The vehicle you see here brings the title of a Monty Python movie to mind: “And Now for Something Completely Different.”
I normally gravitate toward Mercedes-Benz vehicles because they’re sculpted, luxurious marvels of engineering with comfort and convenience features that make 500 miles feel like 50. They sometimes feature technologies I would have never even imagined and have not seen on other vehicles.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew Van I recently evaluated was – you guessed it – completely different. It was a giant square red van with a diesel engine and four-wheel drive – the other side of Mercedes. Most people know the German automaker manufactures lavishly trimmed coupes, sedans, sports cars, and SUVs, but it also makes a variety of vans for personal and professional use. The mid-size Metris family includes Cargo Van and Passenger Van models available in regular and Worker trim lines.
The Sprinter is Mercedes’ full-size van. Like its Metris cousin, the Sprinter Cargo Van is available as a normal model and a Worker model. The Chassis Cab is not really a van, but you can top the back of it with a cargo box or whatever else the job calls for. There’s also a Passenger Van version of the Sprinter. The van that Mercedes had available to review in my area was the Sprinter 2500 Crew Van. Think of it as a sort of halfway point between the most utilitarian and passenger-friendly Sprinter models. I chose to use it as a giant tool to help me move out of my apartment.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Exterior
Mercedes-Benz knows its van customers work in a variety of industries and need a vehicle that can fit their needs. That’s why it makes the Sprinter with 144-inch and 170-inch wheelbases, a normal roof and high roof, and two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Depending on which Sprinter model and configuration you choose, you can upfit it with functional accessories for refrigeration, people moving, HVAC and plumbing, electrical/telecommunications, general, or delivery services.
Mercedes sent me a Sprinter with the 144-inch wheelbase, standard roof, and four-wheel drive. Even then, my test vehicle was eight feet tall, 19 feet long, and eight feet wide (including its mirrors). Twelve feet separated its 16-inch alloy wheels. Its enormous size and extra-cost Flame Red paint made it the automotive version of Clifford the Big Red Dog, so I nicknamed my test vehicle after the giant cartoon canine.
Mercedes dressed Clifford up with a few options and packages. Those included a chrome-trimmed three-bar grille, heated windshield, and helpful power sliding step. The Trailer Hitch Package contained a hitch receiver, wiring, and a cross member with a 5,000-pound capacity. Thanks to the Premium Appearance Package, I had self-cleaning bi-xenon headlights to guide Clifford from my old place to my new place.
Getting Clifford where I needed him to go took some getting used to. Length, width, and height are the components of slow, careful exits from parking spots. The Sprinter alerted everyone around me that I was backing up by emitting a series of loud beeps. The backup camera helped me see some of what was behind me, but not everything. I also relied on the side mirrors and my memory of my surroundings to get out of parking lots without scrapes and dings.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Interior
The inside of the Sprinter Crew Van was more work-focused than its more traditional Mercedes cousins and featured black leatherette upholstery and easy-to-clean vinyl floors. However, the automaker does offer options and packages that make the Sprinter more comfortable. A leather steering wheel makes it feel more like the other Mercedes vehicles we all know. Rear spring vibration absorbers helped soften the impact from bumps in the road. Mercedes named the Driver Comfort Package accurately because its front seats felt great, especially after my girlfriend and I activated their built-in heaters. Those kept us pleasantly warm while we moved furniture. After a long day of transporting a queen size bed and other heavy pieces from one apartment to another, it was nice to be able to not think for a while. The Driver Efficiency Package’s Becker navigation system and cruise control gave me that luxury, in addition to fog lamps and a rear view camera.
Loading things into the back of the Sprinter Crew Van was easy thanks to its rear doors that opened 270 degrees, optional interior grab handles, sliding passenger-side cargo door, interior standing height of 64 inches, and 27.6-inch rear load height. Despite having a second row bench seat, my test vehicle had an interior cargo capacity of 220 cubic feet. That’s enough to swallow a one-person kayak or a queen size mattress and un-collapsed frame. Trust me. I know from experience.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Performance
The Sprinter uses a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel with 188 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, and a five-speed automatic to get the job – whatever that happens to be – done. Low-range four-wheel drive is as easy to access as shifting into neutral and pushing a button. The generously sized rear cargo hold can carry up to 2,983 pounds of payload. Just in case the Sprinter’s ample interior storage capabilities are not enough, it can also pull as much as 5,000 pounds.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Safety
The Sprinter Crew Van comes standard with regular, thorax, and window airbags for the two front passengers. In addition, the Sprinter is equipped with four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, Hill Start Assist, load adaptive stability control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. My test vehicle was also outfitted with the optional Active Safety Plus Package with Parktronic. That added features such as Blind Spot, Prevention, High Beam, Crosswind, and Lane Keeping assists; Parktronic parking aid; heated mirrors; a first aid kit; and an emergency flashlight.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Overall
Prices for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 Crew Van start at $41,495.* A Sprinter just like Clifford will cost you $60,450. If you want a Clifford of your own to help you move (or operate a plumbing business, telecom service, baked goods delivery enterprise, etc.) you can get it at an AutoNation-affiliated Mercedes-Benz dealership.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.