Mercedes-Benz has debuted its third-generation Sprinter van in Duisburg, Germany, appropriately at a portside warehouse. This marks the first all-new Sprinter since 2006 and represents a huge leap forward for the utility vehicle. The van sports a new exterior design, a classy interior with touches from the E-Class, and Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system that recently debuted at the 2018 Consumer Electronics show. What’s more, the Sprinter is going electric with the eSprinter variant. Preliminary specs say it uses a 41.4 kWh battery pack with a range of roughly 100 miles.
The Sprinter has enjoyed a very successful run since its introduction in 1995. The van is currently sold in 130 markets and has a lifetime sales figure exceeding 3.4 million. Just last year, Mercedes sold 200,500 Sprinters globally. The new 2019 model replaces the aging second-generation Sprinter, which has been around since 2006. Unfortunately for the U.S., the new Sprinter won’t arrive until late 2019, likely making it a 2020 model.
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– * New design
– * Upscale appearance
– * Double sliding doors on cargo models
– * Large barndoor-style rear doors
The new 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has a new face, along with several updated details. The new front end has a taller, more distinguished face. The bumper extends nearly halfway up the grille and the new headlights are more compact and carlike. Lower trim levels have a black plastic bumper, while upper models have a body-colored bumper. Upper trims also get swanky LED headlights with LED daytime running lights shaped after Mercedes’ typical “eyebrow” design. Fog lights are an option, too.
Thanks to the taller grille and more upright bumper, the hood is actually flatter than before. The new look is likely to help with crashworthiness. Nevertheless, the driver will have an unobstructed view forward through the massive windshield.
Things don’t change much around the Sprinter’s sides. That’s actually by design, though. Mercedes wanted to keep the dimensions and overall shape the same so aftermarket upfit companies will need very little modifications to their equipment. Examples include wall-mounted shelving, dividers for the cab and cargo space, and other clever storage options. The stylized character line found on the outgoing Sprinter is gone, however. The van’s new sides look cleaner and less cluttered than before.
Around back, the rear doors are now very minimalists due to that missing character line from before. The Mercedes logo has also been moved; it’s now located below the windows rather than incorporated into them. New, more stylized taillights are more upscale than the segmented and blocky taillights on the outgoing model.
– * Upscale interior with E-Class cues
– * New MBUX infotainment system
– * Available wireless phone charging
– * Available 360-degree camera system
– * Up to 600 cubic feet of cargo space
– * Hauls up to 12,125 pounds of cargo
While improved, the outside’s changes pale in comparison to the 2019 Sprinter’s new interior. The new dash takes after the E-Class by using several of the same switches and controls, along with the turbine-style air vents. Even the power seat adjustment buttons look pulled from a premium luxury sedan – and even the passenger side gets memory settings on upper trims.
Aside from looking nice, the new van also includes some cutting edge technology. The optional infotainment system is the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, infotainment system. It has voice recognition like many modern smart devices. Simply say “Hey Mercedes” or just “Mercedes,” and the infotainment system will begin listening for commands. The 10.25-inch HD screen includes 3D mapping that’s aided by an Nvidia graphics chip.
The system also receives updates automatically and over the air. A 360-degree camera system can be had, too, making the large van much easier to drive in tight spots. Other optional safety equipment includes Blind Spot Assist, pedestrian detection, and Mercedes’ Crosswind Assist. Autonomous safety tech includes adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
The driver gets to view a rather large, full-color information screen in the gauge cluster. it offers trip computer information, vehicle parameters, audio info, and turn-by-turn directions from the navigation system. Of course, the screen can be configured by the driver.
The steering wheel is also very “E-Classy” it features touch-sensitive controls that operate the driver information screen, along with other buttons that control the audio, phone connectivity, and cruise control. Push-button starting is standard.
Lower trims make use of a less glamours radio head. It only has a small LCD screen with radio information and a clock. Interestingly, Sprinters equipped with the manual transmission have the shifter placed on the center console in what is otherwise a storage compartment. It’s not too dissimilar from the outgoing Sprinter’s design.
In the business end of things, the Sprinter remains very similar to the outgoing model. As mentioned, that’s a great thing for aftermarket upfitter companies that sell custom-fit shelving and other equipment for the Sprinter. Cargo models offer dual sliding doors for nearly limitless access. Both sliding doors and the rear access are wide enough for a standard shipping pallet. The Sprinter has a maximum cargo volume of 17 cubic meters, or 600 cubic feet and will carry 5.5 metric tons, or 12,125 pounds. That’s impressive.
When it comes to hauling people rather than cargo, the Sprinter can be optioned with up to 18 seats in the rear, making for a total of 20 occupants.
More amazingly, the Sprinter is offered in more than 1,700 variants with different cab, body lengths, drivetrain options, payload capacities, roof heights, trim, and other options.
– * U.S.-spec Sprinter now offer four-cylinder gasoline engine
– * Four- & six-cylinder turbodiesel options
– * New eSprinter with 41.4 kWh battery & 100-mile range
Mercedes was pretty quiet on powertrain details at the launch. We do know both four- and six-cylinder turbodiesel options will be prevalent. Here in the U.S., the Sprinter will debut with a four-cylinder gasoline engine – a first for the U.S.-spec Sprinter. Those turbodiesel engine options will follow. Both automatic and manual transmission options will be available, too. Mercedes will also continue to sell the 4×4 version with its 4WD powertrain, lifted suspension, and off-road tires. The bulk of U.S. Sprinters will have rear-wheel drive.
The big powertrain news is the new eSprinter version. The van will use a 41.4 kWh battery pack that offers a range of roughly 100 miles. Mercedes says those figures are subject to change as the van is still in development. This isn’t Mercedes’ first all-electric van, though. The compact Vito van got an eVito version back in November of 2017. Mercedes is still taking orders for the eVito and will begin shipping them later this year. The eSprinter is expected several months after the standard 2019 Sprinter makes its European debut in showrooms.
As with most new vehicle debuts, Mercedes did not discuss prices. However, Robert Veit, managing director for Mercedes-Benz USA, spoke with Trucks.com and said the new model will actually have a sharp decrease in pricing thanks to the newly available gasoline engine. According to Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for the AutoPacific consulting firm, told Truck.com that prices could drop by $3,000 to $4,000.
Aside from the decreased cost of manufacturing for a gasoline engine, the decrease in price will help the Mercedes better compete with the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster. Both the Ford and Ram are priced below the current Sprinter’s base MSRP of around $34,000.
The Ford Transit might be relatively new to U.S. shores, but Ford has sold the van globally for decades. Replacing the outdated Econoline van in 2014. Like other “Euro van” configurations, the Transit has a cab-forward design that allows for a short nose. This both allows for maximum use of the wheelbase for cargo room, but also makes for a high, commanding view of the road for the driver.
Here in the U.S., the Transit comes with three engine options. The base is Ford’s 3.7-liter V-6. The humble engine makes 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Those fond of gasoline but want something more powerful will like the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. That engine kicks out 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Diesel fans will like the 3.2-liter inline-five turbodiesel. It makes 185 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Regardless of engine, every Transit comes with a six-speed automatic transmission that powers the rear wheels.
Prices for the 2018 Ford Transits start at $32,285. Three wheelbases, three roof heights, three trim levels, and the choice between the cargo and passenger model make the Transit incredibly customizable. Not to mention, Ford offers a cut-away version, too.
Read more about the 2018 Ford Transit.
Like the Mercedes and Ford, the Ram ProMaster is a globally available “Euro van” that offers maximum cargo space with a low load floor and a cab-over design. However, the Ram ProMaster name is an American thing. Before FCA was formed, the van was the Fiat Ducato. It still uses that name outside the U.S., though all but the badge is basically the same. Like the others, the ProMaster is available in a nearly limitless number of sizes and configurations.
Powering the U.S.-spec ProMaster is the familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. In this application, it makes 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 was available until the EPA’s lawsuit with FCA over diesel emissions, however, it seems the EcoDiesel’s future is still bright.
Prices for the 2018 Ram ProMaster start at $29,995 for the cargo version and $34,345 for the passenger model.
Read more about the 2018 Ram ProMaster.
The new 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van is a huge leap forward for Mercedes commercial vehicle division. The updates and innovative in-dash technology aren’t only new for the commercial van segment, but break ground for the entire auto industry. Count on seeing much more of the Mercedes MBUX system over the coming years, for sure.
While U.S. customers will have to wait until late 2019 for the updated van, the wait seems worthwhile. That’s especially true for the new eSprinter electric version. It marks the first full-size commercial van to make the leap to an electric drivetrain. Sadly, that model will require an even longer wait.
On a related note, we’re expected to see these changes reach the Freightliner Sprinter in the near future, too. Freightliner in under the Daimler umbrella and sells its rebadged version of the Sprinter van in the U.S.
Read our full review on the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Read more Mercedes-Benz news.