Looked at Mini-vans, SUVs, and Full-sizers. Minivan was ruled out as it could not pull the boat, SUV was hard on gas, and Ford/GM full size was not too good on gas either and drove like slugs and did not handle as nice. The Sprinter drives much smaller than it is, is easy to park, great visibility, handles well, and hauls 8 very comfortably. I tinited the windows and did the M-B grille and badge conversion and it looks great! It is fun to drive and everyone is always checking it out. Draws a small crowd at the truck stop fueling up. Love those high-speed diesel pumps!
Purchased 2006 Sprinter for Electrical construction business. Dealership explained all the advantages of the vehicle- low maintenance, good mileage,long engine life. Maintenance and reliablitiy are a nightmare. Paint rusted in first year. Brake rotors have very limited life and are expensive to replace. Very few mechanics can work on the vehicle. Vehicle has been towed for blown turbo- resonator, burnt out starter relay wire, and frozen fuel(even with additives). If you have business this is the wrong vehicle for you. Manufacture does not back up many defects.
Somewhat spartan in ergonomics, the Sprinter is fairly comfortable in a basic way. It does not compare to American made vans (in the same price range) in technology and creature comforts. More advanced features are not even available. It seems the Euro style is stark functionality over luxury. Functionality is key. I appreciate the economy, handling, and spaciousness greatly. This is where this van beats domestics hands down. I consider the Sprinter passenger van to be a "happy medium" between a bare bones cargo van and a decked out domestic family van. I can't comment on the reliability due to it's newness, but the diesel model has been around for years and the turbo gives it a boost.
I love my Sprinter, I don't like chancing front brake pads every 28,000 miles. I don't like that I'm on my 3rd $116 transmission pan gasket, I don't like that I just replaced mt A/C compressor, filter dryer and expansion valve at 48,000 miles. I HATE that my roof leaks at the seams and most of the spot welds on the roof are rusting from the inside out! I have put multiple coats of Menzerna FMJ per year expecting it to help seal what I knew was crappy paint when I bought it. This weekend I lost several thousand dollars worth of inventory in my well kept van from a leaky roof. I'm livid! I hate that my hood rusted from the inside under my 3M invisible bra. A cassette deck? Come on! It's 2006!