As mentioned in the last Mercedes-Benz Sprinter update, a few months back I promised my girlfriend's mom that I'd help her move. While that's all well and good, my girlfriend's family lives in Northern California, some 600 miles away from Los Angeles. That meant I needed a vehicle that not only could handle hauling boxes and furniture efficiently, but also be practical and comfortable enough for a long road trip.
Our long-term Ram 1500 was my first choice, but was unavailable. That left our Sprinter and the Nissan NV200 as the only two vehicles in the fleet capable of handling the hauling. I was pretty close to picking the NV200, considering it's got a full infotainment suite, but remembered that our Sprinter could fit far more, so the diesel-powered Benz won out.
It took all of 30 minutes before I was convinced the Sprinter was the right choice for the trip. An hour later and clear of L.A. traffic, I was in love. Why? Because the Sprinter is absolutely superb on the highway. Its commercial-oriented suspension handles broken pavement admirably and keeps the ride comfortable, and despite its 82-mph speed limiter, the Sprinter's diesel V-6 has plenty of juice on tap to allow for passing. The Sprinter also has excellent visibility, thanks to its side and rear windows, making planning passing maneuvers even easier.
Our van is far from perfect, though. The Mercedes of vans only has a Chevy (or Ford) level of equipment. Sure, Mercedes offers an infotainment system on the 2014 model, but you’d expect a $39,000 Mercedes (let alone vehicle) to come with some sort of creature comforts, even if it is designed for work.
The journey back home -- girlfriend and our new puppy in tow -- went smoothly. Most of the Sprinter's issues – interior noise, for one, and its lack of infotainment system -- can be chalked up to our van being designed for nothing but work. That said, an infotainment system would go a long way toward making Sprinter drivers more at home on long trips, as would the optional auxiliary air conditioning unit, as the stock system felt like there was someone behind the dash blowing through a straw during the near 100-degree temperatures we encountered. One other potential concern for long trips: The passenger seat isn't height-adjustable, meaning my 5'3" girlfriend lost all feeling in her dangling legs by around the halfway point.
Ultimately our Sprinter proved to be such a capable long-hauler that I made a similar road trip in it about a month later. The combined fuel economy over almost 1900 miles of driving and hauling was an impressive 18.5 mpg. Though it may have had more amenities, the last van we had in the fleet, a Nissan NV2500, averaged only 14 mpg during its stay with us. In a growing segment, the Sprinter proves capable, efficient, and most important, versatile. It's tough to beat that.
|2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew Van|
|Service life:|| 9 mo/15,708 mi|
|Avg CO2:|| 1.05 lb/mi|
|Energy cons: ||182 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:|| 18.5 mpg|