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I have to admit having a tricked out van or pickup shell is the comfort I want these days.

On the other hand.

This young man has the youthful answer to all this comfort us old timers been discussing.



Van life is diead and a back pack is the replacement
 

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I have to admit having a tricked out van or pickup shell is the comfort I want these days.

On the other hand.

This young man has the youthful answer to all this comfort us old timers been discussing.



Van life is diead and a back pack is the replacement
Now the hipsters are going after camping 🤦🏻‍♂️ Yay..
 

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Tall vans flip when you dip into the ditch to let the raft bus by. Short vans get wimmens' dirty footprints on the headliner when they're screamin' "Grif! Grif!". Them seem to be yer choices. Some mag wheels and a rattlesnake steering wheel cover, and you'll be picking up my scraps at the takeout before you know it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
Tall vans flip when you dip into the ditch to let the raft bus by. Short vans get wimmens' dirty footprints on the headliner when they're screamin' "Grif! Grif!". Them seem to be yer choices. Some mag wheels and a rattlesnake steering wheel cover, and you'll be picking up my scraps at the takeout before you know it!
Finally! Headed to the dealer now! Will you dub me a copy of your feet on the roof mix tape???
 

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Late to the game. 2003 E350 12 passenger here. Bought it 2 years ago as the wife always wanted a van. The previous owner put 4.56 gears in the rear end along with an ARB air locker. It's not 4wd but it will go places that a regular van cannot. The oversized Cooper Mud Terrains help too. I thought about adding 4wd to it but for now, it remains 2wd.

Do I wish the van was 4wd?...sometimes. Mostly for the low gearing in the t-case and not necessarily the traction since I have that with the locker. However, I have a fraction of the cost in my van of what a 4wd van costs.

We have a very simple buildout with a sleeping platform in the back with storage underneath and it works great. The van tows our fully loaded raft trailer with no issues and tows it much better than the 1993 Toyota Land Cruiser that we were using previously. We've put 10k+ miles on the van in a couple of years of use and no issues. For our 4wd needs, we will still take the Land Cruiser but the van will get to about 80% of the places that we want to go.

The van and the Land Cruiser get about the same mpg; roughly 13.

We have stealth camped multiple times in the van and feel like we have blended in better than others but we may not be fooling anyone.

We will be taking the van to Baja for Christmas and New Years this year. We have taken the Land Cruiser previously and are excited to take the van as it will be more comfortable.
 

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Late to the game. 2003 E350 12 passenger here. Bought it 2 years ago as the wife always wanted a van. The previous owner put 4.56 gears in the rear end along with an ARB air locker. It's not 4wd but it will go places that a regular van cannot. The oversized Cooper Mud Terrains help too. I thought about adding 4wd to it but for now, it remains 2wd.

Do I wish the van was 4wd?...sometimes. Mostly for the low gearing in the t-case and not necessarily the traction since I have that with the locker. However, I have a fraction of the cost in my van of what a 4wd van costs.
Back when I was seriously into offroading, I found that a locker would take me a LOT of places that 4wd alone would not. Exception might be greasy mud or loose dirt uphill climbs where you need all 4 wheels pulling their own weight...but for almost everything else, simply not having one wheel spinning (locked) would take you really far. Plus you get better fuel economy with an unlocked rear than you do with a 4wd running in 2wd (drivetrain weight plus usually added height/more wind resistance)

And an auto usually takes care of low speed needs..especially if you downshift the selector and put it in 1.
 

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Back when I was seriously into offroading, I found that a locker would take me a LOT of places that 4wd alone would not. Exception might be greasy mud or loose dirt uphill climbs where you need all 4 wheels pulling their own weight...but for almost everything else, simply not having one wheel spinning (locked) would take you really far. Plus you get better fuel economy with an unlocked rear than you do with a 4wd running in 2wd (drivetrain weight plus usually added height/more wind resistance)

And an auto usually takes care of low speed needs..especially if you downshift the selector and put it in 1.
Very rarely do I go into 4wd..and no it’s not because it’s broken MNichols!!!..lockers are a gift from god, will never own a truck without them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
Incoop,

Please tell us your decision to solve your transport problem. All of us opinion givers are wondering what you are going to do. And, thanks for spicing up the last few days reading the Buzz.
Mr. Dave, I'm probably at least a year away from pulling the trigger, but I really liked what Mikesee had to say and am now leaning even farther toward an AWD Transit. My dilemma and consequent delay are rooted in the fact that the vehicle I'd very much like to replace also happens to be the only vehicle in the motor pool with a note and most likely currently in a state of negative equity (ain't if funny how when you need to buy one they're worth a lot but when you need to sell one they're suddenly not?). It's also the bride's ride, and while she's very much open to the idea of a van she also likes her GX. So, at this point we're still in dream phase vs reality phase. I will definitely keep you buzzards posted though!
 

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Lived and camped out of a Honda Accord for 12 years, then moved up to pickups with toppers. Now graduated to a Tundra with an ATC shell I built out. Might have to move up to a van when I hit 70 in a few years for the comfort. Everyone has there own level of comfort they feel is needed, but always fun to see the builds.
 

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Incoop,

Man, I understand. Hard to justify new vehicles these days. And, no change for several years is my guess.

My trusty 2012 Tacoma 4wd with shell has been perfect for my kayaking days. Not that perfect for rafting duty. Still running good but miles are getting up there to the point I have historically traded. My theory for what it is worth has been buy new, take good care and drive ten to fifteen years making long trips with no worries. I would like to have more covered space inside a bigger van than the Tacoma shell has. While the shell works, hard to beat just pulling up and crawling into a nice ready made bed. Not having to move gear around the shell for space for the paco pad is a treat.

Looking at prices tho, I just cannot justify the charges these days of high inflation and higher prices.

Like you did, based on comments on the buzz I looked at Transit all wheel drive and while they look ideal, man the cost is unreal.

I remember my two self modified ford econoline vans from the 80's and man did they serve us well.
My positrac updates and shocks served me well on Arkansas back roads in the day. Meaning two wheel drive and a winch got me to where I needed to be most of the time. But these new Transit AWD models look nice.

Those Toyota GX vehicles are super nice and I fully understand why your better half likes her version. Again, back in the day, my kayaking bud had a tricked out Land Cruiser. Bullet proof and went places neither of us wanted to walk.

sigh, I also agree that it seems like when a person wants to trade vehicles trade in goes down and prices go up.
 

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Will definitely need AWD or even better 4x4.
Do you need AWD/4x4? I am sure this will spark debate but I wonder if you do. I went through this back in 2017, I bought a Promaster 118 and have taken it to almost every state in the west over the last 5 years. The Promaster is front wheel drive. I went deep into the world of 4x4 and have spent hours and hours learning about how it all works. I am no mechanical engineer so I am no expert but I have learned a lot and here are some thoughts. First off in 5+ years with the Promaster I have not gotten stuck once. I have also driven through/pulled my trailer/boat in/out of sections that I would have never thought the van would make it. One in particular on the John Day river when we got to the take out and I saw the road into it I looked at a friend and said there is ZERO chance the van is going to get into/out of this ramp. In the end the van crawled out of that ramp with trailer in tow with no issue at all. I have thousands of miles on gravel and rough roads and sketchy ramps and thousands of miles on paved roads in all weather conditions. What I have learned is how important tires are. As I went deep into the rabbit hole on this learning about how much tires affect your traction was an eye opener. And also learning about how 4x4 actually works and how diff locks work and all that jazz I have learned that there is so much more to it that simply saying 4x4 is barley even scratching the surface. I have also spent hours talking to true offroad fanatics about how much a 4x4 sprinter can actually do and reality is those vans are just not built do do anything much more than a fire service road. It is a fascinating topic to learn about. And I do also admit that knowing my van is only front wheel drive it makes me a bit more cautious so I can say for sure that it has kept me out of trouble because I know not to get into it. But if you are thinking 4x4 simply for better traction on the road I would really question if you need it. But maybe you need legit 4x4 with dif locks for real offroad but if that is the case I would say you don't want a van.

Also and I know this is going to get some heated debate but I wonder about something. 4x4 rigs are rear wheel drive when in 4x2. And I am talking just normal 4L/4H with no dif locks. When you click into 4H/4L you engage a wheel in the front giving you for the most part 2 wheel drive, one in the front and one in the back. Here is my curiosity, how many times when engaging 4x4 was needed was it needed because 4x2 is rear wheel drive? In other words if in that situation you had the ability to be in front wheel drive would you have needed to switch to 4x4?
 

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2 wd with positrac works great for most of my off road adventures. No experience and none wanted with front wheel drive.

But there are often times when the only way to get up a hill, up a launch ramp or out of a muddy spot for me, the easy way to go is 4 wd. If really stuck, a winch of some sort can usually help - No matter 2 or 4 wd.

From a couple Utah brothers who were expert drivers in the gnar, I learned to engage 4wd, shift to lower gears and go really really slow for less damage and better traction.

4 wd is another convenience for me the more beat up my body gets. Just push the button or turn the bar. I am happy to pay extra for the cost up front and in increased mpg.
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Do you need AWD/4x4? I am sure this will spark debate but I wonder if you do. I went through this back in 2017, I bought a Promaster 118 and have taken it to almost every state in the west over the last 5 years. The Promaster is front wheel drive. I went deep into the world of 4x4 and have spent hours and hours learning about how it all works. I am no mechanical engineer so I am no expert but I have learned a lot and here are some thoughts. First off in 5+ years with the Promaster I have not gotten stuck once. I have also driven through/pulled my trailer/boat in/out of sections that I would have never thought the van would make it. One in particular on the John Day river when we got to the take out and I saw the road into it I looked at a friend and said there is ZERO chance the van is going to get into/out of this ramp. In the end the van crawled out of that ramp with trailer in tow with no issue at all. I have thousands of miles on gravel and rough roads and sketchy ramps and thousands of miles on paved roads in all weather conditions. What I have learned is how important tires are. As I went deep into the rabbit hole on this learning about how much tires affect your traction was an eye opener. And also learning about how 4x4 actually works and how diff locks work and all that jazz I have learned that there is so much more to it that simply saying 4x4 is barley even scratching the surface. I have also spent hours talking to true offroad fanatics about how much a 4x4 sprinter can actually do and reality is those vans are just not built do do anything much more than a fire service road. It is a fascinating topic to learn about. And I do also admit that knowing my van is only front wheel drive it makes me a bit more cautious so I can say for sure that it has kept me out of trouble because I know not to get into it. But if you are thinking 4x4 simply for better traction on the road I would really question if you need it. But maybe you need legit 4x4 with dif locks for real offroad but if that is the case I would say you don't want a van.

Also and I know this is going to get some heated debate but I wonder about something. 4x4 rigs are rear wheel drive when in 4x2. And I am talking just normal 4L/4H with no dif locks. When you click into 4H/4L you engage a wheel in the front giving you for the most part 2 wheel drive, one in the front and one in the back. Here is my curiosity, how many times when engaging 4x4 was needed was it needed because 4x2 is rear wheel drive? In other words if in that situation you had the ability to be in front wheel drive would you have needed to switch to 4x4?
It's a fair question to be sure. In my neck of the woods we drive out onto gravel bars to launch and load boats, in my case (not always but usually) trailered boat(s). I've pulled enough RWD vans off said gravel bars to know I don't want to be in that situation. I've also been in someone else's FWD vehicle attempting to tow a trailer up a steep one lane gravel road and been forced to disconnect the trailer, drive to another vehicle then return for the trailer because there was zero chance the FWD vehicle was making it up the inclines with the trailer in tow. That made folks trying to get out of the same place we were trying to get out of super happy! :LOL: Fortunately boating peeps generally = friendly and understanding peeps. Anywho, I guess the answer to your question is more often than not no, but when it's yes it's really yes!
 
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