• 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be the first vehicle in the van segment to offer all-wheel drive
  • Segment-exclusive 4x4 system will tie to an optional 3.0L V6 BlueTEC clean diesel powertrain
  • Sprinter will arrive with new look and newly added driver assistance systems

For those in need of a commercial van with cold-weather capabilities, rejoice! Mercedes-Benz will begin rolling out the 2015 Sprinter with all-wheel drive by this time next year. It will be the first vehicle in its segment to offer AWD. Featuring a fresh look and a plethora of new technology, the Sprinter will be offered in multiple configurations. Both short- and long-wheelbase versions, 144 inches and 170 inches respectively, will be available with either a low- or high-roof body style. As before, the van will come in one of three applications: passenger van, crew van and cargo van. Delivering the best of both worlds, the crew van features two rows of passenger seating plus a sizeable cargo area, but all three iterations are highly functional, depending on their intended purpose.

Power for the 4x4 Sprinter will come from Benz's 3.0-liter V6 BlueTEC diesel engine. This clean-burning powertrain, engineered to reduce particulates and soot from tail-pipe emissions, produces 188 horsepower and a heavy-duty 325 lb-ft of torque. So aside from being sure-footed on ice and snow, the Sprinter is legitimately eco-friendly.

The van's lightweight 4x4 system distributes power at a ratio of 35:65 between the front and rear axles. The result is a driving experience that makes wintery conditions less daunting. The all-wheel-drive system is also aided by an electronic traction control system and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), both of which add confidence in treading slippery or challenging roadways. For an even higher dose of grip, the Sprinter also offers an optional low-range gear. This feature will be particularly useful in hilly or mountainous regions where the terrain requires greater tractive power for steep inclines.

The Sprinter body has also undergone a lift of more than 4 inches up front and 3 inches in the rear, giving it more clearance and capability over rough, uneven ground. Not that this van is intended for off-road use, but it's good to know that it can manage that kind of driving if the need arises.

On the safety front, the Sprinter now offers four new driver assistance systems: Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keep Assist. All four of these technologies are first-time applications in the van segment. Other notable safety features for the Sprinter include ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS), Rollover Mitigation (ROM), Load Adaptive Control (LAC) and Enhanced Understeering Control (EUC). In tandem, these advanced systems help make the Sprinter more stable and balanced through a variety of driving and stopping maneuvers.

And since the Sprinter is a Mercedes product, it makes sense for this van to offer a robust feature set, including bi-xenon headlights, a heated windshield and a rearview camera with a back-up warning system, among other sophisticated amenities.

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has always been a class-leading van on multiple fronts. And now with all-wheel drive, it promises to be so much more.

What it means to you: The 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will give fans of vans the added benefit of all-wheel drive, which will be especially significant to buyers in cold-weather climates. Until now, having all-wheel drive and a van configuration was mutually exclusive.

author photo

Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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