2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2.1-Liter Quick Spin

2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 005 II

By Aaron Bragman

About a year ago we told you about the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the German luxury brand's big commercial van that's gaining ground here in the U.S. We talked about the 2014 model's upcoming four-cylinder diesel powertrain to be coupled with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes-Benz recently brought a few test trucks to its affiliate facility in Farmington Hills, Mich., for the media to see how the smaller four-cylinder engine handles the Sprinter's bulk and whether it's a viable alternative to the bigger diesel V-6.

The turbocharged 2.1-liter diesel inline-four-cylinder is the 2014 Sprinter's new standard base engine; it makes 161 horsepower and 266 pounds-feet of torque. With the seven-speed automatic transmission it sends power to the rear wheels. Optional is last year's only engine, a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V-6 making 188 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque. The older V-6 is known for its grunt and decent fuel economy, but the new engine improves upon those mileage numbers even more. Mercedes-Benz says that fuel economy for a base Sprinter jumped 18 percent by going from last year's V-6/five-speed combination to this year's I-4/seven-speed set-up, and about 2 to 3 percent comparing the 2013 V-6 to the 2014 V-6.

The new four-cylinder is available across the lineup, from the smallest short-wheelbase cargo van to the biggest 18-passenger long-wheelbase minibus. Sprinter variations are numerous — two wheelbases, two roof heights and five different body styles are available. I had some seat time through the Detroit suburbs in a long-wheelbase Crew van, which combines elements of the cargo van with sliding doors that have windows and a three-person bench seat. This versatile combination is increasingly popular, Mercedes-Benz says, as it allows for both cargo hauling and seating for five people. The second row can also be easily removed in case the full length of the cargo box is required.

 

2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 020 II

 

One might worry that a huge cargo van with such a dinky motor would have a problem getting out of its own way, but such is not the case. Despite its bulk, it actually feels pretty peppy and spry, pulling away smartly from a stoplight or keeping up with traffic with ease. Handling is remarkable — despite being an enormous commercial truck, the Sprinter drives, handles and stops more like a midsize SUV. Anyone will be immediately comfortable behind the wheel, even though it's physically enormous. Brakes are firm and progressive, handling is precise and nicely weighted, and visibility is exceptional thanks to that deep, low windshield.

Now, as you may have guessed, there is one caveat to this performance evaluation: My brief test drive was done in a cargo-free Sprinter, carrying nothing but myself and another journalist. The true test of whether the new four-cylinder is an adequate engine for the Sprinter will come once we can get our hands on one for a longer test drive, load it up like a typical owner would and see if it still feels acceptable. Max payload capacity for the 3500 4x2 model is more than 5,000 pounds, while the maximum towing capacity (also offered on the same configuration) is 7,500 pounds (most models have a 5,000-pound towing capacity).

While Mercedes-Benz was demonstrating the 2014 Sprinters, it also revealed some interesting news about the upcoming 2015 model, which will sport two features likely to make it more appealing to certain buyers. First is "crosswind assist," which will be standard on the Sprinter 2500 model. It employs the truck's stability control program to selectively brake an individual wheel and help maintain directional stability in high crosswinds at speeds more than 50 mph.

However, the big news for the 2015 Sprinter is something that will make it unique among full-size vans: optional four-wheel drive. Available only on the V-6 model, the Sprinter 4x4 will have a part-time system with a selectable Low range, not a Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel drive but instead an on-demand set-up with a dedicated transfer case. The system can be switched on while moving below 6 mph and offers a 1.40:1 Low-range gearing advantage to the axle gears and transmission.

 

2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 II

 

When operating in 4-High range, torque is split at 35/65 between front and rear axles, and brings in the stability control system with a selective brake torque algorithm to maximize traction. An optional 4-Low button is available as well, multiplying the gearing by 42 percent. The Sprinter 4x4 comes with a 4.3-inch suspension lift in front and 3.1 inches in back, improving approach and departure angles. Mercedes-Benz was careful to note that none of this makes the Sprinter a trail-rated off-roader, but clearly the most capable vehicle in its class. The 4x4 system is meant for the mining industry or messy construction sites; it's meant to get you out of trouble, not across the Rubicon Trail.

The new system will appear on the 2015 Sprinter, which itself will not arrive until the first quarter of next year, according to Mercedes-Benz. These full-size vans are well built, and pricing reflects that. Base models should start around $38,000 but flex quickly depending on size, capability and configuration.

We'll bring you a more complete test of the 2014 Sprinter as soon as we can get our hands on one.

Download the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 press release by clicking here.

Download the 2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter press release by clicking here.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman; manufacturer images

 

2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 050 II

2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 048 II

2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 038 II

 

Comments

4x4 is going to be nice platform for adventure RV.

if i were to ever buy an RV to Travel, this would be it !

Wonder why they provide no fuel economy #'s.

@Ken, the GVWR is above 8500, so it's not currently EPA rated.

If the 4x4 Sprinter has substantial sales, Ford offers the full-size Transit with AWD in Europe, making it easy to bring here. Fiat-Chrysler could adapt the Iveco Daily 4x4 platform as the Ram ProMaster HD 4x4.

yawn

The Sprinter is NOT the only full size van that you can get AWD in! maybe with over 1/2t, or a high top and long wheelbase, but for a LOT less money you can get a Chevy/GMC Express 1/2 ton van with AWD and a V-8 gasoline engine! not to mention that for the same money as a Sprinter you can have a choice of a Chevy /GMC or Ford full size van with complete 4x4/AWD lo range SFA in the Ford or Chevy/GMC or independent front in the Chevy/GMC through a company called Quigley, out of PA I believe! and in those you can get a Diesel or gas or even natural gas conversion in you want to pay for it!

From the article below the V6 diesel Sprinter returned over 24mpg during testing, which would mean this should according the Merc return around 28-29mpg in real world driving.

The question of moving a load as put forward by Mark. We have similar size and style of diesels here in Australia and they do move the weight relatively easily, but not quickly.

Many of these vans are like pickups and don't really carry a full load all of the time. So, if the vehicle should perform adequately.

These newer smaller diesels are becoming more common here and in Europe in this size vehicle.

Yesterday we had a Transit mini bus pick us up at the airport and drove 10 home with their luggage. That would be around 2 700lbs. The Transit has a 2.2 diesel and it sat on 130kph. It wasn't a traffic light dragster, but for work it did a reasonable job, especially if you are getting over 27mpg in real world driving and conditions.

I hope you guys get these style of diesels in your pickup as well. Imagine a 2.2 litre F-150 and don't laugh 10 years ago I would have laughed the thought of a 2.7 litre F-150.

http://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/mercedes-benz/2014-mercedesbenz-sprinter-review-3660.html

There is something oddly appealing about the Sprinter vans.

It's crap.

How can they claim a torque split of 35:65 if there isn't a center differential?
They can't, that would be lying.
If it is just off-road drive, then the split is 100/0/100.

Unless there are three modes to this vehicle's operation:
Rear drive: center differential locked, and front driveshaft disconnected.
Four wheel drive: center differential unlocked and front driveshaft engage
Low range: center differential locked, front driveshaft engaged, and extra [slight] reduction of ~42%


@George C
Here's some info on the Merc AWD system that will interest you. Apparently it can be designed to have upto a 70/30 split.

http://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/mercedes-benz/mercedes-4matic-awd-system-review-1888.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4Matic

http://www.drive.com.au/motor-shows/first-drive-mercedesbenz-ml-20110912-1k4r1.html

@Mark Williams has a "Pickup" the Sprinter and IVECO are huge.
6000lb to 9000lb payload.
http://media.caranddriver.com/images/13q2/515068/2014-mercedes-benz-sprinter-cab-chassis-photo-516080-s-520x318.jpg

http://www.hi-way1.com.au/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleryformatter_full/IV071304.jpg

The 2.1 engine is listed as 4,000lbs towing in Australia, your 7,500lb seems like an exaggeration by Daimler in the US.


@Sandman4x4 yes you can get Quigley and others to do a 4 X4 conversion,(i.e. Econoline) but they do not have the GCVWR of the Sprinter and especially the IVECO Off Road, which surprised me.
http://www.trakka.com.au/model_images/Jabiru-4x4/gallery/JAB_4x4_ext5.jpg

http://www.trakka.com.au/model_images/Jabiru-4x4/gallery/DSC03786%20(275x181).jpg

@Roadtrip, the 4 X4 IVECO is a real surprise, more like a Unimog than a 4 X4 Van Conversion. Has a 32 speed crawler type gear, a 4000lb or 5000lb payload Off Road and can tow close too 8000lbs

http://www.goingbush.com/iveco/truck23.jpg

http://www.armyrecognition.com/images/stories/europe/united_kingdom/exhibition/dvd_2010/news/pictures/Iveco_Daily_4x4_light_truck_personnel_carrier_DVD_2010_Defence_Equipment_Exhibition_Millbroock_United_Kingdom_200x300_001.jpg

@Roadtrip IVECO 4 X4 towing 8000lb Travel trailer
http://www.goingbush.com/iveco/jb7.jpg

It likes the Rough Stuff
http://www.goingbush.com/iveco/jb5.jpg

Gaining ground? Not here. The Sprinter has a reputation of being expensive to purchase and expensive to repair. Coupled with so-so reliability and hard to find dealers, it's becoming an also-ran. Seemed to be more popular when Dodge dealers were selling them.

It seems that 1 in 2 of these Mercedes Sprinters is a lemon. Be very careful.

Its still kinda ugly, GM Express vans look better, and they offer a 6.6l DURAMAX!!!

@Tom
I do think the Mercedes Sprinter is a very good vehicle. Where are the US Sprinters assembled? Ours seem quite good.

@Big Bob
"Gaining ground? Not here. The Sprinter has a reputation of being expensive to purchase and expensive to repair"

Crux of the problem. If cheaper as they are basically a delivery Van, they would be more numerous.

The Sprinter Vans have all the control knobs going the wrong way that's very confusing to us Americans!
In America knobs turn left to right and down to up to turn on or to increase its function
Sprinter vans rust out
Its a unti-body! NO frame!
The diesel doesn't have glow-plugs, instead a fuel pre-heater where they are hard to start in below freezing weather.

@Big A
Thanks, but I know how they work, and just pointing out that either the engineering department is lying, or the marketing is just making things up.

It may just be a PTO system whereby the clutch is non-engaged in rear drive mode, variable-with the claimed 35:65 split when '4x4' is engaged, and likely fully clamped with/if low range is engaged.

A better question, is where is the new 9 speed automatic.
Let the transmission operate 2-9 [which is 5.6:1 ratio spread, just slightly less than the 7 speed] unless you have tow/haul enabled. 1st gear is 65% shorter than 2nd, so you don't need an extra low range. Reverse is still 44% shorter than the 7g-tronic.

"Base models should start around $38,000 but flex quickly"

I can't imagine spending over $40K on a work van.

Unless you paid cash, your finance charges would eat up all of your savings in gas.

And it won't pay for itself even if you paid cash.

There are great box trucks on eBay right now for
$7900 with 80k on them.... all gas trucks...

The Sprinters get 23mpg, but when they break down
you give all that savings back to the mechanic for the
god awful expensive reapirs and parts.

Like one injector on a diesel around 2k....

high pressure oil pump 2k

Box trucks are sweet and much better than vans....pickup trucks and a trailer are better options too.

I am looking now for a heavy duty 12 foot box van.

But I wont pay 40k for a diesel Sprinter when I can get over 4 used box trucks for the same price! Or get 10 cargo trailers!

disappointed the 4 cyl won't find it's way into the 4x4 model.

@Dave,
Box Trucks (diesel)are very much part of the Australian landscape. Sprinters are for some Delivery Vans, Class C's.
Cab chassis variants of the Sprinter, IVECO,Renault etc are becoming a"Large Pickup" for some work sites ,payloads from 5000 to 9000lb"Other worksites HDT's, MDT's and some Trades men's Pickups or Utes
Cost for delivery vans is important here as well.

I'd like to see the Iveco Daily come to North America. I saw a 4x4 camperized one last year. It looked rugged.

POS. It's too tall for many work sites. It's going to be miserable to drive with 3,000 lbs. of tools in the back. The fuel economy drops like a rock when you load up these small displacement engines. It's going to be a nightmare to work on. And all parts for that engine are going to be expensive. This is a terrible choice for the middle class U.S. working man. Period.

Chevrolet and GMC have had optional 4 x 4 for several years as a factory option

@WXman
POS?? Because it's to tall??

So why not buy the 'not so tall' one??

I suppose 'not to bright' is a good response, eh.

FE drops on these types of small engines??

So, what have you ever operated with this style of engine??

Nothing, because you don't have anything.

I suppose 'not to bright' again. But there is one born everyday.

@Big Al Actually I've worked with vans a lot and there is no configuration with these Sprinters or vans similar that will get you to the same size as a Ford Econoline or Chevy Express. Period. The size makes the van a big problem on many job sites.

I have worked and towed with small displacement diesels a lot. I've towed a max of 7,000 lbs. with a 2.8L VM I-4 diesel. Sure, you can get mid 20s when empty...but as is the case with ANY high mileage engine, the more you load them up the more the fuel economy drops. Just look at the Ford EcoBust...everybody knows that loading those up produces single digit MPGs. Small diesels are the same. Load up a Sprinter and actually WORK with it and you're looking at probably 14-16 MPGs maximum.

Then there is the cost. A thermostat for mine was $105 bucks. Compare that to $9 bucks for a gas engine. An engine replacement was $7,000 bucks. Twice as much as gas. Every single thing on these Euro diesels is a lot more cash.

TERRIBLE choice for the working man, period.

Maybe you should get some experience in this area before opening your mouth. You're digging your own hole.

4 X 4 engine would be really make things work for this commercial van. Also the height is another factor to go for it.

I'll be buying my second Sprinter in a few days, replacing the one I had after being hit at highway speed while I was parked in a parking lot. Gas mileage was routinely 19 MPG even loaded. A fabulous vehicle and top notch work van!



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