Right now, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz Metris occupies its own space among commercial vehicles. It’s the sole midsize choice, because everything is either smaller — like the Ram ProMaster City and Nissan NV200 — or larger, such as the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
For some businesses, then, the Metris could be the ideal size. It will carry a considerable payload or, in the case of the passenger version, up to eight occupants. Yet it can still tackle tight city streets.
This is the other side of the 3-pointed star. The commercial side. It doesn’t have the glamor, the fine leather or the sleek looks, but it keeps the wheels of industry turning. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz makes highly respected trucks, referred to in the United States as tractor units for semis. And the Metris is based on a van platform that’s been used in Europe for quite a while.
What’s New for 2018?
All versions receive a rearview camera as standard. And the Cargo model now offers an extended wheelbase.
What We Like
Useful dimensions; drives more like a crossover than a van.
What We Don’t
No option for all-wheel drive or a diesel engine. Nor any option for a power tailgate in the passenger version.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder makes 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It drives the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz recommends using 91-octane gas for optimum efficiency, but 87-octane should also be fine.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for the cargo version at 21 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The passenger version returns 19 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz Metris midsize commercial vehicle comes in Cargo and Passenger body styles.
The Worker Cargo ($26,990) is available only in white and with silver-painted steel wheels and a steel load-space floor. There’s a standard-issue sliding side door on the passenger side (a sliding door on the driver’s side is optional) and a pair of "barn" doors (that open up to 270 degrees) for access to the cargo area. It also has a rearview camera, Bluetooth, USB port, auxiliary audio input and a 5-speaker audio system.
It’s eligible for a Convenience package that adds a rearview camera, heated/power-adjustable side mirrors, LED lighting in the cargo area, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded audio system and a first aid kit.
A Utility package takes the Convenience bundle and brings blind spot monitoring, roof rails, wipers and heated washers for the rear window, an interior rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, plus straps, D-rings, lashing rails, a wood floor and waist-level panels for the cargo area.
The Worker Passenger ($30,990) is the version with the extra windows and seating for seven. It’s possible to remove the second and third rows of seats, if really necessary. But they are fairly heavy. It has sliding side doors and a pair of 180-degree rear doors as standard.
This version has its own options bundles. The Convenience package mirrors the version above, but is enhanced by wipers and heated washers for the rear window. An Appearance package brings body-colored bumpers, alloy wheels, a tailgate, roof rails and synthetic leather seating surfaces. The Comfort package has everything from the previous two packages, as well as blind spot monitoring and powered sliding doors on both sides.
It can also come in Obsidian Black Metallic or Brilliant Silver Metallic.
Cargo ($30,945) comes with the wooden load-space floor as standard, which helps keep the cabin quiet even when the van is empty. It also has an infotainment system with a 5.8-inch color screen. The longer wheelbase costs an extra $500.
Passenger ($34,895) gets the same infotainment system with a 5.8-in color screen.
These non-Worker versions allow for greater flexibility in ordering various extra features, and there are more color choices. Other options include a Driver Comfort package which features plusher seats with lumbar support. A Cold Weather package has heated seats and a stronger heating system. Satellite navigation is also available in both models, along with a self-parking function that handles parallel and perpendicular spaces, and various electronic driver aids (see the Safety section below).
Six airbags are standard, and the side airbags in the passenger version are extended to cover the van’s full length. There are also some safety features that are typical of Mercedes-Benz, like driver attention assist, load-adaptive stability control and crosswind assist. This last item is part of the stability control system that can brake individual wheels to prevent the van from being blown off course. It’s beautifully effective.
Lane-keep assistance, blind spot monitoring and collision-prevention assistance are all on the options list.
Behind the Wheel
The Metris benefits from well-considered dimensions. The regular versions are 202.4 inches long, 88.3 inches wide (including mirrors) and 75.2 inches tall. This makes it suitable to park in garages and it’s highly maneuverable, thanks in part to a relatively small turning circle of 38.7 feet from wall-to-wall. The cargo model’s suspension is tuned a little stiffer than the passenger version, in anticipation of taking heavy loads, but it’s still completely comfortable.
Speaking of loads, the regular Metris has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,724 pounds. Ultimately, the amount of cargo space depends on how the van is equipped. A lot of vans are adapted for specific uses (known as upfitted) by specialist companies. But maximum cargo volume is 186 cu ft., and the total payload is 2,502 pounds in the regular cargo model or 1,874 pounds for the passenger version.
The longer wheelbase — not available in the Worker version of the Cargo van — measures 135 inches, compared with 126 inches. Maximum cargo space is 199 cu ft.
Total towing capacity is a useful 5,000 pounds.
There’s not a massive amount of engine power, but it should be perfectly adequate for making deliveries around the city and suburbs, where a Metris will probably spend most of its time.
Not only can the Metris appeal to the business owner who writes the check, it will also please those who drive it every working day. It feels as civilized as a crossover. The driver’s seat has lateral support cushioning for the thighs and the lower torso, armrests are standard for the front seats and the upholstery is a tough-looking fabric that’s still fairly easy on the eye.
The driver’s seat is set close to the front wheels, so there’s a satisfying, responsive feel to steering inputs. The wheel itself only adjusts for height, but finding a comfortable driving position is quick and easy. The automatic transmission, which goes about its business in the smoothly subtle way worthy of the Mercedes-Benz badge, has paddle shifters mounted just under the steering wheel. The dash looks respectable, but certainly nothing along the sophisticated lines of the company’s luxury cars. Then again, this is a commercial vehicle.
To that end, Mercedes-Benz promises quick turnarounds on servicing to make sure the vehicle isn’t sitting in the shop for too long. Service intervals are 15,000 miles.
Some people might be wondering if the passenger version could function as a minivan. It’s not ideal, and doesn’t enjoy the same family friendly equipment levels or well-cushioned passenger seats.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Ford Transit — Right now, the Metris has a lock on midsize vans. Everything else is bigger or smaller. The fairly new Transit is one larger alternative.
2018 Ford Transit Connect — Or go smaller. Can still take 1,600 pounds, and offers up to 128.6 cu ft. of cargo space.
2018 Nissan NV200 — Maximum payload is 1,480 pounds, and cargo space is 122.7 cu ft., but fuel economy is a high point.
2018 Ram ProMaster City — Impressive load capability of 1,883 pounds, plus 101.7 cu ft. of cargo volume.
Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — Like the Transit, the Sprinter is larger and therefore better suited to different kinds of work. But it’s a great van.
Every business will have its own requirements, so recommendations are unnecessary. But you might be reassured to know that the Metris is expected to retain strong resale values.