By Mario Cywinski
By Mario Cywinski
May 24, 2019 – When Mercedes-Benz entered the Canadian market with the second-generation Sprinter in 2010 (it was previously sold here as a Dodge), the full-size cargo van market 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, the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV are available in many different configurations, while the GMC Savana/Chevrolet Express also has a loyal following. Competition in the full-size van segment has never been fiercer.
Having driven the earlier Sprinter on many occasions—on ice, paved roads, dirt roads, fully upfitted, you name it—it felt like I knew almost everything about it. With the growing competition, however, Mercedes decided it was time to redesign the vehicle.
The company provided a Sprinter 2500 cargo van with a 144-in. wheel base as a test vehicle, as this is one of the most popular configurations for customers. It comes with enough space and a high roof to clean out a garage full of cargo. It is outfitted with a V-6 diesel engine that provides 325 lb-ft of torque and 188 hp to get a full van moving. It is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Alternatively, a four-cylinder gas engine provides 258 lb-ft of torque and 188 hp. It is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The most noticeable visual change is on the outside. The front fascia and the familiar box headlights have been redesigned to make the Sprinter look fresh.
For 2019, Mercedes has expanded available trims. 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 only comes with the four-cylinder gas engine, 144-in. wheelbase and single tires. The 4500 offers three wheelbases (144-in., 170-in. and 170-in. EXT) for cargo and two wheelbases (144-in and 170-in.) for crew and cab chassis. It comes with the V6 diesel engine and dual rear wheels.
The 2019 Sprinter models offer a wide range in terms of capabilities:
– Cargo bed length: 337.5 to 481 cm.
– Cargo volume: 281.1 to 532.6 ft3.
– Interior height: 171.9 to 200.9 cm.
– Rear load height: 69.1 to 74.3 cm.
– Maximum payload: 1,635 to 3,055 kg.
– Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR): 8,550 to 12,125 lb.
– Maximum towing: 2,268 to 3,402 kg.
Many Sprinter cargo vans are upfitted to suit the needs of the operator. Mercedes has a program that offers an approved list of upfitters for the Sprinter. Further, Mercedes offers VanCare, including 24-hour roadside assistance and advice through a customer assistance centre, and a variety of ServiceCare packages.
Those familiar with the Sprinter will definitely feel at home in the new model, but it is also a bit step forward that is bound to keep the van competitive in the market.
Mario Cywinski is editor of Machinery and Equipment MRO magazine, a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and a judge for the Canadian Truck King Challenge. He has more than 10 years of editorial experience and more than 15 years of automobile industry experience.