Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van Review

Edmunds expert review

Though pricier than its rivals, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a spacious and refined full-size van that generally justifies the extra cost.




What's new for 2016

A new, smaller fuel tank is now standard (24.5 gallons versus 26.4), while front side and front side curtain airbags are now standard on all Sprinter 2500 models and 3500 models with the 9,990-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Also, the optional 4WD system now offers hill descent control.

Vehicle overview

A Mercedes van? What are you going to ask for next? Diamond-encrusted tools? Uniforms by Versace? How about Gordon Ramsay working in the cafeteria?

While the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter may at first glance seem like an extravagance for any business, or exceedingly large family, don't be so quick to dismiss it. Although it costs more than its rivals from Ford, Nissan and Ram, the premium is nothing like what you'd pay for a Mercedes sedan or crossover. Indeed, the Sprinter was conceived as a workhorse, not a luxury vehicle, so the most pretentious thing about it is the three-pointed star on the grille. If you're not convinced, consider the fact that the workaday Freightliner Sprinter is virtually the same van.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter brings German solidity and craftsmanship to the commercial van segment.

In terms of capability, the Mercedes Sprinter boasts an impressive number of body-style variations and unmatched interior space. Both passenger and cargo vans are available in two lengths and with a choice of regular and high roof heights, while the cargo van goes a step further with its super high roof option. With the Sprinter's 7 feet of interior clearance, Mercedes has finally provided the Portland Trailblazers with the means to deliver packages or wedding cakes. Shoppers in frostier climes should also take note of the distinctive availability of four-wheel drive.

From behind the wheel, the Sprinter provides an unfettered view of the road ahead and a driving position that's more indicative of an SUV than a commercial truck. In tight quarters, it's far more maneuverable than its jumbo proportions would suggest. If there's a weak link here, it's the relatively modest performance under the hood. Although both the standard four-cylinder diesel engine and the optional diesel V6 provide ample punch around town, they tend to run out of steam on the highway. Should you find the Sprinter's acceleration lacking, keep in mind that every rival has more power on tap.

As for those competitors, the 2016 Ford Transit is particularly compelling with its Sprinter-like styling, carlike dynamics and strong engines, including a five-cylinder diesel and a turbocharged V6 with 310 horsepower. The 2016 Ram ProMaster is saddled with an awkward driving position produced by its buslike steering wheel, but it's a viable utility vehicle for the money. The 2016 Nissan NV is also worth a look, as prices are significantly lower to start and there's an available V8 engine that boasts a towing capacity near 10,000 pounds. But if you don't view the Mercedes badge as an extravagance and your budget can handle the extra cost, the versatile and capable 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is bound to get the job done.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a full-size van available in multiple configurations. The cargo van matches two front seats to an empty cargo bay, while the crew van essentially adds a three-place rear bench seat to the cargo van, raising seating capacity to five. The passenger van accommodates up to 12 passengers across its four-row seating. The crew and passenger vans are available in two wheelbases and two roof heights (standard and high), with a third roof height (super high) available on the cargo van.

Note that the Sprinters are divided into two categories: regular-duty 2500 and heavy-duty 3500.

Standard equipment on the cargo van (offered in standard- and extended-length body styles and 2500 or 3500 configuration) includes 16-inch steel wheels, hill-start assist, a passenger-side sliding rear door, a wood cargo floor, 270-degree-opening rear doors, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a front five-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

The 2016 Sprinter may wear a three-pointed star on its steering wheel, but this is a no-nonsense utility van, not a luxury vehicle.

The crew van (available only in 2500 configuration) gets the same standard equipment but adds a second-row bench seat and adjacent side windows. The passenger van (also only available in 2500 configuration) is similar, but features three rows of rear seats, rear interior trim, tinted rear windows and eight additional speakers in the rear for a grand total of 13.

The options list for each is lengthy, but highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, a driver-side sliding rear door, a heavy-duty suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, xenon headlights, foglamps, rear door windows with wipers and washers, a Driver Assistance package of high-tech driver safety aids (see Safety section), automatic headlights and wipers, a heated windshield, heated power mirrors, cruise control, a rear cabin heater, upgraded front seats, heated front driver and passenger seats (available separately) and a navigation system.

Cargo and crew vans can be equipped with driver-compartment partitions, a roof fan, a fixed rear sunroof, roof rails and various interior storage options. The passenger van can be equipped with rear air-conditioning. Many of these optional items are available within packages as well.



Performance & mpg

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is powered by a choice of two engines. The first is a turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel generating 161 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard.

The second available engine is a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 rated at 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive is also available, optionally with a dual-range transfer case.

There are no EPA fuel economy estimates for full-size vans, but given the efficiency of diesel engines, expect the Sprinter to achieve significantly better mileage than competitors with gasoline engines.

Properly equipped and regardless of engine, a Sprinter 2500 can tow as much as 5,000 pounds and a 3500 can tow as much as 7,500 pounds. The Sprinter's payload is similarly impressive. The 2500 cargo van is rated from 2,973 pounds to 3,513 pounds, depending on body configuration. The 3500, meanwhile, ranges from 3,895-5,585 pounds.

Safety

Every 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes standard with stability and traction control, front airbags and rollover mitigation. Standard on Sprinter 2500 models are front side and front side curtain airbags as well as Crosswind Assist, which uses targeted braking at speeds above 50 mph for extra stability control.

Optional safety features include a driver side airbag, driver and front passenger side airbags packaged together, front side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Driver Assistance package adds a forward collision warning system, lane-departure prevention, a blind-spot warning system and automatic high beam control.

Driving

There's no escaping the sheer size of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, especially when configured to its maximum size: more than 24 feet long and 10 feet high. But in spite of its tour-buslike dimensions and layout, the Sprinter travels well. A manageable driving position and impressive handling make the Mercedes van pleasant and surprisingly maneuverable around town, while electronic aids help fight the wind gusts at speed.

As cargo vans go, the Mercedes Sprinter is one of the easiest to drive and maneuver.

We've yet to drive a Sprinter with the diesel-powered four-cylinder engine or with the optional four-wheel-drive system available with the bigger V6 engine. But given that this van sometimes struggles to keep up on the highway with the V6 and two-wheel drive, it's safe to say that speedy acceleration isn't a priority here. Indeed, "Sprinter" is an oxymoron. If you require more highway aptitude along with massive interior space, the Ford Transit is a great alternative. But the four-wheel-drive option for the Sprinter really makes it stand out in the class as the most capable van for poor weather conditions.

Interior

While it is made by Mercedes-Benz, the 2016 Sprinter isn't exactly a paragon of luxury and opulence. That said, build quality is excellent for the segment, and the cabin feels modern overall. A tilt-and-telescoping steering column and different front seat styles with multiple adjustments ensure ample driver comfort, while the modern control layout feels more like a midsize SUV than a utilitarian van. Buttons and knobs are a bit basic, but functional and easy to use.

If you're searching for the cargo champion, look no further than the 2016 Sprinter.

With the standard 144-inch wheelbase and the standard roof height, the Sprinter's maximum cargo capacity is 319 cubic feet. However, in its largest configuration (the 170-inch wheelbase with the super high roof), the Sprinter cargo van has a maximum storage capacity of 586 cubic feet. In addition to being roughly the size of a typical Manhattan apartment, that's also more than the competition offers. The largest Ford Transit can hold 487 cubes, while the ProMaster Cargo offers 4 cubes. The Sprinter's 51-inch sliding door and 20-inch step-in height also make climbing inside incredibly easy.

While the standard roof height on the Sprinter is about the class average at 65 inches, the high roof option raises the ceiling to 78.2 inches. As if that weren't tall enough, the cargo van's super high roof option raises it to 84.3 inches. That's more than 7 feet of interior height, and more than enough to be the segment leader.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.