March 21, 2023

Usually I write automotive critiques with the final thought that somebody studying the factor would possibly truly use it to find out whether or not shopping for one is a good suggestion. However a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van with the 170-inch wheelbase and excessive roof? Who can this actually be for? The proprietor of a rooter firm? FedEx? The Royal Mail?

So that is going to be completely different: an opportunity to expertise and share what it’s wish to drive considered one of these gigantic, excessive roof vans which have turn into more and more frequent on this age of e-commerce. It additionally offered a style of what #vanlife can be like for all these people who purchase a Sprinter like this, jack up the trip top, slap on some all-terrain tires and glamp out the inside to enterprise into the nice outdoor … and actually piss off everybody at campsites who don’t have one. I’m not totally sure as to why, however I’ve gotten that impression.

In brief, the Sprinter positive is completely different. The motive force’s door unlocks with a metallic clack and pops open to disclose a driver seat perched at roughly torso top upon a body-colored steel field. On this case, Royal Mail pink. You place one foot onto the cutout plastic step space and hoist your self up into the cab, plopping your self down onto the soft, leatherette-clad driver seat. And sure, it’s formally “leatherette” fairly than Mercedes’ regular MB-Tex. That will be a convincing leather-based substitute. This stuff is pure, sticky vinyl, which positive paired properly with 90-degree days and several other acres of windshield. Butts might be scorched, however no less than it’s solely a $62 possibility. No, I didn’t depart off a zero. It’s actually simply $62.

To crank up the air con to alleviate butt scorching, nudge up the fan velocity toggle to max. The Sprinter has handbook local weather management regardless that that toggle and the opposite buttons are usually utilized within the computerized local weather management arrays of different Mercedes. This is only one of many examples the place acquainted Mercedes parts are employed in a really unfamiliar method. The touchscreen options the identical menu construction and graphics as an MBUX-equipped Mercedes automotive or SUV, however the show is tiny and doesn’t have a redundant middle console touchpad. It will want a middle console for that. The cool rotary air vents are shared with the GLB and different A-Class-derived Mercedes, however all of the laborious, scratchy plastic surrounding them most actually shouldn’t be. Equally, the steering wheel design, controls and accompanying column stalks could also be shared with a GLB, nevertheless it’s not wrapped in leather-based and adorned in metallic plastic trim. Its left-side menu buttons and touchpad function an old-school, black-and-white journey laptop display between plain-Jane analog gauges. There’s no all-digital show right here with a number of design layouts and dance membership lighting. 

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There are a number of seating choices accessible, together with a suspension seat, a swiveling seat and “consolation seat” that provides further handbook changes. This Sprinter, nevertheless, got here with the non-compulsory Consolation Plus energy driver seat that’s motored into place utilizing Mercedes’ regular door-mounted seat controls. It additionally consists of handbook thigh extension. With any of those selections, the seating place is akin to sitting on a kitchen chair with pedals at your toes. Taller drivers could discover the seat doesn’t scoot again far sufficient and it’s not clear whether or not this van’s non-compulsory partition is guilty. It positively renders the rearview mirror vestigial, although. I simply pointed it up on the roof to remind myself not to take a look at it, however former Autoblog contributor Dan Edmunds discovered that if you leave it in place, it conspires with the partition window and darkish cargo space to turn into a forward-view mirror. It will get quirkier.

Above that mirror are plastic cabinets excellent for storing clipboards and such for FedEx drivers, and doubtless a boatload of Complete Meals path combine for the glampers. Further storage is discovered on prime of the sprint the place the USB ports solely reside in a plastic bin behind the infotainment system. There are additionally cupholders up on prime of the sprint’s outer parts, together with behind the instrument panel, which is precisely the place I wish to stash my sizzling espresso. There are 4 further upholders within the conventional van location under the local weather controls. In whole, there are six cupholders for 2 seats.

Above the driving force is sufficient headroom for Abe Lincoln to take a seat comfortably with out eradicating his hat or, alternatively, all 6-foot-3 of yours actually to face upright between the seats with my head simply grazing the headliner. Within the even-taller cargo space of this high-roof Sprinter, I can stroll about with out pondering twice about ducking. That will be why these make such good campers – fancy off-roading variations or in any other case.

The climb into the cargo space can be a lot decrease (27 inches) than an old-school cargo van like GM’s Chevy Categorical and GMC Savana, not to mention a pickup. Lifting a heavy steel facet desk into and out of the Sprinter’s facet door was exponentially simpler than hoisting it right into a pickup mattress would’ve been. Actually, I don’t assume I’d’ve been capable of do it in any respect. And that’s just one purpose a cargo van like that is wildly extra useful at hauling stuff than a pickup. Whereas I transported greater than 20 containers and Rubbermade bins from my home to a storage facility in three journeys in full-size pickups, I managed to lug the entire load within the Sprinter with minimal stacking or Tetrising. There was room to spare, too. Regardless that this can be a fairly excessive van when it comes to dimension (there’s a good longer model accessible that makes use of the identical wheelbase), this expertise positively confirmed the advantage of having such a low, cavernous and simply maneuvered house for hauling heavy and/or plentiful objects. It was clearly ample for hauling mild, comparatively unplentiful baggage.

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And talking of maneuverability, one try at parking is all it takes to make you go “wow.” The turning circle of this specific Sprinter model is 47 toes, which can be 7 toes wider than a Mercedes GLS, however this Sprinter can be 5-foot-8-inches longer than a GLS. The wheels flip a lot that it virtually looks like when a line is hooked up to a ship’s bow to drag it laterally in direction of a dock; an impression actually enhanced by the actual fact you’re mainly sitting atop the entrance axle.

As soon as underway, that tall, ahead seating place and Crystal Palace windshield gives astonishing visibility. Solely buses and different business autos are sure to beat this. Possibly the Popemobile, however Francis clearly isn’t driving. Pull from the turbodiesel engine is robust and well-suited to a automobile like this (the one fuel possibility is a 188-horsepower inline-four, which should problem solely the Columbia Glacier for rapidity), and when unladen, its 325 pound-feet of torque are sufficient that it positively doesn’t really feel sluggish. That mentioned, this van’s non-compulsory 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 is being discontinued for 2023. A twin-turbo diesel inline-four goes to switch it and, regardless of having fewer cylinders, will produce extra energy and torque. There’ll nonetheless be a single-turbo diesel inline-four provided, nevertheless it’s additionally new. The fuel four-cylinder continues on to race Galapagos tortoises. A nine-speed computerized can even debut to switch this van’s seven-speed, which was completely innocuous, however extra gears isn’t a foul factor when hauling heavy masses.

Driving a 23-foot-long automobile clearly requires some altering of your driving, with turns being the primary level of focus. It’s important to swing extensive as you would possibly in a pickup, however because you’re to this point ahead within the automobile, you bodily find yourself even additional out past your regular spot when turning. Think about being mounted to the hood of an F-350 whereas turning proper and also you’ll get an concept. The trip is first rate, however this was a 2500 mannequin. I’d think about a 3500 or 3500XD can be a tad Flintstone-ish do you have to occur to drive these dually variations unladen.

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The opposite fundamental factor to bear in mind is top. And never simply “Don’t drive the 9-foot van right into a parking storage.” The edges are so tall that timber turn into a difficulty when parallel parking on metropolis streets … and even simply driving alongside metropolis streets. That is most likely an enormous purpose the FedEx man parks on the finish of your driveway or curiously distant. And bear in mind, this was an unmodified high-roof Sprinter. The glamping overlander variations have jacked-up floor clearance and all-terrain tires, plus most likely an auxiliary air conditioner, paddleboards and a Yakima cargo field on the roof. I’m not exaggerating, both. There are a number of in my neighborhood, all outfitted like this to a point.

None are painted Jupiter Purple, nevertheless, which was a C-Class colour not too way back. Though many of the Sprinters you see are painted black, white or grey (presumably essentially the most Mercedes factor about them), there’s a surprisingly vibrant assortment of paints accessible. Apart from this Royal Mail-appropriate livery, you will get the teal-like Aqua Inexperienced, robin’s egg Good Blue, sunny Calcite Yellow, two further shades of pink (Sundown and Velvet) and 4 shades of darker blue (Metal, Vanda, Cavansite and Black Blue).

In order that’s what the Sprinter is like in a tiny nutshell. To be completely sincere, it’s not like I’m bringing to the ballgame my regular deep nicely of comparative check drive expertise. I’ve by no means pushed a Ford Transit, it’s been 5 years since I drove a Ram Promaster on a closed course and 10 years since I commanded a Nissan NV. Certainly one of GM vans? I’m fairly positive I used to be in highschool the final time Chevy had an Categorical within the press fleet … and I’m 38.

As such, I’ll depart comparative evaluation together with value, dimension, payload, and many others, to somebody extra certified. As I see it, although, the one clear purpose to get a Ford or Ram as a substitute of the Mercedes is upkeep and restore. If one thing breaks in your glamping overlander in the midst of nowhere, it’s going to be rather a lot simpler to discover a Ford seller than a Mercedes or Freightliner (perhaps?) facility. However that’s all I actually received. The principle level is finally: driving a gigantically excessive and lengthy Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 is an actual journey. I extremely suggest it. If you are able to do so without having to get employed by FedEx first, all the higher.