The Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Transporter are two of the most popular commercial vans on the market. With their spacious cargo areas, fuel-efficient engines, and car-like handling, these versatile vans are often for sale and have become go-to choices for businesses, tradespeople, and even vanlife enthusiasts looking to purchase a vehicle. But which one is the better option for your needs? In this article, we’ll compare the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Transporter on critical factors like price, performance, features, and more. Whether you’re looking for a work van or a campervan, read on to find out which of these capable vans best fits your lifestyle and budget before making a purchase decision.
VW Transporter vs Mercedes Sprinter – The Latest Models
The Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Transporter have both been updated in recent years with new generations that offer significant improvements over previous models.
The current Mercedes Sprinter (codenamed VS30) debuted in 2018, bringing a range of upgrades to make it more car-like and technologically advanced. Key changes include new safety systems like Active Brake Assist, Crosswind Assist, and Attention Assist. There’s also an upgraded infotainment system with a 7 or 10.25-inch touchscreen, as well as new engine options including a 4-cylinder diesel and gas engines.
Meanwhile, the latest 6th generation Volkswagen Transporter (codenamed T6.1) arrived in 2019 with its own set of enhancements. It features updated driver assistance tech like Front Assist with City Emergency Braking and Trailer Assist. The infotainment has also been improved with an 8-inch touchscreen, while new turbocharged gas and diesel engines boost performance and efficiency.
With both vans refreshed in the last few years, buyers have excellent current-generation options to choose from. But which one offers the better value and features for your needs? Keep reading as we delve into the details on these two popular vans.
Mercedes Sprinter vs VW Transporter – Appearance
The Mercedes Sprinter and VW Transporter have distinct styling that gives each van its own look and character.
The Sprinter’s exterior styling is more rounded and aerodynamic. Its front end features Mercedes’ signature radiator grille and sweptback headlights. The side profile has curvy lines and smooth panels, while the rear is tapered with taillights connected by a reflector strip. Overall, the Sprinter has a more upscale appearance befitting the Mercedes luxury brand.
Meanwhile, the VW Transporter has boxier, more utilitarian styling. The front grille and lights are flat and upright. Along the sides, the slab-like panels have minimal contours. And the back is bluntly squared off. The no-frills look very much says “work van” rather than luxury vehicle.
Both vans offer plenty of versatility when it comes to cargo and passenger configurations. The Sprinter is available in multiple sizes including a jumbo-sized model. The T6 comes in different lengths and roof heights. You can outfit either van interior for hauling cargo or people. But in terms of aesthetics alone, the Sprinter has a more stylish, car-like look compared to the purely functional Transporter.
Volkswagen Transporter vs Mercedes Sprinter – Cab Interior
The interior cabins of the VW Transporter and Mercedes Sprinter reflect the differences seen in their exterior styling.
Inside the Transporter, the no-frills utilitarian theme continues. The cab is simple and function-driven, with hard plastics dominating the dash and surfaces. Controls are straightforward and designed for utility rather than luxury. Seating accommodations also lean towards simplicity for work use.
The Sprinter goes in the opposite direction with a cabin experience on par with Mercedes’ passenger vehicles. The dashboard and surfaces have a high-end look and feel, with plenty of padding and soft-touch materials. Controls are ergonomically designed for comfort and ease of use. And seating choices include options like heated power-adjustable chairs and upholstered benches.
While the Transporter focuses on work-ready basics, the Sprinter delivers comforts more akin to a luxury SUV. The Sprinter’s refined cab design reduces driver fatigue and makes the van feel like a passenger car. But businesses focused strictly on functionality may find the Transporter’s no-frills approach sufficient for their needs at a lower price point.
Mercedes Sprinter vs VW Transporter – Comfort
Ride comfort is another area where the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Transporter differ. The Sprinter is tuned to deliver car-like comfort, while the Transporter prioritizes utility and function over softness.
The Sprinter comes standard with suspension and shocks designed to soak up vibrations and bumps in the road. Mercedes also offers adjustable suspension and air suspension options. This allows you to customize the ride for passenger comfort or load-hauling needs. The cabin is well-insulated from noise, with the high-end trim using thicker glass.
By contrast, the Transporter uses a basic leaf spring rear suspension optimized for load carrying. The ride is bumpy when unloaded. VW does offer upgraded suspension packages to improve ride quality with passengers on board. But sound insulation is minimal, resulting in high interior noise levels.
If you’ll primarily use your van to transport people, the Sprinter’s soothing ride will keep occupants comfortable. Solo drivers also benefit from less fatigue over long distances. But businesses focused just on cargo hauling can likely tolerate the Transporter’s no-frills suspension and noise levels to save on costs.
VW Transporter vs Mercedes Sprinter – Driving Experience
When it comes to handling and performance, the Sprinter once again leans luxury while the Transporter focuses on functionality.
The Mercedes Sprinter feels highly responsive and car-like when driving. The steering is precise with good feedback. Mercedes tunes the suspension for stability and poise around turns. The high roof configurations can increase body roll, but overall the Sprinter handles more like a large SUV than a van. Strong turbocharged engines provide brisk acceleration too.
Driving the VW Transporter clearly conveys its workhorse roots. The steering is slower and has more play on center. Body roll is more pronounced due to a higher center of gravity. The suspension tuning prioritizes payload capacity over agile handling. Acceleration is adequate but not exciting. On the plus side, the Transporter feels planted and secure when loaded up.
For those wanting a van that drives like a large passenger car, the Sprinter delivers with its dialed-in performance and handling. Drivers spending long days behind the wheel will find it more enjoyable to pilot. But businesses focused on cargo or commercial use likely have little need for the Sprinter’s extra driving refinement.
Mercedes Sprinter vs Volkswagen Transporter – Load Area and Capacity Comparison
One of the most important considerations for a commercial van is how much you can carry. Both the Sprinter and Transporter offer expansive cargo areas, but the Sprinter’s jumbo sizes give it a higher maximum capacity.
The Mercedes Sprinter comes in multiple lengths including a 19.5-foot extended version. It offers cargo volumes ranging from 259 cubic feet up to a cavernous 547 cubic feet. Maximum payload tops out at 5,000 lbs for the largest 3500 model.
The VW Transporter is limited to three main sizes, all shorter than the largest Sprinter. This results in maximum cargo volume of 196 cubic feet and payload of around 2,500 lbs.
So the Sprinter clearly hauls more in its largest configurations. But the Transporter offers ample capacity for many businesses with its sub-200 cubic feet and 2,500 lb maximum payload ratings. Those needing higher capability can step up to the Sprinter’s jumbo offerings.
In the end, matching your actual cargo requirements to the right van size results in the best value. But the Sprinter takes the win for businesses needing extreme cargo and payload capacities.
VW Transporter vs Mercedes Sprinter – Technology
The Sprinter and Transporter take different approaches when it comes to cabin technology and driver assistance features.
|7 or 10.25-in touchscreen; Navigation; Smartphone integration
|8-in touchscreen; Navigation optional; Smartphone integration
|Active Brake Assist; Blind Spot Monitoring; Crosswind Assist; Attention Assist
|Front Assist; Trailer Assist; Park Assist
|MB telematics system; Wi-Fi hotspot
|We Connect telematics; Wi-Fi via mobile hotspot
The Mercedes Sprinter comes with higher-end infotainment like navigation, larger touchscreens, and an integrated MB telematics system. It also provides a more robust suite of active driver assistance features.
The VW Transporter takes a simpler, more budget-friendly approach to cabin tech. It focuses on core functionality like smartphone linking versus luxury amenities. Driver aids are limited to basic collision warning and parking assistants.
Overall, the Sprinter once again caters to those wanting a premium, car-like tech experience. But the Transporter offers user-friendly tech focused on utility rather than dazzle.
Mercedes Sprinter vs VW Transporter – Value
When considering overall value, there are a few key factors that set the Sprinter and Transporter apart:
- Base pricing – The base Transporter starts around £28,500 while the Sprinter starts close to £40,000. The VW provides big savings upfront.
- Ownership costs – The Mercedes’ higher pricing comes with potentially lower operating costs thanks to longer service intervals and better fuel economy.
- Resale value – Residual values forecast the Sprinter will retain several thousand pounds more value after 5 years.
- Customization – The Sprinter offers far more factory customization options including exclusive cab and seating layouts.
- Trim options – VW has a single basic trim. Mercedes provides Progressive and Premium trims with nice upgrades.
The Transporter offers excellent value for businesses focused on low acquisition pricing and simplicity of configuration. However, the Sprinter justifies its higher cost long-term via lower operating costs, higher resale value, and more customization flexibility.
VW Transporter vs Mercedes Sprinter – Which is Better?
The Mercedes Sprinter clearly shines if you prioritize comfort, premium features, advanced technology and car-like performance. Businesses that need maximum cargo capacity will also benefit from the Sprinter’s jumbo sizing. And the higher acquisition cost can be offset by lower operating costs and resale value.
But for buyers focused strictly on value, versatility and operating costs, the VW Transporter makes a compelling case. Its configurable layouts can handle both cargo and passengers. Technology is user-friendly and functional. And you save substantially upfront versus the Sprinter.
Weigh your priorities carefully, as both vans have strengths and weaknesses. Large fleets may even benefit from a mixed roster. But for an optimal blend of cargo capacity, driving refinement, and overall ownership value, the flexibility and premium amenities of the Mercedes Sprinter make it hard to beat.