By Matt Degen
The 2016 Sprinter is a large commercial hauler from Mercedes-Benz's vans division. Available in a variety of wheelbases and roof heights and with the ability to carry ample cargo or passengers, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a versatile workhorse. In addition to its use as a delivery vehicle or passenger shuttle, the Sprinter can be customized to be an RV, emergency vehicle or even a utility truck thanks to its availability as a cab chassis. In addition to its brand cachet, the Sprinter stands out from the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV with its diesel engines, available 4-wheel drive (4WD) and innovative safety features. Long the premium contender with a price that matched, the new Sprinter Worker offers a lower entry price.
The Sprinter line of commercial vans shines with their stout but efficient diesel engines, available 4WD, 20,000-mile service intervals, and the sheer level of service and prestige that comes with a Mercedes-Benz. If you want a commercial hauler with premium appeal, this is it.
Even with the new entry price of under $34,000, the Mercedes Sprinter is pricier than rivals. A Nissan NV starts under $28,000. You'll also have to go with a competitor if you don't want a diesel engine, which Mercedes uses exclusively in this lineup. Sprinter too big? Try the new Mercedes Metris.
2016 marks the debut of the Sprinter Worker, a simplified Mercedes cargo van. Offered in the shortest wheelbase (144 inches) and with standard roof height, this model is aimed at workman and businesses on a budget. Other 2016 models get additional airbags, and 4WD Sprinters gain Downhill Speed Regulation.
For such a monstrous mover, the Mercedes Sprinter is easier to drive than you may expect. No matter which Sprinter you choose, it offers good maneuverability (relatively speaking) and highway...
... manners. The rear suspension, however, remains quite rough. The driving position is good, and the Sprinter's tall height grants a vast view out front. The base 2.1-liter 4-cylinder diesel is impressive in how well it moves this big van's mass, but it takes time getting up to speed. The diesel V6 is a better option for both general acceleration and towing capability, which is rated up to 7,500 pounds. 4WD models are powered exclusively by that engine. During our time pummeling one of those vans off-pavement, it had no problem with grip. The high-roof Sprinters are more of a handful, and at nearly nine feet tall you have to be mindful what you drive under. Do opt for the rearview camera.
If you want a 4WD cargo van, the Sprinter is now your only option. Whether you use yours for getting to an off-highway worksite or as a rugged family adventure mobile, the 4WD Sprinter offers better traction and can even be had with low-range gearing for only a few hundred dollars more.
The tallest and longest 2016 Sprinter van is 10 feet tall and 24 feet long, so high winds spell trouble. The standard Crosswind Assist safety feature uses the Mercedes Sprinter’s electronic stability control to push back against Mother Nature.
Professional drivers and private owners alike will both appreciate the Sprinter van’s driver’s seat, seating position and view of the instrument panel. The seat is firmer and offers far more support than those found on most commercial vehicles. Cargo models have seating for two or three up front and a blank hull in back for hauling or upfitting, while Sprinter crew vans have seating for five and still at least 220.1 cubic feet of cargo volume. Passenger models can accommodate up to 12 people. At its most spacious, an extended-length, super-high-roof Sprinter van boasts over 586 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Mercedes boasts that the Sprinter was ahead of its time when it brought its pragmatic, high-roof, European style to the U.S. years ago. Now, rivals like the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster have followed suit. It should be no surprise that form follows function for the Sprinter, as it's a rolling rectangle on wheels with a short hood. Three roof heights and three lengths are available, expanding the size of that rectangle -- and more important, the size inside -- considerably. At its largest, the Sprinter is over 24 feet long and 10 feet high.
The new, base Sprinter Worker is the simplest model in the lineup, a cargo van available only in white. Along with a diesel engine, its major standard features include power windows, air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The van also features the Load-Adaptive Electronic Stability Program that takes into account load and center of gravity to optimize control when traction is compromised.
Like Mercedes' luxury vehicles, many options are available for the Sprinter cargo van. Unlike Mercedes' cars, however, outside of the heated faux leather seats, most options are aimed at pragmatics and safety. Among the options we most recommend are a rearview camera and parking-aid system. Other recommendable extras are blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and collision-prevention assist. Navigation is also available. Four-wheel drive is available, as is a more powerful diesel V6 engine.
The 2016 Sprinter van is available with a choice of turbocharged diesel engines. Standard is a 2.1-liter 4-cylinder that makes 161 horsepower and an impressive 265 lb-ft of torque. It is coupled to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Optional is a 188-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 that boasts peak torque of 325 lb-ft and is coupled to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Sprinter is rear-wheel drive (2WD) by nature, with 4-wheel drive optional The 4-cylinder diesel is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the V6 is rated to pull up to 7,500 pounds in the Sprinter 3500 Heavy Duty. Mercedes' BlueTEC diesel engines require injections of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at service intervals to help curb emissions.
2.1-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
161 horsepower @ 3,800 rpm
265 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400-2,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
188 horsepower @ 3,800 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
With the introduction of the Sprinter Worker, price of entry for Mercedes' big work van just got more digestible. That base model has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $33,490. That's $4,000 less than the previous base cargo van. Of course, the Sprinter Worker is limited in features and comes only in white. Passenger models start just under $42,000. These prices can rise by $10,000 and even $20,000 depending on model and options. Not too surprisingly, Mercedes' commercial vans are pricier than those from Ford, Nissan and Ram, though with the introduction of the Worker, that gap has narrowed. A Ford Transit starts just over $32,000, while the Nissan NV is under $28,000. To make sure you're getting the best deal, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price. Given the Mercedes name and its strong diesel engines, we expect the Sprinter's resale value to be better than that of its rivals.