Sprinter goes the distance

December 15, 2010
by Howard J Elmer

PURCHASINGB2B MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010: Recently a fleet of Sprinter vans assembled at Ontario Place in Toronto to show off a new badge—well actually, an old one—Mercedes that is.

Sprinter has always been built by Mercedes but until this year was marketed by Dodge. That deal is now dead as disco. So, the van remains the same but Mercedes has hit the road touring the country to make sure we have all heard the news.

The Sprinter delivery van, a long-time player in the European market, is available in dozens of body configurations on three different wheelbases—including a chassis-cab-only version.

Now for 2010 Mercedes is making a show of a slightly more powerful diesel in a vehicle with more standard features; all offered for less than the previous Dodge version. Prices now start at $42,900, down about seven percent from 2009. Mercedes plans to hold the line on this base price through the coming 2011 model year as well.

All Sprinters are built in Germany, where the versatile platform supports over 1,000 different customer-driven versions. This is possible because the list of available options and add-ons is long, taking into account an extensive cross-section of workplace needs.

However all Sprinters share some common features, principally the engine. This 3L V6 diesel engine has recently been tuned up to produce 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque; a very adequate, economical and efficient power plant. In addition this motor is EPA compliant, meaning it is a low-emission engine that uses the urea-injection method of cleaning up its diesel exhaust. This is called the Blue TEC system by Mercedes. Also there is one transmission choice, a five-speed automatic.

Mercedes also made a point of demonstrating the safety systems incorporated into the Sprinter – the chief ones being traction control (ESP) and ABS. I experienced both; first in a unit specifically designed to tip with an unbalanced load and then on a hosed down skid pad where we practised full ABS panic stops and avoidance. Also standard in any Sprinter are dual front airbags, Hill-start assist; tire pressure monitoring and keyless entry.

If you want to see one, don’t go to the Dodge dealer!

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