As with all cycles. what goes around, comes around. The auto enthusiasts and the industry in general, love to talk about sports cars, sedans, SUVs, and other body styles. But, the one thing that they don’t want to talk a lot about are vans. They are made out of necessity and are mostly used by fleet managers or tradesmen, who do not care about vehicles unless they breakdown or get into an accident.
The popularity of vans in the U.S. peaked out in the 1970s, when everyone was interested in buying a custom van (A-Team van and The Mystery Machine comes into my mind) and since then they have quietly settled back into their roles as cargo haulers or people movers. But now, the trends are shifting in favor of vans once again. In the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz introduced the Sprinter, a van that made people believe that all boxes on wheels are not completely bland and boring. The Sprinter revolutionized the van industry in the U.S. In early 2000s, the Sprinter was also sold under the Dodge and Freightliner brands as well. But, after Mercedes-Benz split from Chrysler, the Sprinter returned as a Mercedes-Benz product.
After witnessing the success of the Sprinter in the U.S., other automakers followed Mercedes-Benz’s leadership and started importing their vans into the U.S. To save costs, most of these vans were plucked from their European fleet. The first van to arrive in the U.S. was the Ford Transit. Later, Nissan and RAM climbed aboard the bandwagon and now, American fleet owners have more than a handful of vans to choose from for their businesses.
Now, the latest member in the ever growing van segment in the U.S. is the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris. In Europe, the same van is known as the Vito. When it makes the journey across the Atlantic, the Metris will be available in both a cargo and passenger version.
Regardless of the body style, all Mercedes-Benz Metris models will be powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine which produced 208 horsepower and 248 lb.ft. of torque. All of the power is routed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters (first in the van segment). Engine stop-start system is optional and the good news for fleet managers is that Mercedes-Benz claims that the service interval for the Metris is around 15,000 miles.
Since this is a Mercedes-Benz product, it comes standard with a lot of active and passive safety features. Some of the standard assists include crosswind assist, attention assist, and load-adaptive stability control. If these features are not enough, Mercedes-Benz offers other assists as options in the new Metris. These optional features include active park assist, lane keeping assist, collision prevention assist, blind spot assist, and parking sensors with rear view camera.
On top of all these electronic aides, the Mercedes-Benz Metris comes standard with six airbags in the cargo version. The passenger version receives eight airbags as standard. The passenger version of the Mercedes-Benz Metris can sit seven people in its standard configuration. With a modified seating configuration, the van is capable of seating eight people.
The dimensions of the new Mercedes-Benz Metris is as follows: the van is 202.4 inches long, 75.9 inches wide and 74.8 inches tall. Based on these dimensions, the Metris slots in between its big brother, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and its smaller rivals like the Nissan NV 200 and Ford Transit Connect. Maximum payload for the cargo version of the Metris is 2,502 pounds, while the passenger version is rated at 1,874 pounds.
After debuting the concept version of the van during last year’s SEMA motor show, Mercedes-Benz will launch the production version of the Metris in October of this year via van-authorized Mercedes-Benz dealers. The starting price for the cargo version of the Metris is $29,945 and for the passenger version, the starting price is set at $33,495. Both of these prices are within range of its major competitors from Ford, Nissan,and RAM to name a few.
Information and Images sourced from Mercedes-Benz USA.