New & Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Crew Vans: In Depth
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has worn many brand hats over its run in the U.S., which began in 2001. Initially sold as a Freightliner, then as a Dodge as well starting in 2003, through Mercedes-Benz parent company DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler), the Sprinter has undergone three generational changes as of the 2014 model year. The Cargo version of the Sprinter seats two up front, leaving the back open for a variety of uses; the Crew can seat up to 5 passengers, while still offering a large rear cargo area.
2014 Mercedes-Benz SprinterEnlarge Photo
The first generation of the Sprinter was focused primarily on crew and cargo versions, hence the more commercial branding. Built in Düsseldorf, Germany from 2001 through 2006, the first-generation Sprinter commercial-use vans were partially disassembled before shipment to the U.S. to avoid the "chicken tax", then re-assembled at a facility in South Carolina before being sold. Available in 2500 and 3500 versions, all powered by a 2.7-liter in-line five-cylinder diesel engine rated at 156 horsepower, the Sprinter vans were available in a variety of wheelbases and roof heights.
The second generation Sprinter van launched in the 2007 model year, bringin with it two wheelbase lengths (144 inches and 170 inches) as well as two roof heights (72.4 inches and 60.6 inches), as well as the two existing weight classes (2500 and 3500). The heavier-duty 3500 model was available with dual rear wheels. Like the first-generation vehicles, the cargo and crew versions of the Sprinter were partially disassembled before re-assembly upon arrival in the U.S. to evade the chicken tax. The second-generation Sprinter was sold as a Mercedes-Benz, as a Freightliner, and, from 2007-2010, as a Dodge as well.
A refreshed Sprinter arrived in the U.S. for the 2014 model year, bringing with it a revised front-end look and a range of new technologies. A turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine as well as a 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine are available in the U.S., making 188 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque in V-6 form and 161 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque with the four-cylinder. The four-cylinder engine gets a new seven-speed automatic transmission for greater fuel economy. The diesel engines in the current Sprinter are BlueTEC units that use Diesel Exhaust Fluid injection to clean up emissions of nitrogen oxides, making them as "clean" as a modern gasoline engine.
All generations of the Sprinter cargo van have been built for either use as a large, efficient parcel mover, or, through later refitting, use for a wide variety of professions including carpentry, plumbing, and more. The flexibility of the Sprinter van's large rear cargo area make it a popular choice for commercial use, and when outfitted properly, can even take the place of America's ubiquitous work vehicle, the pickup truck--with many advantages over the open-backed pickup.