2017 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van Road Test Review
Smartly bridging the gap between compact and full-size
Mercedes’ new Metris might have just arrived on North American soil last year as a 2016 model, but it’s been available in Europe and other global markets since 1996 and is already in its third generation. Across the pond it’s referred to as Vito, but it’s the identical mid-size van sold here and therefore, with more than 20 years under its beltline, has a great deal more experience than Canadian commercial vehicle buyers might realize.
Finished to a higher standard than you might expect
Step up to its comfortable driver’s seat and grab hold of its sportily shaped three-spoke steering wheel and Mercedes’ seasoned approach to the commercial van market begins to sink in; the level of refinement offered to small business owners and fleet drivers alike is certainly good for morale. Really, I’ve driven most cargo vans currently available and the Metris cab goes above and beyond what’s expected, with some of the same premium detailing Mercedes is known for in its revered consumer products, such as fabric-wrapped roof pillars and satin metallic finished gauge cluster and switchgear brightwork, the quality of the latter even surpassing some premium brands’ retail cars and SUVs.
What’s more, a very well designed driver’s seat ideally supports the upper legs and back, important for the health and well being of a driver that will likely spend most of their day behind the wheel, while the overall driving position is excellent and visibility about as good as cargo vans get thanks to low side windows and large mirrors.
Impressive standard and optional features set the Metris apart
Along with the refined interior, which also includes steering wheel stalks that appear to have been pulled right from Mercedes’ car line, plus standard paddle shifters, a multi-information display divided the otherwise analog primary dials in my upgraded model. It gets the usual trip info plus a little digitized steaming coffee cup that, after recognizing tired eyes via standard Attention Assist, recommends a break, while over on the centre stack is a full colour infotainment system featuring audio, phone and various vehicle settings, while a backup camera and navigation can be added.
I’d recommend the former as it makes negotiating tight parking spaces and loading docks a lot easier, as do available parking sensors, while the navigation system with full mapping might save your driver time, and we all know time is money.
Multiple standard and optional doors provide access to loads of cargo space
Accessing those loading docks won’t be a problem thanks to the Metris’ standard rear wing doors that open a full 270 degrees before magnetically clinging to the side of the van. They can be latched back up to stop at 180 degrees, or alternatively you can choose a minivan-style liftgate that’ll keep cargo dry when loading in the rain. A passenger-side slider comes standard, with the smoothest mechanicals I’ve ever experienced in this class, while one for the driver’s side is optional.
On that note the Metris Cargo Van can manage loads up to 5,270 litres, while its payload is good for 1,135 kg and tow rating is set to a maximum of 2,250 kg, unless optioned with a rear cross member for a possible 2,268 kg of trailering weight.
Turbo four-cylinder power provides strong yet efficient performance
The Metris comes standard with a nice, quiet 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline-powered four-cylinder that makes 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the latter from just 1,250 rpm, which when combined with its smooth shifting seven-speed automatic and those aforementioned steering wheel-mounted paddles results in great response off the line and good power throughout the rev range, with impressive highway passing capability too.
Another Metris attribute that might take you by surprise is the way it drives. Despite its commercial classification the ride is extremely smooth and agility through corners very accomplished due to a fully independent suspension. The paddles work as per usual, and while you can use them to get more performance from the engine they’re also helpful for short shifting in order to improve fuel economy, the Cargo Van rated at a very competitive 10.5 L/100km combined city/highway. Of note, Mercedes offers an optional auto start/stop system too, reducing fuel consumption and emissions further.
The Metris comes standard with the usual assortment of active and passive safety features as well as hill-start assist, tire pressure monitoring, and Crosswind Assist, that latter especially helpful amid heavy side gusts at high speeds, while forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and blindspot monitoring are optional.
Myriad packages and standalone options make the difference
None of these features were included in my tester, but it was upgraded with a Convenience Package that adds an upgraded primary instrument cluster, a multifunction steering wheel with cruise control, a centre console with storage, and two additional master keys; plus an Extended Cargo Package featuring washable full-height interior trim, sidewall lashing rails on the waist rail, a load securing rail system on the floor, and tensioning straps; a full partition between the cab and cargo area; heatable powered side mirrors; a rearview camera; a first aid kit; and all-weather floor mats, pushing the price of my test vehicle from $33,900 to $37,450 and change, before adding freight and fees.
Of note, Metris Cargo Van extras could have included a Deluxe Appearance Package featuring body-colour bumpers and 17-inch alloys; a Basic Window Package that includes driver- and passenger-side sliders with fixed windows, fixed rear windows with washers and wipers, plus a rearview mirror; a Lighting Package that adds illuminated exits, footwell lighting, an overhead control panel, illuminated vanity mirrors, and an LED cargo ceiling lamp; a Comfort Seat Package with upgraded seats featuring adjustable lumbar support; a Cold Weather Package that includes heatable seats along with electrical auxiliary heating; and a Driving Assistance Package that includes heated power-adjustable side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with chrome trim, rain-sensing wipers, plus Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist.
Standalone options include Becker’s Map Pilot navigation system, black leatherette upholstery, cruise control, auto HVAC, a warm air duct to the cargo compartment, Active Parking Assist with Parktronic, a reverse warning system, hardboard interior paneling for the lower cargo area, washable full-height interior trim, halogen fog lamps, alloy wheels, roof rails, an alarm, and plenty more.
The Cargo Van’s standard equipment list includes auto headlights, powered windows, tilt steering, A/C, a 5.8-inch colour TFT infotainment display, five-speaker AM/FM audio with good sound, USB, aux and SD memory ports, Bluetooth, multiple 12-volt power outlets, and more.
A great looking van makes for a good business image
From a styling standpoint, the Metris has a nice look that should represent your business image well. It gets an aerodynamically shaped nose with a matte black grille and fascia that can be upgraded to body-colour, while many more colours are available than the usual Alpine White shown on my tester. The Metris’ rear design is purposely square, but even so it’s attractive for its class and nicely finished with large vertical taillights.
Its design might lead some to think it’s bigger than it actually is, so I thought it best to give some size comparisons. Mercedes refers to the Metris as an intermediate sized van, which means that it smartly fits between compact and full-size vans like Mercedes’ own Sprinter. This gives it a unique market niche that has helped it earn a strong following.
Mid-size proportions allows for more cargo yet easy access
Unlike the larger Sprinter, there are no long-wheelbase or extended roof Metris variants. Just the same, its mid-size dimensions give it a similar parking space requirement to a modern-day minivan plus even more manoeuvrability with a turning radius of just 11.8 metres thanks to its rear-drive layout. To be specific the Metris’ 5,141-mm length and 3,200-mm wheelbase is about the same as a minivan, although at 1,928 mm wide it’s somewhat narrower and its 1,910-mm height is about 180 mm taller than the more car-like family van average. Still, it can sneak under the majority of garage doors, so it allows the same type of delivery access as compact cargo vans.
It’s difficult not to like the new Metris, so 2017 should be another banner year for Mercedes’ burgeoning commercial van division. On that note I should mention that a seven- to eight-seat Metris Passenger Van is also available, while the full-size Sprinter continues in both Cargo Van and Passenger Van variants as well as the availability of various powertrains with rear- or four-wheel drive, and as already noted, multiple sizes. However, if something smaller and more accessible is required, the extremely well made, highly fuel-efficient, and impressively accommodating Metris should be pushed to the top of your shopping list and then marked with a bold asterisk.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.