Shopping for a van

There is no doubt that there is a lot of advice out there about vans. We considered and researched three different models. These are the ones we looked at in order of which ones we dismissed first.

Our current ride is a E-350 Ford which we have really enjoyed. It is just a bit to small for us now.

First are the basic specifications we were looking for. 

  • Long Wheel Base – we carry a lot of stuff
  • Heavy Duty 3500 rated – we carry a lot of stuff
  • Tall Roof for standing up – I am 6’3″
  • Not too many accessories as we want to add only what we really need

Ram Promaster 3500

This van showed a lot of promise and had several interesting advantages

  • Front wheel drive for winter use
  • Lower bed due to not have a rear wheel drive and drive shaft
  • Wide choice of accessories and options

We decided against it because of the bad front seating that was cramped and uncomfortable to me. It also felt a bit tinny and the fit and finish was not great. Many go for it due to it’s low price but we wanted something nicer.

Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van

 This was in the running and we could have gotten it for very close to $40,000. The advantages are pretty simple, everyone has one and there are lots of accessories available. The disadvantages are many though.

  • Only a diesel engine – diesel costs more than gas at this time.
  • High maintenance costs ($400 for an oil change?)
  • A DEF issue that will pop up after 100,000 miles
  • Some rusting issues that are known.
  • Made in Europe and re-assembled in SC.  
  • Unimpressive handling and overall feel of an older car.

Ford Transit 3500

This vehicle has been in Europe for a long time and is currently being built in the USA. It was available with two gas engines. A 3.7 and a 3.5 Ecoboost that is being used successfully in the Ford F150 trucks. We chose the 3.5L


  • Fast acceleration due to 3.5L GTDI V6 turbo Ecoboost
  • Same mileage whether 3.2 diesel or 3.7 gas
  • Excellent handling in tight spots. It feels more like a car.
  • Not great, but comfortable seats


  • A bit wobbly on the highway but it is completely empty at this time
  • Not very many options and accessories currently available
  • Windows will not sit up way high near the roof-line
  • Being an odd duck I expect to have some issues (money) getting exactly what I want.

Just after being delivered from Orlando