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2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4

Alternative Lifestyle

Jul 17, 2016
Photographers: Brett T. Evans, K. Christian Evans
For a small business owner, his or her work truck needs to serve as a one-size-fits-all machine. From 9 to 5, a truck needs to haul lumber, plumbing supplies, or any number of parts, accessories, and tools in the bed. Then, once quitting time hits, the aforementioned business owner may need to help shuttle kids to after-school activities. And on Friday afternoon, the whole family might pack up and take off for a camping trip till Sunday morning.
In that vein, allow us at Work Truck Review to suggest you replace your pickup with this Jupiter Red beauty, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Crew Van 4x4.
Most people in the work truck industry know the Sprinter, but many write it off as either a cargo van or a hotel-shuttle special. Little do they know about the Crew Van, which neatly splits the difference between the two. Featuring a lone bench seat aft of the front passenger buckets, the Crew Van seats up to five, and perforations in the cargo floor reveal mounting brackets, should the owner wish to add more seats in the future. Fixed windows in the sliding glass door and in the body panel on the opposite side increase visibility for rear-seat passengers and driver alike, while also alleviating carsickness for those in the back.
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And new last year is an option package that upfits the formerly rear-drive Sprinter to a bona fide off-roader. The $6,500 package fits temporary all-wheel drive behind the Sprinter’s turbodiesel V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, and an additional $300 adds a low-range transfer case to the mix. As we experienced, the combination turns the Sprinter into a capable, adept, and surprisingly stable machine when the going gets rough.
Sophisticated traction and stability controls seem optimized for low-grip off-roading, as they shuffled power between wheels unobtrusively and without a conspicuous loss of power. A stiff chassis and limited wheel travel often turned the Sprinter into a tripod on our washout-heavy mountain road, but the disconcerting seesaw motions had no negative effect on our forward motion.
So, it can handle your family’s camping trips. But what of honest-to-goodness, Monday-through-Friday work?
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With a length of 101.2 inches, a wheelhouse width of 53.1 inches, and an overall width of 70.1 inches, the Sprinter Crew’s cargo space swallows larger objects than even the 8-foot bed of a Ford F-150, which measures smaller than a Sprinter’s cargo bay in nearly every metric. Furthermore, our low-roof Sprinter features 64.1 inches of interior standing height. That’s not quite enough for most people to stand fully upright, but it is enough weatherproof space to operate a chopsaw kneeling down, meaning the work can continue when the sky begins to fall. For those who want more, a high-roof option has 75.1 inches of standing height.
In terms of capability, the Sprinter 4x4 Crew can haul 2,983 pounds worth of payload, which is comparable to or better than nearly every ½-ton truck on the market today. Only a few configurations of the Ford F-150 outhaul it. Where the Sprinter falls short, however, is in towing. At just 5,000 pounds, the Sprinter could easily handle a family-sized boat, a few jetskis, or a small camp trailer, but anything more would tax the platform. Conversely, nearly every half-tonner (and some midsizers) on the market today can haul at least 5,000 pounds, with properly equipped models towing between 7,000 and 12,000 pounds. Among fullsize trucks, the Sprinter only outhauls the base-model Ram 1500.
Still, if towing isn’t your thing, you may be pleased by the Crew Van’s impressive ride and handling. Tracking on the highway is a non-issue, even on the coastal route we enjoyed, stiff ocean breezes be damned. It’s clear the Sprinter was designed for high-speed German highways, because its composure at speed is much better than should be expected for such a large work vehicle.
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Interior noise was reasonable considering we were driving a mobile echo chamber, and our passengers loved the up-high vantage point stemming from the impressively tall hip point and ground clearance. Inside the van, our only complaint stems from the infotainment system. The Becker Map Pilot is nowhere near worthy of the price it commands, and the speakers have terribly tinny sound, even considering the vehicle they’re installed in. Were it our money, we’d go without factory-installed sound and instead head to a car audio specialist after taking delivery.
Obviously, the Sprinter’s personality isn’t for everyone, and its height precludes it from almost every parking garage—your house included. And with a starting price of $49,160 for the 4x4, the Crew Van is significantly more expensive than other companies’ work truck offerings; it is a Benz, after all. But its interior size cannot be ignored, nor can the fun factor that comes with driving such a unique vehicle. And if you think Chevy or Ford fanboys are a devoted crew, just wait till you pass another Sprinter on the road. Honks, waves, and headlight flashes are a common delight. It’s not a good fit for everyone, but the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Crew Van 4x4 is perfect for some.
2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Crew Van 4x4
Vehicle Type: Fullsize all-wheel-drive cargo/passenger van
Base Price: $46,665 (4x4)
Price as Tested: $57,440
Drivetrain: 3.0L turbocharged V-6 diesel engine; five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift function
Horsepower: 188 hp at 3,800 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft at 1,400 rpm
Overall Length: 233.3 inches Overall Width: 79.7 inches
Overall Height: 96 inches
Wheelbase: 144.3 inches
Fuel Capacity: 24.5 gallons
Curb Weight: 5,567 pounds
Our Mileage, 572-mile trip: 15.8 mpg
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Pros & Cons
Pros: Surprisingly easy to drive, cavernous cargo and passenger space, excellent off-road talents, surf-town street cred
Cons: Tippy during even moderate cornering, too high for most garages and drive-thrus, interior plastics appropriate for a work van but not for a family car, sticker shock
Our Take: With Euro-quirky style, tons of capabilities, and an easy around-town demeanor, it’s the perfect vehicle for work, play, and errands. Just be prepared to pay.
Interior Dimensions
Seating: 5 people
Headroom: Roughly one stratosphere
Front legroom: Chaise lounge
Rear legroom: Practically unlimited
Front shoulder room: A canyon
Rear shoulder room: Good enough
Luggage capacity: 217 cubic feet with rear seat installed
Pricing
Base price: $38,270
Optional Equipment
-Chrome trim radiator grille: $232
-Heated driver seat: $248
-Heated passenger seat: $248
-Illuminated exits: $132
-Driver/passenger thorax airbag: $359
-Driver/passenger window airbag: $616
-Electric sliding step: $935
-Rear door left assist handle: $25
-Rear door right assist handle: $25
-Driver Comfort Package: $546
-Driver Efficiency Package: $1,485
-Active Safety Plus Package with Parktronic: $2,545
-Premium Appearance Package: $360
-High Idle Variable Package: $632
-Crew Van Heating Package: $840
-Low and High Range 4x4 Package: $6,800
-V-6/five-speed automatic [required for 4x4]: $985
Destination charge: $995
Price as tested: $57,440
Warranty Coverage
New vehicle limited warranty: Three years/36,000 miles
Corrosion perforation: Three years
Final assembly point: Dusseldorf, Germany/Charleston, South Carolina
NHTSA Crash Test Ratings: Not rated
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings: Not rated
Observed Fuel Economy, 572-mile test: 15.8 mpg
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