Knee-jerk response to the polar vortex? Too much glühwein at a product-planning meeting? Both? No one around here is really sure how, exactly, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4×4 happened—let alone how it got approved for America—but we’re just giddy that within a year, we should be driving one on U.S. soil. Or snow. Or whatever we feel like driving it on, because, you know, it’s a Sprinter with 4WD. With a freakin’ low range to boot!
Okay, deep breath. We’re just excited that, less than a week after getting our appetites whetted by another all-terrain van, the VW Multivan Alltrack, which, alas, will never come here, we find ourselves writing about one that will.
We reported on the existence of the Sprinter 4×4 a couple of months ago, but didn’t think for a million years it would make it across the pond. What’s more, the 2015 Sprinter 4×4 is no limited-production, one-size-only fluke. It will be available in both 144-inch and 170-inch wheelbases and low- and high-roof configurations, as well as a passenger van, crew van with two rows of seats and the rest cargo, and pure cargo van, the latter in both 8550- and 11,030-pound GVWRs.
The only powertrain for the U.S. models will be the most powerful of diesel mills currently offered in the U.S. Sprinter: the 3.0-liter BlueTec V-6, which produces 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. With the optional low range—low range on a freakin’ van!—gearing is shortened by 42 percent at the touch of a button. Did we mention that it’s lifted? Yeah, and not just a little, but a huge 4.3 inches in the front, 3.1 inches in the back, which Mercedes claims gives it 20-percent greater slope climbing ability. Mercedes states that four-wheel-drive models only weigh about 265 pounds more than their rear-drive counterparts.
Mercedes says that when four-wheel drive is selected, torque gets split at a fixed 35/65 ratio front-to-rear, at which point the traction control system takes over to handle individual wheel speed. The Sprinter’s standard load-adaptive stability control system is always active when four-wheel drive is engaged.
Mercedes vows that the Sprinter 4×4 is not officially considered an off-roader—we’ll just see about that!—but, as it does with the standard Sprinter, it will work with upfitters that want to make more of this blank canvas of all-terrain awesomeness, which makes us look to next year’s SEMA show with great anticipation.
That said, Mercedes has quite the crew of internal upfitters itself, and so this begs the question: how about a Sprinter 6×6?
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings