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The New 2023 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

If you’re currently shopping out different chassis options to build your campervan or start your van build process - it's likely you've checked out a Sprinter van. You may have also read about some upgrades to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for 2023. Are they good changes?

It can be tricky to tell the difference between the previous model and the new 2023 model; we’re here to help. We’ve done the research for you, and personally tested both models to give you our take. As expert van builders in the industry, we have outlined the major differences between the (2019-2022) Sprinter versus the all new 2023 Sprinter for you.

The 2023 Mercedes Sprinter
Photo by Dylan Totaro

Powertrain Updates & Changes

For 2023, the Sprinter has replaced the 3.0 liter six cylinder turbo diesel engine for a new 2.0 liter inline-four cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine. Yes that’s right - twin-turbos.

There are 3 engine options for 2023, all of them being 4 cylinders. But we’re only highlighting the twin-turbo “High Output” engine, since that's the only option mated to the AWD models: the foundation of every OHV van build. The new twin-turbo diesel engine has increased horsepower and torque numbers despite losing two cylinders. Mercedes-Benz is claiming 208hp & 332lb-ft of torque. That’s 20 more horsepower and 7 more foot pounds of torque than its predecessor.

What We Like About the Changes

The old six cylinder turbo diesel had very noticeable turbo-lag, and felt as if you transitioned between gutless and “blasting off” as soon as the boost kicked in. Several companies made a “pedal commander” which is a throttle response timer that would eliminate the turbo lag. The new engine doesn’t have the same struggles and it’s much more linear and predictable to drive.

Mercedes-Benz is pairing this powertrain with a new 9-speed transmission, replacing the old 7-speed transmission. Along with these changes, Mercedes-Benz is replacing the 4x4 system with a new all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

The 2023 Mercedes Sprinter Van
Photo by Dylan Totaro

The End of 4X4: All New AWD

So, what does this mean? Are these good or bad changes? We can help explain. The most controversial change for 2023 is no more 4x4. This means no more 4x4 high and low.

In past model years, Mercedes-Benz was sourcing their 4x4 system from a 3rd party manufacturer. Switching over to this new AWD system allows Mercedes-Benz to keep this part of manufacturing in-house, in-turn it will increase the number of units produced with the AWD system. Previously, they only built around 5,000 4x4 Sprinter vans each year, making them extremely difficult to find. Starting in 2023, they will be making more Sprinters with the AWD system, and will be more readily available moving forward.

Now that you have an explanation of the changes being made to the new 2023 Sprinter, let’s dive into our own analysis.

The 2023 Mercedes Sprinter Van
Photo by Dylan Totaro

What the OHV Experts Have to Say

We believe the new changes for 2023 are for the better. Most people won’t be taking their $150k+ van up any major rock crawling obstacles, and the more versatile AWD system will be more than enough to get you to your final destination on the trail.

The new 9-speed transmission also has lower gearing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to help get up those steeper grades out in the backcountry. This translates to a smoother daily driver with easier functionality to get you from your home to the mountains & back.

Those of you who may want a more capable off-road worthy Sprinter, can get our Traction Boost Limited-Slip Differential. Similarly - our entire Sprinter accessory line is all still compatible. Lastly, the new twin-turbo inline-four cylinder diesel engine is smooth, linear & peppy.

Overall, the 2023 comes with some welcome upgrades, and we’re excited to be a van builder on the chassis. As always, feel free to consult our team for more information about your campervan.


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