Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its all-new Sprinter van, the third-generation of this highly successful commercial vehicle that first came on the scene in 2006. Beyond the model’s updated styling are its many features that mark the Sprinter’s entry into an increasingly connected and environmentally-focused world. The new Sprinter is available for order now in the European market and will be launched there in June, with a gradual introduction into other markets to follow.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of news about the new Sprinter is the coming introduction of an electric variant next year, part of Mercedes-Benz’ efforts to introduce electrification in its commercial fleet. The eSprinter will follow in the footsteps of the eVito van that has been available for order since late last year. Deliveries of the eVito are set to begin during the second half of 2018. The eVito will be followed by the eSprinter in 2019. According to Mercedes, its electric commercial vans will offer operating costs similar to comparable diesel-powered models. Electric eSprinter and eVito models are primarily designed for commercial use in city centers.
An array of important optional driver assistance and safety systems are now available in new Sprinter vans that were only previous offered in Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. Among these are the automaker’s Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist, and the radar-based DISTRONIC distance control system, When Blind Spot Assist is ordered with the Sprinter’s automatic parking package, traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the van are recognized and autonomous braking will initiate if needed.
"Our new Sprinter is the first van of a new type – a fully connected integral system solution,” shares Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We have made it even better with regard to its traditional strengths and have supplemented it with intelligent products and services. So, we are unlocking a new dimension in terms of efficiency, flexibility, connectivity, and profitability for our customers.”
The new-for-the-U.S. midsize Mercedes-Benz Metris aims at filling business needs requiring something a bit smaller than the automaker’s popular Sprinter yet larger than a compact van. It's based on the Mercedes-Benz Vito model that’s been available in Europe and now mildly revised for American buyers. The Metris is definitely not a luxury vehicle, at least by Mercedes-Benz standards. Think of it as downsized version of the popular Sprinter van with the same rugged characteristics, but with a quieter and more compliant ride.
Mercedes-Benz is aiming at the very same need increasingly being fulfilled by an array of compact vans now on American highways – a more manageable physical footprint for business use in crowded urban areas, with the capability of meeting diverse cargo and people moving requirements. Plus, of course, there’s the imperative of accomplishing these goals in the most fuel-efficient way possible.
The Metris is fitted with two sliding side cargo doors and two traditional rear cargo doors. A passenger version with seating for up to eight is also offered. The cargo version can carry 186 cubic feet of cargo, has a 2,502 pound payload capacity, and can tow up to 4,960 pounds. It has a reasonable 38.7 foot turning diameter for in-town maneuverability and it can fit in a standard garage.
Power is supplied by a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine offering 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque. It’s coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission with standard shift paddles. An ECO Start/Stop is optional. The Metris cargo van delivers an EPA estimated 21 city and 24 highway mpg with the passenger version offering a slight drop to 20/23 mpg. The passenger version does offer enhanced functionality since its seats are removable to make way for cargo-hauling duties as needed.
Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, and a load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program are standard on both cargo and passenger versions. The cargo version features six airbags while the passenger van features eight. A long list of advanced options is also available. These include convenience and safety features like Active Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, and Blind Spot Assist, plus parking sensors and a rearview camera.
At 29,945 the Metris cargo van is about $2,500 less than its base Sprinter counterpart, with the $33,495 Metris passenger version coming in about $7,000 fewer greenbacks than its larger sibling. All in all, the Metris presents a pretty compelling case for businesses that like the Sprinter but have wished for something a bit more compact.