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2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Colin Ryan June 2015

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris is a midsize commercial van, so it's the little brother to the Sprinter. This is an all-new vehicle for the United States, though it's based on a platform that's been used in Europe for a while. When it goes on sale this October, the choices will be simple: cargo or passenger. There will be no options for different heights or lengths, and there will be just one engine and just one transmission.

Cargo

The Metris has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,724 pounds. Maximum cargo volume is 186 cu ft., the total payload is 2,502 pounds and the Metris fits into a space that measures 105.4 inches high by 66.3 inches wide by 55 inches high. This is all dependent on how the van is equipped for whatever particular tasks the buyer wants to perform with it. A lot of vans are kitted out (known as upfitted) by specialist companies.

Access to the business end is through a pair of barn doors that open up to 270 degrees. There's also a standard-issue sliding side door on the passenger side (a second sliding door on the passenger side is optional). Another standard item in the cargo version is a wooden load-space floor, which helps keep the cabin quiet -- even when the van is empty. Lashing rails, however, are part of an optional cargo-protection package. The suspension is tuned a little stiffer than the passenger version in anticipation of taking heavy loads, but it's still really comfortable.

The Metris houses a half-dozen airbags: One pair sits right in front of the driver and passenger, another pair is for thorax protection and another pair provides side protection.

Passenger

This version can carry up to eight occupants. It offers two sliding side doors and a pair of 180-degree rear doors as standard, with the option of a tailgate. The side doors can be powered, but a power tailgate is not available.

If necessary, it is possible to remove the second and third rows of seats, but they're pretty heavy. The side airbags in this model are longer than the cargo version's to protect the full length of the seating area.

Common Ground

The rear wheels are driven by 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque coming from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. That's not superpowerful but should be up for the task of making decent progress around the city and suburbs because that's probably where a Metris will spend most of its time. Mercedes-Benz recommends using 91 octane gas for optimum efficiency, but the engine will still run decently on 87 octane. Maximum towing capacity is a useful 4,960 pounds.

Mercedes-Benz doesn't have any Environmental Protection Agency figures yet, but averaging 28 miles per gallon would certainly be possible on a longer run. There's also the option of an Eco mode that stops and restarts the engine, so that will help with consumption in the city.

It's too early to talk about total cost of ownership or residual values, but the larger Sprinter has won Vincentric's (a company that crunches numbers for the auto industry) Best Fleet Value in America award in 2012, 2013 and 2014 while also being recognized this year as having the highest resale value in its class by the Automotive Lease Guide (ALG). Mercedes-Benz clearly knows how to make vans attractive to potential customers.

Another part of that approach is quick turnarounds on servicing to make sure the vehicle isn't sitting in a shop for too long; it obviously can't earn money for its owner like that. Service intervals are 15,000 miles.

Work Environment

The Metris can also appeal to those who drive it for work. If you're well acquainted with cars and SUV crossovers, this van will feel instantly familiar. The driver's seat has lateral support cushioning for the thighs and the lower torso, armrests are standard for the front chairs and all the seats are covered in a tough-looking fabric that's still fairly easy on the eye.

The driver's seat is quite close to the front axle, bringing a pleasant immediacy to the steering. The wheel itself only adjusts for height, but finding a comfortable driving position is quick and hassle-free. Mounted under the wheel are shift paddles for the 7-speed automatic transmission, which goes about its business in the smoothly subtle way that's expected from a car wearing a Mercedes-Benz badge.

In basic form, the dash looks generally quite classy but a bit dated. It's nothing like the company's cutting-edge range of luxury cars. That's probably to be expected in a commercial vehicle, however. These things are machines of industry, not status symbols.

Numbers Game

Buyers put the Metris on their short list due to its dimensions. It's 202.4 inches in length, 88.3 inches wide (including mirrors) and 75.2 inches tall. This not only makes it suitable to park in garages, but it can also negotiate tight streets, especially with its relatively small turning circle of 38.7 feet from wall to wall.

The other important number, of course, is the starting price: $29,945 for the cargo version and $33,495 for the passenger model. Both prices include destination charges. Standard equipment includes crosswind assist -- a smart feature that brakes individual wheels to prevent the van from being blown off course and is something only Mercedes-Benz offers -- a load-adaptive electronic stability program and driver-attention assist. Satellite navigation is on the options list, along with a self-parking function that can handle parallel and perpendicular spaces, a rearview camera, lane-keeping assist, a blind spot monitoring system and collision-prevention assist.

Ultimately, the convenient and useful size, coupled with strong customer service, could mean that the continued rise in popularity of Euro-derived vans, such as the Sprinter and the Ford Transit, will be aided and abetted by the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris: First Drive Review - Autotrader