2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris: Preproduction Quick Drive

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The new midsize commercial van from Mercedes-Benz — the 2016 Metris — debuted at the 2015 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis in March, but we just had our first chance to get behind the wheel. One caveat: The cargo and passenger vans we drove were both preproduction vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz is taking a unique tack by coming out with a "small" commercial van on a platform larger than every other small van player in the U.S. (Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet City Express, Nissan NV200 and Ram ProMaster City). MB's commercial van division now offers the infinitely configurable Sprinter full-size van and the all-new midsize Metris cargo and passenger vans. The reasoning for the midsize choice includes the obvious advantages of a larger cargo area, more payload capacity and more towing capacity.

What You Get

This midsize van — called the Vito elsewhere around the globe — is a rear-wheel-drive minivan-looking vehicle that sits on a 126-inch wheelbase. All Metris vans will use Mercedes' 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 208 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque mated to a quick-shifting seven-speed transmission, which offers paddle shifting. The powertrain is pulled from the new C-Class sedan but has slightly different power ratings because of different EPA testing requirements.

All cargo and passenger vans will have 3.47:1 axle gears; two sliding side doors are standard on the passenger van and optional on the cargo van; there's also a host of standard and available safety features unparalleled in the segment. Attention Assist and Crosswind Alert are standard while safety features such as blind spot, collision and lane departure warning systems are optional. All vans get front, side and head airbags, with passenger vans extending the head airbags into each passenger row (i.e., for three-row seven-passenger vans, the head airbag extends for the length of the roof). The rear doors, an issue for work vans, open 180 degrees and can open wider if unhinged. Additionally, you can order the Metris with a strutted swing-out rear tailgate door.

Each version — cargo and passenger — offers unique optional features to help make life easier depending on how owners plan to use their Metris. For example, cargo vans — which start at just less than $30,000 (prices include destination), making them the least expensive Mercedes-Benz you can purchase — offer an engine stop-start feature for fuel savings, a heavy-duty dual battery, a Cold Weather Package, extra tie-down D-rings in the floor and walls, a rearview camera, parking assist and more.

Passenger vans — starting at just less than $34,000 — although not being marketed or sold as family minivans, offer a nice selection of creature comforts like heated front seats, extra storage netting, cruise control, reading lights, grab handles and more.

How It Drives

Our drive routes were all at altitude (somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level) between Durango and Telluride, Colo. We took a relatively empty cargo van through scenic, winding mountain roads and into the occasional small mountain town. The turbocharged engine was ideally suited for the thinning air as our 4,000-pound van moved with a good amount of energy and quickness when we needed extra power for passing or keeping up with traffic. Ride quality was pretty good, with both the front and rear suspension hugging the road and carving through the corners. We didn't experience a "top-heavy" feel with either midsize van or any vagueness to the steering feel (but we were driving an empty van). It's worth noting the cargo vans have different shock valving and spring rates when compared to the "comfort" suspension option available on the passenger vans. No matter what suspension package you choose payload and gross vehicle weight ratings do not change.

The Metris passenger van we drove on a similar mountain route was equipped with three-row seven-passenger seating. This van felt heavier with floor carpeting, side paneling and the soft-ride suspension, making it feel quieter and slower to respond. We did have four passengers and their luggage inside, which made for a less responsive and restrained feel. Even with that load, we were still impressed by how comfortable the seats and seating position were, and how confidently the van handled all cornering duties, even at higher speeds. Although the extra weight and altitude certainly impacted the power output of the engine, it dealt with the added weight confidently and with control, mostly because we used the paddle shifters to keep the engine higher in the rpm band. We also found braking power impressive as we had to panic brake more than once on both pavement and dirt when deer and elk crossed our path.

Although EPA fuel economy numbers are not out yet, we managed 25 and 26 mpg when cruising along our two-hour route from the Durango airport to our mountain camp. When driving the empty cargo van, we reached the high 20s and low 30s. Right now MB is offering just one engine for U.S. Metris vans; it offers two diesel engines overseas for the same platform. All Metris fuel tanks are 18.5 gallons, and payload capacities range from 1,800 to 2,500 pounds depending on configuration. The GVWR of the Metris is a little more than 6,700 pounds, with a maximum towing capacity of just less than 5,000 pounds. Those who need maximum work capacities can order the cargo version with what basically amounts to a covered and lockable 8-foot bed that's 50 inches wide, giving owners more than 180 cubic feet of interior cargo volume.

We'll be driving and doing more testing of the production versions of the Metris this fall after it goes on sale, so stay tuned for more information.

To download the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris ordering brochure, click here.

2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Specifications

Price range: $30,000 (cargo) to $34,000 (passenger)
Engine: 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged inline four-cylinder
Horsepower: 208
Torque: 258 pounds-feet
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Gear ratios: 4.38:1 (1st), 2.86:1 (2nd), 1.92:1 (3rd), 1.37:1 (4th), 1.00:1 (5th), 0.82:1 (6th), 0.73:1 (7th), 3.42:1 (Reverse)
Axle Ratio: 3.47:1
Wheelbase: 126.0 inches
Length: 202.4 inches
Height: 75.2 inches (cargo), 74.4 inches (passenger)
Width: 75.9 inches
Maximum cargo volume: 186 cubic feet (cargo), 38 cubic feet (passenger)
Fuel tank capacity: 18.5 gallons
Payload range: 1,874 to 2,502 pounds
Maximum towing: 4,960 pounds
GVWR: 6,724 pounds

Manufacturer photos


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A good alrernative to a dodge caravan for the family. Will deffinatly be on my list.

Looks like a replacement for the Chevy Astro and GMC Safari. Only problem is the Mercedes won't be as reliable. as the GM twins.

Interesting little van. 25 - 26 mpg with a high into the 30's. That will help it sell.

They can be blinged out with the 3 litre Diesel Vito/ Viano. Version

This is basically the same chasis as the dodge caravan, only this being Mercedes manufactured. If they end up selling a diesel version here in the states, I'll be on the pre order list ASAP. GM should bring back the Astro and Safari to compete with this. They're new city express doesn't impress me at all.

What no diesel? Turbo 2 L gas engine?

@papa him
Had a diesel version take me from Venice to the Hill towns in the Dolomites in Italy
Smooth, quiet and pretty quick

@wilsonp you are thinking of the Volkswagen Routan based on the Chrysler Town and Country, the first Vito came out in 1996

Steering wheel and side air vents are lifted from the C-Class.

The Metris is a nice passenger van and identical to Vito.It stretches 202.4 inches long,75.9 inches wide and 74.8 inches tall.Dimensions that place it in the middle-size van category.
Mercedes will offer 2 versions of the Metris, a 2-seater panel van and a less spartan family-based passenger van where at least 8 adults can sit comfortably.
The Metris will also launch a gasoline-burning 4-cylinder engine that will send 208hp and 258 lb-ft torque to the rear wheels via 7-speed automatic transmission.Mercedes has not revealed whether the 2.1 -liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder engine will be available in the U.S. as it is in Europe and across the globe.If you wnat to know more mercedes services you can visit http://www.germanautowerks.com/mercedes.php

Why did they make the inside width of the passenger van 47". For the sake of 1 " it could have been great for home improvement projects as well as a daily driver. My Safari could load a 4 X 8n flat on the floor

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