Where Was the Sprinter?

December 29th, 2009

Although I realize this may have been intentional, you left one vehicle out of your history of truck maker’s diesels…

DW Editors,

Although I realize this may have been intentional, you left one vehicle out of your history of truck maker’s diesels:

In 2001, I believe, a new and somewhat different type truck came to America with only one engine/transmission option. Built by Mercedes with the Dodge nameplate, Daimler Chrysler chose to get rid of the fledgling Dodge Ram and replace it with the world-renowned Sprinter.

One may say this is not a “truck” or “full-size”, but we could say it is near full-size with its 75.7-inch width and heavy-duty ratings in payload, up to 10-passenger seating and a host of configurations that include a cab-chassis that can be mated to a utility or drop-side body, which makes it very much like a pickup truck.

This vehicle, which is available in three wheelbases of a passenger van, and cargo van, and two wheelbases in the cab-chassis, gained very limited market share for the first few years, but look out, I’m starting to see them everywhere now.

Some claim this vehicle is only used in fleets or for commercial use, but this is not true. Many consumers make full-size vans and conversion vans out of these puppies. DC claims up to 25 mpg with this unusual vehicle. It can tow only 5,000 lbs, but has a payload up to 4,000 lbs or more.

The power plant is the 2.7-liter I5 MB common rail with a five-speed auto transmission with manual mode shifting. Available in passenger/cargo van 2500 (3/4-ton) and 3500 (1-ton dually) 118-inch, 140-inch, 158-inch wheelbases (1-ton only in 140-inch and 158-inch) All van configurations available in regular and high cab. High cab is 72 inches inside from floor to ceiling. Through 2003, the cab-chassis could be had in all configurations. In 2004, the cab chassis was limited to the 140-inch and 158-inch configurations only. For 2005 and up, the cab-chassis is only available in the 1-ton.

The reason I mention the Sprinter is due to its immediate future. I would venture to say that 2007 will bring the third generation 3.0 liter V6 MB engine with performance numbers over 200 horsepower, torque near 400 lb-ft and fuel economy, possibly, in the mid-20s. This will be quite an improvement over the 2.7 I5 that lists 154 and 243 horsepower/torque respectively.

This is because the 2.7 I5 and the 3.2 I6 are being replaced by this MB V6 across the spectrum, and, from what I hear will include the Sprinter. I also hear and see on European websites that there is an all-new Sprinter coming to the world. Should be more capable and will remain practical. This may give the Ram, Super Duty, and Chevy/GMC Heavy Duty something to worry about if more consumers find out about the tremendous versatility and fuel economy of the Dodge Sprinter. This will be especially true if DC finds a way to substantially bring up the towing capacity. I don’t guess Dodge Ram people would be too worried since DC will get our money either way, but it could cannibalize some of their sales.

Greg Faulkner
Owner of a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDi

P.S. I’m still not a great fan of your magazine, because-as is the case with most automotive magazines-it idolizes unnecessary size and power for American transportation needs. However, you continue to have some articles praising the worthiness of diesels for improving fuel economy in America.

Moreover, you continue to talk about biofuels that can be naturally blended to compression-ignition engines with little or no modifications to help America secure herself. For these reasons, I will continue to purchase your magazine, until something that bucks the trend even more comes out.

Thanks for the info, Greg, and for the benefit of the doubt. FYI, we recently tested a Winnebago View based on the Sprinter, 5-cylinder CDI and all, and found it to an extremely efficient, satisfactory open-road cruiser…at 20 mpg. We think you’re right-we’ll be seeing more of these in the near future-ed.



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