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2013 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Overview
The industry's most accommodating urban hauler gets a fresh front face for 2013, but no other changes are planned until 2017 at the earliest. The Sprinter overall hasn't needed many changes since its 2002 debut with Freightliner, and under Mercedes-Benz since 2009, it continues to be an industry leader without any changes between its second year and 2013. The Sprinter Cargo specifically continues to hold no fewer than 6 Best-in-Class qualities in spite of this lack of change, but that also means it still doesn't offer anything but rear-wheel drive and conversions oriented more for business than personal purposes.
Freightliner still makes a nearly identical Sprinter with a bit more willingness to handle dirty jobs, but it doesn't come with the cachet, suspension or tuning or offer the same upscale options as the Benz edition. In the Benz, the turbocharged V6 diesel powerplant affords 325 lb-ft of torque in excellent ratios to minimize load shifts with a smooth start and even-keeled turns regardless of its current load, or non-load, thanks at least in part to the Benz suspension tweaks. Given 188 horses however, the Benz is still no more capable at highway hauling than the Freightliner.
Either one offers good fuel economy and city-appropriate acceleration, according to owners, but neither of those estimates are officially published anywhere, very likely because they vary greatly depending on the level of customization. Offering between 318 and 547 cubic feet in the cargo hold, the Sprinter Cargo likewise offers just as much versatility in its options—from all-wood floors to an upgraded pair of captain's chairs up front and all manner of automated conveniences to perfect any one of 10 Sprinter Cargo chassis.
Only one Sprinter Cargo offers the standard 65 inches floor-to-ceiling. Otherwise it offers 78.2 inches—room enough for someone 6-foot-6 to stand upright—across the rest of the lineup. The Nissan NV has just 2 inches shy of that, but the rest of the industry is no less than a foot shorter, and none handle their height quite as well as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo, even and especially as a High Roof edition.
That lone Standard Roof Sprinter is the 144-inch wheelbase, three-quarter-ton rated 2500, otherwise unavailable any other way in the Standard Roof height. The 144-inch wheelbase with an average 47-foot turning circle is also available in High Roof 2500, High Roof one-ton 3500 and High Roof 3500 double-rear-wheel (DRW) for those seriously heavy hauls still needing no more room than the 144 High Roof's 371 cubic feet. Moving up to the 170-inch wheelbase affords the same High Roof 2500, High Roof 3500 and High Roof 3500 DRW, but there's also the Extended version of each, offering 53 cubic feet more than the non-Extended's 494 cubes for a Best-in-Class max of 547.
Above and beyond its Best-in-Class cargo capacity and standing height, the Sprinter Cargo is also best in its class for 5,415 pounds of available payload capacity. Between its Best-in-Class 270-degree rear door swing, Best-in-Class 6-foot-by-4-foot-3 side door opening and Best-in-Class 19.9-inch side step-in height, it's no wonder the Sprinter also gets Best-in-Class interior compartment access, too. That said, don't expect this Benz to make any attempt at being a personal vehicle or anything like your personal Benz, especially in terms of stereo quality and other similarly personal comfort considerations.
by Patricia Mayo
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