Mercedes Benz family Van

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Can a roomy Mercedes-Benz with an attractive price tag woo suburban families looking to drive a luxury vehicle for the same price as a Kia? When it comes to the boxy new Metris van, not bloody likely, proving that image trumps brand in the eyes of the American consumer.

Changes for 2016

• New midsize commercial passenger van

• Properly equipped, Metris competes with traditional minivans

• Turbocharged 4-cylinder engine

• 7-speed automatic transmission

• Rear-wheel drive

• 23 mpg in combined driving

• Seats up to eight people

2016 Metris Passenger Van Highlights

Yes, it is possible to buy a brand new Mercedes for less than $30, 000, provided you’re willing to forego rear windows, rear seats, carpeting, cruise control, aluminum wheels, and more. A basic Metris Cargo van with no options is $29, 815, while the least expensive Metris Passenger van is $33, 495.

Wait. What?

The Metris is a new midsize commercial van that comes in both cargo hauling and passenger toting configurations. We cover the Metris Cargo in a separate report.

A turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generates 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, which is delivered to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Shift paddles are standard, while an automatic engine start/stop system designed to help improve fuel economy is an option. According to the EPA, the Metris Passenger gets 23 mpg in combined driving. Mercedes claims the engine requires service every 15, 000 miles.

The reason the Metris Passenger costs $3, 680 more than the Metris Cargo is because it comes with an additional sliding side door on the driver’s side, dark tinted privacy glass all around the vehicle, seating for seven people, rear air conditioning, and different rear doors that open 180 degrees rather than 270 degrees. The suspension tuning is different, too, in order to provide a more comfortable ride quality, but the Metris Passenger still sits on 17-inch steel wheels and rocks gray plastic bumpers.

Therefore, if you buy one of these, the first thing you need to do is order the Premium Appearance Package ($1, 140), which installs body-color bumpers, aluminum wheels, and roof rails, eliminating the bargain-basement steelies and gaudy gray fascias in the process.

Next, you’re probably going to want carpeting, so the Interior Appearance Package ($690) is a must. Cruise control, a reversing camera, and a navigation system are contained in the Driver Efficiency Package ($1, 540), which also adds snazzy fog lights. A Driver Comfort Package ($630) installs “luxury” front seats, a Cold Weather Package ($730) adds heated front seats and a heated washer reservoir, and an Active Safety Plus Package ($1, 680) installs heated outside mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a blind spot warning system, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and a lane departure warning system.

Metallic paint, leatherette upholstery, and a high performance air conditioning system with automatic climate control all cost extra, as does an active parking assist system that steers the van into a parking space while the driver operates the pedals and transmission. Now, add a rear liftgate, dual power sliding side doors, and a handy floor-to-ceiling luggage net and you’ve got a Mercedes minivan wearing a price tag of more than $45, 000.

That’s right in the same neighborhood as a loaded Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, or Toyota Sienna. Before you decide that a Metris Passenger makes a good alternative to these traditional models, think again.

All of these models carry up to eight people, and the Metris’s 38 cu.-ft. of cargo space behind the third-row seat measures on par for the class. The Metris is rated to tow 4, 960 pounds of trailer, and to handle 1, 874 lbs. of payload, and to get 23 mpg in combined driving, each measurement revealing its basis upon a commercial vehicle. But at the same time, the top trim levels of the Odyssey, Sedona, and Sienna are more lavishly appointed and opulently outfitted than is this Benz.

Alternatives to the Mercedes-Benz Metris Passenger Van

Mercedes says the Metris is a midsize commercial van without any direct competitors. That might be true, as it is larger than a Ford Transit Connect and is smaller than a Ford Transit. However, private buyers might also want to consider the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Toyota Sienna.

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