The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers a more complete and luxurious offering for those not enamored by the Ram ProMaster or Ford Transit. Available in a pair of wheelbase choices, the Sprinter can seat between 12 and 15 people in comfort and, thanks to a high roof as standard on the Passenger van, navigating the rows of seats is easy. Rear-wheel-drive and a nine-speed auto are the stock configuration, with a seven-speed auto available and four-wheel-drive an option too. In terms of powertrains, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine is the default option, making 188 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; those who need more grunt, or want the 4x4 variant, get a 3.0-liter six-cylinder producing the same 188 hp but 325 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at a competitive $42,990 but numerous options and configurations can elevate the cost considerably.
The Sprinter has been redesigned for the 2019 model year, but if you didn't notice the new headlights and taillights that's alright because it's hard to tell what's changed on the outside. 16-inch wheels are standard fare along with textured plastic bumpers, with LED lighting optional. Inside, a brilliant new but optional MBUX infotainment system can be had with either a seven- or 10.25-inch touchscreen. The engines have also been updated, making the new Sprinter less of a chore to drive from A to B.
The 2019 Sprinter Passenger van starts at an MSRP in the U.S. of $42,990 before the $1,195 destination charge. This rear-wheel-drive 1500 model features a wheelbase of 144 inches and a four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine. The most expensive variant is also a 144-inch variant but features the six-cylinder turbo-diesel and 4x4. All in, this costs just shy of $58,000. With almost $17,000 worth of extras, we managed to get the online configurator to spit out a fully-loaded price of $76,039, or $2,242 per month. Speccing the V6 diesel costs $6,000, while the 4x4 diesel is $13,800 extra. The long-wheelbase version adds $5,800 to your build price.
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With crosswind assist fitted as standard, the tall van does well on the highway and is easy to keep in a straight line. Thanks to electrically-assisted, albeit numb, steering and a large turning angle, maneuvering the long van is a simple and easy job, and the wheel builds effort progressively, making the Sprinter easy to pilot even on narrow city streets. The ride quality too has been lauded for its compliance and composure, which only gets better the more weight is added in the form of passengers, making freeway cruising a pleasure. Looking at the profile of the Sprinter, one would be forgiven for thinking that the tall van is likely to tip over. However, Merc's crosswind assist system is standard. The system helps keep the van straight by braking individual wheels as required without impacting speed. When you turn, the new springs and dampers help maintain body roll, although excessively aggressive maneuvers will naturally still impact the composure of the van. Braking is adequate and easy to modulate, and with one of the nicest steering wheels in a van, the Sprinter really feels more car-like than the lofty and commanding driving position would have you believe. Standard hill-start assist also makes pulling away on inclines something that won't work on the nerves of your numerous passengers. Available with 4x4, the Sprinter is surprisingly impressive for a van when you go off the beaten path. To drive, there is very little out there that is going to instill as much confidence and still provide comfort as the Mercedes can.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Mercedes already had a good product with the previous generation Sprinter, and in this new one, they've updated what needed newness and left alone that which was already good. The optional MBUX infotainment system is one of the best available in a van, and the array of choice features and safety equipment makes this one of the most car-like commercial vehicles out there. With solutions to manage your fleet wirelessly, check deviations from routes, and send new destinations directly to the vehicle, Mercedes has clearly given a lot of thought to how their customers use these vehicles and facilitated solutions that will only make the daily grind easier to manage. Ride quality is excellent and the maneuverability and seat options make the Sprinter both versatile and comfortable to use every day. However, these things do come at a premium, as the options can become expensive if you tick too many boxes. That said, in base form, this is a genuinely good vehicle and if you do add extras, the cost of the numerous options is outweighed by how much simpler and easier the vehicle becomes to work with. We'd highly recommend one.
The recommendation on commercial vehicles essentially comes down to what the vehicle is going to be used for. If you require the most people-carrying ability, the 170-inch wheelbase variants are for you and the 144-inch wheelbase is for everyone else. If you intend to use the vehicle as a tour bus in areas like national parks or the Grand Canyon, for example, opting for the 4x4 model is a smart move. Regardless of your needs, though, we'd suggest the torquier diesel engine as it's also likely to return the best mpg figures. We'd also opt for the Premium Plus package to get the best infotainment system and navigation, as these options are not available individually. This will also add other helpful features like lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. It is an expensive package and - all in with the other required options that this package needs in order to be specified - will cost just under $3,700, but it's almost worth the added cost for the infotainment system alone.
|Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van||188 hp||TBC||$45,300|
|Ford Transit Passenger Van||275 hp||TBC||$51,130|
|Ram ProMaster Window Van||276 hp||TBC||$48,125|
If you need a bit more power than the Sprinter's 188 hp, you may want to consider the top-tier Ford Transit, which features a 275 hp 3.7-liter V6 gas engine with 260 lb-ft. This is mated to a six-speed auto that isn't quite as smooth as the nine-speed in the Merc, and is only available with rear-wheel-drive. It also rides on smaller 195/75 tires compared to the 245/75 tires on the Merc, which is a contributing factor to its slightly worse ride quality. However, it can also seat up to 15 people. Unfortunately, the $10,000 difference in price shows when you look at the towing capacity, which is only 3,800 lbs - 1,200 less than the Merc can pull. It also charges you extra for something as basic and commonplace as Bluetooth connectivity and doesn't have many of the advanced features that the Merc does. Yes, cruise control is standard, as are power mirrors, but adaptive cruise, heated front seats, and a parking assistant are not available. Overall, these are both great vans and it depends on needs. To just get the job done, the Transit is perfect. To get it done with a hint of style and comfort, buy the Sprinter.
Another, even cheaper alternative to the Sprinter is Ram's ProMaster Window Van. In top-tier spec, the 3500 High Roof starts at just over $40,000 - around 16 grand less than the 2500 V6 4x4 Sprinter. The Ram is fitted with a bigger motor too, a 3.6-liter V6 gas engine that develops 280 hp and 260 lb-ft. A six-speed auto is standard here, but oddly, the powered wheels are also the ones in charge of turning. Overseas, you can get a Sprinter with front-wheel-drive too, but market research suggests that Americans don't see FWD commercial vehicles as capable enough. The Ram isn't nearly as refined and quiet as the Merc, and lacks the available features of the Sprinter too - most notably safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot monitoring. The ProMaster is much more of a workhorse, with less focus on passenger comfort and is more of a cargo van with seats bolted in, than a vehicle designed to ferry people from the start. However, the Merc is a more premium product and is exceptional in this class in terms of features and safety equipment. Much like the Ford Transit, only more so, the ProMaster is a basic and economical way of getting people from A to B, whereas the Sprinter offers a little more of everything at a greater cost.
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