The Mercedes Benz (MB) Sprinter van is an albatross of a vehicle. Not only is it extremely long (the 170” wheel base model is 24’ 1.2”) it’s also extremely tall at a slight tic over eight feet (8.03 ft) -for the High Roof model. Just to put that into perspective, the van is as tall as the ARB 2500 awning is wide. So who cares? We already know this is, and it’s the same as it was last year. Well, as one could imagine, a vehicle of this immensity is prone to scary and dangerous lane changes with even the slightest gust of wind. New for 2015, MB introduces their proprietary Crosswind Assist. Using the vehicle’s Load Adaptive Electronic Stability Program to modulate the brakes individually, the Sprinter aids the driver in steadying the helm at speeds above 50mph (81km). What this means for the driver is greater vehicle control and an increased margin of safety over previous models. All this technology works towards making this behemoth appear smaller from behind the wheel. Not only is the new Sprinter van safer, it is also much more capable.
Also new for the 2015 North American market is a four-wheel drive option. That’s right, a four-wheel drive, diesel, Mercedes Benz van for North America. With two additional drive wheels (additional cost, $6500 USD) buyers now have the option of a push button, low-range transfer case (additional cost, $300 USD) providing a 42% crawl ratio reduction. OK, so, no doubt everyone is thinking: how capable can something like this be? In a word: very.
In the small town of Ladson, SC, where all of the Sprinter vans are produced for the North American market, lies a small off road test track. Peppered with strategically placed ruts, hills and off camber portions, drivers can test the computer controlled traction aids as well as the increased suspension ride height (+4.3” front, +3.1” rear). The large van does incredibly well maintaining forward progress even with one wheel lifted completely off of the ground –something that would leave two wheel drive versions in need of recovery.
The 2015 Sprinter is a bargain at just under $45,000 USD. It’s only a matter of time before camper versions begin to appear on your favorite trails and back roads. Expect to see some interesting conversions showing up in increasing numbers to events like Overland Expo very soon.
I don’t know about you, but I for one am excited to see what the community does with these.
Specifications: Via mbsprinterusa.com
- Diesel engine
- 6-cylinder, V 72*
- 4 valves per cylinder
- Displacement: 2987cc
- 188 hp at 3,800 rpm
- Rated torque: 325 lb-ft at 1,400-2,400 rpm
- 5 speed automatic
- Fuel Type: Ultra-low-sulfur diesel
- Tank Capacity 26.4 gallons
- Electronically controlled direct injection with common rail
- Turbocharger and intercooler function
- Battery 12V/100Ah, alternator 14V/220A