In times of transition, stress management is paramount. Trust me. I’ve now moved apartments nearly every year since graduating high school in 2008, so I’ve seen my share of smooth-going moves as well as the nightmarish sort I prefer not to exhume from the bowels of my memory. I’ve learned two things throughout these many packing-and-unpacking affairs. One: own as little crap as possible. Two: plan ahead and choose the proper vehicle, and a move can be a quick and easy day, rather than the day you burn bridges with all of your nice friends who (somehow) agreed to help.
For several reasons, I picked the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Metris this time around. Access to both my old apartment and my new place involves negotiating some tight spaces, so larger vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Nissan NV3500, Ford Transit, or Ram ProMaster were prohibitively large. That left me with the smaller Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City, Nissan NV200, or the Metris. Not only is the Metris more spacious than its rivals, it ranks on top for payload capacity, and its driving dynamics are arguably the best in class.
Mercedes wasn’t able to supply a Metris cargo van for my move, but I did manage to secure a Metris passenger van. With all of the seats removed and a pair of moving blanket laid on the van’s floor, I had gobs of space to work with. Mercedes doesn’t provide the exact cargo volume of its passenger-spec Metris without any seats, but the almost identically sized cargo van has on offer a healthy 186 cu. ft, significantly more than any of its competitors. The Metris passenger van has a payload max of 1,874 pounds (versus 2,502 pounds for the cargo van), and it comes with rear windows, as well as some optional comfort and appearance packages. At 4,850 lbs, it’s also a fait bit heavier than the 4,222-lb cargo van, pounds versus.
I have to admit, with the $1,175 premium appearance package’s painted bumpers, roof rails, and 17-inch aluminum wheels, this is about as stylish as a passenger van can look. The inside is still a bit utilitarian, even with the $650 premium interior package’s chrome accents and carpeting, but the Metris feels far from sparse. I immediately notice the switchgear quality, which is a rung above that of the Transit and ProMaster, for one. The center stack is noticeably dated, with its tiny 4.2-inch display and navigation package ($1,750), but the screen gets the job done for the backup camera, which is a necessity. Most appreciated was the generous assortment of cubbies and cupholders, as well as the USB port, which made it easy to chuck my phone inside the van and plug it in on the go.
Loading this van was a cinch, whether it was boxes, a bed, furniture, or bags. The power sliding doors on each side can be remotely opened with the key and leave a huge opening, which was a relief when my hands were full. I never had to wrestle with an ajar door or a tight angle. The same goes for out back, where this van had a single flip-up tailgate, revealing a massive rear access opening. Before I knew it, the whole van was loaded up with the first load of my earthly possessions. To assist in closing the manual tailgate, there’s a leather loop handle on the bottom. Grab it and the door easily pulls down and shuts.
Fully packed, the Metris was as pleasant and enjoyable to drive and maneuver as it is unencumbered. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine never feels overworked and even on the highway, it was easy to keep pace with traffic and merge. A big part of that is the seven-speed automatic transmission, which does a nice job of keeping the engine in the meat of its torque band (max output is 258 lb-ft). Most helpful is the amazing turn diameter of 38.7 feet–it was simple to negotiate tight corners, especially in crowded downtown Ann Arbor (it was also University of Michigan student move-in day, of course). That’s no surprise, however, given that the Metris was designed to handle small European roads with even more harrowingly hairy scenarios than in a Midwestern college town. The light steering is helpful as well, although I’d wish for a little more feel on the highway during lane changes.
My rear visibility was, of course, obliterated with a fully loaded van, but the Metris’s large side mirrors and blind-spot monitoring technology washed away any anxiety. Blind-spot monitoring comes as part of a premium safety and parking package, with for $2,340 adds a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel with chrome trim, an active parking assist system, collision prevention assist, rain-sensing wipers, lane-keep assist, and heated exterior mirrors. And while I haven’t had a chance to previously test the standard suspension, the comfort suspension as part of the $720 comfort package (which adds comfort front seats with lumbar support) handled pockmarked city streets without transmitting jarring or nasty feedback to the cabin.
Although Mercedes is not targeting families with the Metris passenger van, which is more meant for commercial duty as a shuttle, there’s no doubt it’s a useful and well-engineered utility vehicle that could be used every day. It definitely went a long way in keeping my stress levels down during what’s hopefully my last move, at least for a few years. I surely picked the right vehicle for my move, but as for my other rule of living minimally, that might be tough next time around. I live with my girlfriend now, and she has a lot of crap. Oh well, there’s always the Sprinter.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger Specifications
|ENGINE||2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo I-4/208 hp, 258 lb-ft|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, RWD van|
|EPA MILEAGE||20/23 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||202.4 x 75.9 x 74.8 in|
|CARGO ROOM||38 cu ft|
|0-60 MPH||8.6 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||101 mph (electronically limited)|