Mercedes-Benz, Apparently out of Ideas, Brags About Sliding Doors on Its Sprinter Vans

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van can be a one-size-fits-all vehicle for many companies and consumers. It’s available in both passenger and cargo-carrying configurations, with updated technology for 2021. We’ve even seen this van be used as a base for several fancy camper vans, like the model from Advanced RV.

We already know the Sprinter van is excellent, but Mercedes-Benz is trying to push the envelope even further. It boasts the Sprinter’s innovative new AWD setup, longer automatic transmission, and sliding doors. However, sliding doors have been on minivans for years. It’s not really revolutionary.

A chrome Mercedes-Benz logo on top of a black vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz logo | Getty Images

Power-sliding doors had been around well before the 90s, but they used to only be on one side of the minivan. According to Autotrader, automakers thought this design would be the safest option for both kids and drivers. 

They deduced that putting the power-sliding door on the driver’s side could entice children to exit the car into oncoming traffic. Perhaps they forgot that you can deter anyone from exiting a vehicle with these handy devices called door locks. According to the Orlando Sentinel, GM was the first American automaker to offer power-sliding doors on both sides in 1992. 

On the 1993 Oldsmobile Silhouette, a button on the passenger-side roof could open the door. To prevent any kids from accidentally engaging the mechanism, drivers could disable it at any time. Just like today, these motorized doors could close and open themselves when you pulled on the handle.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s Speed Delivery doors

This new door system is an alternative to the sliding doors already on the co-driver’s side of the van. It’s a glass door like you’d see on a bus, making it ideal for both delivery drivers and possibly passenger transit providers. The doors have a sensor that detects when a driver enters the loading compartment from the driver’s seat.

With the doors already open, couriers can drop off their packages more quickly and without as much stress. Every set of doors comes with an automatic crush guard to keep the driver safe. These doors will also be safer since they give drivers a better look outside before they exit the cargo bay.

Once they’re back inside, the driver can close the doors with either the key fob or a button below the center console. If they prefer, drivers can also toggle the automatic mode on and off from the cabin. Benz says that automatic locking will be offered later. 

Benz also says that drivers will get a more comfortable ride thanks to some powertrain improvements. A nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous seven-speed gearbox, combined with a 2.0-liter diesel engine. In addition to improved fuel economy, this setup should reduce cabin noise and vibrations, even with a full delivery van. Drivers can also feel confident making deliveries in rural areas with enhanced AWD. 

Are Speed Delivery doors really that special?

It’s more uncommon these days to find a minivan that doesn’t have sliding doors. For example, the Honda Odyssey offers manual sliding doors on the base model and power-sliding ones on higher trims. You can open the doors from the key fob, the dashboard, or the steering wheel.

However, you won’t find any minivan that features a fully transparent set of sliding doors. Fortunately, the windows on these cars are already so big that kids can glimpse their surroundings safely before exiting. We can also imagine that a big set of sliding glass doors would acquire even more grubby fingerprints.

In that regard, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van has a unique set of sliding doors that will aid delivery drivers. However, the concept is definitely nothing new.

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