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October 10, 2012

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 101

 Suthern_MacNcheese_283This is my idea of a good time:

#1 Visiting the Chicago firehouse directly across from Wrigley Field and trading chicken soup recipes with its chef.

#2 Driving an ambulance through the streets of downtown Chicago.

#3 Hanging out watching TV in a fully tricked out luxury RV.

#4 Soaring above Soldier Field (home to the Chicago Bears) in an aerial lift (cherry picker).

#5 Tucking into a creamy bowl of brisket from the Southern Mac and Cheese Truck.

I did all of the above and more at a recent Mercedes-Benz event in Chicago to introduce the many diverse ways that their Sprinter commercial vans are utilized.

Bottom line, the Sprinter can be morphed into anything from a cupcake truck to a luxury motor home, executive coach, ambulance or refrigerated van. As Claus Tritt, Vice President of Operations for Daimler Vans USA, mentioned, “For a commercial vehicle we always say it’s got a sexy back; behind the B pillar it’s all about functionality.”

Following, a short overview:

Executive Coach by Ilderton Conversion_ (2)Luxury transport vehicles:

The Sprinter can be the platform for a wide range of luxury transport vehicles that can be equipped with everything you can dream up. At a starting cost of $90,000 and reaching past $170,000, the 11 passenger vehicle can be just as nice as your living room with leather interiors, seamless woods, wide-screen TV’s and customized cabinets for storing your iPad. Of course all of the controls (including the motorized shutters) can be configured from your iPhone.

Motor Homes:

Itasca Reyo 25T by Winnebago_ (10)These contemporary RVs have everything from electric patio awnings, solar shades and cherry wood cabinets to optional skylights. Kitchens and bathrooms are part of the package plus there are “storage basements” under the motor homes for your luggage, outdoor gear and furniture.

Winnebago View has a trio of motor homes based on the Sprinter chassis that are outfitted with ultra leather swivel cab seats, queen beds that fold away, sectional dinettes and infotainment centers.

The Airstream Interstate, another Sprinter-based motor home, features belted seating for eight, a galley that includes a dual-burner cook top, a convection-microwave oven and a 3.1-cubic-foot refrigerator. A rear lounge seating area converts to a bed at the touch of a button.


Type III Ambulance by Leader Industries_ (1)“The ambulance is no longer the door of the emergency room…it’s become the emergency room,” Dr. Ron Ostrom, an ER physician, explained to us. “Those 90 minutes (called the Golden Hour) in the ambulance could be the make or break moment.”

The cost of an ambulance can range from $120,000 without equipment to over $250,000 with everything from life support, radios, surround sound, TVs, microwaves and even hand painted pictures of giraffes and storks for travelling with kids. 

“Sometimes the value of the equipment can equal the value of the vehicle,” noted the owner of American Emergency Vehicles (AEV), a 21-year old company that produces ambulances.

We drove a Sprinter-based ambulance produced by Miller Coach Company that could hold two gurneys and one front facing medic seat in the back. The ceiling was high enough so that the paramedic could stand up straight.  Up front there was a microphone and camera so that the driver could watch what was happening in the back.

A blast from the past. The owner of AEV’s first ambulance was a 1968 Cadillac. He quipped, “It would go like heck but it wouldn’t stop…it floated. Those were the load and go days.”

Those load and go days are long behind us. Even the Sprinter Southern Mac and Cheese trucks are equipped to go like heck and stop on a dime.

All Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 diesel that gets 30 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline engine. Recent tests showed up to 24.9 miles per gallon on the highway for the full-size commercial van.    As for the floating effect…several choices of springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars provide the right suspension for each version of the Sprinter van.

As expected, the Sprinter is equipped with all the safety equipment for which Mercedes-Benz is known including ADAPTIVE ESP stability and rollover control, ABS anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist and traction control.

Now, you ask, after a day of testing out all manner of Sprinter vans, what is your final analysis? I am thinking I should go for my 5th iteration of Holly--- an ambulance driver.

Holly Reich


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