With the introduction of the 2014 Ford Transit, and the introduction of the new 2014 Ram ProMaster, an Americanized version of the popular Fiat Ducato to the U.S. market, Mercedes-Benz is starting to feel the heat to update its commercial standard-bearer, the Sprinter van. In an unusual twist, the company itself is releasing photos of a camouflaged next-gen Sprinter prototype demonstrating its new safety features.
Many of the safety features that will be included on the new Sprinter are already in many of Mercedes' passenger cars, including collision prevention assist, rearview camera, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, high beam assist, and one that will be especially appreciated by drivers of the tall van, crosswind assist.
The blind spot assist and rearview camera are especially useful in the panel versions of the van, which have limited side and rear visibility. The rearview camera will be roof-mounted on cargo versions for maximum visibility. Although touted as an "available" feature, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has advocated for mandatory rearview cameras on all vehicles by 2014, although full implementation may not come until a few years afterward.
The new Sprinter is still very much the tall, functional workhorse it's always been. The grille appears to be a little deeper, but is still instantly recognizable as a Sprinter. Powertrain details were not mentioned, but a Bluetec diesel of some sort will certainly continue to be the staple powerplant. The Sprinter is offered with a choice of I-4 and V-6 diesels in Europe and other overseas markets. The sole engine and transmission combination offered on the U.S.-spec Sprinter is a 188-hp 3.0-liter V-6 diesel, and a five-speed automatic transmission. The next-generation model could get a seven-speed transmission, as well as a slight power bump for the V-6 diesel, or even the offering of a four-cylinder diesel in the U.S.