2024 Mercedes eSprinter First Drive Review: Good for the Long Haul

Mercedes’ electric van doesn’t cover all the bases yet, but its range and charging performance are tough to beat. Plus, it’s rather nice to drive.

byJames Gilboy|
2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter
James Gilboy
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More and more carmakers are bringing out electric vans, and it's easy to see why. Their cheaper operating costs and reduced maintenance are a boon to everyone from vanlifer nomads to managers of thousand-vehicle fleets. They're about to become some of the most sought-after workhorses in the country, and among the most prominent of them is the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter.

The eSprinter is exactly what it reads like: An electric version of the proven Sprinter van. That's as good as it sounds, and in some unexpected ways, even better. Its electric drivetrain brings refinement to a class of vehicle where that tends to be an afterthought and changes its driving characteristics in a way that makes its own case for RVs and commercial vehicles alike.

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. James Gilboy

More specifically to the eSprinter, it brings better range and charging performance than its nearest competitor, with help from a cutting-edge battery that should hold up better than many others. The eSprinter's limited body configurations at launch sadly lift its price and make it less suitable for some use cases. Still, it's clear the eSprinter will remain a compelling choice among electric vans even as alternatives arrive.

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter Specs
Base Price$74,897
Powertrainpermanent-magnet electric motor | 113-kWh lithium iron phosphate battery | 1-speed transmission | rear-wheel drive
HorsepowerUp to 201
Torque295 lb-ft
Cargo Volume488 cubic feet
Max Payload2,624 pounds
Towing Capacity1,653 pounds
Seating Capacity2
Curb Weight6,746 pounds
Top Speed75 mph
EPA RangeTBA (unofficial estimate 180 to 220 miles)
Charge Time10 to 80% in 42 minutes on 115 kW
Quick TakeA long-legged electric van with superior refinement and the makings of a great workhorse—if you can afford it.
Score8.5/10

The Basics

The eSprinter uses the same body, chassis, and interior components as the gas model, and is made in the same Charleston, South Carolina factory. In time, it'll have many of the same body style and upfit options, though at launch it's limited to a long-wheelbase high-roof setup with a sliding curbside door.

What's most unique about the eSprinter is its drivetrain, which features a 113-kWh lithium iron phosphate (or LFP) battery in its floor. Compared to lithium-ion packs that power most modern EVs, LFP batteries are safer, have longer service lives, and are cheaper to replace. In a nutshell, they're better suited to the heavy-duty cycles a commercial vehicle will face.

In the eSprinter, its juice trickles to a single permanent-magnet motor on the semi-solid rear axle, which generates 134 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. There's an optional high-output version that boosts hp to 201, though torque remains the same.

From a glance, you wouldn't know the eSprinter from its internally combusting counterpart. There's some subtle badging, but beyond that, it's just a Sprinter. You've seen them before. It has a utilitarian, unpainted front bumper, cheap steel or alloy wheels, and LED headlights on some configurations. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing offensive, though the Mercedes badge makes it look a touch upscale. Maybe.

Its interior too will be familiar to anyone who's driven a current Sprinter, down to the paddles behind the steering wheel that've been repurposed to adjust regenerative braking. It's more tough than pretty, with sturdy plastics abound, though the vents give it some flair, and major touch surfaces like armrests and the steering wheel are soft-touch materials. There's piano black around the infotainment that'll get dirty immediately, but that's endemic to modern Mercedes.

It's spacious of course, with solid shoulder and footwell room plus tons overhead—even if you aren't driving the high-roof model. In the high-roof version, it adds to expansive interior storage with a small shelf above the visors. There are three trays in the dashboard, the center of which has three USB-C ports and a spot for an inductive smartphone charger.

There are slots in the center console to cram your phone, along with four cupholders of varying sizes. There are another four on the dash and one in each big door pocket for a total of 10. (Gotta tote your crew's lunch and drinks somehow.) There are two coat hooks per side, and while there's no space between the seats and partition, there's plenty between the seats depending on the partition you choose.

The eSprinter naturally has access to the full range of interior upfits, with partitions varying from fully solid to one with a window for the rearview mirror or even one with a sliding door for delivery vans. They and a rear cargo floor cover are mandatory options in the launch model, though upfits are still at your discretion.

Driving Experience

You can't call many commercial vehicles pleasant to drive, but the eSprinter is. Its manually adjusted seats are well-bolstered and supportive, and it rode well over subsiding coastal roads even with a minimal 441-pound test load on board. Its quiet electric drivetrain reduces cabin noise at all speeds, which only peaks on the highway with a modicum of wind noise and some inescapable road noise. (It's almost 7,000 pounds with you in it.) The stereo ain't bad either.

Throttle response is tuned to prevent sharp accelerative jerks that could cause your load to shift, and full power could be described as adequate. It's not quick, but it's still enough to gun it through yellow lights. That may be preferable, as while the brakes are fine (the pedal is pleasantly firm up top), the eSprinter is heavy enough that you want to avoid panic stops. Despite its bulk, the weight's concentration in the floor has a more pronounced effect on handling than in lower vehicles.

It corners particularly well for a van, with reduced body roll that (again) is good for preventing load shift. The turning circle is unavoidably large, but the eSprinter is still easy to maneuver in tight neighborhoods, and its approach angle makes steep driveways no obstacle. The steering hits the sweet spot for reassuring weight but easy turning, and the brakes blend imperceptibly with regenerative braking across the varying drive settings.

Paddles behind the wheel adjust regen from favoring coasting to maximum stoppage on liftoff, or even an automatic mode that proved divisive. It uses a variety of parameters to adjust liftoff regeneration on its own; some testers didn't like it, but I did. In traffic, it responds to the vehicle in front of you in a way that works almost like active cruise control. Such a feature isn't offered in the eSprinter yet, but it's coming. The varying drive modes—Comfort, Eco, and Max Range—aren't actually that different from one another, and simply reduce throttle response, max power output, and climate use.

Were it not for blind spot monitors though, the eSprinter could leave you a little oblivious to what's going on around you. The rear-view camera mirror was also more effective than the real thing, owing to the rear doors' window frames obscuring the view. Infotainment is also a classic Mercedes weak point, with the optional MBUX's touch-sensitive steering wheel controls proving particularly frustrating. It's better integrated with the Mercedes Me app's navigation features that account for charging stations, but it's not a must.

As of this writing, no EPA range estimates are available, but from my extended driving, I'd speculate range will usually fall between 180 and 220 miles depending on conditions. As in, how much of a load you're carrying, whether you're driving highways or hills, and how much of a leadfoot you are.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter Features, Options, and Competition

Limited body style options at launch mean you're walled into buying the larger, more expensive high-roof long-wheelbase model with mandatory cargo floor and partition options for now. Including the cheapest of those options, the eSprinter starts at $74,897 delivered for the base model and $78,347 for the high-output drivetrain. Though it's not listed in the EPA's database on FuelEconomy.gov, Mercedes says the U.S.-built eSprinter is eligible for the $7,500 tax credit, which it says it'll pass on to leasing customers.

The U.S. electric van market is rapidly broadening, with the Ford E-Transit already on sale and the likes of the GM BrightDrop Zevo, Ram ProMaster EV, and Rivian Commercial Van on their way or already in large fleets. The Ford's the easiest to acquire by far, though, so let's focus on how it compares to this Mercedes.

It's about $17,000 cheaper for the same body style, has a more powerful drivetrain, and a significantly higher payload rating of 3,330 pounds. It has V2L capability that the eSprinter currently doesn't, 2.4 kW of onboard power, and a more refined independent rear suspension that'd make it better for fragile loads or conversion into a shuttle. Ford has also confirmed it'll switch to the NACS charge port for 2025 onward, whereas Mercedes has not. (Both use CCS for now.)

But the Mercedes still holds its own, augmenting its hauling with a tow rating of 1,653 pounds whereas the Ford isn't rated for towing in the U.S. market. It also trounces the equivalent Ford's 108-mile range, and while the two take the same maximum DC fast-charge wattage of 115 kW, the Mercedes will get more range for the same time on the charger. Then there's the battery, which in the Mercedes is a long-lasting LFP pack, whereas the Ford uses a smaller lithium-ion unit that's more likely to degrade noticeably over its service life. The two have the same battery warranty though—eight years or 100,000 miles—and equal cargo space of 488 cubic feet.

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. James Gilboy

The Early Verdict

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter isn't a one-size-fits-all solution just yet, and some of its tech is subpar, but it's the clear leader when it comes to long-range, quick charging, and being able to do both of those ad infinitum. Those may tip the scale for those who wouldn't otherwise consider an electric van, and the fact that the driving experience is this refined will make you all the more willing to pile the miles on. Whether that's to the next job or the next campsite will be up to you.

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter. James Gilboy

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: james@thedrive.com

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