2008 Dodge Sprinter Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 6, 2008

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter is very different from traditional full-size vans, but its fuel-efficient engine and space-efficient interior make it the smart choice.

In order to assemble this review covering the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon, TheCarConnection.com looked to a range of existing reviews. As they've driven the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon, TheCarConnection.com's editors included firsthand information where relevant.

The Sprinter Wagon is Dodge's full-size passenger van. Based on a Daimler design, the 2008 Sprinter Wagon follows a different style that emphasizes passengers and cargo more than the full-size vans from GM and Ford.

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon is powered by a 3.0-liter CDI turbodiesel V-6 that makes 154 horsepower, along with a much more impressive 280 pound-feet of torque. It delivers its plentiful torque to the rear wheels through a smooth-shifting five-speed automatic transmission that comes with a manual-shift mode. A 254-horsepower, 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 is optional, though at a lower price than the diesel.

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The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon comes in two different wheelbases--144 and 170 inches--with the 144-inch (233 inches long) model quite maneuverable in the city. Two different roof heights are offered as well.

Three different seating configurations are offered in the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon, with 9-, 10-, and 12-passenger capacities in up to four rows of seating. As in other full-size vans, the driver and front passenger sit perched high over the front wheels. Behind the front seats, the Sprinter Wagon is as close to a box as you're likely to find in a vehicle. Properly configured, it can seat up to 12 people, and it features sliding doors on both sides. With the seats removed, the Sprinter's tall roof allows awe-inspiring cargo capacity.

Once you get used to the odd driving position, the 2008 Dodge Sprinter feels quite maneuverable for those accustomed to driving large sport-utility vehicles or other vans. The ride is a bit choppy, but handling is surprisingly nimble for such a tall vehicle.

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon comes with standard keyless entry, automatic climate control, rear ducts, and a 13-speaker sound system; unlike most full-size vans, the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. The options list is vast, including courtesy lamps and overhead consoles, bi-xenon headlamps, sunroofs, heated seats, rain-sensor wipers, and a backup sensor system. For commercial needs, there are several different axle ratios and various heavy-duty components available.

The Sprinter hasn't been tested in either of the major crash-test series, but it has extensive (for the class) safety features. Electronic stability control, a feature that's not yet offered in all full-size vans, is standard on the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon, as are anti-lock brakes. Front-seat side airbags and front side curtain airbags--two other features that aren't typically available in this class--are both optional.

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2008 Dodge Sprinter

Styling

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon values function over form—any form.

The Sprinter Wagon is Dodge's full-size passenger van. Based on a Daimler design, the 2008 Sprinter Wagon follows a different style that emphasizes passengers and cargo more than the full-size vans from GM and Ford.

While most reviewers like the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon for its capabilities, they are generally disparaging--or, at the least, quiet--about its appearance.

Although Dodge made the 2007 model of the Sprinter Wagon "wider, taller, and longer," Cars.com reports changes in the 2008 version "are comparatively minor." The only mention of appearance is that the front grille of the Sprinter "incorporates the Dodge Ram logo."

Edmunds says that the Sprinter's "radically sloped front end, long wheelbase and tall body make it look like a good Adam Vinatieri kick could knock it over." While not as picturesque in its description, Car and Driver is also less than complimentary, saying the "flat cargo floor and vertical side walls make it a box on wheels."

Kelley Blue Book says diplomatically, "the 2008 Dodge Sprinter isn't likely to win any beauty pageants"; however, they also note that "there is real attractiveness in its efficient design."

“The Sprinter holds an advantage in regards to interior design,” Edmunds observes. “Its new dashboard and steering wheel angle have been greatly improved over its predecessor.” Car and Driver, however, calls it “Spartan,” while ConsumerGuide notes the Sprinter’s “simple and logical control placement, though reaching some less-used switch gear requires a stretch. Sprinter's clearly marked gauges are easy to read at a glance.”

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2008 Dodge Sprinter

Performance

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon is the most agile box around, and the diesel versions get acceptable fuel economy, but there’s no mistaking it for a Viper.

Reviewers generally would like to see a little more horsepower in the turbodiesel model of the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon for better highway passing response.

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon is powered by a 3.0-liter CDI turbodiesel V-6 that makes 154 horsepower, along with a much more impressive 280 pound-feet of torque. It delivers plentiful torque to the rear wheels through a smooth-shifting five-speed automatic transmission that comes with a manual-shift mode. A 254-horsepower, 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 is optional, though at a lower price than the diesel.

Edmunds cites the irony in the Dodge’s name; with the diesel, “a dearth of horsepower leaves it with extremely sluggish passing response at higher speeds -- ironic, considering the van's name.” ConsumerGuide felt the “gutsy turbodiesel provides ample around-town power, even with a moderate load, though highway passing power is just adequate.” Kelley Blue Book says "those seeking more horsepower can opt for the 3.5-liter V6, which pulls a bit stronger but also consumes much more fuel." No reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com tested the V-6 engine. Both engines come standard with a five-speed automatic with an automanual mode.

The EPA does not publish fuel economy figures for the 2008 Dodge Sprinter, but most reviewers seemed impressed when comparing average consumption to that of competing vans. Edmunds wrote of the diesel version, “it gets fuel economy in the mid-20s,” while ConsumerGuide tested a turbodiesel as well that “proved impressively frugal, averaging 18.4 mpg.”

Once you get used to the odd driving position, the 2008 Dodge Sprinter feels quite maneuverable for those accustomed to driving large sport-utility vehicles or other vans. The ride is a bit choppy, but handling is surprisingly nimble for such a tall vehicle.

Edmunds echoes the consensus when it notes that the 2008 Dodge Sprinter "handles more like a midsize SUV than a plumber's van," then adds that this attribute isn't surprising since the van "was designed to navigate Europe's cramped streets." It is a bit surprising, however, when you consider that "it's actually just as wide as the GM and Ford" full-size vans. Credit for the relatively agile handling goes to Mercedes, which Edmunds says "engineered the stability control system to compensate for the taller center of gravity and shifting cargo loads." ConsumerGuide, however, feels that the Sprinter’s "high seating and copious lean in corners results in a tipsy attitude that takes some getting used to." Kelley Blue Book commends the 2008 Dodge because "despite its long chassis, the Sprinter possesses a tight turning radius and responds quickly to emergency maneuvers."

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2008 Dodge Sprinter

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon is remarkably comfortable and exceptionally spacious—and well built, too.

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon achieves the nearly impossible, making "full-size van" and "comfort" virtually synonymous, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. As Car and Driver reports, “A more useful, practical big van doesn't exist.”

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon comes in two different wheelbases--144 and 170 inches--with the 144-inch (233 inches long) model quite maneuverable in the city. Two different roof heights are available as well. Also, three different seating configurations are offered in the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon, with 9-, 10-, and 12-passenger capacities in up to four rows of seating.

As in other full-size vans, the driver and front passenger sit perched high over the front wheels. Behind the front seats, the Sprinter Wagon is as close to a box as you're likely to find in a vehicle. Properly configured, it can seat up to 12 people, and it features sliding doors on both sides. With the seats removed, the Sprinter's tall roof allows awe-inspiring cargo capacity.

A big step up from the usual SUV or minivan, the Dodge Sprinter Wagon can hold an entire soccer team. With "seating for 12 passengers" or room for "a rolling workshop with a ceiling high enough to allow someone over six feet tall to work while standing upright," Kelley Blue Book is impressed with the 2008 Sprinter's "massive cargo bay" and the "wide variety of configurations"--also mentioned in almost every article reviewed by TheCarConnection.com.

Edmunds.com adds that "four front seat styles with multiple adjustments ensure decent comfort, and overall ergonomics give the impression of driving an SUV instead of a gigantic van." For passengers, a "high roof in standard models means endless headroom and easy entry and exit," says ConsumerGuide, "although testers found flat seats uncomfortable for long rides." They added, though, “available pneumatic seats effectively provide additional cushioning for driver and front passenger.”

Edmunds gives kudos to the Sprinter’s “Mercedes build quality.” Kelley Blue Book praises it as well, saying "the interior cabin exhibits few rattles, even over rough pavement." However, from the command position behind the wheel, "reaching some less-used switch gear requires a stretch," says ConsumerGuide.

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2008 Dodge Sprinter

Safety

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon offers a number of safety features but hasn’t been crash-tested.

Although the 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon has not been rated for crash safety by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reviewers give the van high marks for the many safety features it offers.

Cars.com reports that with the 2008 Sprinter Wagon, Dodge offers as standard safety features all-disc anti-lock brakes and an electronic stability system that "adjusts for how the Sprinter is loaded and adjusts its inputs to compensate." Not standard but available are side impact and side curtain airbags.

Kelley Blue Book points out that "the tall windshield and long door glass provide the driver excellent visibility, while the short pointed nose improves aerodynamics as well as ease of parking." They also mention the Sprinter's larger "side mirrors include separate convex mirrors to expose objects hidden in the driver's blind spots."

Edmunds calls attention to "optional front and rear parking sensors and a rearview parking camera" for the 2008 Dodge Sprinter, plus such standard equipment as "folding wide-angle heated mirrors" and an "emergency exit window."

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2008 Dodge Sprinter

Features

The 2008 Dodge Sprinter Wagon has enough standard and optional features to please passengers and delivery van drivers alike.

At virtually every turn, TheCarConnection.com finds reviewers to be impressed with the Euro-flavored Dodge Sprinter's extensive lists of standard and available options.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the impressive list of standard features on the 2008 Sprinter Wagon includes power windows and locks, keyless entry, and a manual sliding side door. Other comfort features "include a tilting and height-adjustable steering wheel, a CD player, and power windows and locks," notes Cars.com, which also touts "an electronic sliding side door" and an "emergency exit window" as first-time options in the 2008 Sprinter.

Among other optional features noted by Edmunds.com were "bi-xenon headlamps, foglamps, headlamp washers, cruise control, parking assist, a rearview camera...rear air-conditioner and rear heater, rear window washer/wiper, auxiliary battery...steering-wheel audio controls, front and/or rear power sunroofs, cell phone connectivity, [and] trip computer."

Kelley Blue Book also notes options like “front-passenger luxury seating, auxiliary front heater, premium sound with six-disc CD changer…power rear vent windows…12-passenger seating, speed control, speed limiter (74-mph top) and heated driver's and passenger's seats."

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