2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter first drive: Delivering updates all around

There are only two passengers riding with me aboard the 2018 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter I’m driving, but we could easily fit six more people. With three rows of seating behind me – that’s four rows in total – the Sprinter is a big, roomy vehicle. Yet behind the wheel, things are relaxed and easy. Navigation directions appear in a crisp colour display ahead of me, wind and road noise is low for a van, the power steering is fingertip-light and extremely accurate, and power delivery from the 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 is strong. As driving full-size vans goes, the new Sprinter makes life pretty good. 

2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

First impressions

Visual changes on the outside are minor, which is probably fine given that many Sprinters will end up slathered in company graphics and decals anyway. Inside, though, and under the sheet metal, there are countless changes that improve the Sprinter in every way, whether you elect a passenger van, cargo van, or even the chassis cab option.

The most important upgrade to the 2019 Sprinter is the new MBUX infotainment system – officials emphasise that it’s pronounced M-B-U-X, as in “User Experience,” not “embux.” It debuts in the Sprinter and will also feature in the new A-Class, and will eventually roll out to other new Mercedes models in due time. Notably, it has a touchscreen and does away with the rotary knobs/touchpads that have until now been the chief method of operating older Mercedes infotainment systems. The on-screen graphics are crisp, clear, and simple to under...