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2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Road Test and Review

Brady Holt
by Brady Holt
October 16, 2023
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

When most Americans think of Mercedes-Benz, they’re likely picturing an opulent luxury SUV or a richly finished convertible. But in much of the world, the German carmaker is just as well known for its commercial trucks. 

That’s why you also see the three-pointed star on Amazon delivery vehicles and camping vans. And at the top of the heap here in the U.S. is the 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, a U.S.-assembled full-size van available in passenger and cargo configurations. Forget any thoughts about a serene isolation chamber for your family of nine; while there are a few familiar Mercedes touches that we’ll discuss, this is a utility tool. We spent a week testing a Sprinter cargo van. Keep reading to hear what we learned about this big Benz. 

Not Cheap

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is available from the factory in a dizzying array of configurations – different heights, lengths, and towing and payload capabilities. And whether you buy one for a business, as a recreational vehicle, or even as a #VanLife domicile, you’re sure to spend even more to customize it for your needs. 

The cheapest 2024 Sprinter cargo van costs $49,900, while the passenger van with rear seats and windows starts at $55,800. A crew van, which has one backseat row for a total capacity of five people, splits the difference at $52,120. Other full-size vans start at about $5,000 to $9,000 less. Standard features do include some welcome amenities; in addition to basics like air conditioning and the federally mandated backup camera, every Sprinter has cruise control (handy on highway slogs) and push-button starting (invaluable when you’re jumping out of your van at every minute with another package). Most other options come a la carte. For example, our test vehicle included a rear power outlet ($91), satellite radio ($253), a wooden cargo floor ($418), and a heater booster ($669), among many others that swelled its sticker price by more than $11,000. A new all-electric eSprinter is even steeper, with a starting price of $74,181. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Not Ritzy

The Sprinter has a great big Mercedes badge on its grille and another at the junction of its enormous swing-out cargo doors. That’s about as far as the Sprinter’s exterior gets toward the image of a ritzy Benz, especially on our base-model test vehicle with a gray plastic front end and steel wheels. 

We’ve read that some van lovers appreciate how the Sprinter’s hood sticks out rather than flowing in a smoother line down from the windshield like a Ford Transit or Ram ProMaster. We don’t feel strongly about this design choice, but if you urged us to take a position, we’d actually pick the other vans’ approach. But the three vans are otherwise pretty similar. They’re tall, narrow utility vehicles that aim to maximize usable space. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Some Familiar Mercedes Bits Inside

Inside, the Sprinter is all-business basics mixed with unexpected splashes of Mercedes luxury. The dashboard is a hard plastic slab, but its circular climate vents, carefully damped stalks, and crisply rendered infotainment screen are right out of a Benz car. That’s even more so if you opt for the optional 10.3-inch screen, which fills the big dash better than our test vehicle’s modest 7-inch unit. 

If you’ve never driven a modern full-size van, you’ll be astonished by the Sprinter’s outward visibility. The enormous side windows dip down toward your knees, and the windshield keeps going down well past the top of the dashboard. That means visibility is a breeze. In a nod to American tastes, Mercedes also follows its competitors in providing plenty of plus-sized cupholders. The passenger version is available in 12-seat and 15-seat configurations. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Mega Utility

Most Sprinters are cargo vans, and they deliver mega utility. We sometimes hear folks complain that “today’s minivans aren’t so mini.” Well, consider that a 204-inch-long Toyota Sienna has 101 cubic feet of cargo space. Now consider that our long-wheelbase high-roof Sprinter measures 290 inches long and has 533 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s the contrast between a full-size van and a minivan. 

Of course, you wouldn’t pack your stuff into every cubic foot. Rather, the Sprinter is ready to hold your shelves or beds. (Note that the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster are even taller and wider, though, if you’ll be walking around or setting up beds inside.) The Sprinter can also tow up to 5,000 pounds with its base engine or 7,500 pounds with an optional upgrade. And all-wheel drive is available for light off-roading or delivering packages in the snow. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Drives Like a Truck

When we first drove a Ford Transit, it was a revelation how much this enormous work vehicle felt like an ordinary car – and a pretty good one at that. There’s a natural feel to the Transit’s steering and handling, and a relatively gentle ride. When we hopped aboard the Sprinter, it felt like piloting a great big truck. A clattering diesel engine, a wide turning radius, and a bumpy ride serve as clear reminders that you’re in a hulking vehicle. We did appreciate the Sprinter’s smoothly gliding steering. Someone at Mercedes was clearly sweating this detail. 

The Sprinter is sold with a choice of two 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesels and the new electric powertrain. The base engine makes 170 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the optional upgrade improves to 211 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. These little diesels promise better gas mileage than rivals’ V6s (full-size vans don’t get EPA fuel economy ratings), and some folks swear that a Mercedes diesel will run forever. However, they also require more complex maintenance, and diesel fuel tends to cost more than regular unleaded. The new eSprinter is expected to travel about 200 miles per charge based on U.S. testing parameters, beating the much less expensive Ford e-Transit. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt

Sprinter vs. the Competition

You’ve heard about the Sprinter’s top rivals throughout this review. The Transit is a particularly compelling one to us. We love its agreeable handling and acceleration in contrast to the more workmanlike Mercedes. The ProMaster stands out for an extra-tight turning radius. And both the Ram and the Ford cost less and have a bit more space than the Sprinter. But the front-wheel-drive-only Ram lacks the Sprinter’s optional all-wheel drive, and it has some nicer interior touches and that extra-smooth steering. 

The remaining full-size van on the market today is the old-school Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, which have seen only incremental changes since their introduction in 1997. They lack the other trio’s European-style high roof and short nose, and they make the Sprinter’s ride and handling feel poised and polished. And forget about 21st-century features like adjustable head restraints (or any rear head restraints), infotainment touchscreens, or automatic emergency braking. But they’ve proven themselves as simple, durable machines with the lowest prices in the segment. 

Ford Transit ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Ford Transit ・ Photo by Brady Holt

'Born to Run'

Mercedes describes its work vans as “born to run” – and not wild and free. The promise is that if you pay extra upfront to buy a Sprinter, it’ll keep going and going. 

We can’t vouch for that promise, but it could be valuable peace of mind. What we can say is that the Sprinter is a mighty machine with a smattering of unexpected finer points, like its smooth steering and pretty infotainment system. Whatever need has brought you to a full-size van, the Sprinter is worth your consideration. 

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・  Photo by Brady Holt

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter ・ Photo by Brady Holt


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