Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Artic Drive; Part 3
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III. Click image to enlarge
Related articles
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive, Part I
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive, Part II

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Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

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Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part 3

Mercedes-Benz is always up for an adventure. In 2010, they took a group of Canadian automotive writers deep into the northern Canadian wilderness – in Smart Fortwos – in the dead of winter. We at attended that trip and loved every second of it. So, when Mercedes-Benz proposed driving their Sprinter commercial vans from Edmonton to beyond the Arctic Circle, how could we say no?

The trip was split into two legs with the first leg being a six-day trek from Edmonton, Alberta to Anchorage, Alaska. The second leg was a round trip, four-day journey from Anchorage, AK to Coldfoot Camp, AK and back. Travel Editor Paul Williams was on the first leg of the adventure while I took part in leg two.

The task set before me and my fellow automotive writers was a 1,972-km expedition in extreme cold temperatures on roads that were usually under a layer of ice and snow. It may not sound like a big deal for most Canadians, but we were travelling in rear-wheel-drive, empty commercial vans through mountain passes intended for transport trucks and four-by-fours. Our convoy included a lead Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTec, two passenger Sprinters, four long-wheelbase (170-inch) Sprinters, three short-wheelbase (144-inch) Sprinters and a support Mercedes-Benz GL 350 BlueTec bringing up the rear. All of the trucks were equipped with regular winter tires – no studs or chains here.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Artic Drive; Part 3
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Arctic Drive; Part III. Click image to enlarge

During a brief information session before hitting the road, we were informed that although the Sprinter van underwent extensive winter testing, there was a chance we were going to experience temperatures that exceeded the limits of these tests. Lucky for us, all of the Sprinters we were driving featured 17,000 BTU diesel heater boosters that run on their own to warm the trucks coolant and provide extra heat inside the cabin. When it is running, small plumes of exhaust can be seen coming out from middle of truck. Thankfully, all of our cargo Sprinters had a partition between the driver’s compartment and the rear cargo hold, which allowed the front cab to stay warmer. After our mission briefing was done, it was time to hit the road.

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