When we first decided to tackle the van conversion project, we needed to make sure the van itself would fit our needs. If you follow van-lifers at all, you see several Mercedes Sprinter vans…so why did we go with the Ford Transit?
- Maintenance costs. We’ve been around the Mercedes Sprinter before, and have experienced first hand that maintenance can be expensive. It’s hard to find quality service in our area that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount. It’s also more difficult to work on yourself or find parts that are readily available. If we’re traveling across the country and need to make a repair, we want to feel confident that we can handle it.
- Familiarity. We have owned Ford trucks for a while. We know how they run, we’re comfortable with the reliability, and when Ford introduced the high-roof Transit in the US, we felt like it would be an easy transition.
- Purchase price. This speaks for itself. Upfront cost was much less with the Ford Transit.
The one drawback with the Transit is the lack of a 4×4 option. This is probably why so many lean towards the Sprinter van, but for us the other reasons outweighed the need for 4-wheel drive.
It really boils down to how you will use the van/camper. If you’ll be climbing snow-covered mountains and doing a lot of boon docking, the 4×4 might be important. For us, we’ll be camping in camp grounds, limited boondocking, and aren’t planning on adventuring in the snow (too often), so we were fine with the power behind the Transit. Plus, the diesel gets great gas mileage (we average around 20 mpg).