Sprinter 144 vs 170 - Which one is the better adventure van?

Sprinter Van 144 vs. 170 Comparison

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van has been the go-to option for adventure vans, van life, and just about any other type of outdoor activities for the last decade. It’s a proven model, and there are lots of upgrades and accessories for all of the Sprinter options (144”, 170” and 170” extended). Today, we are going to discuss the two most popular options for adventure vans: the 144 High Roof and 170 High Roof models. 

Both the 144 and 170 have their pros and cons, and we are going to do our best to walk you through them with side-by-side comparisons and our own opinions based on experience. We’ve been around these vans for more than a decade, and we’ve owned both the 144” and 170” Sprinter, so we have a lot of time behind the wheel, and inside each of these Sprinter models. 

Sprinter 144 Overview 

The Sprinter 144 is the smallest option in the Sprinter line with a total length of 19’ 4”. It’s popular among overlanders because it’s more nimble, and the shorter wheelbase allows it to perform better on trails and other technical terrain. It’s no rock crawler though, and the smaller square footage compared to the 170” can be a turn off for some people that are looking for extra space for toys and other gear. 

If the additional space for extra seats, a fixed bed, or larger galley aren’t necessary, then the 144 can be a great option. 

2019 Sprinter 144 High Roof Specifications

  • Overall Length:  233.5"
  • Overall Height:  111.3"
  • Interior Standing Height:  79.1" 
  • Interior Cargo Length:  137.4" 
  • Interior Width:  70.4"
  • Gross Vehicle Weight:  9,050 lbs
  • Maximum Towing Capacity:  5,000 lbs
  • Payload:  3,726 lbs

Sprinter 170 Overview

The Sprinter 170 is the big brother to the popular 144 chassis. It’s longer, it can store more toys (or people), but it’s less nimble than the 144. As of this writing, we currently own a 170” Sprinter and love the extra space it provides for surfboards or bikes on trips to the coast, and there’s plenty of room to post up and play cards when the weather at the mountain isn’t cooperating. 

The 170” is going to give you the most usable space for your interior layout - period. It allows plenty of room for rear seats, a galley and you can leave your bed set up all at the same time.  

2019 Sprinter 170 High Roof Specifications 

  • Overall Length:  274.3"
  • Overall Height:  110.9"
  • Interior Standing Height:  79.1"
  • Interior Cargo Length:  178.2" 
  • Interior Width:  70.4”
  • Gross Vehicle Weight:  9,050 lbs 
  • Towing Capacity:  5,000 lbs 
  • Payload:  3,395 lbs 

Sprinter 144 vs. 170 Specifications

Driveability - How does the 144 handle compared to the 170?

144 Sprinter - If you are making the jump from driving a smaller car to driving a big vehicle, this is the easiest transition. It drives similar to an F150 (similar wheelbase) but it’s a lot taller. If you want a 4x4, you will be giving up Starbucks drive-thrus (sorry coffee fiends, you’ll need to walk inside to get your caffeine fix), and have to watch out for low hanging tree branches. Your bed will take up most of the space if you leave it set up, so a bed system that is easy to stow away is a must-have for people that want to go with the 144, but don’t want to sacrifice too much interior living space. 

170 Sprinter - In the city is where you’ll notice the biggest difference between the 144 and 170. The 170 drives like a bigger rig, and it can be a little tricky to navigate tight city streets, especially when you are just getting used to driving it. 

We should mention that both the 144 and 170 handle well and feel very similar at highway speeds. 

Sprinter Van Offroad

Parking - Where will you park your Sprinter the majority of the time? 

Parking is another important thing to consider when deciding between the 144 and 170 Sprinters. Are you going to have ample parking space for the larger 170 in your driveway, shop, or neighborhood street? We’ve found that the 144 is much easier to park in an urban setting, and you’re less likely to upset your neighbors because the 144 doesn’t take up much more space than a normal SUV or Truck. 

Based on our experience, you can almost always find a parking spot for both, but the 170 can require some extra walking to and from because you’ll likely need to park a few blocks away from your destination.

Sprinter Van Gas Mileage Comparison

How many MPG does the 144 Sprinter get? 

The base 2019 Mercedes Sprinter 144 4x4 with 188-hp 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine is estimated at 20 mpg. Expect that number to be slightly lower (14-18 mpg) based on the build-out you choose and the overall weight of your van. We’ve found that larger tires, ladders, and roof racks will also impact this, which is why we highly recommend our Low Pro Series Roof Racks if you are looking for an aerodynamic rack option - our Rear Ladder is also a great way to reduce drag and give your MPG a little boost over a side ladder option.

How many MPG does the 170 Sprinter get? 

The base 2019 Mercedes Sprinter 170 4x4 with 188-hp 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine is estimated at 20 mpg. Expect that number to be slightly lower than the 144 (14-17 mpg)  based on the build-out you choose and the overall weight of your van - the larger 170’s typically get outfitted with more gear, and thus the slightly lower gas mileage. Larger tires, ladders, and roof racks will also impact this which is why we highly recommend our Low Pro Series Roof Racks if you are looking for an aerodynamic rack option - our Rear Ladder is also a great way to reduce drag and give your MPG a little boost over a side ladder option.

Overall, the 2019 Diesel Sprinters are very fuel efficient for being a large 4x4 vehicle. 

Storage Comparison 

The 144 has 372.8 cubic feet of space. The smaller square footage means you may need to compromise a little bit to fit all of the amenities you want. We’ve found that you’ll want a bed system that can be stowed away if you also want to run additional seats in the back and have a galley/kitchen setup.

Overall, you can easily make the 144 work for 2-4 people, but it can feel cramped if you are spending a lot of time inside the van due to inclement weather. 

The 170 has 488.1 cubic feet of space. We’ve found during our builds that the 170 has plenty of room for a bed system, additional rear seats, and a galley. The extra square footage compared to the 144 is pretty noticeable once you start adding all the creature comforts you’ll want in your adventure van.

The 170 is plenty of room for 2 people and we've found that it can easily accommodate 4-5 people comfortably with the right interior layout. We recommend going this route if you want to have a full bed, galley, and additional back seats. The 144 is just a tad too small to make all of this work in our opinion. 

Conclusion

Deciding which Sprinter is right for you is a highly personal choice, but we hope this has helped answer some of your questions about the models. At the end of the day, it all comes down to which van is going to be better for your adventures and your lifestyle. We recommend going through this post and checking which things are most important to you and going with the van that gets the most checkmarks.  

Let us know in the comments which Sprinter van is your favorite and why. Are you a 144” or 170” person?


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