The utility and cargo van segment has quietly become very competitive with the likes of the Nissan NV, Ford Transit van, Ram ProMaster, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Both the Transit van and ProMaster are recent editions to the segment, joining the Sprinter and NV vans. In an attempt to separate itself from the rest of the pack, the next-generation of Mercedes-Benz vans will feature technology like Crosswind Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Assist. All of these features are a first for the Sprinter after Mercedes decided to add “safety as a standard feature” on all of its vans.
Every Mercedes-Benz van will be on the receiving end of Crosswind Assist, which offsets the effects a vehicle experiences when it drives through a sudden strong gust of wind. The Crosswind Assist function is based off of the Electronic Stability Program and kicks in when traveling at or above 50 mph. This system relies on sensors that calculate the van’s yaw rate as well as lateral acceleration to determine the amount of force produced by an errant gust of wind. To balance the van out, the Crosswind system applies the brakes to specific wheels that are in direct contact with said wind. The steering system also works to help keep the van from drifting.
Another new feature on all next-gen Mercedes-Benz vans includes Blind Spot Assist, which helps the driver when changing lanes. Big exterior side mirrors feature a bigger field of vision, and, in most variants, a wide-angle lens is also included. Blind Spot Assist is a new feature on all Mercedes-Benz vans and includes a system warning if a vehicle is in your blind spot when attempting to change lanes. The Blind Spot Assist system springs into action once the van is traveling more than 19 mph. The Blind Spot Assist system employs four short-range radar sensors, which can be found on the left and right sides of the lateral rub panels. If another vehicle is in your blind spot, a small red light will illuminate on the exterior side mirror. If the driver elects to still switch lanes even when that red light is on, the system will begin to beep until it detects you’re safe again.
Lane Keeping Assist is also standard on all next-gen Mercedes-Benz vans and warns the driver when the van begins to drift from its lane. A camera mounted behind the windshield monitors the lane up ahead of the van and alerts the driver through a visual and audible warning. If the van drifts into another lane without the use of a turning signal, the Lane Keeping Assist system will take it as an unintended movement and alert the driver.