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Yes, it is pricey, but the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is without question the best full-size van for cargo and passenger purposes.
Unmatched interior size, walk-through cabin, wide variety of body styles, superior fuel economy, relatively maneuverable, Mercedes-Benz craftsmanship.
Mercedes-Benz price, engine lacks power and towing capacity.
Available Sprinter Models
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The 2010 Sprinter is now being sold as a Mercedes-Benz. Dodge has stopped selling this Mercedes-built van due to its recent financial reorganization, so Mercedes has decided to start selling it under its own name for the first time. The Sprinter gains a more powerful engine this year.
If the idea of buying a Mercedes-Benz cargo van seems like a pointless extravagance for your cargo-hauling or mass people-carrying needs, then you're probably not alone. Ford and GM are no doubt going to sell exponentially more of their less expensive passenger and cargo vans this year. However, the Sprinter -- it's always been Mercedes-built but has previously been sold as a Dodge the past seven years -- does have a number of design attributes that make it the best cargo and passenger van on the market.
For one, its more space-efficient design means that it has roughly the same interior volume as a New York apartment. The load floor is the lowest among full-size vans and, with the taller of two available roofs, someone 6-foot-3 can walk around upright within its rear compartment. By comparison, only someone 4-foot-3 can walk around inside a Ford E-Series. In its biggest configuration, the Sprinter cargo van has a maximum storage capacity of 547 cubic feet -- the most a Chevy Express can muster is 237.3.
Despite being bigger and taller than everything else, the Sprinter is actually more maneuverable around town thanks to a more modern chassis design (by several decades). In fact, driving the Sprinter feels notably less trucklike and benefits from the visibility afforded by its colossal windshield and short front end.
Another advantage is fuel economy thanks to the Sprinter's standard turbodiesel engine, which makes more power as a Mercedes than it did as a Dodge. It also features Mercedes Bluetec clean-diesel technology. However, while the Sprinter's diesel V6 offers similar torque to its competitors' smaller V8s, its horsepower is way down and no one would describe it as anything but slow -- the Sprinter name is without question, ironic. As such, the Sprinter is best suited for an urban or suburban environment rather than the highway.
Now, should you find the Mercedes-Benz badge too pretentious, the Sprinter is also sold as a Freightliner with almost identical specification. Unfortunately, both versions are considerably more expensive than the domestic vans. Though superior in most ways to its ancient competitors from GM and Ford, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter's added cost may be hard to justify. That's a shame, though you could always try to find a used Dodge version instead.c
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a full-size van available in multiple configurations, each available with two wheelbases and two roof heights. The cargo van has two front seats only with an empty cargo bay, while the passenger van features four rows of seats good for 12 people. The cargo van is also available in 3500 configuration (versus the standard 2500), which increases its payload capacity.
Standard equipment on the cargo van includes 16-inch steel wheels, a right-side sliding door, a wood cargo floor, 270-degree rear doors, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker radio. The passenger van is equipped similarly, but features three rear seat rows, rear interior trim, tinted rear windows and rear speakers.
The options list for both is lengthy, but highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, a driver-side sliding rear door, parking sensors, a rearview camera, bi-xenon headlights, headlight washers, automatic headlights and wipers, heated windshield, heated power mirrors, foglamps, cruise control, upgraded front seats and an upgraded stereo. The cargo van can be equipped with driver compartment bulkheads, a roof fan, fixed rear sunroof and roof rack mounting rails. The passenger van can be equipped with a rear heater, rear air-conditioning and rear windshield wipers. Many of these optional items are available within packages as well.
Every 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is rear-wheel drive and powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with Bluetec exhaust-scrubbing technology. Output is 188 horsepower and a robust 325 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. There are no EPA-estimated fuel economy estimates available for the Sprinter, but given its engine, expect significantly better gas mileage than that of its Ford and GM competitors. Properly equipped, the Sprinter can tow 5,000 pounds.
Every 2010 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes standard with stability and traction control, and front airbags. Optional are a driver side airbag, driver and front passenger side airbags packaged together, front side curtain airbags, parking sensors, a back-up alarm and a rearview camera.
Despite its Mercedes-Benz badge, don't expect wood trim, leather upholstery or the latest high-tech gizmos inside the Sprinter. However, build quality is notably better than in other full-size vans, and it also has a more modern feel to it. A tilt-and-telescoping steering column and four different front-seat styles with multiple adjustments ensure ample comfort, while the Sprinter's modern control layout makes it feel more like a midsize SUV than a utilitarian van.
Thanks to its 51-inch sliding-door opening and class-leading 20-inch step-up height, the Sprinter makes entering and exiting the passenger area a cinch. Inside, the high-roof option and its 6-foot-4-inch cabin height allow for even tall folks to walk upright -- the Ford and Chevy at best can only accommodate the Lollipop Guild. Payload is similarly superior to its competitors, with the 2500 cargo van's ranging from 2,872 pounds to 3,469 depending on body configuration, while the 3500 ranges from 4,845-5,375.
With its panoramic windshield and truncated front end, the 2010 Mercedes Sprinter does a pretty fair impression of a tour bus from behind the wheel. And at up to 23 feet long and 9 feet high, it could be one, too. But a reasonably carlike driving position and respectable handling help make the Sprinter feel manageable around town. Quite simply, this is the easiest and least cumbersome full-size van to drive. At low speeds, the turbodiesel engine offers satisfactory thrust, but its power deficit becomes glaringly apparent on the highway.
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