As the overall top performing commercial van, the 2006 Dodge Sprinter continues to lead its segment in performance, versatility and safety. Whether it be in cargo van, passenger van or chassis cab form, the 2006 Dodge Sprinter offers tremendous versatility and value, including the segment’s best fuel performance of 25 miles per gallon (mpg).
By Kevin “Crash” Corrigan
Of course, I get all the glamorous vehicles to review. What’s that, a dump truck to road test? Give it to that guy Crash! But seriously, I actually asked to test drive Daimler/Chrysler’s Dodge Sprinter van, and for a very good reason. Many moons ago, back in the U.K., I was employed in the building trade. Much of my time was spent driving around London in my white work van, so I kind of have a soft spot for them. Now I’ve heard that they call the truckers in their big rigs “the kings of the road”, so, with that in mind, I guess van drivers must be “the little princes”. Although I doubt that my fellow road users would have called me that, especially when I was flying around town running late. Van drivers over there tend to have a similar reputation to that of taxi drivers worldwide. Actually that’s not strictly true, at least taxi drivers occasionally wave to you as they cut in front of you.
In some ways the Europeans look at vans in the same way that we look at pick up trucks and they seem to be just as popular. They’re basically everywhere! You see, over there pick up trucks aren’t exactly ideal for carrying tools and materials. They have an old saying in the U.K. “if it’s not bolted to the ground, it goes missing” and that can be while you’re stopped at the traffic lights or when you pop in to buy a newspaper! Vans, therefore, are much more practical and secure vehicles in which to carry your expensive equipment. Over the years, van owners have realized that they can not only carry all the tools that they need for their days work, but also everything that they might possibly need. Manufacturers are taking note and have started to produce larger vans with greater carrying capacities.
All of this brings me to the Dodge Sprinter vans, which to all intents and purposes are actually Mercedes Benz vehicles. Yes, they carry the good old Dodge nameplates but these are just stuck on as they leave the factory in Düsseldorf, Germany (although I understand that they are soon going to start production in the U.S). Why it’s not sold as a Merc is anyone’s guess. I feel that the company thinks that we North Americans aren’t quite ready for the revelation that MB not only make high end vehicles but also a phenomenal range of trucks and vans.
Phenomenal is actually a great word for this van and it sums up the Dodge Sprinter perfectly. It is powered by an incredible 2.7 litre 154 HP in-line five cylinder turbo diesel engine. Although “whisper quiet” might be pushing things, it would be hard to tell the difference between this and a competitor’s gas powered van. The same could be said for its performance, more than enough power for a van of its size.
Speaking of size, this is where the Sprinter starts to leap and bound away from the competition. The 2500 SHC offers a cargo capacity of 367 cu.ft. (The largest model offers 473). To put this into perspective, I worked out that I could put my Austin Mini into the back of it and still be able to get all around the sides of the car.
Then there are the various configurations available, low roof, high roof, a full passenger setup and cab and chassis versions. You have a choice of a sliding door on the driver’s side, the passenger side, none or both; a convenience package that includes power heated mirrors, keyless entry, power windows and locks. In winter, the available auxiliary heater can be timed to pre-heat the vehicle or to continue the heating whilst parked. The seats are such that they can be adjusted in every which way that you can imagine, if you’ve ever looked inside a large tractor cab unit then you’ll know what I mean. This van has been well thought out and I would venture to say that they must have had a fair bit of design input from some seasoned little princes as this vehicle is definitely driver friendly.
All in all, the Dodge Sprinter is a breath of fresh air for the commercial van market. I would go on to point out its competition for you but I have to say that I really don’t think that it has any at the moment. I think that this vehicle has the other manufacturers’ heads spinning but that might not last for very long. Ford and GM both make similar style products in Europe and they could start shipping these in sometime in the near future.
“The Dodge Sprinter continues to offer exceptional value, versatility and cost-of-ownership benefits for our commercial customers,” said Darryl Jackson, Vice President — Dodge Marketing, Chrysler Group. “Not only is the 2006 Dodge Sprinter the best commercial van on the marketplace, it’s the foundation for Dodge’s growing commercial portfolio.”
For 2006, Dodge Sprinter offers several new features designed to enhance safety and performance, including a ParkSense rear backup system, a high-pressure headlamp washing system, a full partition with sliding window, wiring for hands-free communications and a driver seat power outlet.
Unrivaled versatility and market-leading fuel efficiency complement premium performance
Boasting a unibody construction design that reduces curb weight and maximizes payload capacity, the 2006 Dodge Sprinter is the most versatile commercial van on the market. It is available in three wheelbases — 118, 140 and 158 inches — and two roof heights (64 and 73 inches), allowing for considerable interior stand-up height. Its distinctive adaptability is ideal for a host of trades, vocations, businesses and on-the-go service providers including parcel delivery, utility operators, shuttle services, commercial landscaping, ambulance and emergency services, mobile workshop, automobility, catering and RV use.
Powered by a premium 2.7-liter, five-cylinder Common-Rail Direct Injection (CDI) Turbo Diesel engine covered by a 5-year/100,000-mile limited warranty, the 2006 Dodge Sprinter continues to be among the most efficient light- and medium-duty vehicles in its class. With market-leading fuel performance of 25 mpg, Dodge Sprinter has a driving range of up to 660 miles on a single tank of fuel that is five to nine gallons smaller than the competition. A five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick technology gives the driver more options for engaging the gear that best suits the driving situation. The ergonomically designed Dodge Sprinter cab provides 360-degree viewing for both the driver and passenger.
Standard features on the 2006 Dodge Sprinter include power-assisted rack and pinion steering, full-size driver and front passenger air bags, headrests and three-point seat belts with pretensioners. Air conditioning with automatic temperature control and filtration, adjustable seats, driver and passenger armrests, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist System (BAS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Acceleration Skid Control (ASR) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) on Sprinter 2500 models. Three adjustable headlight settings are also standard.
The 2006 Dodge Sprinter’s fuel-efficient turbo diesel engine, nearly vertical cargo walls, two roof heights, and three wheelbases, coupled with a long list of best-in-class claims, make the 2006 Dodge Sprinter the most versatile commercial van on the market.
Spacious, comfortable and built to stay on the road
The Dodge Sprinter cargo van has optional seating for up to five people that can store a variety of equipment, such as a workbench, tools and storage cabinets. Dodge Sprinter passenger vans comfortably seat up to 10 people with ample rear cargo room (up to 112 cu. ft.) for luggage. Both feature unrivaled headroom (up to 58 inches) and impressive legroom (up to 38 inches).
Compared with other full-size competitors, oil changes are only required every 10,000 miles and maintenance intervals every 20,000 miles. An available option, the ASSYST maintenance monitoring system provides extended maintenance benefits allowing for even longer oil change intervals — up to 20,000 miles.
The following options are available on all 2006 Dodge Sprinter models: rear backup alarm, 115-, 150- or 200-amp alternators, auxiliary battery, 4:11 axle ratio, auxiliary belt drive, daytime running lamps, front fascia with chrome trim, fog lamps, front and/or rear insulation, two additional keys, parabolic right and left exterior mirrors, CD player radio, speed control, manual-tilting sun roof (standard roof only) and heated front windshield with rain sensor.
The color palette for the 2006 Dodge Sprinter includes 18 separate finishes, more color choices than any other full-size van. For 2006, available colors include Amber Red Metallic, Arctic White, Black Blue, Black Gray, Brilliant Blue, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Calcite Yellow, Carbon Black Metallic, Flame Red, Graphite Metallic, Hyacinth Blue, Jasper Blue Metallic, Jet Black, Orchid Green, Piedmont Red, Silver Gray, Steel Blue and Stone Gray.