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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mercedes-Benz Considering Sprinter’s Cousin Vito for U.S. Sale

May 25, 2011 at 4:08pm by David Gluckman

We’ve heard tell, and a Mercedes-Benz U.S.A. spokesman has confirmed for us, that the Sprinter may get a new U.S. playmate. Mercedes is considering importing the smaller Vito van, which it offers elsewhere in the world in three lengths, two wheelbases, and three seating configurations, with a range of four- and six-cylinder diesel engines and rear- or all-wheel drive.

Mercedes-Benz Viano

For those who have never met Vito, some background: The Vito is about the size of a Volkswagen Transporter—in fact, the first-generation Vito was based on the Transporter—putting its size range on top of American minivans’. The current, second-generation model switched from front-drive VW underpinnings to a rear-wheel-drive Mercedes platform. Like the Sprinter, it’s offered in cargo, crew, and passenger configs. Passenger versions of all Vito sizes are also marketed as the Viano (right), which adds more chrome trim and body-color bumpers as well as a nicer interior. That last one sounds like an easy sell to hotels and airport-shuttle companies.

As is the case with the Sprinter, we wouldn’t expect to see all of the Vito’s European powertrain variations on an Americanized menu; one or two diesel engines and rear-wheel drive are a safe bet.

No decision has been made (publically, anyway) on whether to bring the Vito here, but now that Mercedes has brought the Sprinter under its U.S. umbrella, filling out a commercial-vehicle lineup makes good sense.

Tags: Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Viano, Mercedes-Benz Vito, van |

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