Full 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Review
What's New for 2013
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter carries over unchanged for 2013.
While it may seem opulent or unnecessary to purchase a Mercedes-Benz as your work van, it simply isn't. Competitors like Ford and General Motors offer full-size cargo vans for much less money than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and those vehicles are capable and sufficient, but this Mercedes simply does the job better.
There is a long list of advantages to owning the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the first being its construction and materials. While this large cargo van is not as well equipped as a typical Mercedes luxury sedan, it has an interior that is built to a much higher standard than expected for this class of vehicle. A second advantage to owning the Sprinter is the sheer space available on the inside. Its large exterior dimensions and intelligent interior design make it unmatched for capacity.
The Sprinter has the lowest load floor among all full-size vans by a wide margin. Equip a Sprinter with the biggest configuration and the available high roof and someone as tall as 6 feet, 3 inches can walk completely upright inside the van. Yes, the smaller Nissan NV allows the same feat, but in the American counterparts a person's max height for walking around inside is typically just a bit more than 4 feet.
Driving around town, it's hard to get used to the Sprinter's short hood and massive windshield, but once the initial shock wears off, it's a relatively effortless enterprise. With a vehicle this tall, wide and long, it would be easy to expect maneuverability to suffer, but overall the Sprinter isn't that challenging to drive. For fuel economy, the Mercedes-Benz has a leg up on its Ford, GM and Nissan rivals thanks to its diesel-powered V6 engine that leads the pack in miles per gallon. The Sprinter does falls behind on acceleration and towing capacity, however.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is at the top of its class whether you're using it to carry cargo or passengers, but you will be paying for that excellence. At base levels you'll pay thousands more for the Sprinter than some of its closest rivals. And when the options list grows, so does the difference in price. But in our opinion, the price gap between the Sprinter and similarly equipped rival vans is very much worth it. If superior quality is what you're looking for in your fleet or cargo van, the Sprinter is the right choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 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 only two front seats matched with an empty cargo bay, while the Crew Van is essentially a Cargo Van with a three-place rear bench seat. The Passenger Van features four rows of seats good for 12 people, while the larger MiniBus adds an additional seating row for a grand total of 15 people. The Cargo Van is also available with an extended-length body style as well as a 3500 configuration (versus the standard 2500), which increases its payload capacity.
Standard equipment on the Cargo Van includes 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, right-side sliding door, wood cargo floor, 270-degree-opening rear doors, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a two-speaker radio. The Crew Van is identically equipped save for its second-row bench seat and added adjacent side windows. The Passenger Van is equipped similarly, but features three rear seat rows, rear interior trim, tinted rear windows and two rear speakers. The stretched-wheelbase MiniBus version is essentially an airport or hotel shuttle with additional seats available in a number of different configurations, and it includes an electric dual-panel passenger side door.
The options list for each 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, a heated windshield, heated power mirrors, foglamps, cruise control, a speed limiter, different front seat designs and an upgraded sound system. The Cargo and Crew Vans can be equipped with driver-compartment bulkheads, a roof fan, a fixed rear sunroof and roof rack mounting rails. The Passenger Van and MiniBus can be equipped with a rear heater, rear air-conditioning and rear window wipers. Many of these optional items are available within packages as well.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 that produces 188 horsepower and a robust 325 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic transmission are standard. As it's a Mercedes diesel, this engine features Bluetec exhaust-scrubbing technology. There are no EPA fuel economy estimates available, but given its engine, expect significantly better fuel mileage than that of the Sprinter's Ford and GM competitors.
Every 2013 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.
Interior Design and Special Features
Despite its Mercedes-Benz badge, don't expect wood trim, leather upholstery or the latest high-tech gizmos inside the Sprinter. At the same time, build quality is notably better than in other full-size vans, and the Sprinter generally also has a more modern feel. A tilt-and-telescoping steering column and four different front seat styles with multiple adjustments ensure ample driver comfort, while the Sprinter's modern control layout makes it feel more like a midsize SUV than a utilitarian van.
In its largest configuration, the Sprinter cargo van has a maximum storage capacity of 547 cubic feet. The most a Nissan NV can muster is 323, while the Chevy Express has 270.4. Plus, thanks to its 51-inch sliding door and class-leading 20-inch step-in height, the Sprinter makes climbing inside incredibly easy (both cargo and passenger vans). Once there, the high-roof option and its 6-foot, 4-inch cabin height allows for even tall folks to walk upright. The Nissan NV also manages this trick, but the Ford and Chevy vans at best can only accommodate the Lollipop Guild. The Sprinter's payload is similarly impressive, and the rating of the 2500 Cargo Van ranges from 2,873 pounds to 3,426 pounds depending on body configuration, while the rating of the 3500 ranges from 4,364 pounds to 5,415.
There is no getting around the sheer size of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter when it is configured to its maximum size: 24 feet long and 9 feet high. Considering the tour-buslike dimensions and layout of the Sprinter, with its huge windshield and snub nose front end, it travels well. A manageable carlike driving position and impressive handling make the Sprinter pleasant and effective around town.
Despite its cost, the Sprinter is not always the best-driving full-size van on the market. The turbodiesel V6 engine provides enough thrust around town for daily driving and work duty, but its biggest deficit reveals itself on the highway, where the Sprinter betrays its name and the lack of power becomes abundantly clear. If you require more highway aptitude along with massive interior space, the Nissan NV is your best alternative.