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Mercedes-Benz has confirmed earlier reports that it will bring its 2015 Sprinter 4x4 to the US. Previously, the 4x4 edition was only available in Europe and other overseas markets.

The 4x4 edition has been "ruggedized" for use in inclement weather or other rough conditions, though MB stresses that it is "not officially considered an off-roader."

Drivers can push a button to activate the all-wheel-drive capabilities, with a 35:65 torque split between the front and rear axles. The system also benefits from the company's 4ETS traction control and load-adaptive ESP technology, along with a 4.3-inch jump in front ride height.

"The slope climbing ability is up to 20 percent higher than in the Sprinter with conventional drive," the company notes.

Approximately 265 lbs in weight is added by the 4x4 components, minimizing the effect on hauling capacity. Off-road features will be available on the 144- and 170-inch wheelbase variants, including the Passenger Van and Crew Van, powered by a 3.0-liter V6 BlueTec oil burner with 188 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque.

The 2015 Sprinter should arrive in showrooms later this year.
 

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In Europe the AWD versions of the 2006 Ducato, Jumper and Boxer have been available almost since the beginning. The AWD is considered an option (very expensive) available on every Ducato but only with the 2.3 mjt 130 or 150 hp. In Italy ENEL and TERNA (two big electric distribution companies) have a lot of these...
 

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Given that there is the low range option and they mention the 4ETS (selective braking based on sensed wheel spin instead of locking differentials), it sounds like it might be the same system as my ML. If so, it's made by ZF in the US. I've had no trouble with it, and at 11 years old and 125K miles there isn't even gasket weeping on the t-case or diffs. All CV boots are still good and original. Probably pretty stout also since it was used with the AMG V8s and saw rally service.

The low range with AWD was a big reason I chose the ML. I can use low on dry pavement when maneuvering trailers in tight spaces. Since I can't turn around at the top of my driveway with a trailer, I have to back trailers up a 10%+ grade around an S-curve between trees. Piece of cake with the ML.

My old Silverado with part-time 4WD required too much throttle, straining the transmission and making for jerky response. In the summer I would unplug the electric front axle disconnect so I could put the transfer case in low range safely. It was inconvenient though, and left me with no 4WD if I got into some loose sand or at the boat launch.
 
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