The Mercedes Sprinter is an expensive vehicle. Buying a Sprinter van will be the most expensive bit of your vanliving cost. A spanking new Sprinter van base model could set you back $35000 before conversion. The 2500 and 3500 Sprinter models range from $41000 to $50000.
DIY conversions are low cost, but expert conversion costs will vary as per user preferences. They, however, could range from $30,000 for modest sprinter van conversions to $150,000 for luxury camper van living.
So why are Mercedes Sprinter vans in such high demand? To start, these vans are awesome. Most vanlifers start with VW Westies, Toyota trucks, or Dodge vans with the ultimate goal of getting their hands on a Sprinter van.
The Mercedes van has lots of headroom and space. For this reason, these van life vessels are perfect for large families. Additionally, the Sprinter van is an epic overlander. Up until the release of the 2020 AWD Ford Transit, the Sprinter was the only 4×4 van option available to vandwellers, since 2015.
It is not only an all seasons use van, but it will last a lifetime of use. Show your Mercedes Sprinter van lots of love and attention and it will last 500K miles of use. Think about all the places the all-terrain, reliable and comfy Sprinter could take you?
History of the Sprinter van
The slick-looking Sprinter van is a culmination of over a century of German vehicle engineering. Mercedes Benz designed their first delivery vans in the 1800s. They iterated their van design, creating the L 1000 Express van in 1929, the L 319 van model in 1956, and the roomy and powerful L 406 D model in 1967.
The 1977 Bremer model is the most successful of Mercedes Benz transporters. The Bremer Model had crew bus, van, platform vehicle, and minibus variations. Users loved that they could choose between the Transporter New, also known as T1 or TN petrol and diesel engines.
The 1982 T2 increased Mercedes Benz van payloads from 2.4 tons to 4.6 tons, giving way to the release of the company’s first Sprinter van in 1995. The release of the Sprinter van was such a historic moment that the Sprinter van is the first Mercedes to have its unique name. Since then, Mercedes has revamped the Sprinter van, releasing alternative versions in 2006 and 2018.
The second-generation 2006 model offers two ceiling height choices. You have a choice between its super-high roof and high roof model, for the 2500 and 3500 models. On top of this, it has 118″, 140″, and 158″ wheelbases, and two weight classes.
The third-generation Sprinter van model introduced Mercedes’s first front-wheel-drive van. It has four model chassis choices, which include the cargo, passenger, crew, and cab chassis. You can opt for the cargo van’s extended 170″ EXT wheelbase for more Sprinter van conversion space, but there is also a choice of the 144″, 170″ wheelbases.
Its 2500 and 3500 models also have a super high roof and high roof options. In North America, the Sprinter 2500 is a single rear-wheel drive. The 3500 model, on the other hand, is a dual rear-wheel drive van for enhanced road contact, traction, stability, and balance. Its engine choices include the OM651 2.1-liter engine and M642 3.0-liter turbo diesel engines.
New third-generation Sprinter van models have extra features, such as brake assist, 360-degree cameras, gasoline engine choice, and touchscreens.
Pros of the Mercedes Sprinter van
The Mercedes Sprinter van excellently combines luxury and reliability. Below are some of the Sprinter van’s most outstanding features.
Excellent engine performance
The Mercedes Sprinter van is an all-terrain vehicle with a powerful engine. Its powertrain engines can haul a ton of equipment. Did you know the Sprinter van can haul 5000 pounds at a go? You easily attach a trailer behind for extra carrying capacity and not compromise its performance. Its powerful V6 engine exudes a turning force that makes driving on mud or gravel a breeze.
Superior driving technology
Mercedes is heavy on safety, so it has a wide variety of safety features in new sprinters. Third-generation vans could have safety and driver-assist tech features added to meet the demands of modern van driving. They include driveway, blind-spot, revised crosswind, distance, and trailer stability assist systems.
There is also downhill speed regulation, active braking assist, and a novel windshield wiper cleaner system. Motoring enthusiasts agree that there is little difference between steering a Mercedes Sedan and a Sprinter van. This van has superior steering designed for cross-country driving comfort.
Unrivaled driver’s comfort
One significant difference between the Sprinter van and other vans is its focus on driver comfort. As an illustration, the Mercedes Sprinter has more driver leg and headroom than a Ford Transit. Into the bargain is ergonomic seat positioning, perfect for long hours on the road.
Internal cabin space and comfort are a big deal for #vanlife enthusiasts. The Mercedes Sprinter outshines most vans in these aspects. Its cargo area has more space than other vans of its size. As an illustration as per Car and Driver, the Ford Transit can haul 3,150 pounds of weight, while the Sprinter can support a 3,512-pound payload.
A Sprinter van’s doors open a full 180 degrees and are 60 inches wide. At a 72 inches height, you can stuff lots of large items such as motorcycles or furniture in the van’s broad interior.
Besides its luxurious all-black interior, the Sprinter offers a wide range of comfort features. First, you can move to and from the driver’s cabin without the need to get off your van. The driver’s seat has a swivel option as well.
Moreover, the Sprinter van has a superior suspension system that creates a super-smooth ride. Sprinter vans have a variety of heights and lengths and have taller ceiling heights and longer wheelbases than most average vans.
You can stand comfortably in a Sprinter, a much better alternative than stooping every time you are in the kitchen or tending to a fussy baby. Its spacious interiors provide for more bed space, meaning that most Sprinter van conversions have a fixed bed.
You will not have to rearrange your sitting area every morning when you are on the road. Your fur babies will love the extra jostling space as well.
The Mercedes Sprinter is synonymous with reliability. It might be an expensive vehicle to tend to when it breaks down, but in its top form, it is a trusty van that you can safely venture into the wild, with little worry.
It is therefore the to-go-to off-grid location travel van. It is for this reason that the Sprinter is a five-time winner of the ALG Residual Value Awards. The ALG Residual Value Awards are the vehicle manufacturing industry’s awards for vehicles that keep their highest percentage of retail value after four years.
Sprinter van conversions ease
The Sprinter crew and cargo vans are the perfect blank slates for upfitting work.
Cons of the Mercedes Sprinter
Mercedes Sprinter vans have become a specialty vehicle and have a high demand in the camper van niche. They are therefore a big-ticket item. That said, first-generation Mercedes are plentiful and way cheaper than new vans. Unfortunately, since Mercedes makes them last a lifetime, you will hardly find a low mileage second-hand Sprinter van.
Older vans also have fewer bells and whistles. Most Sprinter van buffs say that the legacy 2.7-liter Sprinter van turbo diesel engine has better fuel mileage capacity than the newer 3.0-liter engine. It is also simpler, but for these benefits, you will have less power.
Costly service charges
Mercedes manufacturers their Sprinter vans in Dusseldorf, then crate the engine and body, shipping them to South Carolina for reassembly. In the past, Sprinter vans sold under the Freightliner and Dodge badge till 2010, following Chrysler’s split from Daimler.
For this reason, you cannot take your Sprinter van for service at a Dodge dealership. Fortunately, there are hundreds of Mercedes dealerships in North America, and indeed in many spots around the world.
Expensive mechanical problems
The Mercedes internal computer system is complex and most garages will not touch a broken-down Sprinter. For this reason, if your Sprinter has recurring mechanical problems, you will spend a handsome fee on towing charges to Mercedes garages. You will also pay more for specialized mechanic services.
Our top 10 best Mercedes Sprinter van conversions
Alistair and Helen’s focus from the onset was to build a tiny home with lots of home comfort. It is therefore a luxury van with a tropical Moroccan feel they shared little expense to put together. Their van’s interior has generous wood accents and is super cozy.
Their Western red cedar wood walls and ceilings and other white interior features gel flawlessly. There is a lot of hidden mood lighting that further softens the look of the van. Their conversion’s highlight is the solid oak kitchen countertop and one-of-a-kind chaise longue cabinetry with gold-style knobs.
Additionally, there is a giant luxury bed. Some of their travel van’s amenities include a marine refrigerator and a hidden composting toilet. They have installed a secret door in their garage to give their two cats access to the private kitty restroom.
Pete and Taylor of @alwaystheroad are explorers and vanlife nomads. They live on the road alongside Snoop, their 90-pound companion who is all woof and cuddles. Pete and Taylor’s Mercedes Sprinter van is a DIY conversion tiny home.
Their current Sprinter van’s name is Sonder. Sonder was originally a San Diego Airport shuttle bus, so it has handy beautiful shuttle doors. A 158” wheelbase, high roof 2004 Dodge Sprinter. It had 195,000 miles on it, on purchase.
They opted for a stealth white exterior color an upgrade from its earlier gaudy bright blue and purple vinyl laden exterior. Sonder’s interior has a gypsy feel with lots of wood finishes and fabric draping for a soft finish. It has a free-spirited look to it that blends with their love for yoga, music, and exploration.
Sonder’s most captivating feature is its bench/bed setting that at bench mode can host 8 people at a go. The bed setting turns it into a king-size bed that fits Pete, Taylor, and Snoop. They have a camp shower that they use when the situation calls for it. Additionally, they have a fridge that doubles up as Snoop’s seat when on the move.
Scott of Comes with a View’s van is a 2016 170″ wheelbase Sprinter van. He has lived in his fully off-grid tiny home with Ellie, his dog, for a couple of years. Scott has a construction background, and his workmanship shines through his six-month sprinter van conversion build.
It has an all-white and wood interior with an apartment feel. His van’s dark wood cabinets are thoughtfully recessed 5 inches back to give him some room to work when in the kitchen. There is a hot water tank under his sink, and a two-stage water filter.
His van build has a slide-out freezer and fridge combo and an induction cooktop that runs off his solar and battery pack. To ensure that he can work on the road, he has a router set up in his van’s ‘command center’, that runs via a data package and has an antenna on the roof to extend its range.
A solid, movable woodwork area completes his work set up and opens up access to his sleeping area. The work table slides down and together with his side benches makes a quick soft bed. At the back of the van is an RV full flush toilet that feeds off his freshwater tank. There is a shower pan and hot water shower set up as well, making his van self-contained.
Slater lives in a sleek 2020 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter that goes by the name, Roamy the Van. Roamy is one of the most functional Sprinter van conversions out there. Built by @rossmonster_vans, this van’s interior highlights are its walnut cabinetry, brier creek oak flooring, and a tri-fold bench seat that converts to an extra bed when need be.
Roamy the Van’s galley has an induction cooktop, isotherm fridge, and a butcher block countertop. Its amenities include a rear shower and a dry flush toilet.
- Instagram photo link: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgksk4rnsq8/
- Additional supporting photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bgjq0nMHElG/
- Video walkthrough: Van Life with a Baby – Sprinter Camper Conversion Tour
Giddi and Jace, their toddler Juniper, and Lotus the dog are the team behind the ultra-popular vanliving @ourhomeonwheels account. Their home in wheels is a 158-inch wheelbase 2005 Sprinter 2500 van that had 140k miles on it on purchase.
Their tiny home is solar-powered and therefore completely off-grid. They have traveled around North America and have taken a round trip from Mexico to Alaska. The couple has raised their little cherub Juniper in their van and said that it has made her very brave.
Giddi and Jace make a living making handcrafted jewelry in their van. For this reason, they have a jewelry supply storage area under their bed and a wooden two-person desk. They hand make women’s jewelry from some of the most picturesque locations on earth and then mail these orders via mail.
Their van build has a clean white with wood accents aesthetic in its interior. Juniper has a safety car seat and belt in the back area. Their large cloud-like white bed is the highlight of this van build. They are now moving into their third van and have given their Sprinter away to an extremely lucky #vanlife fan.
Londoners Lara and Charlie launched their #vanlife lifestyle after the COVID-19 pandemic. Their Sprinter van build is a DIY project and a beauty to look at. It has an all-white with wood accents interior and lots of soft cushions that further soften up the look. Their build has a massive bed at the back and double swivel seats plus two separate workstations.
- Instagram photo link: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPtNV1OBraF/
- Additional supporting photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/COLKMvohZaW/
- Video walkthrough: VAN TOUR | Ultimate Luxury DIY Van Build w/ 800ah of Lithium, Spa Shower & Custom Mobile Office
Jake and Heather’s Sprinter van is the definition of luxury. Its interiors have Malibu style vibrant white spaces and furniture softened by soft textile throws rugs and fabrics. It is a dream home on wheels built into a 3500 2008 Mercedes 170EXT wheelbase cargo van.
Lady Liberty, their van has a new engine and suspension system and is all set to chase adventure. They have a three-gas burner oven range stove and a large capacity slide-out fridge and freezer combo. Everything in the van’s interior is perfect, but you will love Lady Liberty’s kitchen sink area.
It has a beautiful gold faucet, and a muted chevron design complementary backsplash that makes their van feel roomy and stylish. Accentuating this setup are beautiful soft down lights. Their van has a cedar flooring shower cubicle with a flexible shower rod.
Additionally, they have a composting toilet. Their bed is a fixed queen size bed with fitted reading lights and an A/C for hot summer nights.
Oksana and Max’s Benji is a 2008 170-inch wheelbase Sprinter van. Benji’s conversion process was a DIY project, a labor of love for this Canadian couple. They put in weeks of work and the final result was a dark wood stain ceiling that gives their van a mystique aura.
Benji’s design highlight is its black walnut wood countertops and huge couch. Their bed is a large elevator bed held up by a robust ATV winch and synthetic rope.
The Sprinter is a Mercedes. It looks cool, and it is a popular alternative off-grid adventure van to the boxy, beige vans of old. It is a workhorse, but it is so easy to drive it feels like driving a car, not a clumsy giant piece of metal. Sprinter van conversions may cost an arm and a leg, but they are worth it.