For 2014, the Sprinter gets what, in the staid world of commercial vans, counts as a major makeover. There's all-new front-end styling that features a much larger grille. The interior has been tweaked and now offers more carlike features. New active safety systems are available, and there's a new standard engine: a four-cylinder diesel...
The Sprinter is a true commercial vehicle, and that makes it an unusual offering for Mercedes-Benz in North America. During the Daimler-Chrysler era, the Sprinter was sold here as a Dodge. Today, it is sold as a Mercedes-Benz and as a Freightliner (which is Mercedes' commercial truck affiliate). The Sprinter is priced at a premium compared with its competitors from Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan. Customers include construction fleets, delivery services, and passenger shuttle services. The Sprinter's biggest fleet customer is Federal Express.
The Sprinter is offered as a Cargo Van, Crew Van, Passenger Van, MiniBus, and Cab Chassis. There is a choice of two roof heights (the taller is high enough to stand up in), and three lengths: 144-inch wheelbase, 170-inch wheelbase, and 170-inch wheelbase with extended rear overhang. The Sprinter is a more European-type van, with a narrower footprint, long and tall body styles, and turbodiesel engines only. European-style vans, though, are the way the industry is going, with Ford about to replace the venerable E-series with its European Transit and Dodge soon to import a van from Fiat.
There are two available diesel engines. The base engine is a new, 2.1-liter four-cylinder that is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. That engine is good for 161 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, which doesn't seem like the makings of a particularly speedy delivery vehicle, but the 2.1-liter should use less fuel than the optional V-6 diesel. That V-6 was formerly the standard engine but is now the move-up option. Output remains 188 hp with 325 lb-ft of torque, and its transmission is a five-speed automatic.
The Sprinter's plain and utilitarian interior is probably not what you'd expect from a Mercedes-Benz, although it is what you'd expect of a commercial van. There is a standard TFT screen for the iPod/Bluetooth/aux interface, and navigation is optional. Bundled with navigation are some other features that Mercedes-Benz drivers will find familiar: blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist, high-beam assist, and collision prevention assist. An audible parking aid is also available and is useful for berthing such a big bus.
- Chevrolet Express
- Ford Transit
- Nissan NV
- Ram ProMaster