: Let’s Go Vanning — Full Sizers Compared



Jesda
08-06-11, 12:22 PM
http://jesda.com/2011/08/05/the-joy-of-vanning-full-sizers-compared/
Decades ago, full sized vans were cool, or at least trendy among various subsets of the population: stoners, perverts, business owners, hippies, and recreational families.

Janitors seem to enjoy them, like the character on “Scrubs” who sacrificed his beloved 1965 Dodge A100 to a lost bet with Dr Kelso:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxW_o0qJGKw

Their long slab-sided bodies were canvasses for elaborate murals. Tall rooflines and spacious interiors turned them into mobile lounges, elaborately customized with curtains, beds, lighting, and audio systems.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-CPPCustomStreetVan-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-1102trweb_036+2011_council_of_councils_van_show+19 65_ford_econoline_custom_interior-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

You can do anything with them, in them, or on them, and because of that I have a lot of affection for big vans.

Before I could afford freight service, I routinely borrowed my parents’ 1995 GMC Rally STX which allowed me to carry pallets weighing as much as 2000lbs each. It wandered all over the road requiring constant steering corrections at high speeds. Braking was best described as “easygoing” -- hopefully you had a shoulder available to avoid driving over the Miata in front of you.



In 2007 I drove it to a Winged Warrior/NICO event in Indiana:

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-100_2740-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
My brother and I left very early in the morning. What you’re seeing is plastic painted to look like brushed aluminum. I hated how far away the Delco radio controls were, so I adjusted the volume with my iPod. The two black holes above the climate controls seemed to do nothing.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-100_2741-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
The interior is decked out in whorehouse red. This 1995 Rally STX is the top trim level with full upholstery and a removable seat. The bench seat was a simple enough design but the rails had to be properly aligned to the floor before they could be latched, a chore for one person.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-100_2742-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
The full glass windows took away some of the “Free Candy!” spookiness.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-100_2759-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-100_2837-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
That’s as fast as I dared to drive in a house on wheels. The steering column and shift indicator are straight out of the Carter era.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-DSC_0024-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
Making my grand entrance -- it has a hydraulic wheelchair lift for loading cargo. Pictured in my right hand is a remote control that gradually (and somewhat elegantly) lowered me to the ground.

This creepy-looking white box is how I started my business and I’ll be darned if it isn’t downright heroic.

Speaking of heroism, remember the A-Team? They executed missions with a GMC Vandura.
http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-ateam-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg
This beast was the weapon of choice for the good guys.

After discontinuing the third generation van, GM introduced the Express and Savana in 1996. Interiors were vastly improved and they looked and felt more like modern trucks. Dodge replaced its venerable Ram Van with the Sprinter, no longer available through Dodge dealers due to the DaimlerChrysler de-merger. Ford’s Econoline, meanwhile, continues to dominate the business-driven van market with a 50% share.

Honda and Toyota, without a credible full size truck platform, stayed out of the full size van market, leaving a window open for Nissan to apply its truck expertise (Titan, Frontier) to a focused commercial cargo vehicle.

Introducing the Nissan NV:
http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-nvfront-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

At a hair under $25,000 the NV comes with:
http://www.nissancommercialvehicles.com/NV#1500

--261 HP, 4.0L V6 engine (317hp V8 available on NV 2500 HD)
--Full-length, fully-boxed ladder frame
--234.1 cu. ft. cargo space
--Rear wheel drive
--Five speed automatic transmission
--Auxiliary transmission cooler
--14” disc brakes
--Recirculating ball steering
--Front double wishbone and rear leaf suspension
--17” steel wheels

While several components are derived from the durable Titan pickup, Nissan says everything from the engine compartment to the rear bumper is all new.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-gallery-hero-additional-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

A surprisingly inviting cabin features a large center console and storage bin, water-repellent seating, heavy duty vinyl, durable plastics, four cupholders, optional bluetooth and navigation, and a passenger seat that folds flat.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-gallery-hero-ingress-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

The rear doors open wide with swing-out hinges for better cargo clearance. With 54” between the boxed rear wheel arches, there’s enough room to load a standard sized pallet in the back. The 76” high roof is optional.

Unfortunately, the NV cannot yet be ordered with rear bench seats or side glass, rendering it unsuitable for livery service (think church buses, hotels, airport shuttles). If the cargo version is successful, a passenger configuration may be available in 2013. Unlike passenger cars, trucks and vans are tools for performing specialized tasks and one size does not fit all. The Japanese are learning this the hard way as the Titan and Tundra struggle to compete.

To Nissan’s advantage, the commercial van market has been badly neglected with little competition and few changes over the last forty years.

From Pickuptrucks.com:
[i]“Nissan has spent six years creating its North American light-commercial vehicle group from scratch. During that time, a team of former Detroit Three managers and engineers identified full-size vans as a market opportunity because their research showed van owners’ needs weren’t being met, according to Larry Dominique, Nissan’s vice president of product planning for North America.



“There are no more dissatisfied customers than the people who drive [full-size vans] around, Dominique said. “Most people hate their vans. We asked what needs we could address to make them happier, and that’s what you see in these vans.”

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2011/02/first-drive-2012-nissan-nv-series-vans.html

Pickuptrucks.com praised its visibility, easy ingress/egress, and high value but criticized its lack of engine options (no diesel), its snouty looks, and its lack of trailer sway control.

Jesda
08-06-11, 12:23 PM
Meanwhile in Detroit...

General Motors prices the Chevy Express competitively, starting at $24895.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-11_ch_exp_ovr_performance-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

Following tradition, the RWD or AWD Express is available with a V6, V8, or diesel. Two wheelbase options are available but strangely, there is no high roof option, something that set the Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter apart.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-express-2011-08-5-15-24.png

With 48% of the market, GM knows how to build vans, and though the Chevy Express and GMC Savana lack the refinement of the Econoline and the comfort of the NV, they do have a proven track record for reliability and vast configurations to suit any purpose.

Nissan and GM both charge extra for power windows, mirrors, and locks, but Nissan includes a standard CD player with two speakers. GM charges $150 for an AM/FM radio and an outrageous $705 for a basic CD/MP3 player. You could have an aftermarket stereo installed at Best Buy for under $200, though it would be quite cumbersome if you were ordering a large fleet of vans.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-express-access1-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

One nuisance of using a van everyday is having to climb into the dark cargo area to fumble around looking for tools and equipment. GM opened up the sides with an optional swing-up access door, similar to what you might find on a taco truck. At a job site where going back and forth to fetch tools may be necessary, this is a nice convenience.

Passenger configurations start at just under $29000 with seating for eight. The diesel LT, at just over $46,000, offers seating for up to 15 with two front seats and three rear benches.

The Express/Savana has the most to offer for the largest number of buyers, but options quickly add up, making the Nissan NV quite appealing for light-duty general-purpose cargo van users.


So, what about Ford?

For 32 years, the Econoline has retained the title of America’s best-selling full size van. Mechanically, today’s fourth generation “E-series” dates back to 1991, the oldest of the bunch with the highest base MSRP at $28,645. Still, despite being the oldest, the E-series has undergone several body, interior, and powertrain updates.
http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-eseries-2011-08-5-15-24.png
The new face, which debuted in 2008, mimics the appearance of Ford’s heavy duty pickup trucks.

V8 engines are standard at $28,645, with a 4.6L Triton V8 putting out 225hp and 285lb-ft. An 5.4L Triton V8 offers 255hp, and a 6.8L V10 producing 305hp and 420lb-ft of torque. The V10 is the only engine available with a standard 5-speed automatic.

Ford does not offer a high-torque V10 (GM) or a low-cost V6 (GM, Nissan), placing itself in the middle of the market which apparently makes up for majority of van sales.

Haven’t rented Econolines myself, I find them to be much more refined and comfortable than GM vans with softer seats, more convenient storage, more accurate steering, quieter engines, and less wind noise. Braking is noticeably better as well.

Ford charges only $295 for a CD player with an audio jack. A basic AM/FM radio is standard. Ford Sync, for hands-free calls, music controls, and basic information/traffic service, is $475 more and $9/month.

Ford’s 15-passenger E350 starts at only $32,000 with a 5.4L V8, undercutting GM by more than $10,000, which explains its popularity with large families, churches, schools, hotels, and airports.



http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-2011-Ford-E-Series-Econoline-Van-Interior-2011-08-5-15-24.gif

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-2011-ford-e-series-vans-interior-view-2011-08-5-15-24.jpg

Conclusion



Buying a van is hardly an exciting process. You are, in essence, purchasing little more than a box on wheels. You won’t find any high-performance SVT, SS, or NISMO editions, and luxuries are few and far between. The romantic era of vanning disappeared decades ago with the demise of disco -- there is nothing stylish about driving one.

The decision then comes down to cost, practicality, efficiency, and reliability -- boring left-brained exercises.

Chevrolet/GMC:
--Better V6 and V8 fuel economy, more powerful engines
--High-torque diesel engines available
--More configurations and sizes
--Expensive options

Ford:
--Options and accessories cost less.
--For large-capacity passenger service, the E-series has an entry price more than ten thousand dollars cheaper than Chevrolet.
--More technology (sync)
--Superior comfort and refinement
--Easy to drive
--Sharper styling

Nissan:
--In theory, if Nissan has applied the Titan’s driving dynamics, it should have the best braking and steering.
--Smartly designed cabin
--Lack of a passenger version (for now)
--The only full size van other than Mercedes Sprinter with a tall roof.
--Best-equipped base model
--Lowest base price
--Unproven track record. New.

For now, I’d buy the Ford for moving passengers and towing, the Nissan for a basic cargo/utility van, and the Chevy for more specific applications.

The full size van will always be with us, but its popularity may be threatened by compact newcomers like the Ford Transit Connect.
For florists, caterers, mobile IT professionals, and other light duty services, the Ford Transit offers superior fuel economy (21/26 mpg), cheaper insurance, better maneuverability (great for urban deliveries), and adequate space thanks to its tall roof. At only $21,290, the Transit Connect offers both short and long term savings for small businesses.

http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wpid-transit-2011-08-5-15-24.png

Perhaps I’ll drive and review one later on.

In the meantime, happy vanning.

http://jesda.com/2011/08/05/the-joy-of-vanning-full-sizers-compared/

ColK
08-07-11, 12:16 AM
My one brother had a dark blue '72 Chevy van. He spent the entire summer of '73 working on it. He installed porthole windows on both sides in the back, put wood paneling up inside, built benches and put carpet down front to back. He had plans to build a little bar, run lights in the back and paint a mural on the side but none of that ever happened. He was kind of a pseudo-hippy who embraced the look and style but he wasn't big on getting high or partying. He turned 18 a few months before Woodstock and when he got wind of it, he was determined to go. He got married instead. Bought the van to replace his '68 Cougar after he got divorced and was going to be a lady killer. He let his beard grow down to his chest, had hair down to his shoulders and you hardly ever saw him without his brown suede fringed vest. He ended up working at a communications company(Rockwell) and after a few years was married again with a daughter and a house(But no picket fence).

Almost forty years later, he's the most conservative of the six us and sometimes I like to kid him about the year he slaved over his love machine. I wish I had this one picture of he and I standing next to it.

My wife's father(Who also originally owned our Caddy before he passed away) had a 1981 Ford conversion van with swivel bucket seats in the back, extra seating and storage. Like the Caddy, he kept it up pretty well but not as well as he could have. He let my wife's sister use it while her car was being worked on a few years ago. One day the engine caught on fire when she started it and by the time the fire department got to there, it was toast. It was a shame because that thing was very comfortable to ride in and with some maintenance and cosmetic work would have been a very nice machine.

hueterm
08-07-11, 01:14 AM
If you could get a van equipped to the standard of a minivan, Expedition or Suburban, I'd be more inclined.... Front row captains, "good" 2nd row captains, third row bench, plenty of storage in back, tinted rear windows, plus lots of legroom, cupholders, powerports, flip down LCDs. Factory rear air, sunroof, good audio, backup camera. Conversion vans are idiotic looking and cheaply made -- yet cost a mint.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-07-11, 01:21 AM
A few notes from a man who drive 55,000 miles a year in a van.


2006 Ford E-250, regular length, cargo van, 5.4 V8, four speed automatic w/ overdrive:
- One of my favorite parts of that van is the clean cut and logically laid out dashboard with tons of storage space. Even has a tachometer!
- Steering is looser and more vague than a comparable GM. Fords have always been that way compared to the GM's though.
- The 5.4L is rated at 255hp and 350 lb/ft, and the numbers are great, but it's low end torque pales in comparison to the Vortec V8's. It however has a lot of power between 2-3,000 rpm and in normal driving, you can stay between 2-2500 rpm without an issue.
- Aside from a left front lower ball joint, I've had no issues with the truck in the last 12,000 miles.
- 5.4 V8 is very suceptible to different grades of oil. It asks for a 5W-20 and if you put in a a 5W-30, you'll get cold engine lifter tick issues.


I saw my first Nissan NV the other day. Thought it was a Sprinter until I got closer and saw it was much bigger. I'd imagine with their 5.6L V8, it would be extremely powerful and almost quick for something of it's size & weight.

Aron9000
08-07-11, 01:24 AM
^ I've been in some damn nice conversion vans before, although they were all late model vans less than 5 years old. Don't know what they cost though, sure it wasn't cheap. I'm talking carpet like you find a nice hotel, buttery soft captains chairs that look like my lazy-boy, flip down tv screens, woodgrain everywhere(good looking wood without those cheap ass looking screws holding it in like on old vans).


Jesda, you left out sprinter vans in your comparo there. Those things are stupid expensive though, I am betting they see their sales go way down since Nissan is offering a cheap high top cargo van.

greencadillacmatt
08-07-11, 02:33 AM
I love fullsize vans. Always wanted a big conversion model. It's a real shame that they don't offer them in Four-Wheel-Drive, because I'd snap one up in an instant for a winter beater here in Michigan. Nice article, Jesda. "Keep on truckin', man." :green:

Jesda
08-07-11, 03:29 AM
I've never driven or been in a Sprinter. I wonder if theyre super refined

brandondeleo
08-07-11, 03:40 AM
I've never driven or been in a Sprinter. I wonder if theyre super refinedThe base Dodge and Merc Sprinters are fairly nice vehicles, set up similar to the interiors of Grand Caravans in the front. The higher end models, on the other hand... Wow. I've seen a few business transport Sprinters that put $250k RVs to shame.

Stingroo
08-07-11, 05:00 AM
Ask the American Pickers guys.

Lulz.

brandondeleo
08-07-11, 07:25 AM
The full glass windows took away some of the “Free Candy!” spookiness.:shhh::histeric:

hueterm
08-07-11, 09:23 AM
I love fullsize vans. Always wanted a big conversion model. It's a real shame that they don't offer them in Four-Wheel-Drive, because I'd snap one up in an instant for a winter beater here in Michigan. Nice article, Jesda. "Keep on truckin', man." :green:

I thought GM did offer 4WD...

Stingroo
08-07-11, 09:48 AM
You could get an AWD Astro, but I think that's about it.

hueterm
08-07-11, 10:04 AM
I checked GMC's site, and you can get the Savana in AWD...in 1500 at least. Not sure on the HD models.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-07-11, 10:06 AM
You can apparently get an AWD Express/ Savana, but they're incredibly hard to find on the used market and I'd bet pretty expensive when new. Ford never offered an AWD/4x4 Econoline.

I've sat in a few Sprinters and have never been impressed. They're all powered by a small inline six turbo diesel (approximately 180hp and 325 lb/ft). are terribly tall and narrow, which makes them terrible in a crosswind, and being that they're designed by Mercedes, they're not the sort of vehicle you can take to "Jim and Bob's Repair" when something breaks. I've heard that their saving grace is they can pull decent mileage and they have a ton of cargo room when equipped with the high roof.

drewsdeville
08-07-11, 09:25 PM
2006 Ford E-250, regular length, cargo van, 5.4 V8, four speed automatic w/ overdrive:
- One of my favorite parts of that van is the clean cut and logically laid out dashboard with tons of storage space. Even has a tachometer!
- Steering is looser and more vague than a comparable GM. Fords have always been that way compared to the GM's though.
- The 5.4L is rated at 255hp and 350 lb/ft, and the numbers are great, but it's low end torque pales in comparison to the Vortec V8's. It however has a lot of power between 2-3,000 rpm and in normal driving, you can stay between 2-2500 rpm without an issue.
- Aside from a left front lower ball joint, I've had no issues with the truck in the last 12,000 miles.
- 5.4 V8 is very suceptible to different grades of oil. It asks for a 5W-20 and if you put in a a 5W-30, you'll get cold engine lifter tick issues.


Go figure, still Ford's Achilles' heel in my opinion. They'd be pretty decent vehicles if they could build a chassis that didn't need a rebuild every 50k ( don't take this literally you Ford fans). I replace more front end joints on full sized Ford's (pickups, vans, panthers, etc) than any other manufacturer, by a long shot. I also agree with Jesda's commentary the vague steering as well. I especially have a problem with the lack of center feel. Another popular full sized-Ford trait.

I always argue that chassis quality makes a good or bad vehicle rather than engine or powertrain, and this is the reason I personally stray from Ford vehicles.

Aron9000
08-07-11, 09:34 PM
^ I remember reading about Rick's 90's Town Car, saying the suspension was completely shot at 100k. I think he replaced the rear airbags and replaced every single ball joint, tie rod end, etc in the front end. Normally I'd say it was Rick just being super anal about stuff, but those pictures he took did indeed show everything was pretty damn worn out. Inexcusable IMO unless the car had lived its whole life in Manhattan as a for hire type of car.

ltdltc
08-08-11, 05:43 PM
^ I remember reading about Rick's 90's Town Car, saying the suspension was completely shot at 100k. I think he replaced the rear airbags and replaced every single ball joint, tie rod end, etc in the front end. Normally I'd say it was Rick just being super anal about stuff, but those pictures he took did indeed show everything was pretty damn worn out. Inexcusable IMO unless the car had lived its whole life in Manhattan as a for hire type of car.

Panthers aren't known to have the most durable front ends that includes CVPI's (All 4 of my Town Cars needed front suspension attention at less then 100K). Its a weak point with the car along with the AODE/4R70W shuddering issues (though only one of mine did it).

Night Wolf
08-08-11, 10:13 PM
^ I remember reading about Rick's 90's Town Car, saying the suspension was completely shot at 100k. I think he replaced the rear airbags and replaced every single ball joint, tie rod end, etc in the front end. Normally I'd say it was Rick just being super anal about stuff, but those pictures he took did indeed show everything was pretty damn worn out. Inexcusable IMO unless the car had lived its whole life in Manhattan as a for hire type of car.

Super anal Rick, lol.

Actually the rear air springs were one of the few (few!) suspension items NOT replaced. Mine looked great, OEM style too - either total survivers or recently replaced before I bought the car, no cracking.

Oddly enough too, the biggest issue most make when buying a Town Car is the rear air springs. People love to fuss about them. Yet they are one of the cheapest, and easist things to replace (and that's not even counting sticking coils in place). They flat out pale in comparison to all the other common issues related to the Panther as it gets to 100k miles.

That said, the entire front end simply fell apart around itself. I bought the car with 93k and it was already shot. All 4 lower control arm bushings, totally gone. 2 of 4 ball joints sloppy, clunking and making noise. 2 of 4 tie rod ends loose. New shocks but kept springs. Idler arm bushings trashed. Sway bar end links worn out. The only parts not replaced were the upper control arm bushings (cracking but not dead yet, on the list tho - never ended up replacing them) and the pitman arm with balljoint (also left on)

I chased one thing after another with that front end. The car would never hold an alignment until I replaced nearly everything. Once it was done, it was real nice. It wasn't all that expensive, nor much trouble if all done in one shot, but when it was one after another - it was bad. That car is the reason why I now, if it is more than 2 pairs of items (since I already repalce things like ball joints or tie rod ends in pairs) need replacement - then I'll just do the entire front/rear (or both) suspension on a vehicle. It's worth it to do it once instead of chasing down issue after issue.

At 276k, the 528e's front end is still tight. I bought it with a trashed ball joint on the center link and worn out bushings in the upper control arms. Replaced thoughs and while all the dust boots are torn, no other issues. That car is due for an entire front (and rear) suspension overhaul but it'll wait for now. e28 front end is kind of a weak design the way it puts all sorts of neat forces and stresses on the various rubber control arm bushings. It's straight from the 70s though, the e30 front end with L-arms was a huge improvement both in performance and durability. Yet the e28 seems to have a more durable/less picky rear suspension.

The Jeep is now at 96k (bought with 40k) and the front end is worn, actually all the ball type joints (ball joints, tie rod ends etc...) are tight, but the 4 control arms with bushings on each end are totally shot. It's OK on the Jeep though - it was lifted (and I never loosened the arms to reset their neutral point) and offroad with the front sway bar disconnected - they flex and go thru far more range of motion then they were designed for. New replacement arms are only $22/each which includes 2 bushings already pressed in. Gonna throw another OEM set on the front for now and in the future it'll get some quality adjustable arms with actual joints (front and rear), when I swap in a High Pinion Dana30 axle in place of my Low Pinion D30, at that time it'll get a whole rebuilt front end. It is kinda sad that the Jeep, which has been modified quite a bit and used in ways the factory never planned - has had a longer-lasting front end than the Lincoln, which was kept stock, used as a car and is overall known for its durability.

Do I miss my '96 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series? From time to time I think about it - because about 2 or 3 times/year I think it would be neat to make a long distance highway trip in a quite car, really comfortable ride with premium sound system and audio/climate controls at my fingertips... and a sweet digital dash. But then that thought quickly leaves. That car was totally awesome at what it was made to do, and IMO still is the best looking (inside and out) modern "classic American luxury car" It was neat in it's own way. Just turned out that what it offered was no longer what I wanted in a car. It was in such cosmetically perfect condition that I was super paranoid about it, all the time. When I think back, I enjoyed it while I had it and overall don't wish I had it back. All the high points about that car - the great sounding audio system, comfortable over long distance traveling, overall quiet highway ride etc..., my anicent BMW 528e does it all too. Except the BMW gets atleast 6mpg+ better on the highway, has an automatic temprature control that actually holds the inside temprature far better than the Lincoln ever could (was always switching between 2 temps 1* apart) and, well it does the whole comfy luxury car thing on the highway quite well (the Town Car did take the win tho) but when it gets to the destination - isn't a huge luxo barge that isn't "fun". The otherside of it comes out and it is a spirited fun drive, when the turns come in, even moreso. For me - the BMW 5-series, atleast my super old one, is a perfect blend of hardtop luxury car and fun tossable toy in one. I've grown really fond of its "perfect" size. Overall tho, all things considered - I enjoy driving the Jeep more, which is saying a lot.

As for the Mercedes Sprinter vans - it's odd, as I've heard from a lot of folks in the US say they are problematic and not reliable - yet I hear from folks overseas say they are all over, reliable as rocks and don't quit. They are described as what we see Ford Econolines as here. If I had to sit behind the wheel of a cargo van for hours each day - it'd probably be my top choice. I can fix stuff when it brakes, atleast be in something I enjoy. Other than that, I've liked Econolines in general. The Chevy Express does nothing for me at all and the interior reeks of bare basic utility - and not in a cool Jeep way.

drewsdeville
08-08-11, 10:19 PM
As for the Mercedes Sprinter vans - it's odd, as I've heard from a lot of folks in the US say they are problematic and not reliable - yet I hear from folks overseas say they are all over, reliable as rocks and don't quit. They are described as what we see Ford Econolines as here. If I had to sit behind the wheel of a vargo van for hours each day - it'd probably be my top choice. I can fix stuff when it brakes, atleast be in something I enjoy. Other than that, I've liked Econolines in general. The Chevy Express does nothing for me at all and the interior reeks of bare basic utility - and not in a cool Jeep way.

As an ex-linehauler for Fedex, most ofo the owner/operators (who are only looking for low cost of operation, comfort and styling be damned) of the small vans all bought themselves Sprinters. The Express was next and rarely did one see an Econoline...

Night Wolf
08-08-11, 10:32 PM
I see a lot of Express vans used around here. I had an HVAC guy at the house for A/C repair and he had an Express. I asked how he liked it and said it was comfortable and good on gas sicne it had a V6. At work we have a truck, Express front end/interior, Duramax diesel, box on the back with seats along the side that is used as a people/equipment hauler. I guess I'm so tired of looking at that thing (and the totally annoying dash) that I just can't picture myself being happy with one every day. I don't know what it is, they just seem/look/feel "fake" and "flimsy" to me, inside and out. I don't get that same feeling with Econolines, of which I don't mind the interiors.

drewsdeville
08-08-11, 10:39 PM
Yeah, I can't speak for comfort, but those guys always made me wonder about the Sprinters poor reputation for reliability. The drivers I knew swore by them...

quikss
08-08-11, 10:44 PM
I personally own 4 chevy 2500's and 5 ford e-250's. They all get used by my business (electrical contractor), and get used and maintained identically. I can say in my business, without doubt the chevy express holds up much much better than the fords do. I am now slowly working on replacing all of them with new chevy express's with the access package on them. I have 2 now with the access plus package and my guys love them. The fords just fall apart much faster, interior wise they are crap, they just dont take a beating as compared to a chevy.

My single complaint with the express's is the 4.8 liter just seems a bit under-powered for hauling the weight of a fully loaded with equipment 2500 around. The next ones will all be 6.0's.

Jeff

Jesda
08-09-11, 07:28 AM
The access package is pretty awesome. Like the Dodge Ram Box but 'more awesomer'

quikss
08-09-11, 09:25 AM
The access package is pretty awesome. Like the Dodge Ram Box but 'more awesomer'

I would almost go as far as to say the access plus package actually makes me money. Its only a couple thousand dollar upgrade, and over the life of the van, the amount of time saved by not having guys crawling around in the vans looking for something, and instead can walk up, pop a panel and grab what they need instantly is a huge money saver. It may not be quite a money maker, but I bet it washes out in the end if it isnt

Jeff

I~LUV~Caddys8792
08-09-11, 08:09 PM
Just installed shelving in my E-250. SO much better than having to climb over all the boxes on the floor.

Destroyer
08-09-11, 08:53 PM
I owned a '96 Chevy 1500 conversion van, a '99 Chevy conversion van, a '96 Dodge 1500 cargo van and now an '02 Ford E250 extended van. I'll give it to the GM vans in the power department with the Vortec motors at least in terms or acceleration. My Dodge had a 318 and was just a dog. The Ford with the 5.4 is a great towing vehicle but not as quick as the Vortec. Then again the Ford is bigger. Anyway, on the inside the Ford is much better built than my GM vans. Holy crap were they cheap on the inside. The Ford rides better too and the 5.4 is very quiet. The Dodge was the worse of the bunch but was still very reliable. Between the Ford van and my GM vans I'd take the Ford hands down. The Econoline vans are probably the best work horses out there. I've pulled trailers weighing more than 10,000lb with ease. My van is @ 99k miles right now and asks for nothing. In the last 20k miles all I have done are front brakes, an A/C clutch and oil changes.