By Mario Cywinski
By Mario Cywinski
When Mercedes-Benz entered the Canadian market with the second-generation Sprinter in 2010 (it was sold as a Dodge previously in Canada), the full-size cargo van market in Canada was vastly different than it is today. Ford was selling the E-Series, Nissan had not yet launched the NV in Canada, and the Ram ProMaster was being sold in Europe as the Fiat Ducato.
Today, Ford has the Transit, which comes in many different configurations, ditto for the Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV, with the GMC Savana/Chevrolet Express having a loyal following. Competition for the Sprinter has never been fiercer.
Having driven the previous generation Mercedes Sprinter on a plethora of occasions, on ice, on paved roads, on dirt roads, fully upfitted – you name it – it felt like I knew almost everything there was to know about the vehicle. However, with growing competition in the full-size van segment, Mercedes decided it was time to redesign the Sprinter to make it even more competitive.
Mercedes provided a Sprinter 2500 Cargo Van 144” as a test vehicle, as this is one of the most popular configurations for customers. It comes with enough space with the high roof to clean out a garage full of cargo. It was outfitted with a V-6 diesel engine that provides 325 foot/pounds of torque and 188 horsepower to get the vehicle full of payload moving.
A four-cylinder gas engine replaces the outgoing vehicles four-cylinder diesel engine. It provides 258 ft/lbs of torque and 188 hp and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 model is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
While the new engine is a big change, the most noticeable visual change is on the outside, where the front fascia and the familiar box headlights are changed, to make the Sprinter look fresh.
For 2019, Mercedes has expanded available trims in the Sprinter lineup. Joining the 2500, 3500 and 3500XD trims already offered are an entry-level 1500 and more capable 4500 trim. As an entry-level trim, 1500 will only come with the four-cylinder gas engine, in 144” wheelbase and have single tires. The 4500 offers more choice, as it will offer three wheelbases (144”, 170” and 170” EXT) for cargo, and two wheelbases (144” and 170”) for crew and cab chassis. It will come with the V6 diesel engine and dual rear wheels.
Over all the trims, four body types are available (cargo, crew, passenger and cab chassis), two roof heights (standard and high), three wheelbases (144”, 170” and 170” EXT), two engines (I-4 and V-6), three rear wheel types (single, super single, or dual), and standard rear-wheel drive and available 4×4.
Diving deeper into the specifications that those who purchase a Sprinter really want to know about, payload, towing, cargo volume, bed length and more, we see a wide range of capability. Listed are the minimum and maximum numbers depending on trim level.
Cargo Bed Length
From 337.5 centimetres to 481 cm
281.1 cubic/feet to 532.6 cu/ft
171.9 cm to 200.9 cm
Rear Load Height
69.1 cm to 74.3 cm
1,635 kilograms to 3,055 kg
8,550 lbs to 12,125 lbs
2,268 kg to 3,402 kg
While Sprinter has always had a reputation as a well-built truck, the entertainment system was never a point of emphasis. That has changed with the new generation model as the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) has been added. It takes its cues from smartphone virtual assistants, as it allows the operator to activate it by saying “Hey Mercedes” followed by voice commands.
Something missing in some systems on the market today are redundant controls, which is not a problem with MBUX. The system can be control by voice control, touchscreen, touchpad, and steering wheel touch control buttons. The system is available when paired with optional seven-inch or 10.25-inch touchscreen displays.
Safety is top of mind for many today, as such Mercedes has added a variety of features for 2019. Joining safety features that were already available on Sprinter in the previous generation are: attention assist, active brake assist, 360-degree camera or backup camera, and active distance assist.
Many Sprinter Cargo vans are upfitted to suit the needs of the operator; as such Mercedes has its MasterUpfitter program, which offers an approved list of upfitters for the Sprinter.
VanCare is offered by Mercedes-Benz Canada and allows customers to have piece of mind for their vehicle. All Sprinters come with 24-hour roadside assistance and advice through the Mercedes-Benz Customer Assistance Center. ServiceCare is another aspect and can be purchased by operators (prices vary based on package). It is a service package that offers maintenance (service), extended limited warranty (repairs), extended limited warranty and maintenance or a complete solution (service, repairs, and wear and tear).
Those familiar with the Sprinter from its previous generation will definitely feel at home in the new model. However, it is a large step forward that is bound to keep the Sprinter competitive with the many cargo vans on the market.
Mario Cywinski is the Editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and a judge for Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has over 10 years of editorial experience, over 15 years of automobile industry experience, as well as small business industry experience.