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Was this the right truck?

  • You are spending too much money.

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  • You shoulda bought a Sprinter

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I know I mentioned it a few times in posts, so I might as well be the one to kick off this forum with my build.

I am, primarily, by trade a, what we call in Yiddish, shlepper. I have started and given up on probably a dozen different ventures since I started trying to hock signed copies of a book my father wrote when I was 16. Some of them made me a lot of money, others made me bupkis. By my mid 20s, I was doing various things that required owning a hauling capable vehicle, so my 1995 E300 Diesel and 1979 300SD were supplemented by a 2000 Ford Econoline 250. That died after a year, and my business had been on the upswing, so I sold the '79 300SD and decided I needed a bigger truck in 2011.

After some deliberating, I considered three trucks- an ancient Mercedes-Benz L-series, a 2001 Freightliner Sprinter, and a 2001 GMC T6500 (AKA Isuzu FRR). I shoulda bought the Sprinter, but I instead bought the GMC T6500. It was an Isuzu Forward cab and chassis with a Caterpillar 3126 pulling through an Allison 1000. A picture of it is uploaded, mine is the one on the left. Good solid Japanese chassis. I recommend it. But dear god, stay away from Ally trannys and small yellow iron. I bought the thing for $8600 and spent about twice that in repairs over a years time. The brakes went, the head gasket blew, the injectors died, the engine computer went (it insisted the car was over heating and thus kept itself in protection mode- lovely!) and the HEUI pump went. I called the fuel injection system Hooey, cuz thats what it was.

So after a year I got sick of driving 3 hours a day to different markets, spending $450 a month insuring a 13 ton truck, spending $1200 a month on average fixing one or two major problems, and a resulting $1000 a month renting a replacement truck. And forget about fuel costs, it had 2 fifty gallon tanks and needed both of them. I moved my business to an indoors location, and sold the truck. To replace it, and my ailing W124 (which I still own), I bought a 2005 W163 ML350 with 67k miles on it. I drive a lot (average 40k miles a year), and within 4000 miles of me buying it, a front axle bearing went. That was out of the warranty in mileage, but less than half way through it in days, and I bullied them into paying for it.

As a car for doing refills at my store, it was fine. But my store burned down last November and since then it has been being used as a cargo hauler for mostly over-the-road sales jobs. So after buying it in late August of 2012, I now have 162k miles on it. Hard miles, being frequently overloaded with merchandise, being driven very quickly in rush hour traffic. I needed a vehicle much more attuned to cargo hauling, with much better fuel economy than the 16mpg I have been averaging.

When I heard about the Metris coming here, I was overjoyed. I went to see it at the NYIAS. It impressed me in numerous ways. The interior is well designed, and solid (but not luxurious- fine!). The size was just right for my needs, and the turning circle is actually better than my 2 foot shorter M-class. My wife and I, who has always been my partner in crime since we met, agreed on it.

I went to my local dealer, who has been servicing my Benzes since I was 17, but from whom I have never bought a car, and told him I was interested in one. He told me he would let me know when pricing information was available.

I knew what I wanted in outline. I wanted a passenger model, because that allows maximum flexibility of use and also means I wouldn't need a second running car. I wanted vinyl seats because they are wipe-down. I wanted cruise control, heat front seats, alloy wheels, back up camera, eco-stop start, the safety systems, and a multi-function steering wheel. I by preference wanted a color similar to the Forrest Green on the Sprinter (my company mascot is a brown-and-green lion).

When I finally got the order spec sheet, I was annoyed. First of all green was not an option. Second of all, while I liked Dolomite Brown (I have always liked it on other Benz products) I didn't like it enough to spend $1000 on it. So I chose Navy Blue, because white looks cheap, red is a cop magnet (I drive FAST), and the pebble grey looks hideous to me. I don't know what "Navy Blue" looks like, but this Vito Mixto I uploaded was labeled "Navy Blue" in the company photos. I hope this is it, it looks fine. And I of course spent the $200 on the vinyl interior. One of my intended new business ideas is transporting seniors, after all.

So, now for the option selection process.

First, what I did select:

LC4- Premium Overhead Console $90- It comes with storage for my eye glasses. Nice feature. Also, who wouldn't want an overhead console?

Q24 Trailer Hitch, 4960 Capacity - I need this item for towing trailers, obviously.

W65 Single Flip Up Tailgate $450 - Unideal, but I didn't want 180° doors. I wanted either a tail gate, or preferably 270° doors. Stupid of Benz not to offer the latter on the passenger van.

Next are the packages. I will put an asterisk next to the items I wanted, and a hash next to the items I didn't want.

C01 "Driver Comfort Package" $630
  • FZ9 Two Additional Masters #
  • SB1 Comfort Seat Driver *
  • SB2 Comfort Seat Passenger #
  • SE4 Lumbar Support Driver *
  • SE5 Lumbar Support Passenger *
  • SZ7 Storage Net Driver #
  • SZ8 Storage Net Passenger *
I wanted the comfort seat for the driver (it includes adjustable height angle and a four way head rest) but didn't need to pay for it for the co-drivers seat- it doesn't need that much adjustment because they aren't driving, and my wife doesn't like a headrest in her way while I like to rest my head on it while driving. We both need lumbar support, and a storage net, from my perspective, is only useful if the driver can reach it (so no passenger side). And there are only two drivers, we don't need 4 keys. But this isn't as bad as...

C02 Driver Efficiency Package $1540
  • E1N Becker Navigation System #
  • FF1 Storage Tray Lower #
  • FR8 Rear View Camera *
  • L16 Foglamps #
  • MS1 Cruise Control *
I ordered this package, really, because of only one option on the list- Cruise Control. If I could have ordered cruise control separately, I would not have ordered this package. Aftermarket back up cameras are fine, frankly. And I don't want (not don't need, don't WANT) the lower storage tray, as it makes moving around harder, nor do I want the Becker Map Pilot, a unit I am experienced with from countless loaner cars and hate. I can take or leave Fog Lamps, but I don't really want to pay for them. But I need need need cruise control. So I had to buy the whole darn package, since Cruise Control is not, as of yet, available as a stand alone. C'est la vie.

C03 Active Safety Plus Package $1680
  • CL3 Leather Rim, Chrome Wrapped Steering Wheel #
  • CL4 Multi Function Steering Wheel W/ Trip Computer *
  • F68 Heated and Electrically Controlled Mirrors *
  • JA6 Collision Prevention Assist *
  • JA7 Blind Spot Assist *
  • JF1 Rain Sensor #
  • JK3 4.2" Pixel Matrix Display *
  • JW5 Lane Keeping Assist *
  • LB9 Illuminated Exits *
  • Y10 First Aid Kit *
I don't need a leather rim, and I hate chrome trim (the reflections it sometimes gives drives me nuts), but its not a big deal. The Multi-Function steering wheel, with its trip computer and larger display is a must- it explains better whats going wrong with the car, gives you a better chance to see your mileage and distance to empty numbers, and allows you to control car functions with less distractions. This should honestly be standard on all cars. Electric adjustment of mirrors doesn't mean much to me- I am used to manual mirrors and they don't bother me- but heated mirrors should be a requirement. Collision Prevention Assist, blind spot assist, and Lane Keeping Assist is part of why you buy a Mercedes, and its part of why this van was worth its premium price to me. Illuminated exists are nice because it makes getting in and out of the car on a busy street safer. And having the first aid kid in a easy to access and expected space is nice, too. Rain sensor? I can take it or leave it.

C05 Premium Appearance Package $1140
  • CM2 Bumpers Painted In Body Color *
  • D12 Roof Rails Black *
  • RL8 5-Spoke Alloy Wheels *
If I am going to use this to transport passengers, this is required equipment. I wish, once again, that alloy wheels were available separately, since they are a safety thing (reduced unsprung weight). If you are hauling cargo, it isn't that important, obviously.

C08 Cold Weather Package $730
  • F48 Heated Windsheild Washer System #
  • H15 Heated Front Drivers Seat *
  • H16 Heated Drivers Seat *
  • HZO Electric Booster For Heating #
Its really unMercedes, I think, to have all this package requirements. I'd really rather choose my options from a list piecemeal like the good old days where you could specify power front passenger and rear windows, but not a power driver window, since you could reach the winder yourself. I don't need a heater booster, and I don't need a heated windshield washer (unless our bandied about move to Winnipeg, MB comes about, anyway). Heated seats are a blessing though. Woulda saved a few hundred bucks if I coulda ordered them separately...

X50 ECO Start/Stop Package $190

I won't bore you with the two parts. This should be a standalone option, not a package. Anyway... this really should be standard. I think the world would have forgiven a $190 price increase for the inclusion of this. Who the **** wouldn't want it? It'll add an easy MPG or two to your city driving. Pay for itself in a few months.


What I didn't get:

I skipped a few items. Much of the stuff on the stand alone options I didn't select came through in packages. I'll list what I didn't get:

ED5- Multipurpose module $280: I am not upfitting this van, and don't need it

EZ7- Parktronic w/Active Park Assist $740: This is a toy. I have driven much bigger vehicles than this, I don't need something showing me how to park. Certainly not for $740.

HH4- Automatic Climate Control $570: I've had ACC in most of my cars, all of which were Mercedes. I never use them, I either switch them to high or low and control the fan speed anyway.

JW0- Backup Alarm $90: The reason I didn't get this is as per the equipment guide, it can't be shut off. Its a nice feature if you can turn it on and off. I arrive some places at 4:30 in the morning, where such an alarm is not particularly appreciated.

LDO- Reading Lights For Overhead Control Panel $125: I'm confused about this one. According to the equipment book, the Premium Overhead Control Panel includes reading lights, and its $90. This is for the non premium one and... doesn't? Huh? Anyway...

T55 & T56 Power Sliding Doors $740 each: I have always had great difficulty in opening and closing doors. Really. Seriously, its just something that has the chance to break that I can't think of a reason to need.

U71- Additional Seat $340- I don't really need seven seats. I certainly don't need eight. My intention is to move the third row seat to the second row and put the second row in my warehouse where it will provide seating if I am working in there. I was assured it would be available for retrofit, anyway.

V78- Luggage Net, Floor to Ceiling, $225: I actually regret not ordering this sucker.

V85- Cigarette Lighter & Ashtray, $35: I don't smoke, have no need for this.

XW6- Front License Plate Deletion, $0: My state requires front license plates.

C09- High Performance Air Conditioning, $1000: I don't live in a particularly hot state, and am contemplating moving to the coldest large city in North America. I need this like a hole in the head.

C10- Interior Appearance Package, $690:
  • CF7 Comfort Suspension
  • FP4 Chrome Accents
  • FS5 Illuminated Vanity Mirrors
  • LC4 Premiunm Overhead Control Panel
  • LC6 Reading Lights In Rear Grabhandle
  • LC7 Front Footwell Lights
  • V33 Carpeting Front
  • V44 Carpeting Rear
This is a great package. If you are only likely to operate a livery service, I recommend it whole heartedly. That being said, I don't like chrome accents, and I didn't want a carpeted floor.


Conclusion
I'm sure you have gathered from what I said above, I am a shlepper. That means that I do whatever comes along. I sell stuff. I sell services. I engage in services. I do tax returns. Handiwork. Whatever. My wife cleans houses now. I wanted a vehicle that could do any job I throw at it. This car can carry passengers comfortably, it can carry an awful lot of cargo, it can tow trailers, both camping and cargo. It is also a Mercedes-Benz, so no matter where I park it, it will be seen as respectable. If I go back to school and finish the few credits I need to sit for the CPA exam, I can park my Benz outside of an accounting practice, no shame, no questions, no odd looks. It will get nearly double what my current car gets in fuel mileage, so no matter what I use it for, it will be economical.

For me, this is the perfect vehicle. And I configured it for the maximum possible flexibility and comfort for me, who drives 40,000 miles a year.
 

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This is an extremely valuable post especially seeing how you do just about anything that comes your way which im sure for anyone here with what ever purpose the Metris will be for, they can pick out what resonates with them from this.

Thanks!
 

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Once again, thanks for this post. I put down a deposit today and your info was of tremendous value in figuring out what I did and did not want.
 

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Thanks for starting this thread. I visited my MB dealer today to see their Metris vans. After leaving I started thinking I'd like to move the third row seat up to the second row seat position and store the second row seat. Do you know for sure if that can be done?

They told me that if I order a Metris now it might be ready by Feb.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thats not all that abnormal for ordering a new Mercedes model, actually.

I'm 95% sure it can be done, but I will try to do it soon and tell you for sure.
 
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