Designed and powered by Mercedes-Benz, the full-size Sprinter van was initially assembled by Freightliner. Early in 2003, the Sprinter adopted a Dodge nameplate, but it also remains available at Freightliner dealerships.
A cab/chassis model was added for 2004, and an Electronic Stability Program became standard on 2500 models. Cargo vans can be equipped with windows all around. New onboard diagnostics are installed in 2005 Sprinters.
Designed specifically for commercial applications, the Sprinter is built on a choice of three wheelbases. Sprinters come with a standard 64-inch roof height, or in high-roof form that provides 73 inches of walk-through height. Sprinters come in 2500 (three-quarter-ton) and 3500 (one-ton) ratings, but only the 2500 series includes a passenger model.
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A large grille incorporates the Dodge Ram logo. Sprinters ride on a 118- , 140- or 158-inch wheelbase. The 158-inch-wheelbase model comes only with a high roof; the other models have a choice of a regular or high roof. A large sliding door is installed on the right side, and one for the left side is available. Side-hinged back doors open to the vehicle's full height and swing open to 270 degrees on models with the 140- and 158-inch wheelbases, compared with 180 degrees on vans with the 118-inch wheelbase. A sliding left-side door is available on cargo vans.
Sprinters have an independent front suspension, rear leaf springs, power rack-and-pinion steering and a turning radius as small as 36.7 feet. Payload capacities range from 2,846 pounds for the high-roof 2500 passenger model on a 158-inch wheelbase to 3,681 pounds for a 2500 van on a 118-inch wheelbase. Cargo van payloads range from 3,745 to 5,086 pounds. Buyers can choose the standard 3.72-to-1 rear-axle ratio or an alternate 4.11-to-1 differential.
Up to 10 occupants fit inside a passenger-carrying Sprinter. Two people sit up front and as many as three more rows of seats can be installed. Sprinters have a flat cargo floor and tapered rear wheel housings. Storage space ranges from 247 to 473 cubic feet, depending on the model. Air conditioning is standard, and a rear unit is available for passenger models.
Under the Hood
A Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter inline-five-cylinder CDI (common rail direct injection) turbo-diesel engine produces 154 horsepower and 243 pounds-feet of torque. A lever on the forward console controls the five-speed-automatic transmission.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Acceleration Skid Control can brake the spinning wheels in low-traction situations. Side-impact airbags are not available, but daytime running lights are offered as an option.
The Sprinter is easier to drive than some might expect. It's undeniably a full-fledged truck, as revealed by the unmistakable engine drone when accelerating. Handling is unabashedly trucklike, and you won't want to take curves at more than moderate speeds. Nevertheless, even a cargo-carrying Sprinter is adequately comfortable for longer hauls.
The driver's compartment of a cargo model is rather stark, but passenger versions are inviting. Though pleasant and accommodating, the driving position, pedal and steering-wheel positions mimic those in a bus. The seats are designed for low-fatigue driving and feature firm but comfortable support.
Introduced to the U.S. market before the Dodge version, Freightliner's Sprinter remains on sale. Freightliner dealers offer models that are similar both technically and visually to those offered at Dodge dealerships, but they display Freightliner badges.
Changes for 2005 echo those listed above for the Dodge Sprinter. A cab/chassis model is available, and an Electronic Stability Program goes into 2500 models. The Freightliner version can also be equipped with windows all around, and a Crew Van version is available. Back to top
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