For the past week, we’ve been driving around a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 cargo van, and we started thinking, could this be a good alternative to the classic pick-up truck for work around the ranch? We’ll need to bring our John Deere 1023E tractor back to 4Rivers Equipment for service pretty soon, so we wanted to test out loading it into the van to see how much more capable it is (or not) than a classic pick-up truck.
Truck vs Van!
This 2022 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a 2WD cargo van model, which seats two people, and has a ton of space in the rear. This particular van has the shorter 144″ wheelbase but is optioned with a high roof, providing lots of extra vertical cargo space. The payload is listed at an impressive 3,803 lbs, much higher than the 2,234 lb payload capacity found on our RAM 2500. The tractor weighs around 1,400 lbs, so weight won’t be an issue loading our tractor into the Sprinter. Don’t be fooled, though; while the Sprinter can carry more weight on its own, towing is an entirely different story. The Sprinter is rated to tow 5,000 lbs, and the RAM, up to 20,000 lbs.
Our John Deere is about 59″ wide with the mower deck attached. The RAM bed is approximately 51″ wide from wheel well to wheel well. The Sprinter offers a tad more usable width at 53″, so the mower deck needs to come off regardless of what vehicle we’d be transporting it with.
Heavy Duty Ramps
One of the significant advantages of a van over a truck is the low load floor. While the tailgate of the RAM measured 38″ high, the Sprinter’s floor was only 29.5″ off the ground. Our friends at LongRamps.com recently sent us a set of 9.5′ ATV/UTV ramps, made out of aluminum and support up to 2,000 lbs as a set. The ramps are long but still have a steep angle when used with a heavy-duty truck. When hooked up to the low floor of the Sprinter, the ramps made a nice gentle incline that wasn’t intimidating to drive a heavy tractor up. The ramps even came with a set of ratchet straps for securing them to the back of the van.
Loading the tractor was completely stress-free. Once it was in the back of the van, there were plenty of anchor points for us to run our straps to. Also, because the van is fully enclosed, the excess strap can be thrown in the back rather than needing to be coiled up neatly.
Hitting The Road
On the road, the Sprinter van handled very well. From a driving dynamics standpoint, it was hard to tell anything was in the cargo area, but there was certainly enough noise to remind us that we were carrying a tractor. Trucks are much better insulated from noise, and your cargo is typically on the outside of the vehicle. The van has a much less-finished interior that echoes every sound made. All your cargo is inside the van’s walls, so it’s easier to hear the noises coming from your load (for better or worse). On the road, we averaged 16.8 mpg with the Sprinter’s 3.0L V6 Diesel engine.
One of the advantages of a van over a truck is the maneuverability and reduction in turning circle. As part of this video, we conducted a turning radius test, where both vehicles tried to make a 180-degree turn within the area of our new barn’s foundation. The van set the standard, and its outer wheel was marked after completing the turn. Our RAM ran the same test and could not turn around within the barn’s footprint (it stopped about a full truck-width further than the Sprinter).
Which Is Better?
The Sprinter seemed to be the better vehicle for the task at hand, given its lower load floor. At $55,000, it may not be a direct replacement for a pick-up, as our RAM can seat up to 5 people, can tow way more weight, and is a more comfortable driver at $67,000. But this Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo van has made our lives very easy while we’ve had it on loan, and it will definitely be missed. Be sure to check out AllTFL.com to stay updated on everything happening at Tumbleweed Ranch!