The Big Van wars are going nuclear this year! While the segment has languished in obscurity for at least the last thirty years, the Econoline and Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana have quietly hoovered up nearly 100,000 sales each to some of the nation’s hardest-working owners.
Yes, pickups like the F-150 might be a more popular lifestyle choice, but nothing truly gets more work done – and more people hauled – than the largest of vans.
The segment is slowly reinventing itself with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter starting the modernization wave nearly a decade ago under the Freightliner and Ram brands.
Another all-new entry from Nissan shook things up further. The Nissan NV Cargo and Passenger Vans stick to the old-school body-on-frame formula closely, with the huge Titan V8 available and even a super-tall roof height.
As a result, the Nissan NV Cargo and NV HD are decidedly more trucklike than the latest Sprinter, Ram ProMaster and Ford Transit. Despite the truck basis, the NV does not currently offer four-wheel-drive, only rear-drive.
There are many conversions out there to add 4×4 to the Nissan, indicating it could likely be added to the production line-up easily – were there sufficient demand.
The Nissan NV won 2013’s “Best Spy Van” award here on car-revs-daily.com
Things are firmly in warp drive, relatively speaking for this ancient segment, for 2014. The front-drive Ram ProMaster is bringing its huge self to the work site as a re-badged Fiat Ducato upfit to American truck buyer needs. It has a low floor and tough chassis to overcome any prejudice towards front-drivers — and a diesel engine as well.
The real mover and shaker for the segment will be the Ford Transit, which is in production now ahead of a rollout nationwide to dealers this summertime. It is an excellent new truck with rear-drive and a standard V6 engine. Upgraded include both a turbodiesel and a turbo gasoline powerplant – the same strong EcoBoost 3.5-liter that does such great work in the Explorer Sport and F-150.
The Ford Transit will offer an obscene amount of custom cab, chassis and engine options – not to mention colors.
So where does this leave Mercedes-Benz and its always-classiest Sprinter van series? Eager to carve yet more of a premium niche, the Sprinter is set to bring 4×4 traction to the segment in January 2015.
The latest redesigned 2014 models are available now and even pack some LED daytime-running-lights within the main headlamp unit! It will definitely cause a double-take to see a big work van with white LEDs blazing, but they are part of the overall safety and premium powertrains Mercedes-Benz Sprinter wheelhouse.
Pricing and launch details are below from Mercedes-Benz, including the Passenger Van specs PDF for download.
New 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in Real Life + 2015 4×4 Model Details
Effective October 14, 2013
Sprinter Cab Chassis*
Sprinter Cargo Van*
Sprinter Crew Van*
Sprinter Passenger Van*
Sprinter Passenger Van Specficiations
Powertrain Speciﬁ cations
BlueTEC® SCR Diesel engine with AdBlue®5
EPA / CARB 2010 Compliant
6-cylinder, V 72°
4 valves per cylinder
Displacement 2,987 cc
188 hp at 3,800 rpm
Rated torque 325 lb-ft at 1,400–2,400 rpm
5-speed automatic transmission
Fuel type: Ultra-low-sulfur diesel
Tank capacity 26.4 gallons
Electronically controlled direct injection with
Turbocharger and intercooler function
Battery 12 V/100 Ah, alternator 220 A
Selected Stand Alone Options
Audio 20 Radio with CD Changer and Bluetooth® Interface
Black Leatherette Upholstery
Chrome Trimmed Radiator Grille
Convenience Lighting in Load/Passenger Compartment
Daytime Running Lamps
Driver and Front Passenger Thorax Air Bags3
Driver and Front Passenger Window Air Bags3
M+S Winter Tires
Mounting Rails for Roof Racks
Reversing Warning System
Two Additional Master Keys
Two Stage Opening Sliding Door
Some specifications and features shown or mentioned on this data sheet are optional and only available upon request at extra cost. Specifications are subject to change without notice.
Based on a comparison of the Automotive News classification of full-size commercial vans.
No system, regardless of how advanced, can overcome the laws of physics or correct careless driving. Please always wear your seat belt. Performance is limited by available traction, which snow, ice and other conditions can affect.
Always drive carefully, consistent with conditions. Best performance in snow is obtained with winter tires. Read Operator’s Manual before towing. In some states, aftermarket trailer brakes are required. See dealer for details.
Warning: the forces of a deploying air bag can cause serious or fatal injuries to a child under age 13. The safest seating position for your child is in a rear seat, belted into an appropriate, properly installed child seat, or correctly wearing a
seat belt if too large for a child seat. See Operator’s Manual for additional warnings and information on air bags, seat belts and child seats.
Optional or part of an Option Package.
Requires the use of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel. Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are approved to use B5 biodiesel (approved diesel fuel with a maximum 5% biodiesel content) in all BlueTEC® engines. The only approved biodiesel
content is one that meets ASTM D6751 specifications and has the oxidation stability necessary to prevent deposit-/corrosion-related damages to the system (min. 6th, proven by EN14112 method). Please see your service
station for further information. If the B5 biodiesel blend does not clearly indicate that it meets the above standards, please do not use it. The Mercedes-Benz New Vehicle Limited Warranty does not cover damage caused
by non Mercedes-Benz approved fuel standards.
© 2012 Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC: One Mercedes Drive, Montvale, NJ 07645 · 1-877-762-8267 · www.mbsprinterusa.com
SMB-12-950 Printed in U.S.A.
Sprinter Passenger Van
2 wheelbases, 2 body lengths, 2 passenger
Seating for up to 12 (11+1) people
3- and 4-seater benches for the passenger compartment,
quick-release locks permit easy installation and removal (not
available for last seat row)
Cargo area up to 31.2 sq ft (80 sq ft with seats removed)
Cargo volume from 141.3 to 187.2 cu ft
Payload from 2,368 to 2,811 lbs
Hinged rear doors which open up to the sidewall (doors lock
into position automatically)
Auxiliary heater and rear air conditioning available as
optional equipment (front air conditioning standard)
Dark-tinted glass in rear
3 PASSENGER VAN MODELS
STANDARD ROOF HIGH ROOF
144″ WB 144″ WB 170″ WB
Turning Diameter (ft) Wall to Wall 47.6 47.6 54.6
Ground to Sliding Door Step — Side 20.2 20.2 19.9
Load Height — Rear 27.6 27.6 27.4
Door Opening Height — Side 59.8 71.7 71.7
Door Opening Height — Rear 60.6 72.4 72.4
Door Opening Width — Side 51.2 51.2 51.2
Door Opening Width — Rear 61.6 61.6 61.6
Cargo/Luggage Area (sq ft) 23.7 23.7 31.2
Interior Width at Wheelhouse 53.1 53.1 53.1
Maximum Width at Floor 70.1 70.1 70.1
Interior Height 65.0 76.4 76.4
Interior Volume (cu ft)
Behind Rear Seat 141.3 158.9 187.2
Maximum Available GVWR (lb) 8,550 8,550 8,550
Base Curb Weight (lb) 5,739 5,800 6,182
Maximum Payload (lb) 2,811 2,750 2,368
Maximum Towing (lb) 5,000 5,000 5,000
Maximum Available GCWR (lb) 13,550 13,550 13,550
Fuel Tank Capacity (gal) 26.4 26.4 26.4
Inches Unless Otherwise Noted
(144″ AND 170″ WB)
Optional Equipment Packages
Additional Battery Package
Auxiliary Heater Package
Cold Climate Package
High Idle Fixed Package
High Idle Variable Package
Interior Lighting Package
Mobility Prep Package
Multi-function Wheel/Display Package
Rear Air Conditioning Package
Rear Heating Packages I, II & III
Suspension Seating Package
Trailer Hitch Package
Cargo Bed Length 32.5 32.5 73.2
2015 4×4 Model Official Release Details from Mercedes-Benz.
The only 4×4 van in its segment goes on sale in the first quarter of 2015
March 06, 2014 – MONTVALE, NJ
Segment-exclusive 4×4 system with available low-range function coming for the U.S. Sprinter, exclusively mated to the optional 3.0L V6 BlueTEC clean diesel powertrain with 188 hp and 325 lb-ft.
4ETS with Adaptive ESP is sure-footed in many all-terrain conditions
The next chapter of the Sprinter story begins in the first quarter of 2015
The pioneer of the modern van movement in the U.S. since 2001, the latest Sprinter Van went on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 2013 at authorized Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner dealers. It received a new look, new technology inside the vehicle, and new safety systems all around to ensure that it continues to be the best commercial van in the industry. A new 4×4 version of the Sprinter Van will further bolster its leading global position as the benchmark commercial van.
The MY2015 Sprinter 4×4 goes on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of calendar year 2015. Both 144″ and 170″ wheelbases will be available in both low and high roof configurations, and available body styles for the U.S. will include the Passenger Van, Crew Van (mixed 2-row passenger and cargo application), and Cargo Van (both 8,550 and 11,030 GVWRs). The exclusive powertrain for the 4×4 option will be the most powerful of the two BlueTEC clean diesel powertrains available in the U.S. Sprinter, which is the 3.0L V6 BlueTEC with 188 hp and 325 lb-ft.
The Sprinter 4×4 will be a commercial van that can reach new levels of versatility and driving conditions with maximum traction. While the Sprinter 4×4 is not officially considered an off-roader, the all-wheel drive system can be activated at the push of a button. Torque is then distributed at a ratio of 35:65 between the front and rear axle. At this point, the Electronic Traction System (4ETS) takes over, and the tech takes care of the rest for the driver in various conditions. The standard load-adaptive ESP that is unique to the Sprinter is always active when all-wheel drive is engaged. This combination of all-wheel drive technology and active safety is only available in the Sprinter in this segment.
The Sprinter 4×4 can also be equipped with an optional low range gear that makes it even more sure-footed in difficult terrain. When the driver pushes the low-range button, the gearing is shortened by 42%. Tractive power increases accordingly.
Lifted body, low added weight
The Sprinter 4×4 may not be an off-roader, but its body was lifted by 4.3 inches (110 mm) at the front and 3.1 inches (80 mm) in the rear. The slope climbing ability is up to 20 percent higher than in the Sprinter with conventional drive. Depending on the body style, the all-wheel drive system of the Sprinter 4×4 merely adds about 265 lbs. (120 kg) in weight, which means only a minimal effect on payload. Thus far, previous versions of the Sprinter 4×4 have been sold in markets such as Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Austria, and France.
Total Cost of Ownership – a key advantage
Sprinter is the commercial van benchmark in terms of top service levels, safety, and TCO (total cost of ownership). Considered by some to be the Swiss Army knife of Commercial Vans, the Sprinter offers an unmatched TCO which constitutes a major competitive advantage. ALG has named the Sprinter a 4-star pick for residual values, and Vincentric named the Sprinter a winner of the “Best Fleet Value in America award” in 2013. When adding the efficiency of either the standard and powerful 4-cylinder BlueTEC with 161 hp and 266 lb-ft (not available with 4×4) or 6-cylinder BlueTEC powertrain (exclusive 4×4 powertrain), it’s an unbeatable combination.
Four optional assistance systems help to avoid accidents
A key focus in developing the latest Sprinter was on a whole range of assistance systems – including world premieres in the van segment. New available features that premiered are Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. This array of new assistance systems underscores Mercedes-Benz Vans’ pioneering role in safety technology and as a driving force behind innovative developments.
Sprinter: safety on board as standard
These assistance systems aside, safety is always on. In the case of the Sprinter Van, for example, this means a safe and predictable chassis, precise steering and highly effective, fade-resistant disc brakes on all wheels. A bulb failure indicator warns of any defective lights and a seat belt reminder function prompts the driver to buckle up at the beginning of his or her trip.
The latest-generation ADAPTIVE ESP® already combines a diverse array of functions. The vehicle dynamics control system includes:
anti-lock brake system (ABS),
acceleration slip regulation (ASR),
electronic brake force distribution (EBD),
hydraulic Brake Assist (BAS),
Load Adaptive Control (LAC) load-dependent control system,
Roll Over Mitigation roll-over protection and Roll Movement Intervention (ROM/RMI),
Enhanced Understeering Control system (EUC),
automatic brake disc drying system (Brake Disc Wiping) when driving in the rain
and anticipatory preparation of the brake pads in critical driving situations (Electronic Brake Prefill).
If the buyer of a Sprinter Van selects a trailer coupling or the corresponding pre-installation option for this item, the Trailer Stability Assist system also comes as standard.
If an accident is unavoidable, despite the Sprinter Van’s high level of active safety, the occupants will benefit from the yielding and energy-absorbing body structure. A height-adjustable three-point seat belt with belt tensioner and belt force limiter, two-way head restraints and also front airbags are there to help keep the driver safe.
Optional extras ensure safety tailored to individual needs
Beyond the extensive scope of standard equipment, additional safety options are available to enable customers to adapt their Sprinters to their individual operational requirements. Bi-xenon headlamps, fog lights, a headlamp cleaning system and a heated windshield provide for a further improvement of visibility.
Available rearview camera, backup warning system and the PARKTRONIC system facilitate maneuvering, while the standard Start-off Assist system helps when moving off on uphill slopes. The available rain sensor with Headlamp Assist relieves the driver of the task of switching the appropriate systems on and off. Available window airbags and thorax bags enhance passive safety, while the standard tire pressure monitoring system helps ensure the correct pressure on variants with single tires.
Preferred Upfitters: A one-stop solution (limited 4×4 availability / upfitters TBD until CY2015)
Versatility is a hallmark of the Sprinter Van. Two diesel engines (4×4 only available with optional V6 BlueTEC clean diesel option) and a host of body, weight and rear axle variants add up to many choices. In addition, special bodies and interior equipment from selected system partners are available ex-factory as part of the “Sprinter Preferred Upfitter Program”.
Meeting the diverse needs of Sprinter Van customers is especially important, since about 75 percent of all Sprinters are sold with some type of upfitter modification that’s designed to ensure the quality and safety of all modifications. There are currently over 80 approved upfitters in the program.
To become a Preferred Upfitter, several Sprinter specialists review each upfitter’s plans, visit their facility while work is in progress and inspect finished vans. Approved upfitters get advance product information, exclusive access to certain options and ship‐through service. Each upfitter also receives special programming of the electronics system that is tailored to the customer’s need and vehicle functionality.
2014 New Model Official Release Details from Mercedes-Benz.
The best Sprinter Van of all time: safer and more economical, environmentally friendly and attractive than ever
May 06, 2013 – ANN ARBOR, MI
New 4-cylinder diesel engine option with 7-speed transmission
Sprinter V6 model continues
Four new assistance systems help to avoid accidents
More fuel-efficient accessory equipment and axles
Noticeably upgraded interior
The pioneer of the modern van movement in the U.S., the 2014MY Sprinter Van has a new look and is now even more economical, safer and environmentally friendly. After seven years of the current generation and sales totaling around one million vehicles around the globe, the 2014MY Sprinter is set to further bolster the successful model’s leading position as the benchmark commercial van. The new standard engine is a 4-cylinder diesel engine with a 7-speed automatic transmission, with the familiar V6 diesel powertrain available as an option. New safety features raise the already exemplary standard of safety to an even higher level. And last but not least, drivers of the new Sprinter can look forward to a further enhanced cockpit with new infotainment features. The 2014MY Sprinter will go on sale in the U.S. in Fall 2013.
A new Sprinter with striking new looks
Visually, the 2014MY Sprinter immediately makes a clear-cut and striking impression. Fully in keeping with the current Mercedes-Benz design line, the radiator grille appears more upright and self-assured, lending the new Sprinter a more confident presence. The three radiator louvers are swept back from top to bottom and are perforated. This increases the air flow and clearly establishes a close visual link to a consistent design language from the new vans and trucks from Mercedes-Benz.
On Mercedes-Benz models, the Mercedes star now rests on a vividly highlighted base. A beveled surround highlights the signature Mercedes-Benz radiator grille. Freightliner models feature the familiar Freightliner badge at the top of the new grille.
The new headlamps feature sharper contours and lend the Sprinter a serious yet energetic look. A striking feature is the masking of the reflector housings. A surround divides the headlamps into individual segments, emphasizing the Sprinter’s eyes and providing the entire front end with a substantially more cutting-edge appearance. In the bottom of the housing there is space for the LED light strips of the daytime running lamps.
The new hood is higher, resulting in improved protection for pedestrians. It also features more pronounced contours, lending the Sprinter a look of authority.
The same applies to the new bumper featuring a more pronounced upward sweep under the headlamps and bolder lines. The air inlet in the middle is now set back, providing the Sprinter’s face with added dynamism and creating an impression of greater poise on the road. The opening continues to function as a step to facilitate cleaning of the windscreen. The purposeful impression created by the new Sprinter is heightened by the detailed attention paid to design on the underside of the bumper, whose appearance is reminiscent of an SUV.
The Sprinter’s rear end with its striking, centrally positioned Mercedes star has remained largely unchanged. The 2014MY Sprinter now benefits from two-compartment tail lights, however, and the badges have been redesigned.
The new design emphasizes the Sprinter’s high quality. This is manifested in the precise joints, the “shingled” headlamp joint overlapping the hood and the precise lines of the frame around the grille, which are also conducive to easy fitting.
BlueTEC engine technology: clean, economical, tried and tested
Since 2010, all Sprinters in the U.S. have been powered by innovative BlueTEC diesel engines, marking the first-ever use of super-clean BlueTEC technology in the commercial van market. The BlueTEC diesel engine is as clean as a modern gasoline engine. A Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) injection system reduces nitrogen oxides to harmless nitrogen and water in a downstream catalytic converter. The BlueTEC engine technology has also been demonstrating its capabilities in Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses for almost ten years now.
Highly economical BlueTEC four-cylinder engine
In addition to the familiar V6 diesel engine, the 2014MY Sprinter now features a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine as standard equipment. It produces 161 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque at 1,400-2,400 rpm. With an 83 mm bore and a 99 mm stroke, the engine features an undersquare configuration in the interests of high tractive power. The two overhead camshafts actuate a total of 16 intake and exhaust valves. The camshafts are driven by a combination of gearwheels and a short chain. The common rail injection system operates at a maximum injection pressure of 29,001 psi (2000 bar). The fuel is injected by means of magnetic injectors and seven-hole injection nozzles. Charging takes place at all times via a two-stage exhaust-gas turbocharger system.
Maximum torque is available right from low engine speeds and over a broad engine speed range. The engines attain both a high specific power output and high torque. This downsizing is crucial to low fuel consumption, accompanied by low emissions and optimum weight.
A Lanchester balancer with two counter-rotating shafts, the camshaft drive positioned further to the rear and a two-mass flywheel all contribute to the engine’s extremely smooth running characteristics. A combination of exhaust gas recirculation with two-stage cooling and the SCR technology with AdBlue injection for the BlueTEC engines and a particulate filter ensures clean exhaust emissions.
BlueTEC six-cylinder engine: brilliant technology, high comfort
The optional V6 diesel motor (188hp, 325 lb-ft) with a displacement of 3.0 l is a feat of engine construction. The undersquare engine (bore x stroke: 83 x 92 mm) is based on an aluminum crankcase with a V angle of 72 degrees. Offset rod journals and a balancer shaft result in an extremely smooth-running engine. Its technical refinements include a total of four duplex chain-driven overhead camshafts and common rail injection with piezo injectors and eight spray holes per nozzle.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.