By on January 30, 2020

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris front quarter

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

2.0-liter turbocharged I4 (208 hp @ 5000 rpm, 258lb/ft. @ 1250 rpm)

Seven-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive

21 city / 24 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

21.3 (observed mileage, MPG)

11.5 city / 9.8 highway / 10.7 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $32,395 US / $39,100 CAN

As Tested: $39,001 US / $46,359 CAN

Prices include $1195 destination charge in the United States. Canadian pricing without destination/delivery charges, as these are dealer defined and, as such, vary.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who spend the majority of their days in a van of some sort. I’m not talking about the beautiful people on social media hashtagging their rebranding of the Seventies-era shaggin’ wagon as “vanlife.” I’m talking about tradespeople, for whom a van is as important a tool as a hammer or pipe wrench.

For most of my working life, I’ve worked alongside these van drivers — I’ve been selling various products to these workers for the better part of two decades. I’ve noticed over the years that the variety of vans has expanded recently. Where the parking lot of whatever supply house was once filled with cookie cutter vans from the Detroit Three — occasionally dotted with repurposed minivans — these days any variety of tall, Euro-styled boxes-on-wheels might greet me.

The Sprinter was the leader of this new vanguard, with workers praising improved driving dynamics and improved space efficiency. Now a smaller model comes, the Mercedes-Benz Metris, to deliver much of those improvements in a more city-friendly package. Can this sturdier (not-so)minivan replace the stalwarts?

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris profile

I’d love to tell you that I loaded up the van with every tool I own, twenty sheets of OSB, and set off on some grand building adventure. I can’t say that. The unpredictability of press fleet schedules doesn’t generally allow me to plan major home center runs far in advance — with my luck, I’d have scheduled my weekend to build a deck, and ended up with a Miata. The most I hauled in this two-seat cargo van was a week’s worth of groceries and two pails of cat litter.

A glamorous life indeed.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris rear quarter

Not that the Metris couldn’t handle more. This long-wheelbase (135 inches) cargo van can handle 114.5 inches behind the front seats, and a maximum of 66.3 inches side to side. Yes, that OSB or sheetrock can fit just fine — there’s 50 inches between the rear wheel arches. For those of you planning on literally living in this thing, rather than working out of it — yes, that means a dorm-sized twin extra-long mattress can fit between the wheels, or with a small platform built to raise the bed over the wheels, a queen-sized mattress would fit with inches to spare.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris front

It can haul: 2,370 pounds of maximum payload in the cargo area, or five thousand pounds towed. That’s pretty impressive for a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing only 208 horsepower. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts a bit lazily — this isn’t a speedy van. One could likely make shifts a bit more quickly with the wheel-mounted paddles, but it simply feels absurd to be tapping paddles on a cargo van.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris rear cargo

Driving the Metris cargo van is an interesting experience, as it’s been stripped of all non-essentials like sound insulation that one expects in a typical motor vehicle. You hear everything going on outside, especially to the rear of the van. You’ll quickly become familiar with the volume knob on the AM/FM radio. Every bit of the driver’s compartment feels ready to take the beatings of indifferent journeyman workers, save the surprisingly-plush leather steering wheel. I suppose that economies of scale work everywhere — ordering extra wheels from the supplier for the A-class might be cheaper than specifying a hard-plastic tiller just for the smaller van market.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris side cargo

I’m grateful for one standard safety feature on the Metris: crosswind assist works with the stability control to stabilize the van at highway speeds from winds that would try to topple you over. The stability control is also adaptive to the load in the cargo area, as there can be a huge difference in the weight distribution between a loaded and unladen Metris.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris interior2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris front seats

Styling isn’t a huge concern on a cargo van used for work, but I’d argue that this Metris is a rather handsome box. The 17-inch alloy wheels are an extra-cost option, but they look quite fetching. In a work environment, however, I’d rather have the standard steel wheels that any tire shop can easily bend back into shape should a pothole appear.

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris interior 2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris center stack

Whether the Mercedes-Benz Metris will get workers out of their bigger vans is hard to say. For many, there’s no replacement for cargo displacement. But for the many drivers repurposing old minivans for work, this is a no-brainer. It’s easy to maneuver, easy to park, and — as there are no glass side windows — easy to keep precious tools and other cargo secure.

Or easy to get dressed in private for an Instagram photoshoot at the campsite. Who am I to judge?

2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris badge

[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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46 Comments on “2019 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van Review – Real Van Living...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I understand this is the “tradesman” edition but unpainted bumpers just screams “our beancounters rule the company” on a vehicle otherwise wearing the three pointed star.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I honestly wish even Bentley would put unpainted bumpers on their cars. Bumpers are for bumping stuff. Even outside of rougher worksites, even something as simple as pushing an empty shopping cart out of the way in a Walmart parking lot, becomes an exercise in stop the car, off with the seatbelt, go move it (in the pouring rain), back on with the seatbelt, into drive etc., etc., when stuck with the flakypaint protrusions which are now attempted passed off as “bumpers.” Parking “up against the wall”,or tree, or “as close to the car in front as possible” is another often useful act made much more convenient with real, functional bumpers.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “even something as simple as pushing an empty shopping cart out of the way in a Walmart parking lot, becomes an exercise in stop the car, off with the seatbelt, go move it (in the pouring rain), back on with the seatbelt, into drive etc., etc.,”

        you could just find a different parking space

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Another wrinkle in this…

      It has aluminum wheels and unpainted bumpers?

      The first time I saw that vehicle in the wild I would have thought that it was in an accident and the repair done too cheaply to afford paint.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      I like the unpainted bumpers.

      Frankly, I would welcome a return to chrome and black rubber bumpers.

      • 0 avatar
        Menar Fromarz

        Bugs wash easily off unpainted facia and grilles. I love the unpainted stuff, no cheap plastic-chrome to peel and look like poo in a few years.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Put me down as another unpainted and/or steel bumper fan. Would have made my recent misadventures in the van (clipped in the corner of the bumper by an old lady) a total non-issue. But even with painted bumpers, I’m impressed at how minimal the damage is. Buffed out what I could, will touch up the bumper cover as well as the dent underneath once we get some warmer weather here. Hey we’re flying to Italy for free this year.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I suspect it has more to do with telling the commercial fleet manager that the vehicle will be cheap to repair and maintain.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Yeah, the black bumpers are not a good look – the front one, anyway. But OTOH, if you damage one of those, you can just bolt on a new one without having to paint it. Not a bad thing, if the van is to generate revenue.

      Also, nice alloy wheels.

  • avatar
    redapple

    I m pre disposed to like MB products and right sized Vans.
    So , i ll say this.

    21.8 MPG is pretty crappy. Shop elsewhere. Ford has tasty, well handling vans i m told

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    See, this is exactly the kind of vehicle that should be self driving and come without a steering wheel. I could fit-out a nice home theatre or office in that cargo area. This would be the ultimate commuter car.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I wonder if this will suffer from “Mark LT Syndrome”, where a blue collar utilitarian vehicle sold with a premium badge is unpopular due to image rather than substance.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      My thoughts are that parking a brutally utilitarian M-B van (bonus points if it’s a plumber with a toilet graphic on the side panels) next to an E or S-class could siphon away some of the perceived upmarket cachet of the brand. The Cimarron did nothing good for Cadillac’s image, though their trajectory was already trending down when that car came along.

      I know M-B has work trucks in Europe and the reputation survived there, but the differences in cultures makes it questionable that that viewpoint will extrapolate to what develops in North America.

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      They’ve been selling these for 5 years in the US. The Sprinter for over 15. It’s not exactly a new product.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        True, and in Europe and South America MB has always been a force in the trucking segments.

        Even in the 80s MB was importing medium duty trucks to the US from Brazil.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Nice photos and explanation of an interesting vehicle option.

    Grammatically speaking, I found one thing odd: “…there can be a huge difference in the weight distribution between a loaded and unladen Metris.”

    If we’re willing to accept the old-timey “unladen”, shouldn’t it be matched with its root word, “laden”? It just seems asymmetrical to mix the two forms.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    I wish the passenger version came in AWD.

    That being said, it’s also a shame they don’t have a factory camper van option like VW used to.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    If I’m making a living with this, I’d have to wonder about the operating (including repair) costs and reliability

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    But will they corrode as fast as a Sprinter? Or, maybe accelerated corrosion is an option on this model.

    • 0 avatar
      EquipmentJunkie

      When we were shopping for vans, we cross-shopped the Transit, Transit Connect, Sprinter, the Town & Country, and the Metris. I told my brother that if we decided on a Sprinter, I would have required a specific rust warranty. Our ’05 Sprinter was horrible! Repainted once and needed another respray by ’16.

      So far, our ’16 Metris has been just fine in the corrosion department.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      nah, apparently they’re no longer made of compressed rust.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Yeah, those original Sprinters started to rust the second that they saw the outside air, and within 5 years had more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese. I don’t know whether the panels were pressed out of cheap Chinese pot metal or whether they were just recycled rust, but they were absolutely pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      You mean except for a low roof, regular wheelbase Transit with more power, more space, and more load capacity — for less money?

      I hope so. My 07 Sprinter that lives outside doesn’t have a spot of rust on it.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        2007 was the 2nd generation Sprinter, presumably the rust issue had been fixed. in a winter state, you won’t see a first-gen Mercedes/Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter that isn’t covered in ruddy brown streaks.

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    My company has a ’16 Metris passenger van. Everybody loves driving it…even several who have strong brand loyalties. Our Metris replaced a 1st generation Sprinter and I would say that the Metris is sized “just right”. I have logged several thousand miles in it myself. Very comfortable. The gauges are very easy to read. Visibility and maneuverabilty are stellar.
    Great seats with lots of support for long drives…but don’t expect the rear rows to be easily removed. They are HEAVY. Plan on using two men and a boy when attempting to gain floor space. Speaking of floors, I LOVE the fact that the passenger van doesn’t have carpeted floors. The vinyl flooring is very easy to vacuum and wipe clean. Interior noise is a hair louder than minivans, but it isn’t a big deal for me.

    Fuel economy has been decent. I routinely better the EPA highway number.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles are not Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, but they sure are priced like them. Whether I’m living in a van or working out of one, it sure would be nice to be able to stand up inside. For 39 large, you can get a high-roof ProMaster or Transit.

    Maybe if you’re living/working in a congested urban area, the 11″ shorter OAL of the Metris is a slight benefit, but a SWB, high-roof ProMaster looks like a value in every other metric.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Am I the only one who’s kind of digging those plaid seats?

  • avatar
    la834

    This reminds me a bit of the old Astro and Aerostar vans – RWD and a bit taller than typical minivans, but about the same length and width

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