2016 Metris: The Mercedes Baby Sprinter

By Sue Mead, July 4th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz calls its all-new midsize 2016 Metris the next big thing. This new passenger and commercial van comes with a notable array of standard safety features, class-leading safety technologies, and impressive pricing, as well.

Size matters, especially when measuring the cargo capacity and payload of vans that are built on a small footprint, and the luxury automaker claims the Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger van and Metris Cargo van bests the competition for cargo carrying.

Starting at $28,950 for the Cargo van and $32,500 for the Passenger model (plus $995 destination and delivery for both), Metris will be the least-expensive U.S. offering in this German manufacturer's fleet. On sale in October, Metris joins the rapidly growing segment of the work and people-carrier van market, and competes with the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200, Ram ProMaster City, and Chevy Express.

The Metris is a popular model known as the "Vito" in all other global markets. When it comes to America, it will join its sibling, the larger Euro-styled Sprinter van that now comes in both 2WD and 4WD versions and a number of variants.

Mercedes-Benz has recently developed a separate Commercial Vans division and has appointed 200 dealerships to sell the Metris; it might even be seen on the same showroom floor as the upscale S-Class. While the Cargo van will appeal to a wide variety of tradespeople and the Passenger van will see most of its duty in livery and shuttle services, it could be that some American families will find the utilitarian van with its durable and easy-to-clean interior an appealing alternative to minivans.

We drove both the Cargo and Passenger pre-production models on dirt roads and pavement in and around Durango, Colo. Notable is car-like handling, with a low steering wheel position and heavily weighted steering wheel. Even at high elevation, the vans had plenty of power, carved turns with ease, with a nimble, yet-planted feeling, as a result of the fully independent suspension.

Designed with a T-square profile and a Mercedes Tri-Star in the swoopy grille, it has some minivan-like looks from the side. Metris measures 202.4 inches long and 75.2 inches high and benefits from aerodynamic sculpting with a slightly nipped back end. Made mainly for metropolitan areas, the baby Sprinter has bigger dimensions than the Transit Connect and NV200, and is smaller than the Ram van; Metris carries more payload and has more cargo volume than all of them.

Smartly designed to fit into city and residential garages, the Cargo version is windowless and can be upfitted in a wide variety of ways. A flat load floor can accommodate pallets, and the 270-degree-opening "barn-style" doors at the rear of the Cargo van ease loading large and heavy items; it can carry up to 2,502 pounds and tow up to 4,960 pounds. (The Passenger van has 180-degree-opening doors.)

Inside is a bare-bones cabin that can seat up to eight; it's been constructed with a high level of craftsmanship, as well as a few premium touches and top Teutonic fit-and-finish. Sure to be a hit with American drivers are large, dual cupholders.

Under the hood of the rear-drive Metris is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, with an optional stop/start feature that improves fuel economy. A button on the dash allows the powertrain to be switched among Eco, Comfort, and Manual modes. Of importance to fleet owners, in particular, the van has a service interval of 15,000 miles.

Advanced safety features are a trademark for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, and the Metris gets six airbags for the Cargo van and eight airbags for the Passenger van.

All models will feature standard Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, and load-adaptive electronic stability program. Optional safety features will include Active Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, PARKTRONIC, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and a rear-view camera. Up to 100 options are available for add-ons, including navigation, automatic air conditioning, and electric sliding doors.

Specifications

Base price $32,500 (as tested: $33,495)
Curb weight 4,850 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating TBD
Fuel capacity 18.4 gal.
Horsepower (net) 208 at 5500 rpm
Overall length 202.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 1250-4000 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Vehicle type 7/8-passenger RWD midsize van
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