Although the brand is primarily known for its luxury cars in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz has long been a jack-of-all-trades manufacturer in Europe, with the E-Class being a ubiquitous taxicab throughout Europe, and being one of the continent's leading commercial vehicle manufacturers. The Sprinter van has had about a decade in the U.S. market, first under the Freightliner and Dodge brands, and now under the native three-pointed star. Mercedes is adding a new variant of its utilitarian workhorse to the product mix, at least in Europe.
The Sprinter 4x4 outwardly doesn't look much different than a standard Sprinter, other than a noticeably higher ride height, four inches in front and three inches in the back. The additional wheel well gap looks a little goofy to our eyes, especially with wheels and tires not much larger than stock. But the odd stature and proportions serve a purpose. The raised height increases approach angle from 18 degrees to 28 degrees, and the departure angle on the short-overhang model from 22 to 27 degrees.
Unlike Mercedes' 4Matic system, the Sprinter 4x4 has a part-time system that can be engaged by the driver by pushing a button on the dashboard. A low-range is optional, with a modest gear reduction of 1.42, compared to the typical 2.72, and much less aggressive than the 4:1 reduction on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
In terms of the potential markets for the high-riding van include vacation resorts in snowy or mountainous areas, and contractors and construction workers that need to get to remote locations or drive on unpaved roads.
It's unknown whether the Sprinter 4x4 will be offered in the U.S., or what the option price would be. Would you like to see the Sprinter 4x4 sold in the U.S.?