- Lots of functionality
- Prestigious badge
- Car-like driving dynamics
- Competitive pricing
- Offbeat minivan alternative
- No diesel option at present
- Not as powerful as a consumer-oriented van
- Interior not especially configurable
- Gets expensive fast
- No all-wheel drive option
The Mercedes-Benz Metris hits the sweet spot of the commercial van segment as it's just a bit bigger than the Ford Transit Connect, but it's a lot smaller than the big Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
You might not think of Mercedes-Benz as a builder of smaller work vans, but the automaker's global operations have been entrenched in the commercial industry almost since its inception. The Metris is Mercedes' smaller effort, a more urban-oriented companion to the Sprinter that has been sold under a wide range of nameplates in the United States.
We've rated the Metris a 5.8 out of 10, noting that it's definitely a work vehicle—but a pretty good one at that. It's available in four basic configurations: Worker and standard trim levels and passenger and cargo bodystyles. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Soon, the Metris will be built in the United States, but for now the van billed as "right sized" by Mercedes is exported from Spain—where it is known as the Vito (a name roundly rejected by U.S. market research). In Europe, a consumer version of the Vito is called the V-Class; it's decidedly decadent inside, with a dashboard that wouldn't be out of place in the company's C-Class compact sedan and luxurious options like leather seats, a suede headliner, and open pore wood trim.
A decade and a half ago, Mercedes introduced us to its large, Euro-centric Sprinter and now, after Germany, the U.S. is the model's biggest van. The Metris, on the other hand, arrived here a couple of years ago and is offered in cargo and passenger variants. A new Worker Van trim level aimed at—you guessed it—workers is designed to be a stripped-out, value-oriented companion with few options so that it's easy to order.
The Metris squares off against the Ford Transit Connect, the Nissan NV200, and the Chevrolet City Express. Against those, the Metris is decidedly pricier—but also more powerful and better-equipped. The least expensive way to get into a Metris is about $4,000 above those rivals.
Mercedes-Benz Metris styling and performance
The Metris is more conservatively styled than its rivals, both inside and out. That pays dividends inside since the little van's control layout is simple and intuitive. Materials are solid, about like you'd find on a European economy car. Both cloth and vinyl upholsteries are available, the latter of which is the legendary MB-Tex that Mercedes has utilized for about half a century—and it generally lasts about that long.
Unlike the larger Sprinters, which are offered only with diesel engines, the rear-wheel-drive Metris utilizes a gas-powered 2.0-liter inline-4 making 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission, the same powertrain used in the automaker's C-Class lineup. A start-stop system that cuts the engine at traffic lights is optional, while service intervals are as high as 15,000 miles—a boon to fleet operators looking to reduce maintenance costs.
We've only had limited time behind the wheel of the Metris, but it certainly stands at the top of its class in terms of its steering feel and smooth, compliant ride that is passenger car comfortable. although no genuinely luxurious model of the Metris will be available, its comfortable, car-like nature should make it an excellent shuttle van for hotels in passenger configuration.
Mercedes-Benz Metris comfort, safety, and features
Seats in the pre-production Metris we briefly sampled—fairly shapeless and covered in a fabric that didn't even try to look fashionable—are clearly designed for shuttle duty. This may not deter buyers cross-shopping non-luxury family vehicles, though—especially if rumored options like a panoramic roof materialize. Mercedes does offer a lot of options for personalizing a Metris—far more than its Chevrolet and Nissan rivals. A Premium Appearance package paints the bumpers to match the vehicle's bod and adds attractive alloy wheels, a look that might appeal to more lifestyle-oriented users. Additional options include heated seats, navigation, and a low speed automatic emergency braking.
Equipment levels on the Metris aren't lavish at the lower end, as is typical for small vans. Some nice extras can be added, however, in the form of optional navigation, automatic air conditioning, and electric sliding doors. Key specs for the passenger van include standard seating for seven, maximum payload of 1,874 lbs., towing capacity of 4,960 lbs., and cargo volume of 38 cubic feet. (The cargo van ups cargo volume to 186 cubic feet, while maximum payload rises to 2,502 lb.)
Standard safety features include a host of airbags—six for the cargo van, eight for the passenger van—as well drowsiness detection that alerts the driver if it senses they are straying out of the lane, crosswind assist, and load-adaptive stability control. Buyers will find a rearview camera and assists for active parking, lane keeping, blind spots, and collision prevention on the options menu. The Metris hasn't yet been rated by the NHTSA or the IIHS.
The one thing that may scotch the deal for non-commercial buyers is old-school second- and third-row seating that's secured to in-floor tracks and can't be configured or folded like the seats on modern minivans and crossovers. Certainly, a Chrysler Pacifica offers more daily driver flexibility, but there's still something appealing about the Metris for non-commercial users. Maybe some of that is the idea of showing up in the carpool lane in a Mercedes minivan.
The Metris has been rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 23 highway, 22 combined in passenger setup, 21/24/22 mpg in slightly lighter cargo van specification.