I can credibly say I've driven just about everything.
But a hole in my experience — a big one — was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, one of the world's most popular commercial vehicles. In 2018, Mercedes sold nearly 30,000 of them in the US alone.
Mercedes filled the gap when the company recently asked me if I wanted to test not just any Sprinter, but a 16-passenger version.
I leapt at the opportunity, even though I wasn't sure what I'd do with all that seating capacity, given that I didn't want to go into the airport-shuttle business for a weekend.
Here's how it went down:
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 definitely filled the driveway of our suburban New Jersey test center. The base price is $48,790, but an array of options brought the sticker up to over $65,000.
In fact, I think it beat out the Ford Super Duty pickup for the title of Largest Vehicle We've Ever Tested at Business Insider.
The Sprinter is a massively popular van worldwide.
Yep, he's a big boy: 14 feet long, to be exact.
The tall, narrow, narrow stance of the Sprinter makes the van relatively easy to maneuver and also allows for passengers of varying sizes to move around the interior. The engine is a pretty modest 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that runs on gas (not diesel) and has a nine-speed automatic transmission. It makes a decent 188 horsepower.
My tester was "Obsidian Black Metallic" with a "Leatherette Black" interior.
The side door slides open and closed automatically.
It a LARGE opening. Even tall humans would have no trouble.
The step extends and retracts to make climbing in and out simpler.
There's a lot of room in this thing, and the seats have multiple USB charge ports and retractable cupholders.
So I know what you're thinking: Where did I find 16 people to ride in the van? Well, serendipitously, I attended a relative's wedding over the weekend I had the Sprinter and got to play shuttle-bus driver.
So what's it like for the driver?
The front cabin is slightly barebones, but it's no less comfortable than a minivan I once owned.
In fact, driving the Mercedes Sprinter was almost exactly like driving a minivan — except that I had to be constantly aware of the vehicle's height and length.
The central touchscreen infotainment system offers all the usual stuff, from GPS navigation to SiriusXM radio to USB connectivity and Bluetooth device-pairing.
The Sprinter can haul people but also a lot of stuff in this cavernous cargo area.
A massive amount of luggage would fit in there.
So what did I think of the Mercedes Sprinter?
I've wanted to drive one forever, and I wasn't disappointed. This van deserves its reputation.
What particularly struck me was how much pep the turbo-four generates, given that its 188 ponies has to haul over 9,000 pounds of van. Sure, the Sprinter didn't feel like a Mercedes AMG sport sedan. But it didn't feel underpowered, either.
I also enjoyed the driving experience. In no time at all, I was tooling around like somebody who spends his days making runs between the Hilton and the airport. I can see why pros like this machine.
Hey, I'm don't typically review vehicles like this, but if you're a fleet manager and you need a 16-passenger van, I certainly have a recommendation for you.