Mercedes Sprinter vs Dodge ProMaster: a #Vanlife Conundrum

Review of Sprinter vs ProMaster Cargo Van

So you want to buy a van and convert it into a home?

The first and most crucial step starts with figuring out which van is right for you. If you are like me and decided you want to be able to stand up and have a bit of room to walk around, then you are probably trying to decide between the Sprinter Van or the ProMaster.

How do you choose? You’ve probably heard of the finicky engines on the Sprinters, but what about durability? Diesel engines get way better gas mileage and they can last forever. But ProMasters come at a great price with a solid warranty, so maybe you should buy new instead of used … right?

I went through this whole process over a year ago and I’ve decided to compile a Sprinter vs. ProMaster checklist to help people decide which they prefer.

This list is in part research outlining the specs of each van and part anecdotal insight from current Sprinter and ProMaster owners. Since there are so many versions of each vehicle, I’ve done my best to summarize the pros and cons of each without going into intricate detail for each model of each year.

Most of this information is from the 2016/2017 models of each in the 2500 versions with high roofs. Things will be a bit different if you want a low roof/longer body or a more powerful engine. I have included links to all my sources, so feel free to peruse at your leisure.

To be upfront, I chose the Sprinter in the end, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. Enjoy!

Sprinter vs ProMaster comparison chart

Sprinter
ProMaster

Vehicle price (used)
Engine specifications
6-Cylinder, Turbo Diesel
V6, VVT, 3.6 Liter
Transmission
5-Speed Automatic
Automatic, 6-Speed
Drive train
RWD
FWD
Fuel tank
24.5 gallons
22 gallons
Fuel type
Diesel
Gas or diesel
Country of assemby
United States
Mexico
Country of origin
Germany
United States
Basic warranty (if buying new)
3 years or 36,000 miles
3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty (if new)
5 years or 100,000 miles
5 years or 60,000 miles
Corrosion/rust warranty (if new)
5 years or 100,000 miles
5 years with unlimited miles
Wheelbase
144”
136”
Overall length
233.3”
213″
Vertical interior height
77.8”
76″
Overall roof height
105.9”
101″
Overall body width with mirrors
95.5”
105.9″
Max width at floor
70.1”
info unavailable
Gross vehicle weight rating
8,550lbs
8,900lbs

Data sources

Anecdotal advice from Sprinter owners

“Personally, I love my Sprinter, and you can read all about how much I love it on my website (www.onechicktravels.com), but I wanted to get some other people’s thoughts on the Sprinter since I’m biased!” – Kaya Lindsay

“I love my Sprinter! I chose it primarily because it was easy to get one as a clean slate, empty cargo van, to completely customize my build. Being able to stand up inside was a must so their high roof was perfect. There’s also just a really fun community built out around Sprinter van life!” – Amanda Clifford

“Much better driver tech & luxury options for a Sprinter, i.e. Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Monitors and Parktronic sensors that I love!” – Laura Nativo

“I don’t own either. But what I’ve noticed is the ProMaster has a rear beam axle since it’s front wheel drive. This beam axle sits below the centerline of the wheels thus eating a ton of ground clearance up. This is one thing I’d hate. I spend too much time off trail finding cool campsites to have to worry about that lack of rear ground clearance.” – Abel Longoria

Watch an inside look at a Sprinter van conversion:

Anecdotal advice from ProMaster owners

“Love my ProMaster. Tons of power, amazing braking, gets 19+ mpg on highway, fits in a regular parking spot, front wheel drive, on and on… 🙂 ” – Maluna Dean

“2016, the passenger window is not driver-friendly when you’re on a left turn from a semi-left facing stop. If that makes sense. Also, a little rough riding.” – Jennifer Johnson

“I really like it! I’d say it’s a nice value, but I don’t think it’s as well-built as a Sprinter. I’ve had a number of small issues but luckily since it’s newer it has all been under warranty. That said if buying used I might go with the Sprinter because of some of the ProMaster’s quality issues. But if buying new, with a warranty, I’d say the ProMaster is a great way to go.” – Sander DiAngelis

Watch an inside look at a ProMaster conversion:

Conclusions

Since the Sprinters and the ProMasters are so different, it’s hard to come to a conclusion.

While doing research on this I found that Sprinters in the Bay Area are way more expensive than Sprinters on the East Coast, and that there are 4×4 options that would completely change the price.

The ProMasters got a facelift in 2013 and started distributing in the United States, whereas the Sprinters have been in the US for over a decade.

The ProMasters come at a lower price tag, but some say they are harder to drive. The low rear axel of the ProMasters might make off-roading more difficult, but easier to step up if you have bad knees and maybe don’t need to take her off-road anyway!

Now to you

What do you think? If you have a Sprinter or a ProMaster, share your experiences and opinions in the comments below.


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