Vans may not be the sexiest rides on the road, but they are among the most practical for both businesses and consumers, so its small wonder that car makers pay so much attention to them. Mercedes-Benz has rolled out the latest generation of its Vito – a restyled, re-engineered take on the mid-size van introduced in 1996 that's aimed at a wider market, with a variety of drivetrains and lengths as well as a redesigned crew cabin.

Mercedes sees the Vito as a multi-role van ranging from a panel vans carrying light and medium cargoes to a minibuse. Reflecting this, its available in three styles in the latest iteration; the Vito Tourer PRO, the Vito Tourer BASE, and the premium Vito Tourer SELECT. These have up to 1,369 kg (3,018 lb) of cargo capacity, which Mercedes says is the highest in its class.

The three versions of the Vito also come in three lengths, each 140 mm longer than in the previous generations of the van. All heights are beneath two meters to avoid trouble in car parks, car washes, and similar small areas, and the restyled body is aerodynamically designed, with a fuel efficiency boosting Cd value of 0.32. Otherwise, the new styling reflects a desire to make the front less sharp and reallocate space to the interior.

The Vito is available in a fuel efficient front-wheel drive, a rear-wheel drive for heavier loads, and four-wheel drive for taking on rural roads. It’s powered with a choice of engines, including a transverse-mounted, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine available in two power ratings.

  • the Vito 109 CDI – 88 bhp (65 kW)
  • the Vito 111 CDI – 114 bhp (84 kW)

The rear wheel drive option comes with a 2.15-liter four-cylinder engine with three ratings.

  • the Vito 114 CDI – 136 bhp (100 kW)
  • the Vito 116 CDI – 163 bhp (120 kW)
  • the Vito 119 BlueTEC – 190 bhp (140 kW)

Behind this is a standard six-speed manual gearbox, though a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic with torque convertor is available as standard or optional on some versions. According to Mercedes, this is the world's only automatic transmission with torque converter and seven gears that’s available for vans.

The Vito sports an optimized suspension and there’s a precision electromechanical steering system. It also has a suite of driver assistance functions, including Attention Assist, which monitors the driver’s condition and assists accordingly; Crosswind Assist, which eliminates the effects of wind gusts hitting the van; tire pressure monitoring; Active Parking Assist, which Mercedes says is unique in vans; Blind Spot Assist; Lane Keeping Assist; and Intelligent Light System (ILS), which uses LED headlamps that adjust to road speed for best coverage on motorways or country roads.

Inside, the Vito puts a premium on ergonomics and a more upmarket feel with seating for up to eight in the passenger version.

The Vito is priced from €18,000 (US$23,000) in Germany.

View gallery - 33 images