While it has sported many badges since it first arrived here for 2001... Freightliner, Mercedes-Benz, and even Dodge; the Sprinter has changed the commercial van market here in the U.S. forever, by opening the door to European-style high-roof workhorses to replace the traditional truck-based vans. So let’s get to work and find out what’s next for the sprinter.
Well, we’re actually back to the Mercedes-Benz label for the Sprinter these days, and last year saw it kick off its 3rd generation.
The big news for 2020 is a new turbo-diesel engine. It’s a 2.0-liter I4 with 161-horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque, and is available in rear-wheel-drive Cargo Vans; working with a 7-speed automatic transmission.
That’s good news for you fans of the 188-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 diesel and it’s max towing capability of 7,500-lbs., as the 2.0-liter does not replace it, just gives you an additional and more fuel efficient offering to go along with this 2.0-liter I4 gas engine as well.
The turbocharged gasoline 2.0-liter boasts 188-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque and comes with the only 9-speed automatic transmission in the segment; max towing for it is 5,000-lbs.
Like most commercial vehicles, there’s a wide variety of configurations to choose from. Two roof heights are available and three overall lengths, with a choice of either 144-inch or 170-inch wheelbases; so you can get as much or as little Sprinter as you need to get your particular job done.
Our setup is the 2500 short wheelbase high roof in Crew configuration, which is the preferred arrangement if you’ve got both people and material to haul to the job site. There’s seating for 5 and 262 cubic-ft. of space in the cargo hold; and yes it does come in other colors than white. Our Calcite Yellow tester quickly earned the nickname “Big Bird,” but that just may be the PBS in us.
No one buys a commercial van strictly for the driving experience, but this Sprinter has proven to be better than most. It does have a stiff ride unless you put some weight over the rear suspension; but that’s how it was designed to operate.
Some of our staff felt it wandered around a bit too much going down the road, but the usual big van wind buffeting has been mostly engineered away with Crosswind Assist built into the stability control system.
It’s still not the easiest van to climb in and out of, even with the optional electric sliding step and grab handles; but the driver’s space is ergonomically-optimized according to Mercedes-Benz; and we’d agree.
From the available multi-function steering wheel, to the optional 10-inch touchscreen, and the various traditional controls, everything is within easy reach and not distracting to use.
The seat itself, with the added Comfort Package, is indeed comfortable.
Multiple USB ports for charging are standard, as is Mercedes PRO connect digital fleet solutions; enabling GPS with real-time tracking and constant connectivity with home base.
And speaking of fleets, if you’ve gotten an Amazon Prime or FedEX package delivered lately, chances are it spent some time in a Sprinter.
Safety systems are on par with most passenger cars these days, from Active Distance cruise control, to Lane Keeping Assist, and even Attention Assist that makes sure you’re alert behind the wheel. A basic back-up camera is standard, but there are multiple options all the way up to a full 360-degree camera system available to help you in parking, or even navigating tight alleyways or loading docks.
Being a commercial vehicle, Government Fuel Economy Ratings aren’t required, but we averaged what we feel is a very good 23.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. A 22-gallon fuel tank is standard.
Cargo Van pricing starts at $35,990 for a short wheelbase gas 2.0-liter, and ranges to over $50,000 for a long-wheelbase heavy-duty diesel. Crew Vans start at $40,890, and Passenger Vans at $42,590. But, that price is really for just a blank canvas; with so much customization available, expect to pay more to outfit your Sprinter to your needs. Our 2500 Crew started out at $41,290, but was over $55,000 with options.
The original Sprinter proved that there was indeed a better way; with a van that was more maneuverable, more comfortable, and offered lower true cost of ownership. And not only have American business owners embraced it, but other manufacturers have followed suit. This 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter proves that like most of the small businesses they provide vans to, Mercedes is still working harder to make your life easier, and more efficient. And that’s just good business.
Torque: 266 lb-ft.