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Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2023 First Drive Review: From 4WD to AWD

STUTTGART, Germany — Mercedes-BenzIts cars have come a long way since the 1990s in terms of design, performance and ergonomics. During the same period, the sprint van may also have moved to another planet. Like all older apartment-size trucks, early Sprinters were truck-like and weren’t always easy to drive. The current model feels more like a giant SUV, and replacing part-time four-wheel drive with full-time four-wheel drive should calm even the most demanding members of the lineup. Products.

Mechanical cross pollination

New for the 2023 model yearThe Sprinter’s optional all-wheel drive system is truly car-like: it’s an evolution of the 4Matic all-wheel drive technology we know from several Mercedes-Benz SUVs.

“It’s the same system you find in GLE and GLS“, explains Florian Hofmann, Mercedes-Benz Vans technology communications director. “The gearshift case is based on the GLE but it’s been adapted to Sprinter conditions. Now we use Mercedes-Benz parts because of better performance and cheaper. And, you can’t always get a better system for a better price.”

Starting at the wheels, turning the horse back in the direction leads you to a multi-clutch transmission with torque-on-demand, nine-speed automatic transmission (engine-powered Sprinter 2022. V6 comes with a seven-speed transmission) and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder called the OM654 inside Mercedes already offered overseas in several models (including Grade, electronic class, GLC and GLE) since 2016. It develops 170 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in standard tuning, but buyers who need more can order an improved version. This engine’s “high power” raises these numbers to 211 and 332 respectively. Notably, the 2.0-liter turbodiesel replaces the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that makes 188 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque under the driver’s right foot, for the 2023 model year.

In its most capable configuration, the diesel-powered Sprinter delivers a payload of 6,812 pounds; It’s also entering heavy-duty pickup territory. It’s also possible drag up to £7,500. On the gasoline side of the range, the only engine option is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder tuned to 188 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Offered exclusively with rear-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission, this engine gives the Sprinter 4,453 pounds of payload and up to 5,000 pounds of towing capacity.

Part car, part van

Stepped up – Street up – enter the cabin and you are greeted by a bunch of familiar parts. Mercedes didn’t give it Set up superscreen on the whole panel into the Sprinter (at least not yet) but the three-spoke steering wheel’s paddle shifters and the touch buttons, vents, and many switches come from the vehicle side of the portfolio. The intuitive, touchscreen-based MBUX infotainment system also emerges from there. It’s when you get into the driver’s seat (which is heated in my test machine) that you realize you’re definitely not in a car: you might as well be driving a freight train, except that instead of overlooking the vast ocean. you’ve got a sweeping view of a vast sea of ​​late models cross.

All-wheel drive components are under the bodywork, so the Sprinter’s cargo capacity remains unchanged. In its largest configuration, the dashboard van offers up to 533 cubic feet of cargo space and a 61-inch load width. In other words, you can put a classic Mini in the back to make room.

Easier way to get off the sidewalk

From the driver’s point of view, the best attribute of all-wheel drive is its simplicity. It’s always on, there’s no need to switch to all-wheel drive when the road gets rough, and it pulls the Sprinter through slippery terrain while you focus on keeping the front end on track. On a short off-road stretch on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the four-wheel-drive Sprinter easily made a nearly 360-degree turn in a muddy pit and had enough traction to back up a steep muddy hill.

Hofmann told me that the new powertrain makes the low-range transmission redundant. “We don’t need [a low-range gear] thanks to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The first gear, he said, is about 25% lower than the first gear of the old seven-speed transmission, and the new engine produces more torque.

His statement is sure to raise many eyebrows; Many terrain enthusiasts swear by crawler gear. It is important to note that Mercedes did not develop the Sprinter as a heavy-duty off-road vehicle capable of keeping up G-Class three keys on a trail in Moab. In this application, the all-wheel drive system mainly ensures that the driver does not get stuck on a snowy hill or on a muddy construction site.

Lower numbers and an extra chunk of that smooth diesel turbine torque tell only part of the story. While all-wheel drive sends about 35% of the engine’s power to the front wheels and 65% to the rear wheels, all-wheel drive offers a fully variable torque split. The Sprinter drives rear-wheel drive under normal driving conditions, such as around town and on the highway, but the system shuffles torque from front to rear and even side to side when it comes to driving. The wheel has lost traction.

On the sidewalk, it’s easy to forget that you’re driving a car the size of a college dorm room. This thing is huge — so big that there’s a ladder built into the front bumper to help your local mechanic access the engine bay — but forward visibility is excellent thanks to its high seating position, windscreen large and the front of the car is relatively short. For the 2023 model year, Mercedes has replaced hydraulic power steering with slow and light electric steering, which is exactly what you want in a Sprinter. The trip, well… just like the van. It’s not too harsh, it feels lighter RamProMaster‘s, but no one will think Mercedes-Maybach plays a role in tuning the suspension.

Pairing the 2.0-liter turbodiesel with a nine-speed automatic transmission makes this huge car surprisingly quick. It’s clearly not E63S-fast, but it accelerates faster than you expect due to the low first number. The two additional gears also ensure the engine operates as close to maximum torque output as possible as often as possible while keeping revs low at higher speeds and thereby improving energy saving.

What valve buyers order

The all-wheel-drive versus four-wheel drive debate can fuel pub talk all night long and end up with no right or wrong answer. It largely depends on the vehicle and how it is used. In the case of the Sprinter, all-wheel drive makes more sense: it’s simpler and cheaper, two attributes prized by van buyers (a diverse group that includes fleet operators) cars to #vanlife converts). The fact that this system improves traction without compromising on road drivability is a nice bonus. When you see a FedEx driver speeding up your snowy driveway to deliver your parcel to your door, thank the 4Matic system. In many parts of the country, the all-wheel-drive Sprinter will be greeted as a well-stocked Christmas basket.

Pricing for the 2023 Sprinter starts at $45,795 (including a $2,295 destination fee) for a gasoline-powered cargo van. The diesel-powered cargo van has a base price of $49,295 with rear-wheel drive. Adding four-wheel drive requires selecting 2500 and increase the base price by $12,550, meaning the cheapest Sprinter variant with all-wheel drive costs $58,345 including destination. It’s not cheap, but where else would you get an all-wheel drive storage?

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