What Is It?
There are plenty of SUV and minivan choices in America that work fantastically for everyday family hauling, but what about families — or even sports teams — requiring a larger number of seats? For those seeking the ultimate family hauler — or who want to start their own shuttle service — it’s hard to beat the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. With an extremely spacious interior and a comfortable ride, the Sprinter is a winner from any seat — even behind the wheel.
Mercedes-Benz provided us with a 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Passenger Van for a few days of driving. Equipped with seating for 12 (including the driver), our test vehicle had a range of options highlighted by LED performance headlights, a powered sliding door with electric sliding step, 16-inch light alloy wheels, the MBUX multimedia system with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, rain-sensing wipers and a 360-degree rearview camera. Total MSRP comes in at $60,972. Competitors to the Sprinter include the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster, Nissan NV, Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.
Big and Boxy
Granted, it can be difficult for automakers to create a vehicle that carries a dozen people (with ease) without making it big and boxy so, yes, the Sprinter is a big box. Although it measures 20 feet long, it is also 10 feet tall so the proportions don’t make it look all that unusual. An added bonus of piloting such a large vehicle — the Sprinter towers above most vehicles, making it easy to spot in a crowded parking lot.
The Sprinter is all Mercedes-Benz, and it takes advantage of the brand’s latest MBUX user interface. Our test vehicle had a 10.25-inch touchscreen that not only provides clear and easy access to the various parts of the infotainment system, set in a black surround it adds a level of style to what most would think of as a commercial van. Climate controls are separate and have intuitive functionality, and there are plenty of storage cubbies and multiple cupholders for the driver and front-seat passenger.
Lots of Seats
Behind the front seats, 10 passengers can spread out among three rows. Each row possesses a decent amount of legroom, and with more than 6 feet of interior standing space no rear-area passenger is getting claustrophobia — even in the last row. Each seat has a cupholder that folds out from the seat bottom, and each row has USB-C charge ports with device holders.
Big Powered Door
Rear seats of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are easily accessible thanks to a large power-operated side door. Our van was equipped with a Passenger Accessibility package that includes an electric-sliding step, which makes stepping into the van much more convenient for passengers.
At the rear of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are two large doors that provide a wide opening for cargo loading — each door swings 180 degrees as needed. Even with plenty of space behind the seats, if more room is required the seats can be removed. However, removing seats is no simple task — since a row of four seats is rather cumbersome, this task requires at least two strong people and some definite intent to use the space created after all the effort.
Under the Hood
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter we tested was equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 190 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Power gets sent to the rear wheels; however, the Sprinter is also available with all-wheel drive. The EPA does not provide fuel economy ratings for the Sprinter van; however, during our drive we averaged around 17 mpg during mostly city driving.
On the Road
At first glance the Sprinter can be intimidating — after all, it is a large vehicle. However, the van is surprisingly easy to drive. Although tall and long, it is not that much wider than a typical large car or SUV, so there is no need to stress if roads become narrow. Occupants sit high off the road and have windows all around, and large mirrors give the driver excellent visibility.
No one would expect a van of this size to be a hot rod — and it isn’t. As much fun as an AMG-powered Sprinter would be, passengers might not find it all that enjoyable as they get flailed around in back. That said, acceleration in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is still decent, especially given its small 4-cylinder engine.
During our drive there was always adequate power for getting up to speed, but even though Mercedes-Benz claims the Sprinter will reach 90 mph, it is not something we’d recommend. Cruising at highway speeds is fine, but as a Sprinter approaches 70 mph the big empty van can feel a little unstable; adding a load of passengers and cargo would likely provide some level of stability. Otherwise the ride is smooth and comfortable.
Easy to Drive
In everyday around-town driving the Sprinter does quite well. It is easily maneuverable for a vehicle of its size, and it even handles winding roads without much cause for concern — an impressive feat for a vehicle that looks as if it might fall over in a stiff breeze.
Although it may not be a typical Mercedes-Benz, the Sprinter achieves the quality associated with the German car company. With a spacious interior for passengers and cargo and the latest convenience and safety features, the Sprinter excels at its primary purpose — transporting large groups of people in safety and comfort.