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2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500

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2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500 Review

Refined with great value, but not ready for heavy workloads.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500 represents a bold new direction for the American automaker. The Sprinter results from collaboration with Mercedes-Benz and offers a European style. The capacity varies and Dodge offers enough size choices to fit most needs. The Sprinter rides and drives like a truck and can be easily configured for different uses. It doesn’t have many rivals in the commercial grade van class but it suffers from one problem that lets those few rivals get ahead of it. The Sprinter only uses one engine. That engine seems underpowered and doesn’t produce the energy necessary for towing or hauling big loads. The Sprinter makes a fine choice for light duty, but buyers who need a heavy-duty van should check out offerings from GM.

The Range

Body Styles: van
Engines: 2.7-liter five-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Ceiling 118 WB, Dodge Sprinter 2500 SH Ceiling 118 WB, Dodge Sprinter 2500 High Ceiling 140 WB, Dodge Sprinter 2500 SH Ceiling 140 WB, Dodge Sprinter 2500 SH Ceiling 158 WB

What's New

The Sprinter starts new for 2003. It replaces the venerable Ram Van as Dodge’s new cargo hauler. Designed by Mercedes-Benz and featuring a European flair, the Sprinter proves good on fuel economy and represents a new direction for Dodge.

Exterior

The 2003 Dodge Sprinter 2500 commercial-use van comes in five trims: High Ceiling 118 WB, SH Ceiling 118 WB, High Ceiling 140 WB, SH Ceiling 140 WB and SH Ceiling 158 WB. The numbers and “WB? denote the wheelbase and “SH? stands for super high. The 2500 comes in three wheelbases and the 158-inch wheelbase marks only available as a “Super High? model. The different wheelbases and different heights come equipped the same. The Sprinter comes standard with three doors, 15-inch steel wheels, auxiliary transmission fluid cooler, intermittent wipers, outside temperature display, and a four-wheel independent suspension. Standalone options include 16-inch wheels, front fog lights, a rear window defroster, power door mirrors, heated door mirrors, and a trailer hitch receiver. The Sprinter comes with two or four doors.

Interior

On the inside the Sprinter includes standard equipment such as automatic temperature control, air-conditioning, a two-speaker AM/FM audio system with a cassette player, power steering, and cloth bucket seats. Standalone options for the cabin include heated front seats, a CD player, remote keyless entry, power windows, and speed control.

A passenger-carrying 2003 Dodge Sprinter accommodates up to 10 occupants. This configuration requires three more rows of seats to be installed in the rear. In a Sprinter with the SH ceiling, a six-foot-tall passenger can walk upright. All Sprinters have a flat cargo floor and tapered rear-wheel housings to enhance interior volume. Depending on the model, storage space ranges from 247 to 473 cubic feet.

Performance & Handling

The Sprinter makes use of a Mercedes-Benz 2.7-liter, five-cylinder, CDI (common rail direct injection), turbodiesel engine that produces 154 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. A shift lever on the forward console controls the five-speed automatic transmission. This provides the only available powertrain setup, and the Sprinter suffers from a lack of power and a lack of a V-8 or other large engine option. While the five-cylinder handles most traffic situations with an unloaded van, it simply isn’t enough to tow or haul any serious loads. The Sprinter lags behind the competition in this respect and buyers needing a real workhorse or heavy-duty van must look elsewhere.

The 2002 Dodge Sprinter handles like a van. Some models stand very tall creating plenty of sweat-inducing body lean. Corners should be taken at reasonable speeds. But, the truck-like ride and handling of the Sprinter doesn’t make it as hard to handle as one might expect. Braking feels solid and the ride kind of comfortable, although this van won’t absorb the bumps.

Safety

The Sprinter comes with standard safety equipment that includes dual front airbags, all-disc anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, front seat belt pretensioners, and traction control. Integrated Acceleration Skid Control (ASC) can stop the spinning wheels in low-traction situations. Side-impact airbags remain unavailable. All seats have headrests and three-point seat belts. Daytime running lights remain optional for all trims.

EPA Fuel Economy

Dodge Sprinter 2500: Unavailable

You'll Like

  • Several body configurations
  • Class-leading cargo capacity
  • Great fuel economy from turbodiesel engine

You Won't Like

  • No V-8 option
  • Lacks power for heavy jobs
  • Can be hard to get

Sum Up

Refined with great value, but not ready for heavy workloads.

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