Photo by Vince Taroc.
When a small fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans made their way to the Bobit Business Media offices in late March, many of the editors were impressed by what they saw, but most were a little wary to take any of the test vehicles home.
As a father of four, the chance to drive something that resembled a small shuttle bus was something to jump at. When I stepped up to my seat behind the wheel, I soon learned that the large-looking exterior was more of an illusion when the key was turned, and it started to make its way down the road.
The 2014 Sprinter features a 2.1L four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel engine as standard equipment, which quickly picked up to highway speeds as soon as I made my way onto Southern California's San Diego (405) Freeway.
The stop-and-go traffic was no challenge, with the Sprinter responding quickly to each and every reaction. Changing lanes was assisted by the Sprinter's Blind Spot Assist, which warns the driver with a red flashing triangle on the side-view mirrors, as well as with an audible alarm, if someone is sitting just out of your line of vision.
Photo by Stephane Babcock.
After spending a week driving a couple of the Sprinters through the sometimes narrow streets of Long Beach, I decided to really put it to the test — a weekend camping trip with my wife and kids. After loading the gang, a night's worth of camping equipment, and two surfboards into the Sprinter, we started on our hour-and-a-half journey to Malibu.
As before, the Sprinter took to the 405 like fish to water, and when we made the transfer to California's Pacific Coast Highway, it was no different. Even with the winds whipping us from the ocean, the Sprinter's Load-Adaptive Electronic Stability feature helped keep us in our lane and moving closer to our destination.
With plenty of room for ourselves and our equipment (one night's worth of equipment is more than you think for a family of our size), there were no "Are we there yets" coming from any part of the van. When we finally arrived, the kids actually seemed upset that they had to get out (probably since it meant we had to set up camp).
The Jupiter Red Sprinter turned more than a few heads as it made its way to Leo Carrillo State Park. Most people wanted to see the inside and had questions about drivability and, most important to many of us, fuel economy.
There are numbers that I could list from the Mercedes-Benz website, but instead I'll give you some real-world math: The trip from Long Beach to Leo Carrillo, and back, cost me a quarter tank of gas. Not bad for a 120-mile drive.
Automotive Fleet Group Publisher Sherb Brown treated his daughter and her friends to a birthday ride in the high roof, extended Sprinter passenger van — decorations not included in final MSRP.
Photo by Sherb Brown.
Editor's note: View our photo gallery, "Sprinter 2014-MY Walkarounds," for detailed photos of the vehicle. Read a news story about Mercedes-Benz USA's plans for the 2015 model.