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Sprinting Home

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Some RV-towing enthusiasts, faced with skyrocketing fuel costs, are looking at options to
cut back or downsize in efforts to continue RVing in a way that doesn’t break the bank. For
those with smaller trailer-hauling needs, the Dodge Sprinter van may be the best answer.
Dodge replaced its full-size Ram van with the Mercedes-built Sprinter. Sprinters are
available in passenger and cargo configurations with standard or high roofs in three
wheelbase sizes. Users can also choose from several window options on cargo vans. Our test
van was the 2500 SHC Super High (roof) passenger van with seating for eight passengers in
addition to the driver and co-pilot up front. Our payload trailer for this trip weighed in
at 3,580 pounds wet but empty. Perhaps the most exciting news about the Sprinter is its
fuel-economy potential. We averaged 22.1 mpg running solo, and 12.5 mpg when towing. The
Sprinter’s 5,000-pound maximum tow rating restricts the van to fold-down trailers or
lightweight hardwall models, but there are a lot of those on the market so buyers have
plenty of choices. Its standard engine is a 2.7-liter Mercedes-Benz turbodiesel inline
five-cylinder model rated at 154 hp, which seems small but it does the job. A five-speed
automatic transmission is the only model available. Mercedes has done a good job of
civilizing the van’s features, but it still comes across as a bit utilitarian with its
mostly gray and charcoal colors and no-nonsense surface finish and materials. Solo mileage
rolls up easily with the Sprinter. It’s nimble for a boxy rig, brakes with authority and
steers effortlessly when called upon for parking-lot maneuvers or other tight-condition
driving. Wind noise is well-controlled, and diesel-engine rattle is the majority of the
high-speed sound that punches through. A van may not be for everyone, but the Sprinter is
sure worth a look if long-term ownership and the potential for fuel-economy savings are of
interest to you. Pick up the December 2006 issue of Trailer Life magazine for full test
impressions and details on Dodge’s Sprinter — then subscribe to Trailer Life, so
you can stay informed on the latest tests, previews, tow vehicles, and technical and
RV-lifestyle information.

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