By on March 4, 2015

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

Twenty-four years ago, noted wearer-of-Givenchy-sweatsuits-with-burgundy-trim DJ Quik lamented that, thanks to the pervasive influence of gangster rap, everywhere he went was just like Compton. The same thing is happening with the American commercial-vehicle landscape. The first to fall was the hoary old unibody Dodge van, which yielded to the rust-prone Sprinter. Next was the E-Series, nee Econoline, which bowed-out this year in favor of the Euro-style full-sized Transit. Only the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana are left to carry the glinting banner on which waves the heraldic American-van shield of a bleeding hand (from trying to wrench on short-hood vehicles), a one-dollar bill (to signify the aggressive cost-cutting which has come to dominate that business) a bar of candy (calling to mind the child molesters and creeps who formed the tertiary van market) and the symbols “O-” (the old universal-donor blood type, required for anyone who crashed a van above walking pace).

Mercedes started this party in the USA, of course, but they’ve been late to the intermediate-van game. The Metris, announced at a work-truck show in Indianapolis, will fix that oversight.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

The Metris starts at $29,945 for cargo and $33,495 for the passenger models. Who’s going to buy the latter, I wonder? It’s larger than the Transit Connect or the Nissan NV200.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

The sole available engine is a four-cylinder gasoline model that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear-wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

Everywhere else in the world, this is the “Vito” van, beloved steed of German plumbers and anybody else who wants to spend more money than you’d drop on, say, a Renault Kangoo. But here it’s “Metris”, presumably because “Vito” suggests Brando in his chunky forties and this Metris is meant to be more Al Pacino in Godfather II.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

I cannot imagine the Metris will set the market on fire when it arrives. This is an exceptionally price-sensitive market, as I learned to my annoyance when I sold E-150s for a living, and Mercedes no longer carries the bulletproof quality reputation that would have made spending half again the price of a Transit Connect a no-brainer in 1982. We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, consider this: a passenger-model Metris carries more people than a CLA250, with more dignity.

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76 Comments on “A Very “Euro” Way To Hand Out That Free Candy...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The photo at the top says Metris, but my brain tells me Pathfinder.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    That was one hell of a first paragraph, Mr. Baruth.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Never has reading about cargo vans been so entertaining. My hat is off to you Mr. Baruth.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “carries more people than a CLA250, with more dignity”

    I think every Mercedes model available stateside carries passengers with more dignity than CLA/GLA.

    Piling on some more:

    “Consumer Reports rate the CLA as “140% worse than the average car” in the 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey.[51]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_CLA-Class

  • avatar
    dswilly

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/mercedes-bringing-metris-van-to-u-s-creates-wild-sema-concepts/

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I have no sense of scale here. I take it this is bigger than the LWB Transit Connect but smaller than the SWB Transit…?

    Mercedes has a sketchy history of commercial vehicles in the US. Owing to the Chrysler/Mercedes debacle, the Sprinter has been a Dodge, a Freightliner, and a Mercedes. Only certain Mercedes dealers sell/service Sprinters, and I will assume the same goes for the Metris.

    I don’t foresee any future for Mercedes commercial vehicles in the US. Maybe I’m just being a gloomy Gus.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Gloomy Gus is a smart Gus.

      There are so many choices in the commercial van market, you have to really want the Mercedes to choose it. The full size Transit passenger version starts at $1000 than this thing.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Have rode in the 3litre diesel version in Europe, not bad at all. Transit Hmmm Ford Australia is getting them but it appears is not happy saying they exist,. No advertising, no announcements. Get the impression Ford Australia not happy with previous Transits, they had problems and did not sell that well

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The new Transit has been significantly upgraded. It got delayed because engineers in Dearborn weren’t happy with it. One called it a, “A wobbly $hit shed,” before it was revised.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            A 3.2 Litre Diesel and a mediocre, GCVWR The Petrol(Gas) engine is worse. No alternative to the Sprinter as a Motorhome base that is for sure

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            That’s rich coming from the guys who churned out Econolines by the gazillion. E-series was king of the wobbly shit sheds.

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      I don’t own one, but the Sprinter family is, how should we say…eons more advanced than the old Detroit based standbys. I did a one way rental in a Sprinter 2500 once and found it actually bearable to drive for along distance compared to any E250 or Savanna. Turned out to be a great interstate hauler.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        The new IVECO Daily is becoming the basis of a Class C Motorhome here It will replace the Sprinter and it’s capacity is better than the E450

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        I’ve done a 14 hour trip in my ProMaster a.k.a. Fiat Ducato. No problem.

        I think the main problem with all of the traditional American vans is that the chassis engineering is decades old, and all of the European vans are more modern designs. The Ducato drives like a modern minivan, it’s just bigger.

    • 0 avatar
      Tifighter

      Minivan size. Almost identical length to Sienna, Odyssey etc but narrower and taller.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Chrysler Daimler was not the problem with the sprinter, the crap ass van is the problem. 40-50k for one van, a replacement transmission for $12,000 and in 5-6 six years it’s so rusted out it won’t pass inspection.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I hate working on Sprinters, and I’m sure the Metris/Vito won’t be any better. I wish the Transit and similar the best of luck, but I don’t see the Mercedes Vans going anywhere anytime soon. Many people like them for their businesses. The Transit has to make a case for itself, which I hope it does.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        The transit is the #1 selling van so far this year, ford hit a grand slam with that one. All the fleets here are changing over.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          So far I haven’t seen many around here. I know they are selling well so far but the question is if they will keep selling that well. Right now there was some pent up demand since the E-series was basically sold out. The bigger question is how it will do over the long run. Can it match the E-series durability and up time. The GM twins are pretty close in that regard.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          Says a lot about the competition in the US, we think the new Transit is pretty inadequate

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I never really had any problems with working on Sprinters nothing is particularly hard to do on the ones that I used to work on. Yeah the fuel filter location was stupid and it was a bit of a pain to replace the alternator but not more so than a lot of vehicles today. Never had the displeasure of replacing a trans in one. Two of them in the fleet did loose their trans but one was covered under warranty since it happened at around 9 months. The other the company took to the dealer thinking it too would be covered under warranty and were rather shocked when they went to pick it up 3 weeks later and they wanted $15,000.

        My Jasper rep at the time did tell me that they had a trans for $8K. He also said that FedEx scrapped the company owned Sprinters if they needed a trans. They finally figured it was just throwing good money after bad to replace a trans in one and end up married to it. I’m not sure if they are contractor or company owned but around here FedEx seems to be trying a little of everything to see which is going to work ou the best. I’ve seen a number of the Isuzu Reach Walk-ins, Nissan NVs, a couple of ProMasters and recently a few Transits.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Fuel filter is easy, getting into it deeper is where the problems come in. If you have to replace an oil cooler seal for example, that’s where the difficulty is.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I’m not saying that the fuel filter is hard per se just that it is a stupid design that takes way longer to replace than a item that requires frequent replacement.

            Thankfully I never had to get that deep into them since I left that before any of them racked up that many miles. The worst was the nightmare linkages in the sliding door latch mechanism.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Who’s going to buy the latter, I wonder?”

    Heavy breeders? Blue-chip private high schools?

    For those who want a whiff of luxury with their van, many Americans have already attached Escalade front ends to their Expresses, Savanas, Astros and Safaris.

    Heck, there’s even a towing company round these parts that stuck them on their black Silverado wreckers.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      I see a decent amount of Sprinter executive conversions roaming around here. They also seem to be popular for high-end shuttle duty between Vancouver and Whistler. Possibly livery companies will buy these to make a baby version. Though this thing seems to lack the ludicrous headroom of the sprinter.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Lot of upscale hotel companies use them for airport shuttle duty.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    When I think “Vito”, I think of three things:

    1) The Italian guy I used to work with
    2) Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinnie
    3) Jimmy Johns sandwich #5

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      That’s a good sandwich! People not from this part of the country won’t know it. My issue with Jimmy Johns is meat quantity. Needs more.

      Overall, I’d choose Penn Station every time.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’ve never been to a Penn Station. One just opened up close to me. I’ll have to check it out.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Goodness do so right away. The Pizza sub FTW!

          Pepperoni, ham, provolone, pizza sauce (optional mushrooms, onion).

          All chopped and cooked up in front of you on the grille. Then it goes on the bread (bread made at each store), cheese on the top, and they run it through an oven.

          And they cut their own fries there (which you should ask for well done, otherwise not crispy enough).

          They also make their own lemonade at each store.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve been going to Firehouse Subs lately. I like that place, but I’ll try Penn Station. That pizza sub sounds fantastic.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Also, you have two Smashburger locations up there, if you haven’t tried that either. Excellent burgers, and rosemary w/olive oil fries!

            One in Troy, and one in W. Bloomfield.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            At this point I feel compelled to pimp my new food review site:

            http://www.itsjackandjill.com

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve been to the Smashburger in Troy. It’s good. Detroit has an abundance of excellent burger places though. Any other commenters from Detroit will have their preferences, mine is Red Coat Tavern. Now I’m hungry.

            And Jack, I like your food site. I agree that the Firehouse meatball sub is a solid choice.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Why doesn’t Jill start writing here too??

            RE: Smashburger

            There is one quite literally on my street (couple miles down) so it’s so… easy to have an awesome hamburger at any time.

            I’ll try Firehouse. We have one or two but I haven’t been. It’s even up in this part of town.

  • avatar
    NN

    i would have strongly considered the passenger version had it been available last summer when i was shopping for a van. I did consider the Transit Connect, but my wife didn’t. A Benz I’m sure would have been viewed in a different way. We ended up with a Quest, so, we’re obviously not a regular people anyways.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    “I cannot imagine the Metris will set the market on fire when it arrives.”

    Considering the propensity of certain Mercedes partikel filters to self-ignite, this was a truly masterful sentence.

    Mercedes commercial vehicles have lost their charme in Europe due to rust, generally awful assembly, and a very bad cost-relationship due to downtime.

    The worst thing is that PSA is taking over the market, selling their cars as Toyota Proace. Also, rebadged Renaults sold as Mercedes Citan.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    How does this compare to the Ford Transit? Which I have been eyeing recently. Prices look close…

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Smaller. Transits can get expensive pretty quickly, though.

      I’ve had my Ram ProMaster for about 6 months, and I’m very happy with it. Problem there is cargo-van-only; if you want passenger seats you will be dealing with an upfitter. Cargo van is what I needed, so it wasn’t a problem for me.

      I did not even seriously consider the Sprinter because of the obvious rust issues. The ProMaster’s loading floor is lower than any of the others because of the front drive, which was a major advantage for how I’m using it.

      • 0 avatar
        S1L1SC

        Thank you.
        I am looking for something that can also pull daily use / personal use duty, as the business is a side line – so removable/foldable seats are needed.

        Going to look at the two ford products tonight (Transit / Connect), will also look at the Ram offerings.

        My main worry is being able to fit 8 ft. grid-wall. Been using an old Buick Roadmaster wagon until now, but at 250k miles…

        Really don’t want to deal with a trailer, so we will see what will work.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          I don’t know what “grid-wall” is, but Transit and ProMaster are both well beyond 4 feet between wheelwells, they both come in several lengths up to around 13 or 14 feet of load-floor length, and enough height to be able to stand up in. They’ll both swallow the cargo hold of your Buick a few times over!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m not sure Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles were that great in 1982 either. My dopey home town bought a fleet of O309Ds about 35 years ago. They were a disaster and were replaced by Bluebirds almost immediately.

  • avatar
    RHD

    This thing bears an extraordinary resemblance to the Chrysler minivans, at least on the exterior.
    With such high prices for everything they sell, why can’t Mercedes invest just a little more in creative and original designs?

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    That’s like getting diamond studded work gloves or golden power tools.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    I can tell you that U.S. Benz dealers are less than thrilled about having to sell this product…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Then why is Daimler bringing it here?

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      Around here the Mercedes van dealers are a whole separate entity closer to where the commercial van buyers are

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Mercedes is encouraging dealers to build separate dealerships for their commercial vehicles. The dealer I work for is looking for a spot to build a separate commercial vehicle dealership. They are just too much of a hassle in the normal lot and shop. They are too difficult to maneuver in tight quarters and you can’t lift them on a normal rack. It also looks stupid when a S-class customer pulls into the service drive between a plumbers van and a RV.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    “The sole available engine is a four-cylinder gasoline model that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear-wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.”

    208hp and 258 ft-lbs is a lot from a gas I4. Huge displacement? Forced induction? Does anyone know?

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    I just had a vendor chauffeur me around in a Vito/Metris the other day overseas. It had all of the typical German qualities – tight handling, refined interior, and good materials. Of course, it had some of the typical Teutonic weaknesses as well – the nav had the WSOD and one of the rear ashtrays had somehow lost its mechanism and would fall on the floor if not jammed in its receptacle just so. The cup holders on either side of the ashtray had some of the most intricate folding linkages I have ever seen in a vehicle. They were not long for this world but they were beautiful nevertheless. Also, the seats were stiff, extremely narrow, and there were no armrests in the back rows. Give me a Toyota Alphard or the Buick one with the matte wood trim any day of the week over a Vito.

  • avatar
    dtremit

    Given the three pointed star on the front, and the reasonably classy interior, I think you are going to see a lot of these at airport limo stands.

  • avatar

    If the market for big vans is primarily commercial, I’m baffled as to why many of the big ones are switching to costlier euro-market examples over vehicles like the Econoline that exemplify cheap and simple.

    Why not just keep cranking out Econos with the 2.7EB, 3.7L and 3.5L EB backed by a newer 6AT?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well for Chrysler it was because theirs was out of date and Mercedes wanted to sell more of their own van. Due to the break up Chrysler was then w/o and Fiat wanted to sell more of their own.

      Ford on the other hand I’m not sure why they decided to dump the E-series since it had 50% of the standard size van market. They had to do some substantial changes to the Transit to bring it up to US standards both regulatory and for what the buyers expect.

      It will certainly be interesting to see how the market shakes out. It would not surprise me if the GM twins come out on top and since they don’t have a euro van to replace it they will eventually update it w/o straying too far from its current design.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Ford still makes the e-350 in extended cargo van and the 450 for chassis cab. I’ve seen more of the new transits this month than the sprinter so now with ford you have the transit connect transit connect extended the transit in three different lengths and heights in cargo and passenger and gas turbo and turbo diesel and single and dually. Right now they have 70% of the market

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        The fact that Diamler has sold as many Sprinters as they have shows that this type of van is what fleets want. The fuel savings out ways the costs, but those are going up as the exhaust systems become more and more complicated.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The Sprinter has never even reached 10% of the market in its best years.

          The fuel savings do not outweigh the costs. When the fleet I used to maintain was talked into buying them the salesman’s sthick was that over the life time the extra 10K would be more than made up for by the fuel savings. For some reason they lest out the fact that diesel was more expensive than gas. The reality was that they cost $2000 more to maintain and repair per year than the StepVans they were replacing, if they didn’t need a transmission so that ate up the fuel savings. After buying them for about 2 years they stopped because the actual cost of operation and down time was too high. They were also not as efficient to work out of as a Walk-in.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The European designs make better use of available space. Lower loading floor, higher roof, thinner and more vertical walls so that a greater percentage of the vehicle’s outside width shows up on the inside (and it’s available floor to ceiling), back doors that swing all the way around, side doors wide enough for a pallet. I’m nearly 6 feet tall and I can stand up in my low-roof ProMaster with my head ducked (and the high-roof version is more than enough to stand up in). They all have factory high-roof versions. Can’t stand up inside an E-series or a Savana – not even close. The cargo volume in the biggest E-series/Savana is about what’s in the smaller or medium configurations of ProMaster, Transit, and Sprinter.

      A good many of those who bought Sprinters did so not for the rumored fuel savings, but rather because they needed the extra space.

      A good many of those who bought Sprinters because they were the only choice for something that size, are now going to be buying Transits or ProMasters …

      The newer-designed vans are also nicer to drive. The fleet manager might not care, but someone like myself who is going to be driving what I’m buying will. Bigger windshield, bigger side windows, modern instruments and controls, better suspension with no more Ford Twin-I-Beam (!), better brakes, more modern engines and transmissions, no enormous engine cowl in the interior.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Those factory high roof versions are going to do a number on the coach companies who build airport shuttles.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          Park’N’Fly at Toronto Pearson uses rattly old minibuses based on Chevrolet cutaway chassis (basically glorified cube vans) for servicing the economy lot, but if you park at the valet lot, they use high-roof long-wheelbase Sprinters. I have a strange feeling that the Sprinter would cost less than a Chevrolet cutaway chassis plus the custom coach body.

          A high-roof long-wheelbase Sprinter/Transit/ProMaster will substitute for a lot of cube van applications, too. Before, if you needed something bigger than an E-series or had to stand up inside the load area, you had to get a cube van.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            Even if the Sprinter doesn’t cost less, the Transit definitely does. Just the E-350 cutaway chassis is $28k; you can get a medium-roof 10 passenger Transit wagon for $35k and a high-roof 15 passenger model for $43k.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            A standard Sprinter can’t carry as many people as a minibus based on a cutaway van. They usually start at 18-20 passengers.

            There are high roof conversions for the E-series and GM vans if you needed stand up height. I’ve got a Clubwagon (yes it is that old) that was originally outfitted as a wheelchair lift van.

            I’ve been noticing a lot of the recent E-series with high roof conversion being used by the local private para transport companies and looked into getting a retired one to replace my aged Clubwagon but they had between 400K and 500K and they still wanted several thousand for them.

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