The “Right Size” Van
The name Mercedes-Benz has long been synonymous with luxury and performance cars, but did you know they are also the world’s largest producer of commercial vehicles? In fact, the Benz company invented the cargo van in 1896, setting the stage for what has become a revolution in the automotive industry.
Today, van sales are soaring, as gas prices are staying low and consumers are looking for new forms of transportation to better suit their business and leisure lifestyle needs. Even better, Mercedes-Benz is currently offering some incredible deals on its latest innovation to U.S. shores—the Metris. The Metris van is the U.S. version of the multipurpose V-Class or Viano (also known as the Vito) van introduced in Europe in 1996.
While much of the Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle legacy has been growing for decades overseas, it introduced its popular Sprinter series of commercial vans to the United States in 2010 and the smaller Metris in 2015. The Metris is called the “right size” van, as it’s larger than a minivan, but smaller than its bigger brother, and still fits in a garage. The Metris Cargo and Metris Passenger vans are both customizable for work or play and serve many masters, depending on owner desires.
Excited to see this vehicle that fits into a new niche in the U.S. van market, I called on Richard Burke, Jr., Mercedes-Benz sales and marketing consultant, fleet and van specialist at Silver Star Mercedes-Benz of Thousand Oaks. Richard and I barely said “Hello” before he eagerly ushered me out the door to inspect what he called a “versatile, safe, comfortable, economical and technologically advanced van.” When I asked to take one for a spin, Richard urged me to give a Metris Passenger van a real workout and drive it for a couple days. Thus, I planned a 200-mile test drive with five golfers and their bags on a trek to Santa Ynez, north of Santa Barbara.
The Road Trip Hero
The mountain road and blustery wind conditions were no match for the nimble Metris. Its electronic stability, cross-wind and lane-keeping assist systems kept the van on an even keel throughout, and the peppy 2-liter turbo, 208-horsepower engine shot up the hills without hesitation.
En route, some of the guys worked on their laptops, thanks to vehicle plug-ins. Others charged their phones and just kicked back, enjoying the scenery through the large windows and taking advantage of the comfortable seats and ample leg and head room. Keeping the lads cool on the hot day was no problem, even for those in the very back of the Metris.
A huge tournament was underway when we arrived and finding a parking spot was a challenge. With help from the van’s incredible 36-foot turning radius, active parking-assist system and back-up camera, we glided into a nice, tight spot.
Unloading was a breeze with sliding doors on both sides of the van and a flip-up back door that revealed our five sets of golf clubs, beverage bags, shoes, jackets and sandwiches. The actual round of golf was a lot less impressive!
Despite Santa Barbara rush hour traffic, on the way home, the Metris allowed us to zip in and out of lanes with ease. Steering was more responsive and smoother than just about any luxury car I’ve driven. The blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist provided added protection for our journey home.
Setting a New Standard
The test drive demonstrated the versatility of the Metris, available in Cargo and Passenger versions, each with its own unique features, but always with Mercedes-Benz quality. The new Metris Cargo vans start at around $29,000, while a fully loaded Metris Passenger can reach the mid $40s.
Standard features for both vans include 17-inch, steel wheels, antilock brakes, stability control, cross-wind assist, front side airbags, driver inattention warning systems, several rear door configurations, infotainment data system with a 5.8-inch screen, air conditioning, fabric seats, automatic headlights, power windows and locks, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, five-speaker sound system and more.
The Cargo model features additional options, such as rear compartment air ducts, a variety of partition types, LED lighting, rear window defrost and wipers, remote opening/closing windows and a variety of cargo-securing solutions. The Cargo vehicles also can be configured with partitions, shelving, drawers, bins, ladder racks, trailer hitches and more to suit any business type.
In addition to seating for seven to eight riders, the Metris Passenger’s added options include side curtain airbags, rear air conditioning, a driver-side sliding door, single flip-up tailgate or 180-degree opening rear doors with window defrost and wipers, rear privacy glass, remote window operation and four rear speakers.
The Driver Comfort Package adds upgraded front seats with lumbar support and the Driver Efficiency Package includes a rearview camera, fog lights, cruise control and a Becker navigation system.
The Active Safety Plus Package features blind-spot, lane-departure and collision prevention systems, a rearview camera, parking sensors, heated power mirrors, automatic wipers, a leather-wrapped and multi-function steering wheel and upgraded gauges. An automatic parallel parking system can also be added. The Cold Weather Package offers heated front seats, a heated windshield washer system and an upgraded heater.
The Metris Passenger can also be upgraded with the Interior Appearance Package, providing more comfortable suspension tuning, an overhead control panel, front foot well lighting and interior carpeting. The Rear Passenger Comfort Package adds automatic climate control and a more powerful air-conditioning system. Power-opening sliding doors are another option.
Twenty-four hour roadside assistance is included in the standard Mercedes-Benz service offerings. As for maintenance, the Metris schedule boasts a robust 15,000 miles that can be paid for in advance for extra savings.
“Right now, we are able to include up to the first two services free, which can take you as far as 45,000 miles before you need to pay for your own oil change,” notes Burke.
Customization Made Easy
While the vans are ready to go, as is, for most private purchases, customers interested in the Metris will find the van ideal for commercial or transport uses, such as shuttle services. With its MasterUpfitter program, Mercedes-Benz can customize its vans to suit virtually any need and fully maximize the available space.
“If you have any idea for customization, we can build it and finance it through Mercedes-Benz Financial at rates as low as 0%,” says Burke.
“WHETHER YOU NEED A REFRIGERATION OR DELIVERY VAN, TOY HAULER, PEOPLE MOVER, MINI CAMPER OR ANYTHING ELSE, WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN. ABOUT THE ONLY THING I HAVE NOT SEEN IS A JACUZZI IN THE BACK, BUT WE COULD DO IT!”
The new Metris is a result of 120+ years of Mercedes-Benz engineering that is setting the bar for performance, durability and safety in the van market. Sitting between the minivans and its larger Sprinter sibling, the Metris is unlike its nonfamilial competitors and offers more of everything—low cost of ownership, power, space, payload, towing capacity and customizable options—which provide tremendous value. Add advanced Mercedes-Benz technology and safety features and the rest of the van field is left in the dust. The Metris just might be the “right” van at the right time.