Decisions, Decisions…


Narrowing down and researching the many options and many models of the current batch of cargo vans, has brought me to a more realistic comparison of the 3 most popular choices according to my personal preferences: Medium Roof and Long(er) Wheelbase.

  • Ram Promaster 136” WB – High Roof – MSRP $30515
  • Ford Transit 148” WB – Medium Roof – MSRP $32240
  • MB Sprinter 144” WB – Higher Roof – MSRP $38490

As a cheapskate, I look for low price and few options and then install affordable after-market products, that are chosen with my own requirements in mind. To get the biggest bang for my buck, I will sparingly add exterior options that will substantially enhance its appearance.

sprinterThe three models are very similar in size and implementation. Only the price difference of the Sprinter stands out, but that’s primarily due to its diesel engine. One of the decisions that I have to make, is between a diesel engine, with integrated diesel RV heating, such as from Eberspacher or a regular gas engine in combination with a propane heater, such as Propex in addition to a underfloor-mounted propane tank. Despite the unresolved heating issue, I tend to avoid the diesel option (price, more expensive repairs and maintenance and fewer dealers).

The Transit 250 has the lowest interior height (barely sufficient for me to stand upright in) from the 3 models and taller people may be better off with either a high roof Transit or the Sprinter/ProMaster.

According to my cheap ways, I avoid options such as backup camera/reversing sensors/etc., as I can add those later myself. For the purpose of an RV conversion, I find it necessary, to include a heavier alternator (230-Amp) and cruise control. Not absolutely necessary, but for a bit of luxury, a metallic paint job, a chrome grille and perhaps some upgraded wheels may be added.

Some brands offer needed factory options, such as the ProMaster with its swivel seat; others don’t. After-market products should be used, where factory options lack. The use of a small hauling trailer, requires wiring and hitch installation; still undecided about having them installed as an option or to do that myself too.

Right now, I tend to go with the Ford, because only the Transit has an option for All-Around Driver and Passenger-Side with Flip-Open Glass windows in combination with the dark privacy glass.



Another issue that needs attention, is where Ford offers a choice of:

  • 3.73/4.10 rear axle ratio.
    The higher ratio (4.10) should be better suited for heavy trailer towing. *
  • Limited slip axle.
    Should give more traction at low speeds, p.e. on ice/mud or on a sandy road and should make driving the RV on forest roads more worry free. *

* my mechanical car knowledge is extremely limited – this info is based on my current research and may not be correct.

Purely based on my personal preferences, The Ford Transit 250 Medium Roof 148” WB with some or all of the above options is currently my favorite choice, but until my final decision, both the ProMaster and somewhat less the Sprinter are still in the running.

Will be continued.

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  1. “All-Around Driver and Passenger-Side with Flip-Open Glass windows” .
    I was thinking of cutting out the sheet metal for a window with a nice screen on the drivers side. Can we really get the windows all around like your photo?
    Like you, I am thinking about the E-250 with almost the same choices you made.
    I am a carpenter by trade. I am 5′-7″ tall.
    With my tape measure, the finish inside height of the medium roof is only 5′ – 11- 3/4″ from floor to the sheet metal of the roof. To the top of the steel support is only 5′ – 10-3/4″. I don’t know why ford says 6′. So like you said, put a ceiling and floor in it, and the height may only be about 5′-9” to 5′ – 9-3/4″. Not high enough for tall people. Also, I would really like that nice extra high roof, however the extra cost, weight , wind resistance, higher center of gravity (with the higher upper cabinets), and the possibility of hitting branches makes me lean unfortunately, to the medium roof also.
    I am going to use a moveable solar panel that I can put in the sun while the van is in still in the shade. the solar, batteries, inverter, controller, converter/charger, isolator etc. will add about $3000.00
    Any way I like your info you are giving us. Thanks’ for doing the research and passing it along.

    1. Thanks for your nice re’Mark’s!

      You came to some of the same conclusions as I did I evaluating the new Ford Transit (I’ll call it the T-250). We happen to be the same height (5′-7”) and the interior height of the vehicle is barely sufficient with the medium roof. And you made some good points about the negative effects of a high roof model.

      “All-Around Driver and Passenger-Side with Flip-Open Glass windows”.
      Ford offers those as an option in different configurations for each length/roof. Even without this option, you can get to a similar outcome by choosing a wagon or better yet, by using a professional to have them installed as an after-market product. For all the options you can download a complete ‘Feature List’ of the Ford Transit in my latest article How I Choose My Cargo Van

      I’m still researching the included number of Flip-Out windows and their exact locations as they have a major impact on the final interior design of the van. I’ve seen few pictures of them, this is one of them.
      Flip-Out Windows.
      They have a front (of the van) facing hinge and open only 1 or 2 inches, sufficient for enough airflow in addition to a roof air vent.

      I’ve long been thinking of one or two movable solar panel(s) as a solution to the current limitations of RV solar energy. Not practical with the old rigid panels, the new low-weight flexible panels with their minimal thickness, make storage feasible and realistic. And they easily compensate for the heating issues these panels currently may or may not have have.

      By the way, what kind of solar setup are you thinking of? Number of panels/wattage, lead, AGM or lithium batteries. I would like to maximize the total amps and apply the lithium batteries for obvious reasons. However, I’m still doing a lot of fact-finding on the latter, as the lithium battery technology for use in an RV environment is still in its infant stages.

      When you go ahead with your conversion plans and if you would like to share your experiences, you can submit your story and pictures at [email protected] and I’ll publish them here for the enjoyment of my readers.

      Have Fun! And remember: “It’s The Journey And Not The Arrival That Matters!

      Van Williams.

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