2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 - First Drive Review

Rocking and rolling in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 , whether it be through a tornado or a hike to a remote mountain trail, not cheap-the...

Rocking and rolling in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4, whether it be through a tornado or a hike to a remote mountain trail, not cheap-the most expensive 2015 Sprinter 4x4 starts at $ 44,475 in the form of cargo-but if you need to move a lot of people or cargo through bad weather or to a hostile environment, the remains were pretty slim. 

Four-wheel-drive converted Chevrolet Express and Nissan NV vans are smaller; Ford Transit and Ram Promaster two-wheel-drive-only (at least until Quigley or compete step up converter); and Zeppelin is, well, the zeppelin, it means it is not very comfortable and do not have a nationwide network of dealers who can serve it. Obviously, the Sprinter 4x4 is pretty much the only option you


Never have we contemplate unconscious relationship with the contents of intact eggs, but there's a first time for everything. In this case, 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a shell and we innards trilled her, practically foaming as teeter-totters large van up and down steep off-road course outside of Ladson, South Carolina, where US facilities runner-assembled Market. 

The sensitivity of our slick side, this is an ideal first encounter with a system of four-wheel-drive is available only Sprinter, which has been offered on a global model for some time but only recently reached our shores for the 2015 model year.

Want to Get High?

For an additional $ 6,500, each body style Sprinter (passengers, crew, cargo) both long-wheelbase (144.3 or 170.3 inches) can be equipped with four-wheel drive and a nice "4x4" badge. (Add another $ 300 for a low-range transfer case with a crawl ratio of 42-percent-lower.) 

To get a four-wheel drive, the buyer also have to order the 188-hp V-6 turbo-diesel and five-speed automatic. The four-cylinder turbo-diesel / seven-speed automatic that is joined with a fresh-to-2014 Sprinter lineup remain rear-drive-only.

A push of a button switches the van from a two-wheel-drive hauler into a four-wheel-drive off-roader that just happens to carry a massive volume of stuff. On Sprinters so equipped, a second button press activates low range. In either 4x4 mode, 35 percent of torque is routed to the front axle while the other 65 percent powers the rear. Unlike Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the torque split isn’t variable, so it’s best to leave the Sprinter in two-wheel-drive mode on dry pavement unless you enjoy the sounds of binding driveline components.

Up, Up, and Away—from Pavement

Unfortunately, the preproduction Sprinter 4x4s weren’t registered for street use, but a brief trip on pavement confirmed that, with four-wheel drive switched off, the 4x4s drive more or less identically to their two-wheel-drive counterparts. On Benz’s mini Rubicon, however, a short-wheelbase, high-roof Sprinter 4x4 with low range proved to be a different animal. 

To help the long van clear obstacles (even the short 144-inch wheelbase is a recipe for high-centering), every 4x4’s suspension is raised 4.3 inches in front and 3.1 inches in back. The articulation limitations of the Sprinter’s independent front and solid-axle rear suspension are overcome by Mercedes-Benz’s Electronic Traction System (ETS). 

Essentially a few lines of code added to the van’s electronic stability control, ETS brakes traction-challenged wheel or wheels, which sends torque through that axle’s differential to the opposite wheel. Thus, even with one or two wheels hanging high above ground, the Sprinter 4x4 scampered over obstacles with the alacrity of a seriously bloated Jeep Wrangler. To cap off the dirt theater, we never once experienced anything approaching palpable chassis twist, an impressive feat for a vehicle with such a large, hollow, tubelike structure.
Speaking of large, broadsided structures, they’re not ideal in heavy crosswinds. Benz has come up with a solution for that; the 2015 Sprinter 2500 models with any drive configuration get Crosswind Assist, yet another function of the stability control brain that detects strong gusts and applies the brake on the appropriate individual wheels to maintain a straight path. We rode for an exciting test during which a Benz engineer drove past a row of several-hundred-horsepower worth of swamp boats running at full tilt (pumping out a near-constant 90-mph gale) at roughly 50 mph—the system’s minimum speed threshold. This hurricane-grade blast didn’t put the thing on its door handles. The Sprinter’s body rocked heavily, certainly, but ultimately the van continued on its course. 


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