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2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a full-size van, available in cargo and passenger versions, and with two wheelbase lengths. That’s the basic description. The Sprinter offers a variety of configurations that include just the cab, a combination of passenger and cargo versions, higher roofs, dual rear wheels, plus the availability of all-wheel drive. Camper van, bus, ambulance, high-class hotel shuttle … the Sprinter can take on many guises. Mercedes-Benz reckons there are something like 1,700 different permutations. There’s also plenty of quality, capability, technology, engineering and equipment available.

For example, nothing else in this class has Crosswind Assist, a special feature of the stability control system that can brake individual wheels to prevent the van from being blown off course. We’ve tried it. It works. The optional AWD system may also come with a raised off-road suspension and low-range gearing.

Another Sprinter strength is its ability for customization. According to Mercedes-Benz, there are more than 80 preferred upfitters in the United States with the company’s seal of approval, and 75% of Sprinters are delivered with modifications from these suppliers.

The Sprinter shows that Mercedes-Benz excels at far more than making luxury cars and crossovers. The company has a strong commercial vehicle side. Independent agencies have recognized the Sprinter for best fleet value and for having the best resale value in its class.

What’s New for 2019?

The Sprinter enters its third generation with a comprehensive update that includes freshened styling, but the casual observer may not notice the difference in appearance. New technology includes an optional 10.25-in infotainment touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, USB Type C outlets, driver aids like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and parking features, plus the ability for fleet owners to send notifications to their Sprinters out on the road (the Mercedes Pro connectivity system).

This fresh generation of Sprinter is built at a Mercedes-Benz plant in South Carolina.  See the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Turbodiesel engine for superior fuel efficiency
  • Various body styles with choices of lengths and heights
  • Optional AWD
  • Precise handling for a big van

What We Don’t

  • Not a great amount of standard equipment

How Much?

$34,985-$49,985

Fuel Economy

The Sprinter is offered with either rear-wheel drive or AWD. The latter can come with a raised suspension and low-range gearing with push-button activation.

The base engine is a turbocharged 1.9-liter 4-cylinder gasoline unit making 190 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A 9-speed automatic is the sole transmission with this engine.

A 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 developing 190 hp and 324 lb-ft is optional and is linked to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is the only engine that can be paired with AWD.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not provide fuel economy estimates for large vans.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is offered in Cargo, Crew, Passenger and Cab Chassis body styles. There are two wheelbase lengths (144 inches and 170 inches) and two roof heights (67.7 and 79.1 inches), but only the Cargo van is available with the higher roof. Payload strengths run to 1500, 2500, heavy duty 3500 and 3500XD, plus an extra-heavy-duty 4500.

A Cargo version in 1500 form can carry a payload of up to 3,854 pounds and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. In 3500 form, it’s a maximum payload of 4,522 pounds and a towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. The 3500 XD has a total payload of 5,684 pounds, while towing the same amount as the regular 3500. The 4500 can handle up to 6,735 pounds.

Behind the front row, the Sprinter is exceptionally versatile, with up to 533 cu ft. of storage in the Cargo.

The Cargo 1500 ($34,985) comes with 16-in steel wheels, cabin partition preparation, a metal floor, keyless start, a passenger-side sliding door, manually adjustable front seats, air conditioning, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, AM/FM radio with four speakers, USB-C port, auxiliary audio input, load-adaptive ESP, crosswind assist, hold function and hill start assist. It has the 1.9-liter gasoline engine as standard, but the 3.0-liter V6 diesel is an option. It’s also available in both wheelbase lengths and with the standard or higher roof.

Options include cargo protection packages, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alerts, lane-keeping assist, a 7-in infotainment touchscreen, rain-sensing wipers, navigation, wireless charging, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and swiveling bases for the front seats.

The Crew 2500 ($42,485) has a second row of seating with extra side windows and comes with the higher roof.

The Passenger 1500 ($44,185) starts as a 12-seater with the regular wheelbase, going up to a 15-seater in the Passenger 2500 ($49,985) version with the longer wheelbase. It adds two USB-C ports at the rear, along with the option of USB ports and smartphone stowage places at every row.

The Cab Chassis 3500XD ($40,985) is available with either length of wheelbase.

AWD is available in all versions except for the longer-wheelbase Passenger and the Cab Chassis models. Other options (of which there are many) include parking sensors, automated parking feature, LED running lights, fog lights, a heated windshield, headlight washers, roof rails, driver’s side sliding rear door, a chrome grille, 16-in alloy wheels, a rear cabin heater and luxury front seats with extra adjustments.

Safety

The Sprinter has anti-lock disc brakes with automatic drying, brake assist, traction and stability control, roll-over mitigation, plus front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.

Behind the Wheel

Build quality is rock solid, with above-average materials. This new 2019 Sprinter has improved ergonomics, air conditioning and storage spaces. The standard front seats provide sufficient comfort and support for a long day’s work, but consider the optional luxury seats if regular long trips are involved.

If there’s a slightly wrong note, it’s that the previous generation of Sprinter Cargo could hold 586.1 cu ft. of cargo and offered three roof heights: 65, 78.2 and 84.3 inches.

Even at its regular height, though, the Sprinter is undeniably tall. But for its size, the driving experience is agreeable. The responsive steering carves a precise path, while the torque-rich diesel engine serves up decent thrust, even though acceleration is modest. Road and wind noise are low enough not to fatigue the driver, while the ride is firm but not harsh.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Ford Transit — The Transit is a strong rival. With comparable capabilities and similar styling, plus attractive engine options such as a turbodiesel 5-cylinder and a turbocharged 310-hp gasoline V6, this Ford is a must-drive.

2019 Nissan NVNissan’s entry offers less cargo space and only gasoline engines, but it’s priced keenly and offers a powerful V8.

2019 Ram ProMaster — Although the ProMaster’s driving position takes some getting used to (you’ll need long arms), the van has a huge interior and the option of a diesel V6.

Used Ford E-Series — Ford discontinued the venerable E-Series (formerly known as the Econoline) to make way for the Transit. For a bargain workhorse, though, a used E-Series could do the trick.

Autotrader’s Advice

Buying a Mercedes-Benz for work duties might sound somewhat extravagant, but the price includes superb attention to detail and excellent engineering. The strong resale values will also keep the total cost of ownership within reasonable parameters. Unless we were delivering helium-filled balloons, we might wonder whether the standard gasoline engine has sufficient muscle. The diesel engine is definitely worth considering. As are all the driver aids, which could pay for themselves in accidents averted or lessened. Find a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for sale

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