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Mercedes-Benz Vito 119 Crew Cab 2018 review

The Crew Cab is based on the rear-wheel drive Vito MWB body with a 3200mm wheelbase. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

4.1/5

Tradies score

4.1/5

Mid-sized commercial vans in the popular 2.5-3.5 tonne GVM segment used to be little more than containers-on-wheels in which performance, safety and driver comfort were not considered high priorities. 

However, numerous manufacturers now offer vans that can not only haul competitive payloads but also deliver unprecedented levels of performance, comfort and five-star safety that can offer an interesting alternative to a dual cab ute

A prime example is the Vito 119 Crew Cab which with its second row of seats can carry up to five occupants and a mountain of cargo under a shared roof space, with greater theft/weather protection than a premium dual cab ute for similar money.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Crew Cab is based on the rear-wheel drive Vito MWB body with 3200mm wheelbase, 5140mm length and 1928mm width. MacPherson strut front and coil-spring semi-trailing arm rear suspension has disc brakes on all wheels and an impressively tight 11.8-metre turning circle.

Large sliding doors with fixed windows provide ample side access to the 60/40-split rear seats plus there’s a single lift-up tailgate for the cargo zone. For those wanting forklift access, optional twin-swing rear barn doors with a full 270-degrees opening are also available ($650). The cargo bay’s internal walls and sliding doors are fully lined and the wooden cargo floor is finished with a hard-wearing and easy-to-clean surface.

The forward cabin has a modern look and spacious feel with large doors that swing wide open for easy entry and exit, although a grab handle on the passenger-side window pillar would be helpful.

The forward cabin has a modern look and spacious feel. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The forward cabin has a modern look and spacious feel. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The optional leather steering wheel is as good as you’ll find in a prestige car and the dashboard design is clean and uncluttered, with lots of textured plastic surfaces and tasteful satin chrome highlights. There’s also plenty of room for the driver’s left foot without the need for a dedicated footrest.  

Rear seat passengers get fold-down armrests on the two outer seating positions but none in the centre. There’s plenty of leg and head room for tall passengers and the backrest angle is adjustable, but the base cushions feel a bit short and three adults can fight for shoulder room depending on their size.

Rear seat passengers get fold-down armrests on the two outer seating positions. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Rear seat passengers get fold-down armrests on the two outer seating positions. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The driver and front passenger seat base cushions also feel a tad short to maintain comfortable thigh support on longer journeys, although admittedly these tend to be short in vans to make multiple entry/exit as easy as possible on busy work days. 

Inboard fold-down armrests and adjustable lumbar support for the front seats are available, but only as yet another factory option (Comfort Seat Pack $718). A bit rich, given that these features are standard on some lower-priced rivals. The foot-operated parking brake with its harsh spring-loaded release is also overdue for an update to the latest button-operated electric type.

How practical is the space inside?

A kerb weight of 2155kg and GVM of 3050kg allows for a maximum payload of 895kg. It’s also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer and with a GCM of 5550kg it can legally do that with a full payload which gets a big tick from us.

Behind the back row of seats the cargo bay offers a cave-like 3.6 cubic metres of load volume, with a 1644mm maximum loading length (could fit a dirt bike at an angle) and enough width between the wheel arches (1205mm) to easily take a standard Aussie pallet. The rear seats can also be folded down and tumbled forward to provide more cargo space if required.

The rear seats can also be folded down and tumbled forward to provide more cargo space. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The rear seats can also be folded down and tumbled forward to provide more cargo space. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

There are six D-shackles set into the cargo bay floor that provide well-placed tie-down points for securing loads and neatly fold flat when not in use. There are also smaller tie-down points at the front of the rear seat passengers' foot area on each side.

Each front door has a large storage pocket and bottle holder at its base with a second storage pocket above for smaller items. The top of the dashboard has three large open storage pockets plus a cup holder on each side. There’s also a single glove box, two small storage cubbies either side of the air-con controls and a much larger cubby below with a 12-volt outlet.

Each front door has a large storage pocket and bottle holder at its base. (image credit: Mark Oastler) Each front door has a large storage pocket and bottle holder at its base. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

The clear floor area between the front seats allows easy walk-through access to the rear seat. However, that’s where passengers draw the short straw, with no drink holders or storage pockets in the doors or under the seats. There aren’t any storage pockets on the rear of the front seats either so there’s literally no place to store anything, which is not acceptable for a vehicle of this price.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our test vehicle was the Vito 119 Crew Cab with ‘119’ signifying that it offers the most powerful and torquey of two turbo-diesel engine options with a bountiful 140kW/440Nm. The only transmission available is a sweet-shifting seven-speed automatic

The Vito’s starting price of $53,336, which largely reflects its prestigious three-pointed star breeding, is considerably higher than rivals including the Renault Trafic Crew Lifestyle ($46,780), Hyundai iLoad Crew auto ($43,790) and Toyota HiAce Crew auto ($42,130). 

Such a big spend brings numerous standard features including single-zone climate control air-con, multi-function and height/reach-adjustable steering wheel, two-speaker audio system with 5.8-inch control screen and multiple connectivity (including Bluetooth audio streaming and phonebook support), reversing camera, heated (demisting) door mirrors, cruise control, full-size spare and more.

The Vito comes with a full-size spare tyre. (image credit: Mark Oastler) The Vito comes with a full-size spare tyre. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

Our sharp-looking test vehicle also featured several factory options including 'Obsidian Black' metallic paint ($1355), Driving Assistance Package (collision prevention assist, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist, rain sensor $1,455), Exclusive 119 Package (17-inch alloy wheels with 225/55R17 tyres, LED intelligent light system, leather steering wheel, rain sensor, colour-coding $4,818) and window tinting ($355). That brings the total spend to $61,319 which is line-ball with top-shelf dual cab utes like Ford’s XLT-based Ranger Wildtrak ($61,790) and Toyota’s SR5-based Hilux TRD ($61,540).

And you can spend even more on a multitude of other factory options, including a cabin bulkhead with fixed window that mounts directly behind the second row of seats to separate the cabin and noisy cargo bay ($1173). This is one factory option we would insist on, for reasons revealed in our review.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 2.1-litre (2143cc) four-cylinder, common-rail turbo-diesel is armed with twin sequential turbochargers.

A small primary turbo eliminates throttle lag and maximises torque across a broad 1000rpm band (440Nm between 1400-2400rpm) while a larger secondary unit kicks in at higher rpm to deliver maximum power (140kW at 3800rpm). It also meets Euro 6 emissions standard with SCR and AdBlue technology.

The 2.1-litre four-cylinder, turbo-diesel produces 140kW/440Nm). (image credit: Mark oastler) The 2.1-litre four-cylinder, turbo-diesel produces 140kW/440Nm). (image credit: Mark oastler)

The intelligent seven-speed automatic provides near-seamless shifting and excellent acceleration in low and mid-range gears where you really want it. The steering column-mounted shifting stalk (like the cruise control) is simple and light to operate and there are also paddle-shifters on the steering wheel for quick sequential manual-shifting if required.

How much fuel does it consume?

Mercedes-Benz claims an official combined figure of only 6.3L/100km and after our test the dash display was showing 9.1L/100km. However, after we topped up the 70-litre tank, our fuel bowser and trip meter numbers worked out at only 8.4L/100km. 

That is outstanding fuel economy given the variety of loads, roads (and hills) we subjected it to, meaning you could expect a ‘real world’ driving range of around 950km - even 1,000km with a light load and more judicious throttle use.

What's it like to drive?

For a van, it’s surprisingly comfortable and enjoyable to drive, with well-tuned suspension that provides a nice mix of supple ride quality, responsive handling and load-carrying ability. Steering feel is excellent and the tight 11.8-metre turning circle is one of its best features. All-round vision is good with decent-sized mirrors and a reversing camera.

The refined 2.1 litre twin-turbo engine has shove-in-the-back throttle response and unrelenting urge across its 1400-2400rpm peak torque band, which is particularly useful in busy city and suburban driving. 

The auto’s seven well-spaced gears provide excellent engine efficiency and economy, particularly at highway speeds with only 1700rpm at 100km/h and 1900rpm at 110km/h. 

The stalk-activated cruise control is the best we’ve used, with a simple one-step engagement that also maintains the set speed on downhills.

We strapped 710kg into the cargo bay which with a driver was a combined payload of just over 800kg, or about 100kg less than the 895kg maximum rating. The coil-spring rear suspension compressed only 44mm under this load, with no bottoming-out over bumps or significant change in handling, steering or front brake effectiveness. 

There is 3.6 cubic metres of load volume in the back. (image credit: Mark Oastler) There is 3.6 cubic metres of load volume in the back. (image credit: Mark Oastler)

We weren’t surprised to see it arrogantly dismiss our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km long set climb, easily maintaining 60km/h in fourth gear at 2000rpm with the right shoe barely touching the accelerator pedal all the way to the top with more than 800kg on board. Most impressive.

Our only major criticism, which is common to all commercial vans, is the jet engine-like roar from the rear tyres through exposed wheel arches. It’s noticeable at low speeds and becomes unacceptably intrusive and tiring at highway speeds, with conversations between front and rear occupants requiring considerably raised voices. We reckon the optional rear bulkhead is a must-have, not only to reduce these noise levels but also serve as a cargo barrier.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Maximum five star ANCAP rating brings numerous passive and active safety features including driver and front passenger front and side window airbags (thorax-pelvis airbags are another option), reversing camera and daytime running lights. 

The electronic stability program has numerous functions important for load-carrying vans including brake force distribution, load adaptive control, roll movement intervention, roll-over mitigation and cross-wind assist, but no AEB

All three rear seats have child restraint top tethers, with ISOFIX attachments only on the right and centre seating positions.

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

Mercedes offers a three year/100,000km warranty with 24/7 roadside assist. 

Service interval is 25,000km/12 months, whichever comes first. Capped price servicing for the first three years is $556 (25,000km/12 months), $1112 (50,000km/24 months) and $1112 (75,000km/36 months).

This versatile and capable vehicle could fulfil the weekday worker/weekend escape machine requirements of an active family, equally as well as those of a tradesman or small business owner that needs to regularly carry up to five occupants and a mountain of cargo. However, given our optioned-up test vehicle costs the same as a top-shelf 4x4 dual cab ute, it also prompts value for money comparisons.

Off-road superiority aside, a 4x4 dual cab ute can’t come close to matching the Vito Crew Cab’s cavernous 3.6 cubic metre fully enclosed cargo volume, even with a hard canopy. 

However, for such premium pricing, the Vito needs clearer distinction from its commercial van origins in terms of rear passenger storage options (there are none), interior noise insulation (rear tyre roar) and sliding door windows (can’t be opened) if it’s to be a more compelling work-and-play alternative.

Is the Vito Crew Van a tempting alternative to a 4x4 dual cab ute? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$35,990 - $57,000

Based on 14 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.1/5

Tradies score

4.1/5
Price Guide

$35,990 - $57,000

Based on 14 car listings in the last 6 months