If you’re in the market for a large cargo van, especially if you’re going to use it in a commercial setting, you certainly have a lot of vehicles to choose from. If you’ve narrowed down your choices to the Ford Transit and the Mercedes Sprinter, you’ve come to the right place.
Both of these vehicles are reliable and large, and they are both in the mid-$30,000 price range. Although they are similar in many ways, they have their differences as well. To get started, however, let’s take a closer look at each of these vehicles.
The Ford Transit
Also called the Ford T-Series, the Transit is a light commercial vehicle that came on the market in 1965. Since then, it has undergone several facelifts and has been marketed as a pickup truck, minibus, passenger van, and a cutaway van chassis. To date, more than 8,000,000 Transit vans have been sold, yet it wasn’t sold in the United States until 2013, where it replaced the Ford E-Series two years later.
Today, the Ford Transit is sold throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. In fact, the Transit is now the best-selling van of any type in the United States, and this includes minivans.
There were several generations of this vehicle, each one adding to and improving the vehicle until it became what it is today. Some of its many features include:
- The split into two different models: the new Transit and the Transit Connect.
- The choice of either a rear- or four-wheel drive option.
- The choice of either cargo van or chassis cab/cutaway cab option.
- Two different wheelbases.
- Three different roof heights.
- Engines that include 2.0L, 2.2L, and 2.4L inline-4s, as well as a 3.2L inline-5.
- Other engines that include a 275 HP 3.7L V6, 310 HP 3.5L twin-turbo V6, and a 3.2L inline-5 diesel engine.
All of these engines come with a six-speed automatic transmission. In addition, the 3.7L engine is able to convert to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (propane). They also added boron steel to the body of the Transit so it can enjoy a 600-lb. increase in payload capacity.
But there was another facelift in 2018 and 2020, which resulted in a front end that included a new bumper, headlights, and hood, as well as a much bigger grill. The dashboard of the Transit Custom has also been redesigned for a more convenient and more elegant look.
The redesigns also included some engines being upgraded and increased in size and some of the Transit vehicles getting a hybrid engine; and even the vehicle itself got a revised body that is a combination of a passenger van and a cargo van. It can easily accommodate five people, and it even has a power-sliding door (dual sliding doors on the cargo vans).
There are also several variants of the Ford Transit, including:
- County 4×4, to which was added 16-inch wheel rims, a heavy-duty steering box, front brakes disks that are 305 mm in diameter, and locking front hubs. They are now used mostly by mountain rescue teams and various utility companies, mostly in the United Kingdom.
- Tourneo, a minibus that seats eight or nine passengers and which looks very similar to a minivan. The current version is called the Ford Tourneo Custom and has the option of a plug-in hybrid engine.
As you can see, the Ford Transit vehicle has undergone many changes since its inception in the mid-1960s, and its features vary depending on what country it’s being made in. Today, you can see numerous businesses using this van as a commercial vehicle to get their job done.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Manufactured in Germany and used mostly as a light commercial van, the vehicle has also been marketed as a chassis cab, a pickup truck, and a minibus. In the United States, the Sprinters are also made by Freightliner and sold in complete knock down (CKD) kits. Some of them were re-engined and sold as Volkswagen commercial vehicles, including the LT and the Crafter.
There have been three generations of the Sprinter, including 1995 to 2006, 2006 to 2018, and 2019 to the present. In the last facelift, a few things were added, including a front-wheel drive option and several comfort and technology features, usually as available options. There was also a Freightliner version but it is to be discontinued in 2021.
The Sprinter is not really made for personal use, but instead for commercial use. In fact, most people are likely not interested in this vehicle because it is quite large. That being said, some recreational vehicle (RV) conversions are available for individuals who wish to buy this vehicle. In North America, it is mostly expediters who buy this van because they use it as a cargo van.
The Sprinter van has a cargo space of 13.5 feet and can haul roughly 3,000 lbs. of cargo. It can also accommodate three 48×48 pallets or skids, whereas in the past it could only accommodate two. If you’re wondering if the Sprinter has an involvement in pop culture, consider the following:
- A custom-modified version was manufactured by Dodge and used on the show Jon and Kate Plus 8.
- It was used on the TV show American Pickers, found on The History Channel, until Season 6 when it was replaced by the Ford Transit.
- It is the most popular van for intercity transport in Colombia.
- It is used as a mobile command center by the national police force in Ireland.
The Sprinter also has four different variations, which include the following:
- Sprinter Mobility, available in four variants and consisting of 8 to 18 seats and four doors. There is a sliding door in the middle, a set of double doors in the back, and a disabled area in the back with an elevator. It is the smallest of the Sprinter minibuses.
- Sprinter Transfer, available in five variants, the back wall has seats along it and the front passenger seat door has been replaced by a door for all of the passengers. It can seat 13 to 22 people and is used mostly in bus services.
- Sprinter Travel, available with a high floor and is marketed as a mini-coach. It can seat 17 to 19 people.
- Sprinter City, available through EvoBus, has three different sizes and can seat 10 to 16 people. There are also versions for standing passengers, which can seat 22 to 40 people.
In North America, the Sprinter is available with a 3.0L turbo-diesel 6-cylinder engine and a 2.1L turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine. Whether you need a conversion van, minibus, or cargo van, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is one of the vehicles you should be considering.
What Is the Difference Between Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter?
By reading the above descriptions of these two vehicles, it is easy to see that they are alike in a lot of ways. Determining which of these cars is “better” is rather subjective, but there are some things to consider when you’re trying to decide which one to purchase.
For starters, the people who believe the Ford Transit is better than the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter point to these aspects:
- It has a much lower maintenance cost.
- It has a new factory 4×4 option.
- It is easier to find the parts you need for repairs.
- The interior height is much taller.
- You get a much smoother ride.
On the other hand, people who prefer the Sprinter over the Transit point to the following factors:
- It has a heavier payload and bigger cargo space.
- It is easier to find used versions since the car has been in production longer.
- Its options include diesel and 4×4 capability.
- The driver’s seat is much more comfortable.
- The steering is a little more sophisticated.
So, the bottom line is, which of these vehicles’ many features are most important to you? All drivers will have their own preferences for the vehicle they end up choosing, and it behooves all of them to read customer reviews and reviews from critics so that they can make the right decision.
Let’s take a look at a few other comparisons before we leave this article by comparing the 2020 Ford Transit 250 with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500:
- Engine: 310 HP, 3.5L V-6 (premium) (Transit) / 188 HP, 2.0L I-4 (Sprinter)
- Length: 219.9” (Transit) / 233.5” (Sprinter)
- MSRP: $37,670 (Transit) / $35,720 (Sprinter)
- Seats: 5 (Transit) / 2-3 (Sprinter)
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic (Transit) / 9-speed automatic (Sprinter)
- Wheelbase: 130” (Transit) / 144” (Sprinter)
Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that since both of these vehicles have several different versions and many options available, it is entirely possible that it will be easy to find just what you’re looking for in a vehicle at the right price regardless of which one you choose in the end.
Both the Ford Transit and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are high-quality commercial vans that can be used by dozens of businesspeople. When it comes to commercial vehicles, both are extremely affordable and offer a lot of options, meaning it should be very simple to get one that you feel is personalized to your needs.
The important thing to remember is to decide beforehand which features are most important to you, and the rest of the process should be simple for you.