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2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris is the middle child you never knew you wanted (photos)

Mercedes-Benz is aiming to bisect America's light commercial market by offering this tweener-size Metris van. Sitting in between smaller vans like the Ford Transit Connect and Mercedes' own full-size Sprinter, the Metris promises lots of capability in a surprisingly maneuverable package.

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Chris Paukert
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1 of 18 Chris Paukert/CNET

The Metris' wheels-at-the-corner stance facilitates a surprisingly tight turning radius.

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While not exactly handsome, the Metris is good-looking by work van standards.

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Passenger-model Metris vans are fitted with body-color bumpers.

Cargo-carrying models get charcoal bumpers in order to keep cost down and ease replacement, but body-color pieces cost extra on these models, too.

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The Metris is 12.3-inches longer than Ford's Transit Connect and it offers 45 percent more cargo volume and 880 pounds (54 percent) more payload.

It’s also 21.7 inches shorter than a Chevrolet Express 1500, yet it offers 120 pounds more payload and 660 pounds more towing capacity.

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There's lots of storage in the lower tiers of the center console. Mercedes redesigned the Metris' cupholders to accommodate America's penchant for Big Gulps.

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Mercedes says it expects for 50 percent of US Metris sales to be to taxi, shuttle and limousine services.

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The Metris can be had with an optional liftgate as shown here, but split barn doors are standard.

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Halogen headlamps are standard, and unfortunately high-intensity-discharge units aren't available.

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Vertical taillights are easy to see, and the simple, one-piece design should translate to low-cost replacement parts crucial to commercial usage.

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This tester's five-spoke alloys were wrapped in 17-inch Kumho tires.

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When a workman shows up with a three-pointed star on his work van, will customers view them as successful and competent, or just overpriced?

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Mercedes has borrowed its electronic column shifter from other vehicles, and it looks and feels a bit precious for a work van.

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This Becker navigation head unit provides solid, basic functionality, but it's behind the curve graphics and feature-wise, especially compared to passenger cars.

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The Metris' backup camera is mounted low, as if it's more concerned about preventing bumper scratches than it is with passing cars.

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Power dual sliding doors are available on the Metris' passenger model. This is the seven-seat configuration.

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Access to the second and third rows is easy, thanks to the large sliders.

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The cargo well is deep, wide and low, and with the seats sitting so upright, you can stack luggage and boxes quite high without further impeding visibility.

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The Metris' two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is a hard worker, but it's not particularly photogenic.

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