First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz Sprinter trucks reviews mercedes benz first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Click image to enlarge

Feature: Sprinter on Tour

Manufacturer’s web site
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Chicago, IL – The second-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter commercial van (nee Dodge Sprinter) has been with us since 2008, and because about 75 percent of them are modified by aftermarket companies for both commercial and recreational purposes, Mercedes-Benz assembled a number of up-fitters and their wares, ranging from a cherry-picker to a refrigerator truck to a full-blown luxury limo for us to sample.

I snagged a 25-foot Winnebago Class-C RV conversion first, and like any proper RV experience, my driving partner and I got lost immediately. Which normally is okay, but in Chicago’s south side, potentially not okay.

Nonetheless, while trying to figure out our location by lining up the Sears Tower with a burned out ’76 Caprice, I immediately realized driving this 25-foot (7.6 m) RV was a breeze. In fact, compared to my last RV experience, which involved a 32-foot (9.6 m) Class-C on a Ford E-Series chassis with a big ol’ gasoline V10, this Sprinter/Winnebago felt like a Ferrari. It was stable, nimble, had real steering feel, strong brakes, a tight turning circle and meaningful acceleration.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz Sprinter trucks reviews mercedes benz first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz Sprinter trucks reviews mercedes benz first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Click image to enlarge

Of course, we’re not comparing apples to apples here. The admittedly more expensive Sprinter uses a sophisticated unibody construction versus the antiquated body-on-frame of the traditional Class-C—and 25 feet (7.6 m) is about max for the Sprinter platform. The old Detroit war horses can handle up to another ten feet of RV-ness.

Fuel economy is a big Sprinter plus. The turbocharged 3.0L Bluetec diesel V6 puts out 188 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque from 1400-2400 rpm and, according to the Winnebago rep, can return almost half the fuel consumption of a comparable gas-powered C-Class RV.

If you’re looking for Canadian content, Roadtrek Motorhomes out of Kitchener do excellent Sprinter Class-B (van-style) conversions starting at $108,000. In fact, there are about 30 “approved” Canadian Sprinter upfit companies that Mercedes-Benz Canada works with.

From the factory, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is available in two wheelbases, three body lengths, two load ratings (2500 and 3500), two roof heights, and can be ordered as a passenger van, cargo van, crew van, minibus, or just cab on chassis. For 2013, the Sprinter gets standard Comfort Seats (formerly optional) and an aux audio input. New optional equipment includes remote control for the auxiliary heater and Sirius satellite radio bundled with Bluetooth. Prices range from $42,900 for the base 3,657-mm (144-inch) cargo van to $56,100 for the 4,318-mm (170-inch) passenger van.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).