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Old 06-01-2013, 01:23 PM   #1
cyclist1 OP
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Awd Full Size Van vs Full Size 4x4 Pickup

Hi Everyone!!!
First post but long time lurker. I'm hoping to gather some opinions here regarding the topic mentioned. To give you a little background, I'm in the market for a new vehicle. I'm currently driving a 2006 Tundra Crew Cab 4x4, with high km's.
Here's what I'm thinking:
-AWD Savana/Express van. Keep all my toys inside with me, possible camping, my thoughts are the van is a great "All Around Adventurer".
OR
-Ram Crew Cab 4x4 (pentastar v6). Full size trucks are what I'm used to. Would go with the V6 because of the better mileage (gas prices will only go up). Can still haul everything, but uncovered.

I'm an avid cyclist (freeride/downhill/trail riding) with my wife, so having the room for those toys and gear is nice. Especially not having to dismantle the bikes in order to transport. I ride a Honda XR650L and have never trailered or transported it, always ridden where I needed to go. The idea of being able to bring it along on a family/friends road trip would be great. Either inside the van or in the truck bed......

I know this comparison is comparing apples to oranges but I'm more just looking for people's thoughts and/or opinions. I am going to test drive a van next week.

Thank you all for your input
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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Do you need the ground clearance and the more off-road capabilties of a true truck? If not, I'd go with the van.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:32 PM   #3
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There's no ground clearance to speak of in the GM AWD vans so off road you only go as far as the two wheel drive vans and they are not lift friendly with the IFS.The aftermarket conversions usually lift them quite a bit. I've had vans since 1988, been there and done that.

Still have my savanna but most recent purchase was a 4wd PU to be able to get in further and away from the amateur campers and it gets significantly better mpg than my van.
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Old 06-01-2013, 03:47 PM   #4
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Sammy Johns recommends a van.
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
DWalt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TooFast View Post
There's no ground clearance to speak of in the GM AWD vans so off road you only go as far as the two wheel drive vans and they are not lift friendly with the IFS.The aftermarket conversions usually lift them quite a bit. I've had vans since 1988, been there and done that.

Still have my savanna but most recent purchase was a 4wd PU to be able to get in further and away from the amateur campers and it gets significantly better mpg than my van.
Not really,

A 3 in lift is easy on the exp/savanna, I run 33s, and can go most anywhere a stock 4x4 pick up can....

I'll never buy a new pickup again, will always keep and old 4x4 beater for work and play, but for everyday use it will be the van.





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Old 06-01-2013, 06:14 PM   #6
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4wd Van with mild lift. Sounds great!
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Old 06-01-2013, 07:34 PM   #7
cyclist1 OP
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Thanks for your thoughts and opinions, I do appreciate it.
I'm not looking for a tail machine, so ground clearance isn't too big an issue. My use for the awd/4x4 systems is mainly for bad weather winters and old logging roads to get me to my cycling spots in the summer. As well as the occasional camping trip. So low ground clearance wouldn't be too big an issue.
Another hurdle for this decision making is costs. The van (should mention it is the 8 passenger version) is a considerable amount more. These specific awd vans are hard to come by in my part of the world. A base model awd Savana passenger van with power options, is on average 7-10 grand more than a moderately equipped full size pick up 4x4 crew cab.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:02 PM   #8
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I bought a Dodge 3500 truck. It is a cab-chassis model; a regular cab, 12x8 foot flatbed, 4x4, duallies and a Cumins diesel. I got that because I wanted a truck chassis, not a lighter weight chassis. I want to not worry about weight; the curb weight right now is 4 tons, GVWR is 6 tons, so with the right wheels and tires I can pretty much load it up how I want.

Plan is to get one of these (or something like it):



which conveniently is just shy of 12Lx8Wx7H.

About four feet at the front of the box will be the "garage" for the dirt bikes and stuff to keep them locked up, out of weather/sight and not tempting anybody to mess with them. The rest, about 8 feet, will be my living quarters.

I don't plan to live in it full time - but I will travel up and down the western USA following the good weather - stopping and exploring an area for a few days to a week. Then I will hit either a hotel or relative/friend's house, for a hot shower, hot tub, hot meal and a real bed for a night or two, then move on.

I might or might not have a place here in Orygun to use as a base camp during the spring, then head north into BC for the summer, then slowly travel south for the fall, then head south. Or I may just winter in New Zealand. Depends on my health, what else is going on, and finances. I will probably mix it up some.

I thought about a Sprinter, but the AWD models are rare and expensive in the USA.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:01 AM   #9
cyclist1 OP
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Wow CodeMonkey! That sounds like the ultimate adventure vehicle you're building. As well, an amazing trip you're planning.

I thought about the sprinter as well. But I didn't want to give up the 4x4 or awd capabilities. A 4x4 sprinter would be amazing, but extremely expensive to convert. I searched out a few places in the US that do the conversions.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclist1 View Post
Wow CodeMonkey! That sounds like the ultimate adventure vehicle you're building. As well, an amazing trip you're planning.

I thought about the sprinter as well. But I didn't want to give up the 4x4 or awd capabilities. A 4x4 sprinter would be amazing, but extremely expensive to convert. I searched out a few places in the US that do the conversions.
It will be more of an RV than any kind of expedition vehicle. I won't be using it off-road - the weight and the height would just not be conducive to that. But roads themselves can get a bit messy when it is wet or snowing.

I got the truck a couple of years ago and I haven't done anything with it yet. The bed is four feet high so it is too high to get the bikes up on it without a crane or very long ramps, and the rig is too big and clunky to be a daily driver (it will not fit into the parking garage where I work) - so I also got a Toyota Hilux last winter so I have something when it snows up here on the mountain and for hauling small stuff (I used it yesterday to get a rototiller).

So it has just been sitting mostly. I used it to haul a trailer tongue out of the brush (I live in a nice custom triple wide on 20 acres of forest/brush) that the PO had dumped into the woods after the home was setup. There are two more somewhere in the brush. I put it in 4 lo and just idled the Cummins up the hill and out of the brush - I could barely tell that it was dragging about 500 pounds of steel out of a bunch of saplings. There is an advantage to having a heavy truck when such tasks come up - I doubt the Toyota would have done that so easily.
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:55 AM   #11
Holaday
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I went for a Van

I have similar interests and requirements to yours, I jumped in with both feet this year and bought a new Sprinter. I have owned 4X4 pick ups for 20 plus years both import and most recently a Ram Quad Cab. Done the pop up camper thing, truck camped etc. I wanted to be able to stealth camp and have my bike inside with me. So far Im really happy. I had reservations about only having 2 WD but gave it up in order to have a diesel van. I put BFG All Terrains on it and have no problems on dirt roads. Gas is quite a bit more up here in Canada and I really think its gonna get way more expensive. I'm going to insulate it and put a bunk heater in it so I can overnight at ski hills in winter. I put on big miles road tripping down to Colorado, Utah twice a year so the Sprinter was the best vehicle for my needs. Check out Geeks build thread for some really good Sprinter info.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:52 AM   #12
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I know what you mean about the gas prices, they are only going to go up. Thats why i was thinking the V6 Ram. I do like the Sprinter vans, I'm just concerned about winter driving. I used to live in the Rockies (Alberta) and then interior BC. I now live in Ontario, Canada but will be moving back west in the next year or so. I've driven from Banff AB to Revelstoke BC in the dead of winter, I personally would not feel comfortable in a 2wd at that time of year in that part of Canada (just as an example).
I have thought about the Sprinter Crew van. Get a rear bench seat and side windows, if you want to carry any passengers. However around here, the price for that Sprinter is $55+ grand. Gas mileage savings probably won't equal the price difference over the life of the vehicle? Please let me know otherwise?

How is the Sprinter van for severe winter driving?
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Old 06-02-2013, 04:07 PM   #13
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Ya the Sprinter is huge bucks. I got the crew package in mine. I have always compromised in the past when I bought vehicles and then partly for that reason by the time they are paid off I don't want them anymore. If I had of bought the 3/4 ton diesel Ram in 2005 when I bought the Ram 1500 I would probably still have it.

When I first sold the Ram pick up my intention was to buy a Eurovan Westfalia in very good condition but after speaking with a friends father who is a very experienced VW tech I decided wisely not to go down that road. Well cared for Westfalias are selling for almost what they were new 20 years ago.

I wanted a van and I wanted diesel. I wasn't going to drive a 4X4 15 year old Delica imported from Japan with right hand drive. I look after my vehicles well and don't really put many miles on commuting. I rack up the miles on road trips and driving to and from Whistler.

I drive to Whistler almost weekly most winters and seldom has it been so bad that I have really needed a 4X4 in all the years I have been skiing there. I ordered it with winter tires. I have BFG All Terrains on it now. I'm a little worried about driving it to the Kootenays in winter. I will get chains for that trip. In the last 10 years I have maybe really needed 4X4 for winter driving 8 times. For all the other things the Sprinter does that my 4X4 couldn't do I will drive a 2WD van.

I only got it in April so have no experience with it in winter driving conditions.
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Checkout my Ride Reports:

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Old 06-02-2013, 04:43 PM   #14
Cowboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclist1 View Post
Here's what I'm thinking:
-AWD Savana/Express van. Keep all my toys inside with me, possible camping, my thoughts are the van is a great "All Around Adventurer".
OR
-Ram Crew Cab 4x4 (pentastar v6). Full size trucks are what I'm used to. Would go with the V6 because of the better mileage (gas prices will only go up). Can still haul everything, but uncovered.



I know this comparison is comparing apples to oranges but I'm more just looking for people's thoughts and/or opinions. I am going to test drive a van next week.

Thank you all for your input

Well, apples to oranges, as you predicted, but I own both a full size 4wd Dodge truck and a full size 2wd Chevy conversion van. I bought the van largely to use it as a mobile office with a bed, as I often find myself working in remote locations with no hotels nearby. In the end, I've found that I use the van all the time for the sorts of things that you would normally think of using a truck:

Moving stuff: I prefer the van, if the stuff fits. You can pile boxes to the ceiling, and not worry about the load shifting and falling out of the bed. No need to tie stuff down in the van. The stuff is also out of the weather in the van.

Hauling a bike or motorcycle for recreation: I prefer the van. Bicycles fit inside, as do trials motorcycles, and larger dirt bikes ride nicely on a simple hitch carrier out back. Much easier than loading a dirt bike into the back of a truck. And when you get there, you have a bed in the van . . .

Middle of nowhere on bad roads: I'm not at all shy about taking the 2wd van. I have light truck tires on the van with aggressive tread, and have only been stuck once, in a spot where the truck would have got stuck too. Admittedly, getting the truck out would have gone a bit easier with 4wd. Add 4wd to that van, and you would add huge utility, but it's plenty useful even in 2wd.

In the end, I still use the van mostly as an office, but I find I only rarely drive the truck: mostly when I need to pull a horsetrailer. I also drive the truck when my wife comes along. For some reason she finds the van uncomfortable, though I think its in the same comfort league with the truck. I suspect our different heights make the difference: the truck seats adjust in height, while the van's seats are fixed, so she can't lower them.

The 2wd van, complete with an early 70s Westfalia pop-top tent, nicknamed WTFalia. That pop-top adds huge utility, since it allows you to stand inside the van in camp:

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Old 06-03-2013, 05:13 AM   #15
cyclist1 OP
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Thanks everyone for your feedback! I appreciate it.

I've seen those Japanese van imports (Delica) on the roads out west many times. Always thought they would be a great 4x4 van to have. But if any parts need to be replaced, I'd bet it would be very hard to get.
When I first started to think about which vehicle to get once my current truck is ready to go, I thought of the Sprinter first and the Savana AWD second. I had eliminated the Sprinter from my choices because of 2wd only. Also because I have heard no real world feed back about the van. Now the Sprinter is back on my list.

My next vehicle purchase is my only vehicle. I'd be using it for daily commuting in the suburbs to downtown city center to highway country driving. As well as weekend play time.

"Cowboy"
Your van looks great! Love the idea of putting the Westfalia pop-top on it. Also I agree with your preferences of moving stuff with the van. It's nice to have everything securely inside rather than bouncing around a truck bed.
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