Road Test, 2023 Mercedes Sprinter 144 AWD

I have been eying this new model since it was announced in March of 2022. For me, AWD or push-button on-the-fly 4WD is essential. The prior models required you to pull over, slow to a crawl, and go through a set of steps to get the rig into 4WD. Additionally, given that driving one of these decked-out is like hauling a small tiny house around, starting with the most fuel efficient platform was also important to me.

At the time of this writing, December 9th, 2022 there are few or no actual city/highway road tests published. Car and Driver has a summary of the van, but not road results. Mercedes appears to have invited an number of journalists to Stuttgart, Germany in late November 2022 to participate in off-road testing. But heavy rain shortened the course, it was all off road, and no MPG numbers were reported.

While shortly there will be many detailed reviews of this new model, here are my first impressions after driving one in Bend Oregon on December 6th.

The vehicle I drove was a 2023 2500 empty cargo van with the new 2.0 4 cylinder diesel and AWD. The dealership had modified the vehicle with a 1 1/2″ lift, BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires, and an OWL rack on both sides of the rear doors, one for the spare, the other for storage and gear.

The course I drove was about ten miles long, 50 percent city, 50% highway, though the speeds on the highway were in the 45 mph range due to speed limit.

In terms of feel, I don’t have a lot to compare to as I have not driven the 2022. The same forward, high seating position afforded great views of the road. The KO2’s made the ride a little “trucky” in terms of road noise and rolling feel. The steering, which is new for the 2023 model was great. Turning radius was tight for a largel vehicle, and maneuverability was easy.

Acceleration power was robust, and I did not notice the new 9 speed transmission at all. I did test AWD on a number of icy roads, including a start-from-stop on an icy hill, and the grip was superb.

The one rectangular screen, which was built into the dash, was easy to operate, had touch screen and off-the wheel controls. The vehicle had a start button and on-the-column shifting with a small lever on the right side.

Fuel economy on my short test drive was 22.4 mpg.

Ps. I’ve chosen to publish on my “Olympics” blog as it has the most reach, and perhaps some van-lifers who visit the Olympics might be interested.

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