Whether it was the competitive pressure of the new 2014 Ford Transit and, at least in the U.S. market, Ram ProMaster -- or whether it was already slated for a regularly-scheduled refresh, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter gets the van's first comprehensive update since 2007.
The Sprinter's basic configuration is largely unchanged, but some significant changes help keep it competitive. Though the combination of a 188-hp, 325-lb-ft, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 and a five-speed automatic remains, it's by a commercial-tune version of Mercedes' new 2.1-liter turbodiesel I-4 found under the hood of the 2014 GLK250 Bluetec and 2014 E250 Bluetec sedan.
In the Sprinter, this engine produces 161 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a new seven-speed automatic transmission to make the most of its output. If that output seems meager in the context of the Sprinter, keep in mind the first-generation Sprinter's 2.7-liter I-5 diesel only made 154 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque, an output most users found sufficient. Although the European fuel economy test is and the Sprinter is officially exempt from EPA testing by virtue of its over-8600 GVWR, Mercedes-Benz claims an eye-popping fuel economy rating of 37.34 mpg.
In Europe, the Sprinter will get a gasoline engine option in addition to the two diesel choices. If you thought the four-cylinder's 2.1-liter displacement was miniscule for the behemoth Sprinter, in Europe, the optional gasser is a supercharged 1.8-liter I-4 good for 156 hp. It will be offered with a choice of a six-speed manual or the seven-speed automatic available with the 2.1 diesel.
Technology plays a starring role in the Sprinter's redesign. The van gets standard Crosswind Assist, optional Collision Prevention Assist and Blind Spot Assist, as well as Lane Keeping Assist and Highbeam Assist. Aside from these safety and stability aids, newly optional is iPod integration, a navigation system, and, on 3500-series models, air suspension.
Additionally, the chassis of the 2014 Sprinter has been lowered to ease cargo loading and accessibility as well as reduce drag, improving fuel economy. Although immediately recognizable as a Sprinter, the front end features a larger grille and headlights with LED turn signals, with the fascia more in-line with the style of Mercedes' newer passenger-car models.
The 2014 Sprinter will go on-sale in the U.S. later this fall.