By KBB.com Editors
Seeing as the aging fleet of Ford and GM vans can still get the job done, the notion of owning a Mercedes-Benz for your commercial hauling and people-moving needs might seem like overkill. But for those who believe "good enough" is not enough, there's the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. In addition to higher-quality interior materials, more customizability, and better fuel efficiency than its domestic rivals, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is remarkably maneuverable around town. On the practical front, the optional high-roof allows someone 6-foot-3 to stand upright within the cargo area, and the load-in height is the lowest in the segment. As a people-schlepper, the Sprinter lineup offers everything from a 12-passenger van to a shuttle-style MiniBus with seating for up to 18.
If you seek a commercial-grade vehicle capable of moving massive amounts of people or cargo, the Sprinter's laudable fuel economy, multitude of configurations (high-roof, 2500 or 3500 chassis, short or long wheelbase), and expansive cargo room will fulfill your utilitarian demands.
Less expensive newcomers like the Nissan NV and forthcoming Ram Promaster (available summer 2013) can match the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter step-for-step when it comes to versatility, customization, and driving dynamics. Furthermore, the 2014 Ram Promaster rates best-in-class for fuel economy.
Outside of a new preventative maintenance package, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter sees no changes of note.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van is surprisingly capable considering both its size and the rather small displacement of its 3.0-liter turbo diesel V6 engine. But, what the diesel lacks in...horsepower, it more than makes up for in torque, which is what you really need to pull a heavy vehicle like the Sprinter. Acceleration isn't quick, but it is steady and predictable. We're impressed at how quiet the Sprinter's diesel engine is, even under full throttle. Mercedes has tuned the Sprinter's suspension to be as smooth as possible while still delivering some stiffness in the areas of body lean and roll. Steering is a bit heavy at low speeds, but not so difficult that bulging biceps are required to turn the wheel. Despite its size, the 2013 Sprinter possesses a rather tight turning radius, an attribute most delivery drivers will hold in high regard.
The 3.0-liter V6 offers impressive pulling power and equally impressive fuel economy in a package that is both longer lasting and easier to maintain than traditional gasoline-powered engines.
Pre-packaged configurations for Hotel, Airport, Commuter and Paratransit make it easy to tailor the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to fit your transportation needs.
From behind the steering wheel, the Sprinter's Mercedes-Benz heritage is evident. The steering wheel, dash and instruments are distinctly MBs, as are the supportive high-back seats. Safety, an attribute on which Mercedes-Benz prides itself, is evident in the Sprinter's available front-seat and side-curtain airbags. The Sprinter's cavernous cargo bay can be configured to serve as a rolling workshop, a flat-floored carryall, or as a 12-passenger shuttle. There's also a MiniBus package with varying interior layouts including airport shuttle (sideways seating and interior luggage rack), hotel shuttle (center isle and paired seating with rear bench), and wheelchair accessible shuttle (open space between seats for wheelchair access and anchoring).Exterior
While it's fair to say it isn't going to win any concours d'elegance events, the Sprinter's beauty lies in its functionality. Owners can choose between a 144-inch and 170-inch wheelbase, as well as an extended rear and dually rear axle. If the standard 65-inch interior celling height won't suffice, the high-roof option adds another 13 inches. The Sprinter Cargo Van features full metal side panels and sliding side doors, while the Crew Van offers a glass window in the sliding door and solid panels from the door rearward. Passenger and MiniBus models incorporate large side windows for unimpeded outward visibility. Mercedes-Benz also offers a rich palette of paint colors ranging from Arctic White to the vivid Calcite Yellow.
Though most standard content varies by model (Cargo, Crew, or Passenger), all 2013 Sprinter vans come equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist control, air conditioning, a 5-speaker audio system (13 in the Passenger Van), 270-degree-opening rear doors, power windows and door locks (options on the Nissan NV), and remote keyless entry. The 5-passenger Crew Van includes a 3-spot rear bench seat, while Passenger Vans feature four rows of seats for a maximum occupancy of 12. The Passenger Van also adds rear ventilation ducts, privacy glass, and rear interior trim. Cargo Van models can be had in heavy-duty 3500 configuration, which ups the payload capacity and weight rating.
The options list for every Cargo, Crew, and Passenger Van includes a rear backup camera, cruise control, a heated windshield, 16-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system with a 5-inch LCD display and Bluetooth, high/low beam xenon headlights (a class exclusive), front-seat lumbar support, and front and rear sonar proximity sensors that alert the driver to nearby objects while parking. Cargo and Crew versions offer a variety of work-related features such as a spring-loaded rear bumper step, D-ring cargo straps, rack systems, additional bulkheads, a roof fan, cargo area lighting and 12-volt power outlets, and rubber floor coverings.
Unlike its competitors, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is available with only one engine and transmission combination. However, the Sprinter's lack of powertrain choices are no cause for alarm, as the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 coupled with a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic deliver a satisfying mix of power, efficiency and refinement. While the rear-wheel-drive platform provides ample traction in most driving conditions, those who frequently encounter extreme weather might express a preference for an all-wheel-drive-equipped Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana.
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6
188 horsepower @ 3,800 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A (Mercedes-Benz estimate: 24 mpg)
A base 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $37,000. The Crew Van starts around $39,000, with the 12-seat Passenger Van checking in just north of $41,000. Fully optioned long-wheelbase versions fitted with the high-roof can easily surpass $50,000, while loaded MiniBus models can push into the $80,000 range. In contrast, starting prices for the more traditional – albeit outdated – Ford and GM vans range from roughly $26,000 to $30,000. The Sprinter's closest competitor at the moment, the Nissan NV, begins at $26,000 and tops out close to $42,000. In terms of resale, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz is expected to hold above-average 5-year residuals, on par with the Nissan NV and far exceeding the values set by the Ford E-Series and Chevrolet Express.