Mercedes Sprinter for Vanlife: 14 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Mercedes Sprinter for Vanlife?

With great reliability, tons of aftermarket parts, and an optional 4×4 drivetrain, the Sprinter van is a great option.

But how does it stack up against other popular models like the Ford Transit & Ram ProMaster?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

14 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Mercedes Sprinter

The Sprinter is reliable, fuel efficient, and offers the best community support of any van – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 14 reasons why vanlifers like the Mercedes Sprinter:

  1. Long Cargo Length: The longest Sprinter wheelbase option is the 170” extended. It offers 189 inches of cargo space–over 10 inches longer than the longest Ford Transit.
  2. High Ceiling: The high roof option of the Sprinter offers 79 inches (6’7”). So even with flooring and ceiling installation, there’s enough room for anyone over 6 feet to stand up and walk around inside (see size comparison).
  3. It’s a Mercedes: Mercedes are luxury vehicles. If you care about brand name, the Sprinter is by far the fanciest van base model out there.
  4. Comes in 4×4 and AWD: FWD doesn’t cut it for some hard-to-reach campsites. But a 4×4 or AWD Sprinter van can take you to more places than a 2wd van.
  5. High Ground Clearance: The Sprinter has 8 inches of ground clearance, which helps it clear large rocks and potholes. Many people also lift their Sprinters for extra clearance.
  6. Great Resale Value: Sprinters are pricey up front, but because of the name brand and quality of the car, Sprinters hold their value very well. You can expect to make back a good amount of the money you spent on the car if you ever decide to sell.
  7. Relatively Fuel Efficient: The gasoline and diesel versions of the Sprinter vans are both relatively fuel efficient compared to vehicles that are similar in size (see mileage comparison).
  8. Lots of Professional Van Builder Options: The Mercedes Sprinter is currently the most popular van for van life. That means, no matter where you are, there’s probably a conversion van company not too far that specializes in Sprinter vans.
  9. Long-Lasting: Sprinter vans are known to last a long time–especially those with diesel engines. It’s not uncommon to see Sprinters from the 1990s on the road today.
  10. Can Handle Heavy Builds: Compared to Transits, Sprinters have a higher payload and can handle heavier build-outs.
  11. Tons of Online Info: Because the Sprinter is the most popular vanlife van, there’s tons of educational info and how-to’s for conversion online. This makes a DIY build way easier.
  12. Lots of Aftermarket Options: The popularity of the Sprinter also means that there are tons of companies that make aftermarket windows, roof racks, and other aftermarket add-ons specifically for the sprinter.
  13. Comfortable to Drive: For the size of the Sprinter, it has an excellent turn radius and is comfortable and easy to drive.
  14. Aerodynamic Shape: The Sprinter is built in a very aerodynamic shape, which means less wind drag and better fuel economy.

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Mercedes Sprinter

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Sprinter.

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Mercedes Sprinter:

  1. Expensive Upfront: The most obvious drawback of Mercedes Sprinters is their upfront cost. They can cost an extra $10,000-$20,000 compared to their non-luxury counterparts (see price comparison).
  2. Diesel Engine: The Sprinter offers diesel engine options. Diesel engines last longer but diesel fuel is more expensive and can be harder to find.
  3. Pricey Repairs: Mercedes Sprinters are luxury vehicles, so the cost of parts and maintenance comes at a luxury price.
  4. Issues with Diesel Exhaust Fluid System: Sprinters made from 2007-2015 are known to have issues with the DEF system, which can mean costly repairs.
  5. Prone to Rust: Older Sprinters are known to have rust issues, especially around the wheels.
  6. Parts Have to be Shipped Internationally: Lots of Mercedes parts are manufactured in Germany, so shipping parts to the U.S. can be costly and means longer wait times.
  7. Not Stealth: Sprinters now have a reputation as a vanlife van. If you’re traveling in a Sprinter, odds are people will know it’s a campervan.
  8. Larger Sprinters Don’t fit in Parking Spaces: The 170” and 170” extended Sprinters (which are 22’10” and 24’1”, respectively) don’t fit into an average 16-18 foot parking space.
  9. Rounded Shape Makes DIY Builds Harder: Where vans like the Ram ProMaster are very square in shape and easier to build out, the Mercedes Sprinter is rounded. This means fewer right angles and a harder DIY build.
  10. Hard to Find Used: Mercedes Sprinters are in very high demand right now for vanlifers. That means there are few Sprinters on the market, and those that are can be even more expensive than brand new Sprinters.

 

21 Amazing Mercedes Sprinter Van Builds

With high ceilings, up to 15 feet of interior cargo length, and lots of aftermarket parts, the Sprinter provides tons of options for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 21 of the coolest Mercedes Sprinters ever:

Build #21: Sprinter with Blue Resin Countertop and Table

  • Highlights: This gorgeous build has a matching natural wood and resin countertop and dinette table. They’ve also installed a large shower, and a projector for watching movies.
  • Van: 2008 Mercedes Sprinter 170” Extended
  • Owner: @ourvanmaloi

 

Build #20: Sprinter with Fir Kitchen Unit and Side-Facing Bed

  • Highlights: The side-facing bed in this smaller sprinter saves room for a larger kitchen. The cabinetry in the one-wall kitchen is all fir wood and sits across from a small fridge.
  • Van: 2016 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @soweboughtavan

 

Build #19: Sprinter with High Bed and Indoor and Outdoor Kitchen

  • Highlights: This Sprinter DIY build has some gorgeous solid wood overhead cabinets and countertop. The high bed has lots of storage underneath. Theres a small kitchen inside, as well as a pull-down table attached to the back door that can be used as an outdoor kitchen.
  • Van: 2018 Mercedes Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @thedesertcruiser

 

Build #18: Sprinter Build with Bathroom, Long Sofa, and Workspace

  • Highlights: This Sprinter build has a uniquely long sofa. The end of the sofa functions as a work area along with the captain’s chair driver’s seat. The bed is extendable for some extra length and there’s a large shower room with a toilet.
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170” Extended
  • Owner: @thesewildjourneys

 

Build #17: Sprinter with Extendable Bed, Large Booth, and Solar

  • Highlights: This build from Freedom Vans has a unique extendable bed design, where the bed will extend out over the booth to increase its size. There’s lots of counterspace for cooking, and a toilet hidden under one of the booths.
  • Van: 2020 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @freedomvans

 

Build #16: Blue Gray Sprinter with Tiled Shower and Swivel Arm Desk

  • Highlights: This professional build from AciVan Conversions has a small kitchen with just a sink and plug-in induction stove. There’s a large booth for dining, or a workspace, plus a large tiled shower.
  • Van: 2021 Mercedes Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @the.activ

 

Build #15: Sprinter with Unique Over-Bed Shelving System

  • Highlights: This van build has an incredible over-bed arched shelving system. It has a small booth with a pull out table and a kitchen with lots of countertop space and a gorgeous Moroccan copper sink.
  • Van: 2019 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @vansteading

 

Build #14: Cozy Wood Ceiling Sprinter with High Bed and Shower

  • Highlights: This DIY sprinter build has two skylights, a unique sliding shower door, and a booth dinette across form the single wall kitchen. The fixed bed is high up for lots of storage underneath.
  • Van: Mercedes Spritner 170” Extended
  • Owner: @a_van_and_no_plan

 

Build #13: Yellow Off-Grid Ready Sprinter with Lots of Gear Storage

  • Highlights: This off-grid ready van is simple inside with a fixed bed, and small kitchen. Underneath the bed is room for tons of gear storage, as well as a slide out table for outdoor cooking and dining.
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @igor.explores

 

Build #12: Luxury Sprinter Build with Skylight and Tiled Shower

  • Highlights: This fancy Sprinter build from Reset and Chill Campers has a high fixed bed at the back underneath a huge skylight. The one wall kitchen has a farmhouse sink and there’s a large faux-tiled shower at the front. 
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @resetandchill_campers

 

Build #11: Double Couch Sprinter with Huge Shower and Roof Deck

  • Highlights: This Sprinter has a huge double couch in the back that converts into a bed. At the front is a large shower with room to store a toilet. On the top, VanSleek Campervans have installed a roof deck.
  • Van: 2010 Mercedes Sprinter 170” Extended
  • Owner: @vansleek_campervans

 

Build #10: Sprinter Build with Lots of Seating and Hidden Shower/Tub

  • Highlights: This extended wheelbase Sprinter has captain’s chairs and a long booth to maximize seating and lounging area. Underneath the booth area is a tub with a shower-head and a porta potty.
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170” Extended
  • Owner: @patthevan

 

Build #9: Japanese Teahouse Inspired Sprinter with Room for a Dog and Baby

  • Highlights: This unique Sprinter build took inspiration from Japanese teahouses with its floor to ceiling wooden slats. The back of the van has some booth seating and a small table that turn into a bed. In the front is room for a baby carrier and crib.
  • Van: 2018 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @theryovan

 

Build #8: Sleek Sprinter with Wood Paneling and LED Lighting

  • Highlights: This short wheelbase sprinter has a small kitchen underneath a window and booth seating with a slide-out table. There’s recessed LED lighting in the wood paneled ceiling and underneath the minimalist cabinetry.
  • Van: 2020 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @sprintervanlife

 

Build #7: Sprinter with Redwood Ceiling and Hand-Etched Cabinetry

  • Highlights: This Sprinter build from Atlas Vans is all about high-quality materials with its bamboo cabinetry and redwood ceiling. It’s designed with a low fixed bed for extra headroom above, an outdoor shower, and extra fold away seating.
  • Van: 2020 Mercedes Sprinter 170” High Roof
  • Owner: @atlasvans

 

Build #6: Sprinter Build with Couch and Double Slide-Out Storage

  • Highlights: This smaller professional Sprinter build has a fixed bed and a small couch in front of the bed. Under the couch is a huge slide out for storage, and under the bed is another slide out for gear storage.
  • Van: 2014 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @peachwoodco_

 

Build #5: Small Sprinter Build with Captain’s Chairs and Tons of Drawers

  • Highlights: This professional build by California Custom Vans has a simple one-wall kitchen with a sink, fridge, and induction stove. The front seats swivel around for a dining area/workspace, and there are tons of drawers under the fixed bed.
  • Van: 2021 AWD Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @californiacustomvans

 

Build #4: Large Dinette Sprinter with Lots of Cabinetry and Arched Doorway

  • Highlights: This Sprinter build has a large U-shaped dinette that converts into a bed. It’s made for indoor/outdoor living with a huge awning, outdoor shower, and outdoor kitchen.
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter
  • Owner: @southcoastvanfitouts

 

Build #3: Adventure Ready Sprinter with Unique Bed and Plenty of Storage

  • Highlights: This adventure oriented Sprinter features a pull-out bench behind the driver’s seat, a full kitchen with upper cabinet storage, and a unique sliding bed that tucks away during the day to provide additional space.
  • Van: Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @syncvans

 

Build #2: 4×4 Sprinter with Two-Person Dinette & Gear Storage

  • Highlights: This professionally built 4×4 Sprinter has a custom 2 person dinette, fixed bed with bumpouts, Aluminess modular roof rack, and tons of gear storage.
  • Van: 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter 144”
  • Owner: @rossmonster_vans

 

Build #1: Boho Sprinter with Fixed Bed and Roof Deck

  • Highlights: This gorgeous Sprinter has a boho-style interior with a small kitchen and dinette under a window. The fixed bed at the back sits on top of a dog bed, and they’ve installed a large awning and roof deck on top.
  • Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170”
  • Owner: @takeadriveonthewildside

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Sprinter, let’s see how it stacks up against the Transit & ProMaster.

Mercedes Sprinter Cost

Cost: Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster

ModelNewUsedPrice
Mercedes Sprinter 144”$41,300$60,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170”$45,340$70,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext$50,660$75,000Check Price
Ford Transit 130”$41,665$30,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148”$42,940$31,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148” Ext$48,085$34,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 118”$39,490$28,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 136”$41,250$30,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 159”$44,450$32,000Check Price

 

Mercedes Sprinter Dimensions

Dimensions: Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Mercedes Sprinter 144”79 inches132.9 inches70.4 inches233.5 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170”79 inches173 inches70 inches290 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext79 inches189 inches70 inches274 inches
Ford Transit 130”56.9 inches126 inches69 inches219.9 inches
Ford Transit 148”81.5 inches143.7 inches69 inches235.5 inches
Ford Transit 148” Ext81.5 inches172.2 inches69 inches263.9 inches
Ram ProMaster 118”66 inches96 inches75 inches195.4 inches
Ram ProMaster 136” 77 inches120 inches75 inches213.2 inches
Ram ProMaster 159”77 inches144 inches75 inches236.2 inches

Related: Mercedes Sprinter Van Dimensions (more in-depth stats)

 

Mercedes Sprinter Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Mercedes Sprinter vs Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Gas21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Diesel21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 3.0L V6 Diesel18 MPG21 MPG19.5 MPG
Ford Transit – 3.5L PFDi V614 MPG18 MPG16 MPG
Ford Transit – 3.5L EcoBoost® V618 MPG24 MPG21 MPG
Ford Transit – 2.0L GDI I-419 MPG27 MPG23 MPG
Ram ProMaster – 3.6 L V6 19 MPG 25 MPG 21 MPG
Ram ProMaster – 2.4 L V4 21 MPG28 MPG 24 MPG

Related: Mercedes Sprinter Van Gas Mileage (more in-depth stats)

 

Conclusion: Is the Mercedes Sprinter Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Mercedes Sprinter: It’s iconic, has a diesel engine with optional 4wd, and has high ceilings that make daily living comfortable – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Reliability
  • Lots of aftermarket parts
  • Mercedes brand
  • Fuel efficient
  • Longest cargo length
  • Comes in 4X4

So should you get one?

Yes! We’d recommend the Sprinter over the Transit or ProMaster for vanlifers who want a diesel engine, optional 4×4, and like the Mercedes brand.

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