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2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris First Drive

Mercedes-Benz brings a new midsize van Stateside

Colin Ryan
Oct 2, 2015
Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturer
There's a less glamorous side to Mercedes-Benz. It's not all sleek sedans, leather upholstery, and powerful engines. We see it in the United States in the form of the Sprinter fullsize commercial van. Europeans see even more thanks to excellent cab-over tractor units. But a low glamour quotient doesn't detract from the high usefulness of the company's work-truck offerings.
Photo 2/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Passenger Side Rear View
Now a new addition has arrived, the Metris, a midsize van that comes in cargo and passenger versions. It slots in below the Sprinter but is bigger than the Ford Transit Connect—which makes it easy to drive around the city but still able to hold a useful payload. It's assembled in Spain and based on a platform sold elsewhere in the world as the V-Class, so it's already a tried-and-tested quantity.
Before we get into the differences, let's look at what both versions have in common. They use the same drivetrain: a 2.0L four-cylinder engine turbocharged to make 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Quite modest figures, but at least it means the engine is not being stressed, so reliability shouldn't suffer. Anyway, it's perfectly adequate for driving around town and into the 'burbs. Mercedes-Benz recommends using 91-octane gas for greatest efficiency, but the engine will still run within acceptable tolerances on 87-octane.
Photo 3/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Passenger Side View
This unit is linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. It functions almost imperceptibly, with smoothness much like the three-pointed star's luxury cars. Unlike the newer Sprinter, there's no current option for all-wheel drive, nor are there any EPA fuel consumption figures yet, but averaging 28 mpg on longer runs would certainly be possible. The optional Eco mode features stop-start technology, which helps with fuel use in town. Speaking of towns, the Metris enjoys a relatively compact turning circle of 38.7 feet wall to wall.
Photo 4/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Bacseats
We'll have to wait and see how the total cost of ownership and residual value shake out, but let's use the Sprinter as an example. For three years running (2012, 2013, and 2014), this van has won the Best Fleet Value award from Vincentric (an auto industry analyst company), and the Automotive Lease Guild (ALG) recognized it as having the highest resale value in its class for 2015.
The point here is that Mercedes-Benz can make a van that works well at multiple levels. The company realizes it's not set up to play the big-quantity production game in the same way Ford and GM are and therefore made the decision to concentrate on quality instead, which also includes the quality of interaction with customers. Part of that approach is quick servicing turnarounds at 15,000-mile intervals so the vehicle isn't sitting in the shop for too long, since it can't contribute to the business when it's up on the ramps.
Photo 8/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Interior
Standard equipment for both cargo and passenger models includes crosswind assist. This is something only Mercedes-Benz offers (it's on the Sprinter, too), and it's an ingenious feature that prevents the van from being blown off course by automatically braking individual wheels. Load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program and driver attention assist are also part of the inventory. Among the options are satellite navigation, rearview camera, lane-keeping assist, blind spot alert, collision prevention assist, and a self-parking function that can maneuver the van into perpendicular as well as parallel spaces.
From a driver's perspective, the Metris is a pleasure. The experience is similar to a crossover SUV: quiet cabin, comfortable yet composed ride, and an elevated driving position. Because the front axle is quite close to the driver seat, the steering feels direct and precise. And although the steering wheel adjusts for height only, finding a decent driving position is no problem. The dash design looks like it came from the less expensive end of the car division from a few years back, but it's functional and easy enough on the eye. The overall tranquility and support is ideal for someone who is in the van for most of the working day and can't afford to feel fatigued.
Photo 9/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Driver Side View
There are no options on vehicle length or height for either model, but that can be a good thing. It's OK to enter multilevel parking structures, and the Metris might even fit into some home garages. Total height is 75.2 inches, width is 88.3 inches (including mirrors), and length is 202.4 inches.
The cargo version is a two-seater with a maximum volume of 186 cubic feet. In anticipation of carrying a total payload of 2,502 pounds, the suspension is tuned a little firmer than the passenger version, but it's still completely comfortable. The loadspace itself is 111.5 inches deep (including a through-loading partition), 66.3 inches wide, and 55 inches high, while a wooden floor is standard—which helps to keep noise levels low. Access to this space is through a sliding passenger-side door (or optional dual sliding doors) or Dutch doors at the rear that open out 270 degrees.
Photo 10/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Passenger Side Profile
Towing capacity is 4,960 pounds (this applies to both models) and the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 6,724 pounds.
The passenger version seats up to eight, with sliding doors on each side as standard; powered side doors are optional. There's a choice of 180-degree rear doors or a tailgate (no power tailgate option available). Because of its people-carrying duty, this model has full-length side airbags. Passengers in the back can also enjoy air conditioning vents set into the D-pillar. It is possible to remove the second and third rows of seats for those times when extra cargo volume is needed, but they're heavy and not the sort of operation to perform on a regular basis. Maximum payload for this model is 1,874 pounds. Pricing starts at $29,945 for the cargo version; $33,495 for the passenger model. Both figures include destination charges.
Photo 11/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Cargo Area
LIKE: Nice size, quiet cabin, easy drive
DISLIKE: No diesel option, no power tailgate option, equipment packages get pricey
2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris
Base Price: $29,945 (cargo); $33,495 (passenger)
Vehicle Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2/8-pass, commercial van
Engines: 2.0L, 208 hp/258 lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 4,222 to 4,850 pounds
Wheelbase: 126 inches
0-60 MPH: N/A
EPA City/HWY Fuel Econ: N/A
Photo 12/12   |   2016 Mercedes Benz Metris First Drive Driver Side View

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