It seems that I've become the default van man here at Motor Trend. For the second year in a row, I've been assigned to the largest vehicle in our long-term fleet. Some staffers might shy away from this (and others have), but my Idaho upbringing has prepared me to jump out of Nissan's NV and into the captain's chair of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Our Sprinter is of the 2500 variant, meaning a 3-liter turbo-diesel V-6 turns the 16-inch rear wheels. It only produces 188 hp, but a solid 325 lb-ft of torque is on hand to shuttle heavy loads from stop to stop. Managing the system is a five-speed automatic transmission that slides to the left for changing gears manually.

Aside from the Sprinter's size, the first thing I noticed is the lack of features. It's far easier to list what it does have -- a driver's side power window -- than what it doesn't. With a wheelbase of 144 inches and an overall length of 232 inches, the lack of a backup camera and proximity sensors are a glaring omission that will make it a challenge to navigate the small coastal town where I live. Fortunately, the two large rear windows combined with the large side windows provide adequate visibility, though I'm not sure it'll be enough to help with parallel parking.

The lack of parking aids will certainly be a regular annoyance, but I predict the absence of power mirrors will be the most irritating. It might seem like a weird thing to gripe about, but with this van in our fleet for a year, many different people of different sizes will be getting behind the wheel and will need to adjust, sit down, check, get up, adjust, sit down, check, etc.

Of course all of my initial complaints about the Sprinter can easily be fixed with options, so I'm not too concerned with what's missing. Instead, I'm looking forward to seeing how this van fares in the role it was built for: hauling stuff and people with ease. The nice mix of cargo room and a single removable bench seat will make this the go-to rig for staff moving households, and productions that require lots of gear and people to travel together. It's going to be an interesting year.


2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Bluetec
BASE PRICE $38,665
PRICE AS TESTED $38,665
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 3-door van
ENGINE 3.0L/188-hp/325-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 5-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5220 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 144.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 232.5 x 79.7 x 107.5 in
0-60 MPH 10.5 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.9 sec @ 75.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 131 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.62 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 31.9 sec @ 0.46 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON Not rated