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Ford Transit vs Mercedes Sprinter: Large Van Showdown

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Ford Transit vs Mercedes Sprinter: Large Van Showdown

Looking for the ideal large refrigerated van to help you grow your business? Almost all searches for this category will end in the same place: a choice between two classic vehicles. The Transit from Ford and the Sprinter from Mercedes are two iconic vehicles known for being reliable and long-lasting.

These are the two largest refrigerated vans you can select from before you head into rear tail lift truck territory. They are ideal for creating multiple zones and for custom racking. Even with the insulation in place, you’ll still have plenty of space to work with.

In this guide, we’re looking at the key features of the Transit and the Sprinter so you can choose between these two best-in-class vehicles for your business.

Ford Transit Fast Facts

Ford Transit Fast Facts

The Ford Transit is the flagship model from Ford. It is iconic in the commercial sector and beloved by workers in all sectors. From builders to florists, the Transit van is synonymous with getting the job done.

  • Introduced in 1965
  • Front wheel drive
  • Standard model comes with 5 doors, including a sliding side panel and 2 rear doors
  • Offers 15.1 cubic metres of load space
  • Load height of up to 2,125mm
  • Available as a double cab-in van
  • Offers three different wheelbase lengths

Mercedes Sprinter Fast Facts

The Mercedes Sprinter is versatile and offers incredible flexibility in the layout and design. These are typically diesel engines and are known to just keep going. A well-maintained Sprinter with 150,000 miles on the clock will happily keep going for another 150,000.

  • First launched in 1995 to replace the T1 Transporter
  • Available as front wheel drive or rear wheel drive
  • Available in various configurations, with 5 door being the most common
  • Offers 17 cubic metres of load space
  • Load height is up to 2,243mm
  • Available as a crew van with rear seats
  • Choose between four different wheelbase lengths
Running costs and fuel economy

Running costs and fuel economy

The running costs will be unique to your vehicle, whether you choose a more modern and efficient model or opt for an older used model with more miles on the clock. Sprinters are generally diesel, which makes them incredibly efficient and durable. This can also mean that a well-maintained vehicle will retain its value for resale further down the line. However, bear in mind that this won’t be as efficient as an electric or hybrid vehicle, and you might face emissions charges if you need to drive in built up areas.

The Ford Transit is available as a fully electric vehicle, or you can choose from an older model which would either be a petrol or diesel engine. If you’ll be driving this vehicle in London, opting for a fully electric version could offer considerable savings.

In general, these two vehicles will have similar running costs, with electric vehicles naturally offering an advantage. That said, you’ll need to think about the impact of having an electric vehicle if you have to make longer trips.

Driver comfort

Driver comfort

The Transit offers a slightly lower driving position which offers an experience closer to that of a car than a van. Modern Transit vans offer all of the modern features you would expect from a new vehicle, including a large screen with SatNav and entertainment controls.

The Sprinter offers a slightly higher position, which feels a lot more like driving a larger van. The cabin is designed for comfort over long distances. The driver and main passenger will have ample room, but anyone who squeezes into the middle seat will lose some of their leg room to the gear stick. 

Like the Transit, you’ll also find all of the standard safety features and controls that make driving the Sprinter safe and more enjoyable.

Capacity and ease of loading

Capacity and ease of loading

The Sprinter generally offers slightly higher capacity than the Transit in its original format, but this will all change when the van is converted to a refrigeration van. This is due to the presence of the refrigeration unit and the insulation. 

The choice of final configuration will also impact final capacity. For example, if you choose to split the payload to create two different temperature control zones, you’ll sacrifice some of the storage space.

Both vans are available with a sliding side panel door and the two rear opening doors. The Transit sits a little lower which can make loading heavy loads a little easier. 

You’ll also need to consider the presence of the inner wheel arch, which can impact the loading space or the use of racking. We recommend pallet protection runners in your van to help avoid damage and make it easier to slide the pallets along the floor.

If you need to be able to climb into the van and move around, you should also consider the height of the user. The Sprinter is available with slightly more headroom if this is important to you.

Final thoughts on the Transit Vs Sprinters

With so many configurations available for each van model, you should be able to find the ideal setup for your business. When considering things like height, width and payload, it’s important to remember that the insulation will impact the final configuration of your van.

If you’re looking for a reliable vehicle that will stand the test of time, the Mercedes Sprinter is an obvious choice. The engines are designed to just keep running, so you could have 300,000 miles on the clock before you start to see any significant issues.

For those looking for efficiency and a future-proof vehicle, you might consider an all electric Transit van from Ford. These will enable you to avoid ULEZ charges, ideal if your business operates in the centre of London.

Ultimately, the final choice will come down to a matter of budget and customisation. You should also think about potential business growth plans and ensure that the van you choose will be able to grow with you. If you need help choosing the ideal large van for your business, get in touch today.

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