Author Topic: Daily driving a camper van?  (Read 690 times)

GuloGulo

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Daily driving a camper van?
« on: February 14, 2018, 10:20:19 AM »
My wife and I are considering getting a small camper van as our only vehicle. We've dreamed about the Van Life off and on, and our car looks to be on its last legs.  Most likely this would be a Ford Transit Connect, but other suggestions are welcome. The other options would be something more typical of a city mustachian (Honda Fit, Nissan Leaf, maybe Hyundai Accent if we go cheap).

The Fit and Leaf actually cost a comparable amount, which really surprised me. I love the ability to be nomadic, and 25mpg is really not bad, especially since we don't drive much in the first place. On the other hand, it would be really nice to have more than 2 seatbelts. Has anyone tried something like this?

daverobev

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2018, 02:06:02 PM »
I've also dreamt about this kind of stuff, and I've watched a fair number of vids...

Assuming you're in the US, I think the Transit Connects aren't highly rated. They aren't much larger (if at all) than a minivan, though. If you want more seatbelts I'd go for one with a removable middle row seat and folding back ones (which is what I did - bought a Grand Caravan).

Alternatively, a Vanagon/VW Eurovan/Westfalia.
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englishteacheralex

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2018, 02:43:29 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIH4ElBo4l0

I'm assuming you've seen this recent clip from Portlandia?

#Vanlife
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spartana

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2018, 05:43:49 PM »
I've also dreamt about this kind of stuff, and I've watched a fair number of vids...

Assuming you're in the US, I think the Transit Connects aren't highly rated. They aren't much larger (if at all) than a minivan, though. If you want more seatbelts I'd go for one with a removable middle row seat and folding back ones (which is what I did - bought a Grand Caravan).

Alternatively, a Vanagon/VW Eurovan/Westfalia.
Some of the newer Transit vans are HUGE full size cargo vans. Bigger than a Sprinter. Depending on.where the OP lives it could be OK but wasteful. I have a newer Nissan Quest mini van (although its pretty big) that get around easily and gets OK gas mileage - 22 city 30 highway. They make both very large and very small cargo vans NV200 and NV2000) and the small one would be very easy to drive even in heavy traffic.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 05:47:05 PM by spartana »
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Mr. Green

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2018, 09:58:54 PM »
I've been looking into different ways to slow travel around the US and it seems like using a regular minivan is hard to beat. For one, the back seats come out or fold down and you have a huge flat surface area for easy sleeping inside the vehicle if need be. I just watched a YouTube video tonight of a couple in an AWD 2007 Toyota Sienna where they leave the 3rd row seat in. So they have 5 seat belts in the car and their bed is a platform that sits behind the front seats and is built in a manner that when it's not in use it folds up and doubles as a couch. And there's still enough room behind the third row seat that their whole kitchen setup is there in a custom built cabinet. Add in a roof rack and possible towing hitch and it's pretty impressive what can be done with a minivan. And the best thing is they aren't modifying the vehicle so when theyre not traveling it goes back to a regular car in 10 minutes.

I had originally been considering a truck or an SUV but it's really hard to compete with the interior space of a van.
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spartana

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2018, 10:08:10 PM »
^I've been living out of my mini van since Aug but mix it up with stays in SoCal. I had a Ranger truck with a shell before that and the van.is MUCH better. Since I'm FIREd and don't commute I can often go days without driving and just ride my bike. Saves bigley on fuel so maybe the OP can do that.
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2018, 10:15:02 PM »
Following, because I'm always thinking of a mobile life and just can't stomach the thought of a larger RV (navigating tighter spaces, fuel amounts).

clarkfan1979

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2018, 12:40:16 AM »
My wife and I are considering getting a small camper van as our only vehicle. We've dreamed about the Van Life off and on, and our car looks to be on its last legs.  Most likely this would be a Ford Transit Connect, but other suggestions are welcome. The other options would be something more typical of a city mustachian (Honda Fit, Nissan Leaf, maybe Hyundai Accent if we go cheap).

The Fit and Leaf actually cost a comparable amount, which really surprised me. I love the ability to be nomadic, and 25mpg is really not bad, especially since we don't drive much in the first place. On the other hand, it would be really nice to have more than 2 seatbelts. Has anyone tried something like this?


In order to answer this question, we should probably know what your commute looks like. If you are talking using the van for long weekend trips, it's hard to beat a minivan.

I have a 22 ft. 1974 Dodge Champion (Class A). My uncle renovated it, used it for 10 years and then I bought it from him. He swapped out the original engine for a diesel. It  gets about 10-12 mpg, which is insanely good for a Class A motorhome. We lived in it for one summer and take it on about 5 camping trips/year. We are probably going to do a 5-6 week trip summer 2019. 

kpd905

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2018, 12:49:29 AM »
I just watched a YouTube video tonight of a couple in an AWD 2007 Toyota Sienna where they leave the 3rd row seat in. So they have 5 seat belts in the car and their bed is a platform that sits behind the front seats and is built in a manner that when it's not in use it folds up and doubles as a couch.

Can you post a link to that video?  I'd like to see how they have that set up.
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GuloGulo

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2018, 08:39:43 AM »
Big news: our car is not actually broken!!  What I and the mechanic both thought was a failing oil pump turned out to just be the oil pressure sensor. Van Lyfe will have to wait, but I'm going to keep checking on this thread, and try to have a plan in place for when it does break.

@daverobev : Why aren't Transit Connects highly rated? I didn't see any chronic mechanical problems or design flaws in my brief search.  I'll have to look into the Grand Caravan. My perception of Dodge is that they are pretty unreliable but that could just be a few models. Is the ability to customize the seating better in this model than other minivans?

@spartana : The Transit is a full-sized van that replaced the E-350 in Ford's lineup. It would be amazing for camping, but I would never daily drive something that big. The Transit Connect is a much smaller, car-bodied commercial van based on the Focus.

@Mr. Green: Please link the vid! My biggest misgiving about this plan is stepping down to only 2 seat belts.

@clarkfan1979 : Our commutes are bikeable- hers is quite a bit longer (9 miles one way) and she drives it 2-3 times a week instead of biking. I wouldn't be considering this if we were really putting the miles on.

daverobev

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2018, 10:56:08 AM »
Not sure what exactly was wrong with the US Transit Connects. They are just fine in the UK, as far as I know. Looks like maybe transmission issues https://www.carcomplaints.com/Ford/Transit_Connect/

Here in Canada the Caravan is just... everywhere. They are half the price of a Honda or Toyota, 2/3 the price of a Hyundai even. And they use well tested parts. Chrysler generally is terrible for reliability but the Caravan is ok. It is an old model so it has had its flaws fixed. https://www.carcomplaints.com/Dodge/Grand_Caravan/

The 3.6 litre engine is in most cars FCA does now. The transmission used to have issues but lots of people say they go to 300k+ km no trouble. We'll see.
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Mr. Green

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Re: Daily driving a camper van?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2018, 04:36:14 PM »
I just watched a YouTube video tonight of a couple in an AWD 2007 Toyota Sienna where they leave the 3rd row seat in. So they have 5 seat belts in the car and their bed is a platform that sits behind the front seats and is built in a manner that when it's not in use it folds up and doubles as a couch.

Can you post a link to that video?  I'd like to see how they have that set up.
Here's the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8xNotOVzak
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