The Metris may bear a three-pointed star on its nose, but don't expect much of a premium interior. Hard plastics dominate the cabin, and only the most basic technology is offered. While these are negative points, the van isn't behind its rivals, and though the materials may be discounted, all of them are solid and durable. Some add-ons are available to improve the interior, like a leather-clad steering wheel, but the cabin of the Metris favors function over form. Still, the interior nods to the classic Mercedes design found in other haulers offered by the brand, and everything is neatly laid out.
One of the things we love about the Metris is that it offers an array of seating options. The van is capable of carrying five, seven, or eight passengers depending on its configuration. This pushes it ahead of the Ram ProMaster City's maximum of five, and the Transit Connect's seven. The Metris may not be luxurious, but it's definitely comfortable. The front seats are the most supportive of the lot and will treat occupants with kindness on longer trips. Space is ample regardless of seating configuration, but the Metris is at its prime when the five-seater setup is opted for. Ingress and egress are effortless, thanks to a comfortable height and large sliding doors.
The inside of the Metris is far from premium, but the materials used by Mercedes-Benz are durable. Hard plastics dominate the cabin, and the inside is purely functional. Both the Worker and the Base model come standard with Tunja Black cloth upholstery, essentially black and grey plaid seats. Black leatherette upholstery can also be opted for.
Truly versatile, the Metris offers an impressive 38 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which leaves the Transit Connect's 16 cubes in the dust. There's enough space in the back of the Metris for the whole family's luggage and then some. 180-degree swing-out doors are standard on the Metris, but we prefer the optional rear liftgate. If you find yourself in a situation that demands even more space, the third-row seats can be removed almost effortlessly to allow for a total of 97.3 cubes. A maximum payload of 1,896 pounds can be handled by the Metris, and if that isn't enough, the roof allows for 331 lbs. Storage inside the cabin is liveable, and a decent glovebox allows for a lunch box or two. Only four cupholders are found in the entire van, however.
Both Metris vans are bare-bones in terms of standard-fitted conveniences, and the outside includes two sliding doors and 180-degree swing-out doors. Heat-insulated glass keeps things cozy and air conditioning comes through front and rear vents. The Base model gets a start/stop system to aid fuel economy and that's about it for the standard list. Certain options can be added for an additional price like climate control and power-adjustable front seats. Both models share the same standard safety features inclusive of a rearview camera, attention assist, hill start assist, and cross-wind assist. These are enough to live with, but if you want more, blind-spot monitoring and cruise control can be added under the Comfort Package to the Worker van. The Safety Package is exclusively available for the Base model and adds lane keep assist, collision mitigation, and blind-spot monitoring. Front and rear park sensors with active park assist can be added under the Premium Safety Package. A rear lift-gate can also be added for a price.
The Worker van is skeletal in terms of infotainment and has a tiny monochrome display at the center of its tech. It shares a nine-speaker audio system with the Base model. The Base trim is minorly improved with the addition of a 5.8-inch infotainment screen, though it's not a touchscreen. The infotainment system is controlled by the plastic buttons on either side of it. The old-school system allows for Bluetooth streaming, and one charge-only USB port is standard. Navigation is additionally available, and we'd recommend opting for it. Both models are disappointing in terms of infotainment, and fall behind the Ford Transit Connect in this regard.
The 2020 Metris has suffered one recall so far for the backup battery opening being exposed which increases the risk of fire if metal comes into contact with the terminals. The 2019 model was much worse off, and suffered six recalls for issues relating to loss of electric power steering, an incorrect operator's manual and the fact that a final quality check was not performed. Mercedes-Benz offers a three-year or 36,000-mile basic warranty and a drivetrain warranty is standard for the same time period and mileage limit. Roadside assistance is standard for three years 36,000 miles.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have tested or rated the Metris, but the van has the appropriate amount of safety features for the segment.
The Metris keeps it simple with its safety features suite off the factory floor, but additional packages improve the offering vastly. Both models come standard with a six-airbag system and features like a rearview camera, cross-wind assist, attention assist, hill-start assist, and an adaptive load system for extra stability. Multiple features available under various packages include blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, cruise control, and lane departure warning. Front and rear park sensors with active park assist can also be opted for.
The Metris will appeal more to those who are looking to add a van to their business fleet, thanks to its ample cargo space and one of the highest occupancy allowances in the segment. The durable interior materials and functionality offered by the Worker van is ideal for the commercial runaround, and employees would be happy behind the wheel of one Monday to Friday. The thing is, when you're considering the Metris as a van for the odd family trip or the daily school run, it is outshined by more affordable competition. The Base model aimed at families is greatly let down by its outdated infotainment system, and shoppers in this segment are likely to be concerned with their budget. Possibly the Metris' biggest flaw is its poor fuel economy, it falls behind the Ram ProMaster City in terms of frugal sipping, and this flaw applies to the Worker van especially as these types of vans are meant to be racking up miles for the business. The class-leading towing capability of the Metris helps it along, and it's not a bad van. But you can do better, for less.
The Meris comes in with a higher asking price in its bare-bones Worker form compared to competitors and has an MSRP of $31,350. The Base van starts at $35,580, which is more expensive than the Ford Transit Connect's top of the range model that offers more in terms of features and modern outfittings. Both quoted prices exclude the $1,195 destination charge.
The Mercedes-Benz Metris range comprises two trim levels, the Worker and the Base. The former is aimed at commercial use, and the latter is meant to be a family van. Both host a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot that produces 208 hp and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The Metris isn't available in AWD-form. Both models are available in five, seven or eight seating configurations.
Both models have 17-inch wheels, a sliding door on the driver's side and 180-degree swing-out doors at the rear. A rear lift-gate is optionally available. The Base's exterior is improved with body-colored front and rear fascia, while the Worker sports black instead. Standard convenience features include heat-insulating glass and air conditioning and the Base model gets exclusive access to the start/stop function. The Worker gets a small monochrome display as an infotainment offering that enables AM/FM radio, and the Base gets upgraded to a 5.8-inch LCD screen that enables Bluetooth streaming. A single charge-only USB port is standard. Both models have a four-speaker sound system as standard.
The two models share the same suite of safety features that include a rearview camera, cross-wind assist, hill start assist, as well as attention assist.
Possibly the biggest difference between the Worker and the Base model is that the latter gets access to far more packages than the former. The most notable addition for the Worker van would be the Comfort Package for $5,926 that adds a rear liftgate, cruise control, a leather-clad steering wheel and electric sliding doors as well as blind-spot monitoring, leatherette upholstery and a multifunction steering wheel. Notably, for the Base, the Safety Package costs $1,890 and adds blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, collision mitigation and a multifunction steering wheel. The $2,485 Premium Safety Package adds the same features, but offers front and rear park sensors with active park assist. Power-adjustable front seats can be added for $1,235 and require the addition of the Cold Weather Package for $541.
If you're after the Metris for commercial use, the Worker van would be your best choice. Opting for the Comfort Package drives the price up considerably to $38,471 including the destination fee which is even more than the base model, but gives you a fully-loaded commercial van that employees won't hate. If you're considering the Metris as a family vehicle, we'd recommend adding the Premium Safety Package for notable features like blind-spot monitoring and park distance control. Adding this package brings the final asking price for the Base Metris to $39,260 including destination and handling.
The Sprinter is the Metris' bigger and more attractive relative, and this inevitably means that the Sprinter is going to cost you an extra few thousand dollars. A couple of things make the Sprinter better, including the fact that it's fitted with Mercedes-Benz's MBUX infotainment system as standard. The interior of the Sprinter offers a more premium feel over the Metris and is capable of seating up to 15 people in its long-wheelbase variation. The Sprinter also offers a diesel engine option that delivers more torque for extra capability. Also shared by the Sprinter is a comfortable ride quality and pleasurable driving experience. It doesn't make sense to opt for the Sprinter if you're not going to use the extra space and you're tight on your budget, but in most aspects, the bigger van is better than the Metris.
With around $4,500 separating the two, the Transit Connect is a lot more affordable than the Metris. It's arguably better, too. The infotainment setup in the top of the range Titanium trim outshines the Metris' offering, and offers more tech features like SiriusXM functionality. The two are on par in terms of interior quality, which says a lot given that the Merc costs so much extra. One of the downfalls of the Transit Connect is that its 2.0-liter engine is absent of a turbo, making it much less powerful than the Metris. It also boasts a lower maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds and the Metris can handle double that. Ultimately, the Transit Connect is a better choice in terms of value for money, but if you want the extra power and capability, the Metris is the better choice.
Check out some informative Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger Van video reviews below.