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Sprinter runs away from Dodge, Ford builds new turbodiesel

Posted by Bill Griffith  September 3, 2009 11:15 AM

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If you spend much time abroad, chances are you've seen Mercedes trucks in all shapes and sizes.

In the United States, the Mercedes-built Sprinter has been marketed as the Dodge Sprinter. But not for much longer.

Now that Fiat has replaced Mercedes-Benz as a Chrysler owner, the Sprinter is moving back into the Mercedes lineup.

You have to wonder whether Mercedes will put the famed three-star emblem on the US-spec Sprinter – fearing some dilution of the brand’s image? – or keep selling it through its heavy-duty subsidiary Freightliner.

Speaking of boxy trucks with a Euro flair, the Ford Transit Connect is now on sale in the United States. The company sold 2,000 in the first full month on the market and vehicles are selling after fewer than 10 days on the lot.

We spotted one with temporary New Hampshire plates in downtown Newburyport. The owner didn't return while we were admiring the vehicle, but other passersby stopped to check it out, too.

Diesels keep getting quieter, smoother and less (ob)noxious.

Ford-Turbo-Diesel-67-liter.jpgOne of the newest is a 6.7-liter turbocharged V-8 from Ford that will come to market in F-Series Super Duty trucks. The engine is designed for ease of accessibility to all components, important as the engine life is projected to be at least 250,000 miles.

The exhaust manifolds, instead of emptying on the sides of the engine, travel in the valley between the cylinder banks, with the intakes outside. That means overall exhaust system volume is reduced, making it easier to feed the exhaust air into the single turbocharger (with its dual compressors), meaning quicker spool up and less lag.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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7 comments so far...
  1. The Dodge Sprinters featured on the FOX tv show Dollhouse were secondary character unto themselves. The fleet of gloss black Sprinter van transporting the characters to their 'engagements' only added to the undercover sleekness of the show.

    I would have not known about this vehicle if it were not featured heavily on that show along with many other Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep vehicles. Notice that next time you watch a Fox-created tv show.

    I think they are much more attractive than the Ford Transit.

    Posted by Andy September 3, 09 01:41 PM
  1. Andy,

    The Transit Connect is not the same type of vehicle. It is a compact van and Sprinter is full sized.

    Posted by Kevin LaValley September 4, 09 11:40 AM
  1. I see'm (Dodges) here and immediately think "Mercedes" as I'd seen (an riddden) in them in both Europe and South America before they were imported here. Not sure it matters if they sell them as Freightliners or M-B's here, both are respected brands, but I can't see it diluting the M-B brand. If anything (like the Cummins I-6 diesels) they raised Dodge's truck brand image a little.

    Posted by Anonymous September 4, 09 01:15 PM
  1. Thank you for covering the Sprinter and the new Ford.

    After being in England and other European cities I always found it absurd why we never had these van/truck hybrids in the US (especially in Boston).

    The Ford is stylish looking enough where I think it could be a big hit in Boston. The Sprinter has been making some strides though as I've begun to see them at least twice a week now.

    UPS needs to invest heavily in these here as they do in Europe.

    Posted by Mark September 4, 09 04:21 PM
  1. You need a properly sized work vehicle, and the sprinter has been it, but now Dodge is losing all of its dealerships... Hard to get service on them now. The Ford Transit can't even hold a 6ft step ladder, let alone a 10ft piece of pipe... What good is that?

    Posted by Old Gold September 4, 09 04:39 PM
  1. After owning Ford and Chevrolet vans for my business I finally tried a 2006 Dodge Sprinter and will not go back. So far it has given me almost 100,000 miles of trouble-free service, exceptional fuel economy, and the carrying capacity and manueverability are beyond compare. I just hope my local Dodge dealer (Central Dodge - Raynham, MA) will continue to service it.

    Posted by Ted11 September 8, 09 09:18 AM
  1. We own a fleet of sprinter vans and compared to the 85,000-100,000 mile life cycle junk from GMC and Ford we will never ever go back either.
    These trucks maybe more expensive but they get 22 MPG vs. 14 of Ford and GM.
    5 cylinder diesels and they run like the wind and some of the units are now approaching 200K miles and no major breakdowns.
    Good maintenance on our fleet is a priority and the Sprinters are so far so good.

    Posted by gcwnsw September 8, 09 01:25 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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