2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 BlueTec Update 2
The Swiss Army Van
Having been part of our long-term fleet for some time now, the Sprinter has been pulling double duty regularly -- friendly commuter by day for me and indomitable workhorse for those in need by weekend.
Not too long ago, my friends and hosts of "On Two Wheels," Ari Henning and Zack Courts, borrowed the Sprinter for a 1,000-mile round trip to Thunder Hill Raceway in Northern California. The van was loaded with motorcycles, parts, tools, food, and coolers, and Ari's notes hit the nail on the head:
"With the passenger seats removed, the Sprinter offered plenty of floor space for all our kit, which included three motorcycles (one a wee little 50), a generator, riding gear, gas cans, spare tires and wheels, a cooler, and loads of other equipment.
Compared to the Ford (a 2010 a 4.6-liter V-8), the Spinter is a rocket. That 3.0-liter diesel has so much more torque, and besides a little turbo lag at lower rpm, it's got much better throttle response. We were pleased with the handling, too. We assumed the Sprinter had a high COG due to its tall design, and with such a load, we expected the van to sway and wander down the freeway. Nope. It was stable, smooth, and handled wonderfully, putting our unloaded E-150 to shame in terms of line-holding and ride quality. The suspension is quite good, with a compliant ride that resists body sway. I commended Zack on an excellent, rattle-free packing job, but the truth is it's the Spinter's suspension that kept everything quite and still. The Sprinter drives more like a midsize pickup than a van, with accurate steering and a surprisingly tight turning radius (much tighter than the E-150's).
Not only is the Sprinter more capacious and significantly faster than our Ford, it's also substantially more fuel-efficient. We averaged 18-20 mpg during the course of our 1000-mile trip. Compare that to the 12-14 mpg we get with the Ford and the fact that diesel (at the time) was quite a bit cheaper than gasoline, and we were surprised and pleased with our fuel bill at the end of the journey. Needless to say, we'd really like to replace our Ford with a Sprinter.
There were a few things that annoyed us about the Mercedes, however. The A/C proved unpredictable, which was problematic considering the 100-degree temperatures we experienced during the 8-hour drive to the track. Sometimes the A/C worked great and cranked out frigid air, but most of the time it just wept cool air despite the fan being turned to the maximum. The fact that there's no unlock button on the door is also frustrating, and where's the cruise control?
The Sprinter was a magnet for van geeks at gas stations, at the racetrack, and even at our motel, where a guy walked up to inspect the rig as soon as we pulled up. Few people appreciate a good transport rig as much as motorcycle racers, and at the track the Sprinter was clearly the envy of pickup- and van-driving riders. With a huge cargo area and high ceiling, the Sprinter served as changing room, lunch room, and nap area during the weekend. With a few modifications (wheel chocks, storage cabinets, etc.), the Sprinter could easily be made into the ultimate bike-hauler" -- Ari Henning
|2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew Van|
|Service life:||7 mo/12,038 mi|
|Avg CO2:||1.05 lb/mi|
|Energy cons:||183 kW-hr/100mi|
|Maintenance cost:||$460.59 (oil change, ad-blue top-off, inspection)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ:||N/A|
|Average Fuel Econ:||18.4 mpg|