Low-Cost Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Worker Brings Fight to Ford Transit
New Base Model Costs $4,000 Less Than Regular Sprinter
Segment creep (the year-over-year price increases most vehicles experience) isn’t welcome anywhere, but nowhere is it most repellant than in work vans. When managing a fleet of a few (or a few dozen) vehicles, a price increase of just a few hundred bucks each can spell financial doom for a small business.
Well, Mercedes-Benz has some good news. Its sterling Sprinter van will have a new base model, the 2016 Worker, and it starts a whopping $4,000 less than the former cheapest Sprinter. At $32,495 (before destination), the Sprinter Worker is still a bit dearer than the Ford Transit, which starts at just over $30,000, and the Ram ProMaster, at just less than $29,000.
However, the Sprinter Worker is larger than both, and it comes with a standard four-cylinder diesel engine and seven-speed automatic transmission, a powertrain combo that’s been well received since its debut for the 2014 model year. The 2.1L I-4 in the Sprinter Worker only makes 161 hp, but the 7G-TRONIC gearbox does a good job of keeping the engine in its powerband. The upside of the small-displacement diesel is fuel economy that easily crests 23 mpg, based on user-reported statistics quoted by Mercedes.
Economy isn’t the whole story with this engine, though. With 266 lb-ft of torque available at just 1,400 rpm, the Sprinter feels as capable as any large van should. Max towing comes in at 5,000 pounds, with a total payload rating of 3,512 pounds. The Worker will only be available with a 144-inch wheelbase and standard-height roof, but Mercedes claims this is the most popular body configuration for the van. And you can get the Worker in any color you like, as long as it’s white (again, a popular choice for many van owners).
Three packages will be available for owners who want or need extra equipment in their base vans, each building off one another. The low-spec Convenience Package comes with niceties like cruise control, automatic windshield wipers, and trailer pre-wiring, at a cost of $1,499. A Utility Package costs $2,999, but it includes the Convenience package, plus wood flooring in the cargo area, rear cargo door glass, a rear step, and assist handles, among other things. The Overtime Package ($4,499) is the most expensive, bringing the other packages’ contents, plus upgraded audio, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, a rear camera, a first-aid kit, and an emergency flashlight.
With ordering simplified by the options packages and one-body, one-color configuration, the Worker should be a good choice for many fleet operators. Although not the cheapest option, it does offer plenty of bang for the buck, and let’s be honest: Every van owner secretly wishes he or she had a Sprinter.
The Worker is available at Mercedes-Benz van franchises immediately.