AsoboLife

Why The Ford Transit Is BEST For Camper Van Conversions

100% no regrets about purchasing our new Ford Transit van. Learn why we love our Transit!

This site contains affiliate links to products. More info in our disclaimer.

Why-We-Chose-Ford-Transit-For-Vanlife

We love our Ford Transit camper van. But we did a lot of comparison research with the Sprinter and Promaster when finally deciding on our Transit. And though every vehicle has their pros and cons, we believed that the Transit provided the best overall vehicle for our van conversion.

In this post, we discuss the different categories that were important to us van life and talk about why the Ford Transit van wins out on most of these categories. To determine the winner, we awarded points based on how each van performs in each category. The winner is the van with the MOST points.

‘Scientific’ Proof?
 To determine a winner, we award points to each van based on each category. This system is very much unscientific, possibly arbitrary, and likely biased. But you can use this post to help you decide which van is best for you.

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Not what you need? Check out our “Choosing A Vehicle” category page for more similar content.

    The Competition

    When evaluating why we think the Ford Transit is the best commercial van for van conversions, we’ll look at the different aspects from the viewpoint of the following four common camper van vehicles.

    Ford Transit Van

    Ford Transit

    Mercedes Sprinter Van

    Mercedes Sprinter

    RAM Promaster Van

    Ram Promaster

    Older Models

    Reason #1:

    Largest Interior Height For Van Conversions

    Internal height was one of the the most important factors for us when we were choosing our van. This was critical for the following reasons:

    1. Reduce Claustrophobia Maximizing internal living space is important, but having more clearance above our heads was the most critical to reducing claustrophobic feelings, which makes long-term van life more viable.

    2. Larger Upper Cabinets A higher ceiling means you can build larger upper cabinets, which helps increase overall storage.

    3. Loss Of Height During Build Out In reality, the internal height of the van will not be the actual internal height of your finished camper van. That’s because your insulation, ceiling, and flooring materials will all take up space and reduce the overall height.

    Of the three major commercial van brands, Ford Transits have the tallest internal height. Below are their internal height specs:

    Sportsmobile has a great resource page for more detailed dimensions on each van.

    Reason #2:

    Ford Transit Vans Are Great Value!

    Ford Transit Van Window Sticker

    From the start we knew we wanted a brand new van and we felt that the price point for a new Ford Transit provided much better value than its competitors.

    A comparable Mercedes Sprinter would have cost  $7,000 to $10,000 more than our Ford Transit van. We could easily use those savings for better building materials when converting our van,

    And compared to a Ram Promaster, we paid only about $2,000-$3,000 more for a van with a better build, better engine, and more ground clearance.

    In total, for our new 2018 Transit, we paid $36,729,92 at the dealership. To learn more, check out our Ford Transit price breakdown post.

    We award points below based not on overall price, but on the value you get for the money you pay.

    Interested To Buy A New Transit From A Dealership?

    We did a ton of research beforehand and learned a lot of dealership negotiation best practices along the way. Read more about it below.

    Reason #3:

    Ford Transits Have Cheaper Repair Bills

    Replacing Breaks On Our Ford Transit Camper Van
    Replacing our brakes at a generic mechanic in Mexico

    One of the major disadvantages of the Mercedes Sprinter is their expensive repair bills, should anything break or malfunction. And one of the biggest reasons for the large repair bills is the Sprinter’s diesel engine.

    With all the diesel engine’s state-of-the-art digital sensors, pollution filters, & controls, likely only an authorized Sprinter repair shop will be able to fix the van should anything go wrong. And diesel parts may need to be shipped in, only adding to the wait time and cost.

    Talk to anyone. Sprinter repairs are notorious for being expensive.

    We chose to skip all that hassle and costs by choosing the Ford Transit camper van and it’s gasoline engine. Should anything go wrong, we can take our van to most repair shops as opposed to trying to find authorized mechanics.

    Which Vans Are Cheapest To Repair?

    Reason #4:

    Ford Transit Vans Have Rear Wheel Drive

    Our Ford Transit camper van parked in La Cienega De Gonzalez, Mexico
    Our Ford Transit van parked on loose & rocky terrain In Mexico

    Our Transit’s rear-wheel drive packs quite a punch. And we’ve successfully driven our van through a number of different types of challenging terrain.

    A rear-wheel drive van is critical because since most of the weight on a camper van sits on the rear wheels, these wheels have the most friction with the ground. It’s this friction that creates a strong grip with the road and keeps your van moving forward.

    In fact, our Transit has been so successful at navigating off-road terrain, we don’t think a 4×4 is necessary for the majority of van life travelers.

    You might think rear wheel drive should be on every commercial van, but the Ram Promaster is actually a front wheel drive vehicle. Why? Well, we suppose you get what you pay for.

    We’ve already witnessed two different Promaster vans burn quite a bit of tire rubber just trying to get out of tricky situations.

    AWD Option: As of 2021, Ford Transits come with an AWD option. It's a higher price tag, but worth the cost for many off-road enthusiasts.

    Which Vans Have Rear Wheel Drive?

    Reason #5:

    Powerful EcoBoost Engines

    The Ford Transit may not have the power of a V8 engine of an older work van nor the Sprinter’s diesel engine, but by upgrading to Ford’s Ecoboost engine, which combines a turbocharger with direct fuel injection, we feel the power differences between our Ford Transit gas engine and the Sprinter’s diesel are minimal.

    Plus the Transit engine doesn’t come with the same expensive repair bill that a Sprinter engine would see.

    We’ve driven through some really steep and bumpy terrain on National Forest land in the US and all throughout Mexico without any problems. Zero.

    The Ford Transit EcoBoost Engine is a champ.

    Which Vans Have The Best Engine

    Reason #6:

    Ford Transit Ground Clearance Is Sufficient

    If you’re thinking of really going off-road, a vehicle’s ground clearance is an important factor. Too low of a ground clearance, and a vehicle’s under-body is liable to get bumped and scraped.

    Truth be told, the Transit’s clearance is nothing to gloat about. Depending on where you measure, our ground clearance is:

    • Minimum Front bumper clearance: 9.5″
    • Rear Differential: 6.5″
    • Exhaust Pipe: 9.5″
    • Shocks: 5.5″
    • Rear Bumper: 15″

    But so far, the Transit camper van’s overall clearance hasn’t been an issue for us yet. We’ve drive over some pretty gnarly terrain without any problems. The most important key is placing your tires in the places when you’re off-road.

    Increasing Your Ground Clearance: SumoSprings (read our review here), larger tires, and a lift kit are the best ways you can increase your camper van's ground clearance.

    With the highest ground clearance of the bunch, this is where the Sprinter finally comes out on top, finally!

    Reason #7:

    Transits Are More Incognito Than Sprinters

    The Best Van For Van Life - Commercial Vans

    While we don’t believe we are fooling many would-be thieves from thinking that we are a standard commercial van, we also don’t believe we’re an attention magnet either, unlike a Sprinter van with it’s flashy Mercedes logo.

    Ironically, we think building a 100% stealth camper van is a terrible idea, but we do enjoy flying under the radar with our Ford Transit.

    However, stealth living isn’t the Transit’s strong suit. We actually think the older models (duh) win the stealth battle as well as the Promaster’s lower height profile.

    Tallying Up The Totals: Ford Transit Camper Vans Win!

    Adding up all the points from the above 7 categories, we get our final rankings.

    And so you see why we ended choosing a Ford Transit as our camper van. If you agree, or disagree, or even feel like we missed a category, please let us know in the comments or by sending us an email.

    Enjoyed reading? Check out our “Choosing A Vehicle” category page for more similar content.

    If you are looking to build your own camper van, check out our camper van build guide. There you can find lots of great, free resources that talk about everything from insulation, to the best vent fan for camper vans, and how to build a kitchen counter.

    Scroll to Top