Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Back in December, Mercedes-Benz announced a four-wheel-drive version of its endlessly charming Sprinter van (the European model is pictured above), but didn't make a mention of any plans for US market sales. Now, that's all changed, as the German automaker has confirmed that its Sprinter 4x4 will be available for US consumption, with the 2015 model hitting dealerships in the first quarter of next year. This means Mercedes will offer the only four-wheel-drive work van in the US.

Unlike the rest of the refreshed Sprinters, which can be had with a new 2.1-liter inline-four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, the US-spec 4x4 can only be had with the larger, 3.0-liter Bluetec V6, good for 188 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. While the Sprinter 4x4 does not feature full-time four-wheel drive, the system can be activated at the push of a button, at which point, there's a 35/65 front/rear torque split.

Mercedes-Benz points out that, obviously, the Sprinter 4x4 is not an off-road machine, but the body has been lifted by 4.3 inches in the front and 3.1 in the rear. There's even an optional low-range gear which, at the push of a button, shortens the transmission's gearing by 42 percent. Sounds pretty darn capable, to us.

The Sprinter 4x4 will be offered in both 144- and 170-inch wheelbases, with low and high roof options, and will come in Passenger, Crew and Cargo van specifications. (And here we thought the current model was already capable of anything.) Pricing should be announced closer to the van's on-sale date early next year. For now, have a look below for Mercedes' official press release.
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2015 Sprinter 4x4 Gives New Meaning to Van Traction

The only 4x4 van in its segment goes on sale in the first quarter of 2015


March 06, 2014 - MONTVALE, NJ

- Segment-exclusive 4x4 system with available low-range function coming for the U.S. Sprinter, exclusively mated to the optional 3.0L V6 BlueTEC clean diesel powertrain with 188 hp and 325 lb-ft.

- 4ETS with Adaptive ESP is sure-footed in many all-terrain conditions

- The next chapter of the Sprinter story begins in the first quarter of 2015

The pioneer of the modern van movement in the U.S. since 2001, the latest Sprinter Van went on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 2013 at authorized Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner dealers. It received a new look, new technology inside the vehicle, and new safety systems all around to ensure that it continues to be the best commercial van in the industry. A new 4x4 version of the Sprinter Van will further bolster its leading global position as the benchmark commercial van.

The MY2015 Sprinter 4x4 goes on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of calendar year 2015. Both 144" and 170" wheelbases will be available in both low and high roof configurations, and available body styles for the U.S. will include the Passenger Van, Crew Van (mixed 2-row passenger and cargo application), and Cargo Van (both 8,550 and 11,030 GVWRs). The exclusive powertrain for the 4x4 option will be the most powerful of the two BlueTEC clean diesel powertrains available in the U.S. Sprinter, which is the 3.0L V6 BlueTEC with 188 hp and 325 lb-ft.

The Sprinter 4x4 will be a commercial van that can reach new levels of versatility and driving conditions with maximum traction. While the Sprinter 4x4 is not officially considered an off-roader, the all-wheel drive system can be activated at the push of a button. Torque is then distributed at a ratio of 35:65 between the front and rear axle. At this point, the Electronic Traction System (4ETS) takes over, and the tech takes care of the rest for the driver in various conditions. The standard load-adaptive ESP that is unique to the Sprinter is always active when all-wheel drive is engaged. This combination of all-wheel drive technology and active safety is only available in the Sprinter in this segment.

The Sprinter 4x4 can also be equipped with an optional low range gear that makes it even more sure-footed in difficult terrain. When the driver pushes the low-range button, the gearing is shortened by 42%. Tractive power increases accordingly.

Lifted body, low added weight

The Sprinter 4x4 may not be an off-roader, but its body was lifted by 4.3 inches (110 mm) at the front and 3.1 inches (80 mm) in the rear. The slope climbing ability is up to 20 percent higher than in the Sprinter with conventional drive. Depending on the body style, the all-wheel drive system of the Sprinter 4x4 merely adds about 265 lbs. (120 kg) in weight, which means only a minimal effect on payload. Thus far, previous versions of the Sprinter 4x4 have been sold in markets such as Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Austria, and France.

Total Cost of Ownership – a key advantage

Sprinter is the commercial van benchmark in terms of top service levels, safety, and TCO (total cost of ownership). Considered by some to be the Swiss Army knife of Commercial Vans, the Sprinter offers an unmatched TCO which constitutes a major competitive advantage. ALG has named the Sprinter a 4-star pick for residual values, and Vincentric named the Sprinter a winner of the "Best Fleet Value in America award" in 2013. When adding the efficiency of either the standard and powerful 4-cylinder BlueTEC with 161 hp and 266 lb-ft (not available with 4x4) or 6-cylinder BlueTEC powertrain (exclusive 4x4 powertrain), it's an unbeatable combination.

Four optional assistance systems help to avoid accidents

A key focus in developing the latest Sprinter was on a whole range of assistance systems – including world premieres in the van segment. New available features that premiered are Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. This array of new assistance systems underscores Mercedes-Benz Vans' pioneering role in safety technology and as a driving force behind innovative developments.

Sprinter: safety on board as standard

These assistance systems aside, safety is always on. In the case of the Sprinter Van, for example, this means a safe and predictable chassis, precise steering and highly effective, fade-resistant disc brakes on all wheels. A bulb failure indicator warns of any defective lights and a seat belt reminder function prompts the driver to buckle up at the beginning of his or her trip.

The latest-generation ADAPTIVE ESP® already combines a diverse array of functions. The vehicle dynamics control system includes:

- anti-lock brake system (ABS),
- acceleration slip regulation (ASR),
- electronic brake force distribution (EBD),
- hydraulic Brake Assist (BAS),
- Load Adaptive Control (LAC) load-dependent control system,
- Roll Over Mitigation roll-over protection and Roll Movement Intervention (ROM/RMI),
- Enhanced Understeering Control system (EUC),
- automatic brake disc drying system (Brake Disc Wiping) when driving in the rain
- and anticipatory preparation of the brake pads in critical driving situations (Electronic Brake Prefill).

If the buyer of a Sprinter Van selects a trailer coupling or the corresponding pre-installation option for this item, the Trailer Stability Assist system also comes as standard.

If an accident is unavoidable, despite the Sprinter Van's high level of active safety, the occupants will benefit from the yielding and energy-absorbing body structure. A height-adjustable three-point seat belt with belt tensioner and belt force limiter, two-way head restraints and also front airbags are there to help keep the driver safe.

Optional extras ensure safety tailored to individual needs

Beyond the extensive scope of standard equipment, additional safety options are available to enable customers to adapt their Sprinters to their individual operational requirements. Bi-xenon headlamps, fog lights, a headlamp cleaning system and a heated windshield provide for a further improvement of visibility.

Available rearview camera, backup warning system and the PARKTRONIC system facilitate maneuvering, while the standard Start-off Assist system helps when moving off on uphill slopes. The available rain sensor with Headlamp Assist relieves the driver of the task of switching the appropriate systems on and off. Available window airbags and thorax bags enhance passive safety, while the standard tire pressure monitoring system helps ensure the correct pressure on variants with single tires.

Preferred Upfitters: A one-stop solution (limited 4x4 availability / upfitters TBD until CY2015)

Versatility is a hallmark of the Sprinter Van. Two diesel engines (4x4 only available with optional V6 BlueTEC clean diesel option) and a host of body, weight and rear axle variants add up to many choices. In addition, special bodies and interior equipment from selected system partners are available ex-factory as part of the "Sprinter Preferred Upfitter Program".

Meeting the diverse needs of Sprinter Van customers is especially important, since about 75 percent of all Sprinters are sold with some type of upfitter modification that's designed to ensure the quality and safety of all modifications. There are currently over 80 approved upfitters in the program.

To become a Preferred Upfitter, several Sprinter specialists review each upfitter's plans, visit their facility while work is in progress and inspect finished vans. Approved upfitters get advance product information, exclusive access to certain options and ship‐through service. Each upfitter also receives special programming of the electronics system that is tailored to the customer's need and vehicle functionality.