<p><em><strong>Photo of European version of Sprinter 4x4 courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.</strong></em></p>

Mercedes-Benz will offer the four-wheel drive version of its Sprinter full-size van in the U.S. in early 2015, following its initial introduction in Europe, the automaker has announced.

The 2015 model-year Sprinter 4x4 arrives with a four-wheel-drive system with optional low-range function mated to a 3.0L V-6 BlueTEC clean diesel engine that generates 188 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Sprinter 4x4 will be available in two wheelbase options (144-inch and 170-inch) and a high or low roof configuration. Available body styles include a passenger van, crew van with two seating rows and cargo space, as well as a cargo van in two gross-vehicle weights (8,550 and 11,030 pounds).

The vehicle operates in rear-wheel mode until the driver pushes a button to activate the four-wheel-drive system, which distributes 35 percent of power to the front axle and 65 percent to the rear axle. The 4x4 system also activates the van's electronic traction system (4ETS). The vehicle can be equipped with a low-range gear to give it better traction on difficult terrain.

The Sprinter 4x4 body has been lifted by 4.3 inches in the front and 3.1 inches in the rear that gives it 20 percent better slope-climbing ability than the conventional Sprinter. The all-wheel-drive system adds only 265 pounds, so it has a minimal effect on payload, according to the automaker.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet