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Mercedes-Benz Vito 2021 review: 116 Crew Cab GVM test

The Vito 116 LWB Crew Cab has a list price of $60,500.

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4.5/5

Crew vans offer alternatives to dual cab utes and heavy-duty wagons for work or play,  if you’re prepared to trade rugged looks and off-road prowess for the ability to carry up to five or six occupants in more spacious comfort with unmatched internal load volume.

Numerous manufacturers offer a second row of seats in their mid-sized (2.5-3.5-tonne GVM) commercial vans, including Mercedes-Benz. We recently put the German manufacturer’s latest Vito to the test, to see if how it compares in this unique segment of the light commercial vehicle market.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle is the 116 LWB Crew Cab which with 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive has a list price of $60,500. 

Our example is fitted with numerous factory options including Obsidian Black metallic paint, colour-coded front and rear bumpers, cabin bulkhead with fixed window, radar adaptive cruise control, cargo bay LED light bar and comfort seats with lumbar support package. 

It also has the Comfort Package which comprises ‘luxury’ interior paneling and roof lining, rear grab handles, track-style load securing system in the cargo bay and hard-wearing cabin flooring. All up these options add more than $7000 to the bill, resulting in a total as-tested price of $67,765 plus on-roads.

Our test vehicle featured Obsidian Black metallic paint with colour-coded front and rear bumpers. Our test vehicle featured Obsidian Black metallic paint with colour-coded front and rear bumpers.

So, we’re talking about $70K driveaway here, which sounds Mount Everest-steep when compared to rivals like the Hyundai iLoad Crew ($44,730), Toyota HiAce LWB Crew ($48,240) and Ford Transit Custom LWB DCiV ($50,590). 

However, it does offer some niceties as standard equipment, beyond its workhorse-style 16-inch steel wheels with 205/65 R16 tyres and full-size spare. There’s now AEB with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist plus a chrome grille and interior package, beautiful leather-bound steering wheel with height and reach adjustment, fold-down armrests, quick-release rear seat anchorage system if you need to remove them when using it as a van, heated door mirrors, reversing camera, daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors and more. 

The Vito wears 16-inch steel wheels. The Vito wears 16-inch steel wheels.

The multimedia system with 7.0-inch touchscreen and steering wheel controls features voice commands, digital radio and multiple connectivity including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen. Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen.

Other options not fitted to our test vehicle include rear barn-doors with 270-degree opening, digital rear-view mirror with auto-dimming, LED intelligent light system and front passenger bench seat which creates a six-seater (3+3) cabin layout. 

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

LWB means long wheelbase and it certainly applies here with an expansive 3430mm, underpinning an overall length of more than 5.0 metres and width and height of just under 2.0 metres. So, it’s a sizeable vehicle which is slightly shorter than a Ford Ranger 4x4 dual cab ute, but wider and taller with a much longer wheelbase.

The Vito’s well-proven platform features coil-spring strut-type front suspension, coil-spring semi-trailing arm rear suspension with rubber cones positioned inside the coils to boost spring support under heavy loadings and four-wheel disc brakes.

The Vito is over 5.0 metres long. The Vito is over 5.0 metres long.

There’s good comfort for both driver and front passenger and 930mm sliding-door openings provide easy access to the rear stalls from both sides. When seated, even tall passengers would enjoy the ample knee, foot and headroom on offer and if travelling three-abreast appreciate the generous shoulder room provided by the sspace between the outer seats and sliding doors. The two outer positions also have swing-down armrests, which along with a heater vent at floor level boost passenger comfort.

The moulded plastic bulkhead behind the rear seat, which separates the cabin from the cargo bay and doubles as a cargo barrier, has a large central window. This allows easy internal checking of the load and ample vision for the driver’s central mirror, even though the centre rear passenger’s head/headrest blocks a sizeable portion of this view.

Sliding-door openings provide easy access to the rear stalls from both sides. Sliding-door openings provide easy access to the rear stalls from both sides.

Our only criticisms are the antiquated foot-operated parking brake, which makes harsh mechanical noises each time it’s engaged and released and seems out of place in an otherwise modern cabin environment. 

There’s also no side-curtain airbag protection for rear seat passengers, like its eight-seater Valente sibling. That's a glaring omission in a vehicle starting at $60K-plus, given that the $48K HiAce Crew includes this potentially life-saving feature as standard equipment. A crew is not cargo.

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

This drivetrain is one of the Vito’s best attributes. The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel meets the toughest Euro 6c-emissions standards using AdBlue, with maximum power of 120kW and 380Nm across a  1000rpm-wide torque band between 1400-2400rpm.

The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces120kW/380Nm. The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel produces120kW/380Nm.

The seven-speed automatic provides near-seamless shifting and optimises engine performance, particularly during city and suburban driving and when carrying heavy loads. Sequential manual-shifting is also available but we found leaving it in auto mode was more than sufficient.

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

We covered just under 300km during our test, which included about one third of that distance with a maximum payload and always with the auto stop-start function switched off.

Mercedes-Benz claims a combined average consumption of 6.8L/100km, which was considerably lower than our figure calculated from tripmeter and fuel bowser readings of 8.8L/100km.

Even so, sub-10L economy is excellent for a large vehicle weighing more than 2.2 tonnes, so based on our figure you could expect a real-world driving range of around 800km from its 70-litre tank. 

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

The Vito’s 2213kg kerb weight and 3050kg GVM results in a near three-quarter-tonne payload rating of 837kg. Keep in mind, though, that more than half of that could easily be used up by a crew of five adults before you start loading anything else. 

It’s also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer and with its 5550kg GCM (or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) that means it can tow its maximum trailer weight while carrying its maximum payload, which is a useful set of numbers. 

The cargo bay has a huge 4.1 cubic metres of load volume and while the single-lift tailgate provides ample weather protection when loading, it also restricts forklift access. However, there’s a twin rear barn-door option if regular forklift loading is required. There’s also 1265mm between the rear wheel housings, so it can take an 1165mm-square standard Aussie pallet if need be.

The cargo bay has 4.1 cubic metres of load volume. The cargo bay has 4.1 cubic metres of load volume.

The cargo bay’s robust wooden floor has flush-fitting tracks on each side to anchor M-B’s adjustable load-securing system, plus there are six recessed D-shackle anchorage points if you prefer. The walls and tailgate are lined to mid-height and there are vents at the base of the bulkhead on each side. Lighting is more than ample with the optional LED light bar.

Cabin storage includes a large-bottle holder and storage bin at the base of each front door, with a smaller second-tier bin above. The dash has a small-bottle/cup holder at each end and three open storage bins in the top of the dash-pad with another at the base of the central dash, plus a large glovebox and overhead eyewear holder.

There's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in each front door. There's a large-bottle holder and storage bin in each front door.

The rear seat backrests can fold forward and lay flat on their base cushions if more internal cargo space is needed for bulky items and there’s some open storage space below to stow soft items like jackets, sports bags etc.

However, one major shortcoming in the Vito which is common to all crew vans we've tested, is the absence of any storage bins, bottle holders or cup holders for rear seat passengers. Why manufacturers won’t offer optional sliding-door linings specifically for crew vans, with inbuilt storage bins and bottle/cup holders, is beyond us and surely a deal-breaker for some. 

The rear seat backrests can fold forward and lay flat on their base cushions. The rear seat backrests can fold forward and lay flat on their base cushions.

The only solution is to strap a pair of aftermarket cabin organisers to the front seat backrests, but that shouldn’t be necessary in a vehicle costing $70K-plus.

What’s it like as a daily driver?

Light commercial vans are becoming increasingly car-like to drive and the Vito is arguably the best of the bunch in terms of driving enjoyment. You can feel the refinement, from its smooth four-coil ride when either unladen or with a full crew on-board, to its (mostly) low noise levels, precise steering feel and reassuringly strong braking.

It's not hard to find a comfortable driving position either, with the height-and-reach adjustable leather-bound steering wheel, multi-adjustable seat including lumbar support and fold-down inboard armrest which gives a commanding ‘captain’s chair’ feel. Even so, tall people might find that the driver’s seat base-cushion feels too short for proper under-thigh support, which is more noticeable due to the absence of a left footrest.

The left-hand door mirror has a slight wide-angle effect, which along with blind-spot assist is appreciated given the large over-shoulder blind-spot created by the rear bulkhead. 

The turbo-diesel engine has good flexibility and plenty of torque, which thanks to the slick-shifting seven-speed auto is usually served at full strength where you need it most. It provides energetic response in city/suburban driving and on the highway, where it only requires 1600-1700rpm to maintain 100km/h and 1800rpm at 110km/h, which are nestled within its peak torque band.

Our only criticism was some intrusive tyre roar which occurred on particular grades of coarse bitumen at highway speeds. Raised voices were needed at those noise levels, which was surprising given how quiet it was in city and suburban driving.

What’s it like for tradie use?

We loaded the Vito to its 837kg payload limit, which required rock-hard tyre pressures of 52psi in the fronts and 57psi in the rears that are beyond the usual capabilities of inflators on petrol station forecourts.

Although the rear suspension compressed almost 50mm, the long rubber cones positioned inside the rear coil springs, which are designed to provide a second stage of load support, were fully engaged and assisted in maintaining plenty of rear wheel travel and a plush ride quality. In other words, it didn’t really notice this load.

We loaded the Vito to its 837kg payload limit. We loaded the Vito to its 837kg payload limit.

It also easily dismissed our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km-long set climb at 60km/h, self-shifting down to third at 2750rpm to effortlessly power its way to the top with only light throttle required and plenty in reserve. 

Engine-braking on the way down was equally impressive, as it largely restrained its big payload on overrun with only light brake applications required to maintain the 60km/h speed limit. Overall, the Vito proved to be a consummate load-carrier.

The Vito handled its load without a problem. The Vito handled its load without a problem.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

There’s a five-star ANCAP rating, albeit achieved back in 2014. Even so, it does come with front, thorax and side window airbags for driver and front passenger, a swag of active driver aids including AEB, load adaptive control, roll-over mitigation, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, plus front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and more.

There are also top-tether and ISOFIX child seat anchorages on the right-hand side and centre seats plus child safety locks on the sliding doors.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

You have to pay a lot more for a Vito than its mainstream rivals, in both purchase price and servicing costs. And you also miss out on side-curtain airbags for rear seat passengers which, as previously mentioned, the Toyota HiAce Crew provides as standard for a much lower price. So, it's hard to find an excuse.

However, value-for-money is measured in different ways by different buyers, so the Vito’s excellent performance, economy and refinement when hauling a crew and cargo - plus the intangible value some place on a three-pointed star – could override those concerns. Only a potential buyer can make that decision. 

$60,500

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4.5/5
Price Guide

$60,500

Based on new car retail price

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.