By Bruce W. Smith
Heating and air-conditioning technicians, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, cable installers, parts runners, delivery people and dozens of other workers in niche markets who need a van to handle their goods and services would do well to check out the new, function-over-form 2017 Mercedes-Benz Metris Worker van.
The price is reasonable. It's spacious, nimble and powerful. It can tow 5,000 pounds and haul half that amount in payload. In short, it's the perfect canvas for customization to fit just about any business need. And in case you're running your business out of your home or have to bring the work vehicle home, the Metris Worker Cargo (and Worker Passenger model) also fits in a typical two-car garage.
A little more than a foot longer than the Ford Transit Connect with a wheelbase nearly 22 inches shorter than the Chevrolet 1500 cargo van (which hasn't been available since 2014; Chevy now only sells the 2500 and 3500 models), the front-wheel-drive Metris Worker is basically the only midsize commercial van in the segment.
The model we recently test-drove near the M-B van assembly plant in Charleston, S.C., has 45 percent more cargo space than the Transit Connect and more than 2,000 pounds of additional towing capacity. With a base price less than $27,000 for the Metris Worker Cargo van, it's also priced competitively. All Metris Worker packages will include the Audio 10 radio head unit, Bluetooth capability, an auxiliary input jack, a USB port and a five-speaker radio system.
Under the Hood
One would think a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine wouldn't be a good fit for a work van. However, the 208-horsepower, turbocharged inline four-cylinder, backed with Mercedes' seven-speed G-Tronic automatic, moves out smartly in traffic and has no problems rolling down the highway. The front-wheel-drive van's shift points are also nicely spaced with little hint of turbo lag.
The engine and transmission are the same as that found in Mercedes' popular entry-level C-Class cars, yet tuning and cam changes bring peak torque lower in the rpm curve.
The EPA rates the fuel economy at 21/22/24 mpg city/highway/combined. That places the more powerful Metris 2 to 5 mpg behind its two-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Ford, Ram and Chevrolet competitors.
On the Road
Sitting behind the wheel of the base model, it feels and looks like the dash of a C-Class sedan. It even has paddle shifters, which will hold whatever gear you select.
The high-back bucket seats are pretty darn nice for a work van. They are supportive, have good padding in the posterior and side bolsters, and the cloth feels like it would stand up to years and miles of wear and tear.
We were surprised by how well-insulated the interior is from road noise despite the low-end tires. We were equally surprised by how the Metris soaked up the jolts and jounces of potholes, railroad tracks, expansion joints and other road irregularities. It's the type of van you can spend all day in and not be deaf or beat at the end of a long driving shift.
As for the cargo-hauling utility aspect, Mercedes has designed the Metris like its Sprinter big brother, with safety a top priority. The Metris features six airbags for both the Cargo and Passenger models. All Metris packages feature standard Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, hill start assist and load-adaptive electronic stability control. Other safety features available include a rearview camera, blind spot warning and lane keeping assist.
The interior and exterior are ripe for custom modifications to fit work environments or needs. The roof can support more than 330 pounds, and Mercedes offers a ton of special options for interior and exterior customization through its MasterUpfitter program.
The van we drove had the Ranger Design clear polycarbonate Max View bulkhead behind the front seats, which created a separated see-through wall that provided airy spaciousness inside the cab. There were also two sets of Sortimo cargo shelves on the back walls waiting to be filled to make any small-business owner more efficient.
Pricing for the Metris Worker cargo van is $26,990 (standard Metris cargo van is $29,945), while the Metris Worker passenger van is $30,990 (standard Metris passenger van is $33,495).
The Metris Worker Cargo van will offer Convenience ($1,999) and Utility ($3,999) packages, while the seven-passenger Metris Worker Passenger van will offer Convenience ($1,999), Appearance ($3,999) and Comfort ($5,999) packages. This value-packed midsize van and packages are on sale now.
Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 10 to correct the van's model year.
Cars.com photos by Bruce W. Smith; manufacturer images
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz Metris Worker Cargo van feels more like driving a sedan than a van. The garage-friendly front-wheel-drive work van sports a 208-hp, turbocharged gas I-4 and seven-speed, paddle-shifting automatic.
The low step-in height and curbside sliding door gives easy access to the interior. A front-wheel-drive layout keeps floor heights low for easy load-in. The high-back cloth seats are comfortable in the Metris Worker Cargo model.
A trio of ship-through outfitters allows M-B Metris Worker buyers to customize the van for many business needs. It has an impressive payload capacity of 2,500 pounds.