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Old 03-31-2008, 03:30 PM   #73
Ohno
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Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Mid-Michigan
Oddometer: 294
Love/hate

Here is the review that I wrote when we (Ohno and Sas) first got our 2003 Sprinter. Make sure that you check out the latest addition at the very end.

Here is the original review.

We just took delivery of a Dodge Sprinter 140" High top van yesterday. Thought I would toss out some first impressions and a few questions.

We had several criteria for buying a Sprinter. The main reason was that we needed a way to transport my daughter’s wheelchair which weights 450 lbs. The second reason was we wanted to transport our family of five plus two others, car pooling, soccer and family trips. The third factor was getting something that got decent fuel economy. The Sprinter, after reading most of the posts here, seemed like the ideal vehicle.

First impressions

The good
- The engine has plenty of power to get up and go.
- Excellent forward view.
- Unbelievable headroom.
- No carpet, my five year old spilled his Coke five minutes after being in the Sprinter.
- Handles extremely well.
- Good fit and finish but very Teutonic.
- Slower vehicles in the left hand lane move over in a hurry when you come up on them.
- Did I mention the headroom.
- Much better use of space compared to domestic vans.
- Too tall to go through McDonalds drive thru, we’ll be healthier.
- A head turner.

The bad
- Huge blind spot on the right hand side.
- Rear doors squeak and rattle.
- Seating in the way back is pretty rough. As my daughter put it. “It feels like we’re on a boat in rough water.”
- No carpet.
- Passenger seat doesn’t slide forward or back.
- No tilt on the steering
- No rear speakers
- Crappy front speakers
- The Dodge grill and badges have to go. The hood thankfully have a cutout for the Mercedes emblem.

Overall
We drove a variety of different vehicles from Eurovans to Chevy Expresses trying to make up our minds. The Sprinter has those vehicles beat in terms of space and fuel economy. In terms of amenities you can really tell that the Sprinter is meant to be more of a work horse than luxury liner. That doesn’t mean that without the right options it can’t become one. But for a mid $30,000 vehicle little things like rear speakers, an extra power jack, *arm rests on the seats, parabolic mirrors and maybe a little more noise reduction should be standard. We figure that we have another $2,000 to invest before the our “iVan the Terrible” becomes a luxury liner.

The above was the first blush. Almost five years later we have a certain love/hate relationship with "iVan the Terrible." Figure that all repairs are going to cost you an arm and a leg. From transmission fluid changes to brakes – everything seems premium. The van has only 70K on it and we've had some major repairs. An example: The water pump went out and the connectors to the radiator and air conditioning broke so suddenly you're looking at over $1,500 in repairs. It also hurts to pay more for diesel these days than plain old gas. It wasn't that way 5 years ago.

The problem is there is nothing else out there that even remotely comes close to doing what the Sprinter does. It's easy to drive. With the right tires in handles great in snow. There is so much room you won't know what to do with it all.

I haven't really looked at the latest versions but have heard some of the later ones have problems too.
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"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy."

1971 Triumph Bonneville
1974 Yamaha DT175
1971 Honda CL350
1972 Honda CL350
1982 Kawasaki GPz 550
1983 Kawasaki GPz 550
1993 Honda XR100
1992 Honda XR250L
1993 Honda XR250L
1997 BMW F650 Funduro
2004 KTM 950

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