It all started a few months back when I promised my girlfriend's mom I'd help her move. While normally that'd be the beginning, and the end, of the story, my girlfriend's family just so happens to live more than 600 miles north of Los Angeles, meaning I'd need a vehicle that could both haul plenty and tackle 1200 miles or so in a weekend. Our long-term Ram 1500 was my first choice, but it was out on an assignment. That left the MT Garage's two vans: the Nissan NV200 and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

I'll spare you the details, but the Sprinter won, since it might be able to fit an NV200 in the cargo area.

To say I was apprehensive about taking the Sprinter on a sprint (ahem) up the coast would be an understatement, because despite the Tri-Star badge on the grille, our long-term Sprinter is as stripped-down as strippers get. Plus I was a concerned about poor ride quality without any weight over the rear axle. Plus 600 miles is a long way to go without any real amenities. Anyways, we'll loop back to how well the Sprinter tackles the long-haul in the next update; this one will focus on how well our van does its number-one job: hauling things.

After a 600-mile run to NorCal the night before, my girlfriend and I woke up early to start loading the van for the move, because we had an important errand to make first. We headed to a small farm nearby, parked the Sprinter among some heavy-duty pickup trucks, and picked up our new nine-week-old black lab puppy, Brooklyn. Nothing makes the Sprinter's cargo hold look more massive than a pint-sized pup. The pup would find the massive cargo hold, and the Sprinter's rear bench seat, a nice place to hang out while we loaded the van with furniture and boxes.

Though we debated removing the rear bench seat (a two-man job, but tools aren’t necessary), we opted to leave it. We still found the Sprinter offered plenty of room. Loading big, bulky items did prove to be a bit of a chore, as the Sprinter sports a pretty high load height. I'm just more than 6 feet tall, and found the bumper to be about level with my knee, necessitating a big leap to get in; the lack of a grab-handle in back didn't help.

While the load height was a minor annoyance, our Sprinter's load floor helped make the job easier. The flooring material gives shoes enough traction to do heavy lifting, while still allowing couches, chairs, and boxes to slide around as we packed the van from floor to ceiling. The variety of tie-downs around the cargo area was also helpful.

Loaded with furniture, boxes, and a puppy, the Sprinter's 155-hp and 325 lb-ft turbodiesel V-6 hardly seemed to notice the loads it was hauling throughout the day. Torque was available on demand, and the five-speed automatic was well up to the challenge of helping the van get up hills and control its speed on the way down. Our long-term van proved to be a more than capable hauler.

Stay tuned for how it handled the long-haul.


2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew Van
Service life: 8 mo/13,788 mi
Avg CO2: 1.05 lb/mi
Energy cons: 183 kW-hr/100mi
Unresolved problems: None
Maintenance cost: $460.59 (oil change, ad-blue top-off, inspection)
Normal-wear cost: $0
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ: N/A
Average Fuel Econ: 18.4 mpg