The full-size passenger van market in the USA is headed by the class-leading and ever-popular Ford Transit Passenger Van, but the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van we review here has been mounting a strong challenge since it was redesigned for the 2019 model year. This year sees the arrival of two new 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engines with 168 and 208 horsepower, respectively, while the existing 188-hp gas engine remains. The Sprinter doesn’t have an answer to the Ford Transit Passenger Van’s high-output gas engines or trail-ready Trail Van, but the Merc’s new 4Matic AWD system does mean it will do a far better job off-road, while its diesel engines are very economical and offer plenty of torque, if not power. Other rivals include the Ram ProMaster Window Van, but that’s FWD only and not as refined as the Mercedes, while GM’s Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana Passenger Van twins are tough as nails but downright crude next to the Merc. With other vans’ prices having increased substantially, the Sprinter is decent value in 2024 and is less truck-like to drive than most. The big question is whether this is enough to unseat the class-leading Transit.
2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 Sprinter Passenger Van?
The 2024 Sprinter Passenger Van receives various mechanical upgrades this year, firstly in the shape of a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine available in two outputs – 168 hp and 208 hp – the latter replacing the old 188-hp turbo-diesel V6. A new 4Matic AWD system replaces the old 4WD system. By default, it splits torque evenly in a 50-50 distribution between the front and rear axles, but the new system’s variable-split setup that’s very similar to the one in the GLE SUV. It can apportion drive where it’s needed most instead of the previously fixed 33-67 split. A nine-speed automatic transmission is now standard on all trims; last year’s gas models already had this transmission, but this year, all the diesels get it too, allowing a significantly shorter first gear for quicker getaways and a taller top gear for more economical highway cruising. The starting price of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van is $48,700.
What’s the Price of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van?
With its $48,700 MSRP, the price of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van undercuts its cheapest Ford Transit rival by more than $1,000. This is for the base 1500 with the gas engine and 144″ wheelbase, while the 2500 derivative of this car will cost you $50,110. Opting for the 168-hp diesel engine adds $1,500 to the bill, while the high-output 208-hp diesel comes with a surcharge of $4,150. AWD is only available on the 2500 with the 144″ wheelbase and the standard-output diesel engine; that derivative costs $61,660. The only two other Passenger Van derivatives of the Sprinter are the 2500 with the 170″ wheelbase, either with the standard-output diesel for $61,600 or with the high-output diesel for $64,160. These prices don’t include the $1,695 destination fee.
2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van Handling and Driving Impressions
The Sprinter Passenger Van handles as well as one could reasonably expect from such a high van. Roll is quite well-contained, and cornering feels surefooted, with any overenthusiasm by the driver quickly reigned in by the stability control to keep things level. It certainly feels a lot more “together” than the wayward GMC Savana and properly modern, with only the Ford Transit in the same league among locally available vans. The nine-speed transmission effectively damps out turbo lag, and pulling away with a full load is painless thanks to the short first gear. The new 4Matic AWD system is painless to use and turns the Sprinter into an all-time AWD vehicle; you no longer have to activate a 4WD system manually. It can send all the torque to just one axle when needed. This is more useful than you might imagine; where the old setup would get hopelessly stuck when you have to reverse up an incline off-road to get out of trouble due to most of the power going to the rear by default, the new system seamlessly energizes the loaded wheels and off you go. The new diesel engine is very refined, and the high-output derivative has a useful 20 hp more than the old diesel V6, and two more gears via the slick-shifting nine-speed auto to apportion its torque, while being more economical too.
Verdict: Is The 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van A Good Van?
Thanks to their car-like refinement, the Sprinter and Transit vans stand apart, but the Ram ProMaster Window Van, though a little harsh-riding and lacking in powertrain options, provides an interesting alternative in that its FWD layout allows a very low and unencumbered load-area floor. The GMC Savana Passenger Van may be worth a look too, but only if you don’t mind its ancient design, poor comfort, and lack of safety credentials; it’s an unashamed heavy-duty work van well past its sell-by date and not in contention here if ultimate passenger comfort is a priority – which will be an issue in a passenger van that regularly transports a full complement of passengers. The Sprinter is the most cultured and car-like of the lot, but it doesn’t offer nearly the same level of performance as the Transit with its available 310-hp turbocharged gas V6. The Sprinter’s easy-going low-rev torque will pull a house, but if you need speed or a proper AWD trail van that you can outfit to your heart’s content, the multi-talented Transit is still king of the hill.
What 2024 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Van Model Should I Buy?
The trim you buy will depend on what you want to use the Sprinter for. The base 1500 will take 12 passengers. For maximum passenger capacity, the 15-seat 2500 with the long wheelbase is the ticket. For ventures off the beaten path, the new AWD derivative will get you places the old 4WD never could. The Premium and Premium Plus packages are useful extras with their bigger touchscreen, navigation, wireless charging pad, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and traffic-sign recognition.