Ford Transit vs Mercedes Sprinter

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

The Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter are two of the most popular and capable large vans in the UK. Both offer an impressive range of features, configurations and technology to suit most commercial drivers and businesses.

In this detailed comparison, we take a look at how these two vehicles stack up across key areas like driving experience, practicality, cargo space and costs, to help you decide which one is right for you.

Ford Transit vs Mercedes Sprinter

Quick comparison

The Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter are both exceptional large vans. The Ford Transit has a slight edge with its smooth yet powerful driving dynamics, and the all-electric E-Transit model is an excellent choice for eco-conscious businesses. However, the Mercedes Sprinter counters with its premium build quality, advanced tech features, and a reputation for durability and high mileage reliability.

For businesses prioritising an easy, car-like driving experience and access to a top-notch fully electric model, the Transit is tough to beat. If maximum longevity, cutting-edge tech, and a more upscale image are your top priorities, the Sprinter makes a compelling case.

Ultimately, both are highly capable vans and your final choice will come down to the specific needs of you and your business.

Let’s take a closer look.

Driving experience

The Ford Transit offers a refined driving experience with superior electric capability, while the Mercedes Sprinter impresses with its smooth manoeuvrability and 9-speed automatic. However, the E-Transit tends to outperform the eSprinter in both range and performance, unless drivers opt for the eSprinter’s largest battery option.

The Ford Transit’s powerful yet efficient range of Euro 6 diesel engines, combined with slick manual and automatic transmission options, deliver strong performance. The electric power steering is precise and the suspension tuned for an impressive blend of comfort and composure.

Available in front-, rear- and all-wheel drive configurations, there's a Transit to suit most jobs. The AWD Trail model introduces even greater capability in low-traction conditions. But the star of the show is the new E-Transit — a fully electric version with a 196-mile range that drives superbly and sets a new benchmark in its class.

The Mercedes Sprinter is no slouch in the driving department, either. Also offering front-, rear- or 4x4 drivetrains, it impresses with its easy manoeuvrability, planted handling and smooth ride quality. A 9-speed automatic is a highlight. However, the diesel engines can be on the noisy side, and refinement isn't quite at Transit levels.

Mercedes Sprinter

Image taken from Mercedes Sprinter product page

Interior and technology

The Mercedes Sprinter has the edge for interior quality and advanced tech, with its premium MBUX infotainment system being a standout. The Ford Transit's cab is still very good, offering modern design and the slick SYNC 3 system on higher trims.

The Ford Transit's cab has become increasingly car-like with each update. The latest versions boast a modern, ergonomic design with plenty of storage and decent material quality. The 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system on higher trims is slick and easy to use.

But the Sprinter takes things up a notch with the most advanced, premium-feeling interior in the large van class. Everything feels very well put together with higher-grade materials — everything you’d expect from a brand like Mercedes-Benz. The MBUX infotainment system with its "Hey Mercedes" voice assistant and available 10.25-inch display is a real standout, offering navigation, smartphone integration and connected services. The comfortable, supportive seats are some of the best you'll find in any van.


The Mercedes Sprinter offers slightly higher maximum load volumes and payloads, but the Ford Transit counters with its agile short wheelbase option and new 5-tonne variant. Both provide an excellent array of practical body options.

Both vans offer best-in-class practicality with a wide choice of body sizes, roof heights and configurations to choose from. The Transit has a maximum load volume of 15.1 cubic metres in its largest version, while the Sprinter tops out at 17 cubic metres.

In terms of payload, the Transit offers up to 2,383kg in its most capable RWD model, while the Sprinter peaks at 2,529kg at 5 tonnes GVW. Both feature well-shaped, square load bays with plenty of lashing points. The Sprinter offers slightly lower loading heights, but the Transit claws back an advantage with its highly manoeuvrable L2 short wheelbase model.

Ford's new 5-tonne Transit variant targets even heavier-duty applications, and of course the E-Transit aims to set a new standard for eco-friendly practicality. Mercedes counters with factory-fit packages for various conversions and bodybuilder modifications.

Ford Transit

Image taken from the Ford Transit product page


The Ford Transit generally offers cheaper insurance than the Mercedes Sprinter, thanks to its lower purchase price and repair costs. However, the Sprinter's excellent reliability and advanced safety features can help narrow the gap.

When comparing the van insurance costs between the Transit and Sprinter, it's important to consider their insurance group ratings. The Transit typically falls into groups 5-11 (for vans registered before 2016), or groups 23-50 for newer models, with only the most powerful options reaching the higher groups. The Sprinter, however, generally occupies slightly higher groupings than the Transit due to its higher list price and Mercedes-specific parts.

That said though, the Sprinter's unrivalled reliability means it may be less likely to generate claims, which insurers may factor into van insurance costs for businesses and tradespeople. Its extensive suite of safety aids, like autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, can also help lower costs.

Ultimately, the cost of van insurance for businesses and tradespeople will depend on the specific model of your van and your own circumstances — things like your postcode, driving history, and no claims discount. Comparing quotes from multiple insurers and considering things like telematics policies can help you find the best deal on commercial van insurance.

Costs and value

The Ford Transit offers lower entry pricing and running costs, especially with the efficient E-Transit. The Mercedes Sprinter is pricier to buy and maintain but delivers strong residuals and a reputation for high-mileage durability.

Both vans represent good value, but the Transit has a lower entry price point, especially on volume models. Ford's huge dealer network means maintenance costs are competitive and parts are easier to source. And, the E-Transit looks set to provide businesses big savings in running costs over diesel models.

The Sprinter commands higher initial prices, especially on premium models and those packed with tech and safety features. But, it makes up for it to an extent with rock-solid residuals and a reputation for racking up high mileages with proper servicing. Still, Mercedes maintenance will generally cost you more over the life of the vehicle.

Reliability and aftersales

The Mercedes Sprinter is the benchmark for large van reliability, consistently topping surveys and offering long service intervals. The Ford Transit has a good reputation too, but has been let down in the past by reported issues with some of the older model engines.

Mercedes has consistently topped the FN50 van reliability survey with the Sprinter, which has an unmatched reputation in this area. With the longest service intervals in the class and 24/7 dealer support, unexpected downtime should be minimal. The 3-year/unlimited mileage warranty is also confidence-inspiring.

The Transit is generally well-regarded for reliability, and the expansive Ford dealer network means you're never far from support if you need it. But, the standard 3-year/100,000 mile warranty doesn’t quite match the Merc offering.

Van driver smiling outside parked white van


The Ford Transit is probably your best choice if you’re looking for competitive costs, refined driving and class-leading electric capability. Or, go for the Mercedes Sprinter if you want the ultimate in large van reliability, technology and premium features.

Choosing between these two large vans isn't easy — both are highly accomplished commercial vehicles. For most drivers, it will come down to your priorities and budget.

The Ford Transit offers a fantastic all-round package, combining excellent driving dynamics, competitive pricing, and the game-changing E-Transit. It's a top choice if you want low running costs, a car-like experience and all-electric capability.

The Mercedes Sprinter offers unbeatable build quality, advanced tech, and a reputation for lasting the distance. If your business covets prestige, cutting-edge features and mileage-munching durability, it's worth the extra outlay.

Before you make a decision, try to compare the specs of each vehicle, and book a test drive if you can. Getting behind the wheel of each van will give you a real-life taste of what you can expect from your new vehicle.

Whether you choose the trusty Transit or the premium Sprinter, rest assured you’ll be investing in one of the most accomplished commercial vehicles on the market.