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2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a versatile, refined van suited to a wide range of commercial and fleet uses.
For commercial van shoppers, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is, well, the Mercedes-Benz of passenger- and cargo-haulers. It may look like last year’s model from most angles, but the 2019 Sprinter has a more comfortable interior, updated powertrains, and the most advanced connectivity of any vehicle to wear the three-pointed star. For fleet operators—those with big budgets, at least—the Sprinter is just the ticket.


We rate it at 4.0 out of 10 on a scale that’s admittedly biased toward consumer-oriented cars. 

Notably, the Sprinter can also be bought through big-rig dealers as the Freightliner Sprinter.

The Sprinter is available in two wheelbases with numerous body configurations and powertrains. Most Sprinters will feature a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 rated at 190 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque that moves an unladen van along with remarkable ability. A 1.9-liter turbo-4 gas engine rated at 190 hp and 258 lb-ft cribbed from the smaller Mercedes Metris van lineup is also available, but we haven’t yet driven it.

Myriad configurations include full cargo, partial cargo/passenger, 17-seat passenger, and cab versions ready for aftermarket upfitting. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is a new option, but a high-riding dedicated four-wheel-drive model isn’t available.

The Sprinter’s high seating position affords it with Empire State Building-grade outward vision. Firm, multi-adjustable seats available in cloth and hard-wearing synthetic leather trim provide all-day comfort. The Sprinter’s switches and materials are similar to what’s used in the automaker’s luxury cars, and they’re easy to sort through.

The available 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment debuts the automaker’s latest software for the U.S. market. It’s easy to sort through but light on hard buttons for quick, eyes-off-the-road access. Fleet operators with more than a few vans can opt for a service that links vans together to display vehicle locations and operating status as well as the ability to push notifications to vans via the infotainment display.

Passenger van versions of the Sprinter can accommodate up to 17 in reasonable comfort, although four abreast in the last row is positively economy class.

The Sprinter is unlikely to be crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, but it is available with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control.

This year’s Sprinter is built at a new Mercedes van assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, which helps it skirt a tax levied on commercial-oriented vehicles built overseas.

Styling
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter blends some high-tech touches with a boxy, functional body.
If there’s such a thing as a pretty van, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is probably it. We rate it 3 out of 10, pulling back two points for its ungainly proportions.

The boxy exterior doesn’t matter from the driver’s seat, however, And its slab sides allow for big company logos. LED headlights up front point the way forward and are joined by high-visibility LED taillights. Unpainted bumpers and steel wheels are standard, but hotel shuttle operators and those trying to project a more upscale image can opt for painted trim and alloy wheels.

Inside, the Sprinter has a beautiful three-spoke steering wheel that can be optionally wrapped in leather—a worthwhile addition for drivers who spend all day at the wheel. The dash itself is curvy, with plenty of small pockets for storage. Base Sprinters have a simple radio head unit, but the optional 7.0- and 10.3-inch touchscreens that hover out of the dash give it an upscale look.

Performance
By big van standards, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter lives up to its name.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter won’t set any records on a race track, but its performance is poised and composed for a big van. We dial back points for its trucky ride and for the tippy feel inevitable from its high center of gravity.

It’s a 3 out of 10 on our scale.

This year, a 1.9-liter turbo-4 rated at 190 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque comes standard. It’s mated to a 9-speed automatic and it sends power to the rear wheels. We’ve not yet driven this setup, but we question its ability to accelerate a fully laden van with any authority.
The optional 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6’s 324 lb-ft makes it a better choice. The V-6 pairs to a 7-speed automatic that sends power rearward or, optionally, to all four wheels. Though it makes more diesel clatter than you’ll find in most modern passenger cars, the Sprinter’s engine endows it with good acceleration. We observed about 20 mpg driving an unladen dual rear-wheel model.

A properly equipped Sprinter can tow up to 7,500 pounds and its maximum gross vehicle weight rating is an impressive 12,125 pounds.

The Sprinter’s steering is crisp and precise, and a careful design for its front suspension gives the big van a terrific turning radius in tight city situations. Its ride, unladen, is firm but controlled. At highway speeds, the Sprinter lets in a lot of road and wind rush, but it tracks straight and is aided by its available active lane control and adaptive cruise control.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter can handle just about anything in reasonable comfort.
The driver and passenger get the best seats in the house in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. We deduct points for the passenger van’s tight rear rows and for the drab interior finish, but add them back for comfortable front seats and exceptional cargo utility.

Overall, we land at a 5 out of 10 for the 2019 Sprinter’s comfort and quality. 

Up front, the driver’s and passenger’s seats are all-day comfortable and multi-adjustable. Power adjustment is optional and includes memory, a nice feature for vans that might be shared between multiple drivers over the course of a day or week.

Outward vision is stellar up front, less so for rear-seat passengers. Its rear benches are firm and upright, with Spirit Airlines-grade leg room. Optional USB ports for rear-seat riders help, but the Sprinter is best used as an around-town shuttle than a touring van for when the band gets back together.

Cargo is the Sprinter’s forte: the biggest versions hold up to 488 cubic-feet of stuff. In San Francisco, that’d cost about $1,500 a month plus utilities.

Safety
It’s not likely that the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be crash-tested.
Big vans such as the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are not usually crash-tested by both the IIHS and the NHTSA, so we can’t assign a score here. If they do test the 2019 Sprinter, we’ll update this space. 

The Sprinter comes with six airbags and offers a wide array of advanced tech such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Not only are these important safety features, they may help lower running costs by eliminating fender-benders.

Features
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a blank canvas—albeit an expensive one.
Fleet buyers will want to spend an afternoon or two picking the right configuration and options for their 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. We rate the Sprinter at 5 out of 10, pulling back a point for its spartan base specification that we add back in for its huge amount of customizability. 

The Sprinter comes in four body styles and two wheelbases, most of which can be ordered with either gas 4-cylinder or turbodiesel V-6 power and either rear- or four-wheel drive.

Base Sprinters are just that: basic. They do have power windows and locks, keyless ignition, and air conditioning, but that’s about it. Standard connectivity lets fleet operators keep track of vans from a website or smartphone app, but advanced features cost $29 monthly.

The Sprinter’s myriad options include upgraded touchscreens for infotainment in 7.0- and 10.3-inch sizes, different upholstery, painted bumpers, alloy wheels, and various cargo management solutions.

We recommend the larger infotainment screen. It’s crisp and bright and easy to use. Most importantly, it allows for fleet managers to push notifications such as new jobs and points of interest directly to the head unit.

Fuel Economy
A loophole exempts the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from the EPA’s tests.
A loophole in EPA testing means that the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter doesn’t report its fuel economy to the feds. As a result, we can’t assign it a score here. 

In a brief test drive in South Carolina near the plant where Sprinters are assembled for North America, we observed 20 mpg on the van’s trip computer. Our test was in an unladen Sprinter with the diesel engine and dual rear wheels and it included low- and high-speed driving.

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