By on February 6, 2018

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

Nobody knows why the custom van lifestyle ended. Despite the keep on truckin’ imperative, the 1970s ended and took those kaleidoscopic fun-wagons with it. Maybe the Baby Boomers grew up and decided to stop smoking weed in the back of large vehicles with words like “Vandy Apple” painted on the side so they could get a real job and start smoking weed at home.

Perhaps the trend simply passed and foreign-built economy cars were the next must-have item. All we know for sure is that it was a mistake.

Fortunately, vans have only gotten better since the ’70s ended. The objectively perfect minivan had its heyday when leisure travel vans still held a corner of the market. While not so popular anymore, the van’s unparalleled versatility has kept it a viable option for work fleets and individual private owners who want a jack-of-all-trades vehicle in the driveway.

Mercedes-Benz is hip to this, revealing its third-generation Sprinter with all the customizable variables one would expect. However, it’s also adding load of new technologies and hardware as part of the brand’s “adVANce” philosophy. That includes new internet integration, driveline configurations, and a forthcoming electric model. Does this amount to the most exciting model in Mercedes’ lineup?

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

Well, no. An AMG C 43 would still probably be more fun. While you could certainly outfit the third-gen Sprinter to be the funkiest vehicle in your neighborhood, the base from which you would start that process is actually not as enjoyable to look at from the outside as the current model.

Things are a different story on the inside, however. Mercedes added a large center touchscreen (up to 10.25 inches) to interface with its MBUX multimedia system and PRO connect for fleet buyers. The PRO connect makes it possible to for businesses to manage orders online as well as check vehicle information — like its location, fuel level, or maintenance intervals. It can also setup a digital logbook for the driver that is accessible remotely. The system also has optional intuitive voice controls.

The interior layout is also more carlike, with the steering wheel offering more controls and a slightly premium look. Daimler promises improved sound deadening and ride comfort.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

While the new-generation Sprinter line will still offer all- or rear-wheel-drive variants, Mercedes has added an entry-level front-wheel-drive option, as well. When combined with the myriad of body types, body lengths, tonnages, load compartment heights, and equipment features, MB claims there are over 1,700 different versions of the new Sprinter.

That translates into a vehicle you can use for just about anything. Interested in a bare-bones all-wheel-drive hauler with gobs of interior space that can navigate a muddy construction site? The Sprinter has you covered. How about a modestly sized front-drive delivery van? Sprinter. What about a luxury bus for shuttling around celebrities or your comically large family? If they like German autos and diesel, then it has got to be the Sprinter.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

That’s not to suggest other manufactures don’t have good alternatives. Ford’s Transit provides a lot of the same stuff, including GPS-based monitoring for fleets, and has powertrains that actually make it fun to drive. While Mercedes won’t offer a beastly engine, at least not in Euro-spec models, it arrives with two newly developed transmissions for the front-drive variant. One is a six-speed manual, the other a nine-speed automatic. Mercedes claimed the auto’s gear ranges are graduated to give an optimum balance between low fuel consumption and agile handling.

For Europe, the rear-drive Sprinter comes with a 2.1-liter diesel four-cylinder with three outputs rated at 114 hp, 143 hp and 163 hp. While the front-drive options come with the same powerplants, the top-tier inline-four comes in at 177 hp and is only available on the passenger trim. The 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel also sticks around, but now makes 190 hp and 324 lb-ft of torque — an engine North America is all but guaranteed.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

Still, Mercedes-Benz probably doesn’t intend to dazzle prospective buyers with its engines. It’s focusing instead on the Sprinter’s customizability and adding tech. In addition to the aforementioned internet connectivity and fleet-tracking, the third-gen van will be available with a reversing camera showing its image in the rear-view mirror, a parking package with a 360-degree camera, keyless start, rain sensors and “Wet Wiper” system ensure optimum visibility at all times.

Mercedes says customers can place their orders now and get their new Sprinter vans starting in June. That does not include the all-electric eSprinter, however. The automaker claims it won’t be ready for launch until 2019. While there are zero technical details on the EV right now, Mercedes says it’s “primarily designed for inner-city operations, not only protect the environment but also offer customers tangible added value with their day-to-day suitability and flexibility.”

That doesn’t sound very exciting. We’d recommend punching it up with a carpeted ceiling, some neon-colored paint, and a space-themed mural on the door.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018

[Images: Mercedes-Benz]

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23 Comments on “2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Vantastically Evolved for Its Third Generation...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “Nobody knows why the custom van lifestyle ended.”

    The swingin’ bachelors of the ’70s who used them for adult fun became creepy thirty-somethings in the ’80s, and pedo-van denizens in the ’90s.

    • 0 avatar

      The new custom van is an RV. My MIL is on her 2nd Sprinter diesel RV and averages 17 mpg. She has maintained her 70’s lifestyle of smoking non-tobacco products.

  • avatar

    They look kind of narrow and that profile might be problematic in high winds. You could customize these into pretty cool party wagons though. Is there an 8-track option?

  • avatar

    I hope they addressed the rusting issues. I still see way too many of these vans with rust spots. They’re like the Mazda of vans.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree, must be something about the metal prep and paint process that is deficient, and ongoing for years and years. These Mercs really are one of the fastest to rust vehicles I see around. While their sedans are among the best in body durability.

    • 0 avatar

      They be carrying on the tradition inherited from the GMC Vandura. My dad had two generations of those (literally and figuratively) rust traps. The second one was made more of iron oxide than steel, while the first one let you see the road under your feet.

      Oh, and for at least the next twenty years of that model GM engineers never bothered to address the rust, esp. around the windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      Eddy Currents

      They rust worse than a Mazda. Try a 1984 Hyundai Pony.

  • avatar

    I thought the custom van lifestyle ended because you couldn’t find shag carpeting any more.

  • avatar

    A$$ Gas or Grass, nobody rides for free!

  • avatar

    Did I spy a driver’s side sliding door?

    The dual sliding doors revolutionized the minivan market and extended the segment’s life. If Sprinter added one they’d assuredly replace Suburbans as the BMW (big mormon wagon) of choice.

    Did they bother to add serious towing capacity in the passenger version? The Transit wagon’s 5k rating is a bit of a joke.

  • avatar

    I think a front drive 6 speed manual Sprinter could be a bit of fun.

    • 0 avatar

      Kind of sad the FWD version of a delivery van, is the only offering of the AMG company with a fun to drive transmission…

      • 0 avatar

        I totally agree. But I wouldn’t care honestly. It would be fun none the less ripping through the gears in a Sprinter. I’d rather have a front driver anyways where I live. Our weather kind of dictates towards needing front or all wheel drive with AWD being king. Rear wheel fairs pretty decent but it’s a bitch when the snow falls. Unless you know your vehicle, I’d stay away from it. But it also matters on how you drive as well. If you’re a total dumbass in the way you drive then it doesn’t matter what type of drive you have…. you’re pretty much screwed.

    • 0 avatar

      Dodge/FCA will sell you a ProMaster (in the US). Pentastar goodness with front wheel drive…

      • 0 avatar

        I like the Pentastar in the Caravan and it seems well suited for it. Not sure how well it would perform in the ProMaster though seeing as it’s probably a hell of a lot heavier than the Caravan.

  • avatar

    I read a thread here about these (older model) on a Murlee Yard post. I want to like them but the stories l read would have me buying a Transit for my RV choice for the Ford dealer network alone. Can get it worked on nearly anywhere.

  • avatar

    As a casual observer, I thought this was a Ford Transit, not a Mercedes.

    I will chime in with the other folks complaining about the rusting. A couple of jobs back we had one of the earlier Sprinters. In about three years time, it went from a pristine white delivery van to rusting hulk. I was amazed at how bad it rusted and the white paint didn’t help. I wish I could say it was mechanically reliable, but we had a lot of issues on that front, too.

  • avatar

    That looks cute like many Euro vans but there’s no way you’d bet the farm on it… get an Asian van, in fact I dont know why Korean vans arent more popular in the US/EU.

  • avatar

    Will this version go 18 months before visible rust is showing? Even here in the Pacific Northwest, where vehicles never die, there are Sprinters here with rust stains all down their back doors at the hinges.

  • avatar

    I have driven the Sprinter extensively. It is a manual transmission away from being awesome. It is very nice to drive.

  • avatar

    I don’t like the way the black bumper wraps up to the headlights.

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