The landscape for full-size cargo vans has shifted significantly since Mercedes-Benz introduced its past generation of Sprinter van for the 2006 model year, and it's clear the company has deeply considered the new focus on vehicle connectivity, mobility, and telematics, when designing the third-generation model.
When the 2019 Sprinter goes on sale in Europe in June and in the U.S. later this year, commercial and other fleet buyers will encounter a significantly upgraded van that offers a dizzying array of configurations — 1,700 around the globe — and meaningful improvements designed to improve productivity for delivering packages or hauling passengers.
Journalists joined the company in The Netherlands earlier this month to get a chance to drive the new van.
Driving the Sprinter in the close quarters of Amsterdam and the city's environs seemed like a daunting task considering the prevalence of public transit options and array of bicycles in the city, but the Sprinter managed the route to Leiden, Spike-nisse, through Rotterdam, and back.
The 2019 Sprinter delivers all kinds of new capabilities, and perhaps its most notable improvements come in the cabin, where buyers can choose between four dashboards and the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) — the upgraded infotainment system that now offers a color touchscreen and voice commands. "Hey Mercedes" prompts the system to help a driver contact the fleet manager, receive an alternative route, or even find a local restaurant for lunch.
Mercedes-Benz is still working out the engine and powertrain lineups for individual markets, but the U.S. will receive a diesel and gasoline engine. U.S. buyers will be able to choose between a seven-speed or nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. A front-wheel model and six-speed manual transmission will be offered in Europe.
I drove several Euro-spec Sprinters, including the 314 CDI and 319 CDI, that were equipped with two diesels — a 3.0-liter V-6 and 2.1-liter inline-4. Mercedes-Benz can deliver four power ratings with the four-cylinder.
The 2019 Sprinter adds an array of driver-assist features in global markets, including a back-up camera that displays in the rear-view mirror, Parking Package, and 360-degree bird's eye view. Various automatic systems can intervene in an emergency and a rain sensor improves visibility on wet drives.
One of the most notable updates to the Sprinter comes in the form of a factory telematics offering known as Mercedes Pro Connect. Eight telematics packages will be available to help fleet managers better track preventive maintenance, routing and driver behavior. Read more about these options here.
A Wi-Fi hotspot will support data transfers, and Mercedes-Benz will offer a mobile app that's accessible to drivers.