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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?
I’d argue you’re correct to an extent. It’s really all about the gear ratio and center of gravity. Most of the time, from my experience, 4wd/AWD vehicles have better gear ratios for off roading. Hands down would rather have it than not though. Also your resale value is much much higher on the back end. Win win on having it.
 

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My name isn't Will
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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!
Many years ago, while living in Utah, a friend came to visit. He rented a car that had 4wd. We drove out to Ladd Marsh to shoot clay targets. I was surprised how far he drove in. I finally told him to stop. When we got done, his rig had settled, and there was no way he was going to drive it out. He tried and made it worse. Once it was sunk up to the pumpkins, he shook his head and walked to a phone (this was before cell phones were a thing) and called a very expensive tow. Car rental company didn't need to know. When it was done, I looked at the tires on the rig, and yeah - no way they were going to do much. Kind of sad, but there was a lesson there.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how well my Tacoma does when it needs to. Seldom needs to, but when it does, it does. Worst is driving in and out of shaded corners when there's places with and without ice. I hate when the rear wheels decide they want to be in front, but I dare not run 4wd when I'm on pavement unless it's already slick.

Having 4wd and a rear locker would be the best thing since unsliced bread. Having it on a van? Could be better, except I get to smell the stinky boating clothes that otherwise are under the shell in the bed of the truck. Pulling over ANYWHERE to get a few hours sleep without getting out of the rig would be so sweet. Ability to make a cup of coffee without getting out of the rig in the morning would be frosting on the cake. Nah. I don't like cake. It would be the lime on the gin & tonic.
 

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I paid 39,999 before wheels, tires, roof rack, and seat covers in March. Mine had 24k on it and is pristine. Shit costs what it costs. Chevy stopped making the AWD in 2014, so new to low miles are extremely rare. This dealership buys them all and controls the market.

It's still cheaper than a similar mile Silverado, Suburban, or Escalade of the same vintage, though 4x4 usually costs more, as do fancy appointments. And lots cheaper than a 4x4 Sprinter, and with the Chevy 5.3!
 

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It would seem that at Ford, quality is now problem #1... I wondered why they changed their slogan from "Built Ford Tough" to "Built Ford Proud"...

 

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I paid 39,999 before wheels, tires, roof rack, and seat covers in March. Mine had 24k on it and is pristine. Shit costs what it costs. Chevy stopped making the AWD in 2014, so new to low miles are extremely rare. This dealership buys them all and controls the market.

It's still cheaper than a similar mile Silverado, Suburban, or Escalade of the same vintage, though 4x4 usually costs more, as do fancy appointments. And lots cheaper than a 4x4 Sprinter, and with the Chevy 5.3!
Yeah, but you have a badass CIA stealth narco agent van. Screaming deal at $40k
 

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As an actual owner of a Ford E350 V8 Club Wagon (Quigley 4x4), the vehicle has proven both invaluable for river trips and giant pain in my wallet/ass. Its neither cheap to drive nor fix, but sure can be handy to have...say when Glenwood Canyon closes due to a monsoon rainstorm and ya gotta go over a very muddy Cottonwood Pass instead. For that particular adventure, from the Front Range out to Utah to run the San Juan in July, it delivered about 15.8 mpg (avg) fully loaded with AC rocking front & rear...so while its certainly not cheap to drive in terms of today's gas prices, it hauls 4-6 people and literally all the gear with aplomb. But these are privileges you certainly pay for, one way or another. Mine originally came from a church fleet with low miles, though it also had a lot of issues from neglected maintenance and it won't win any beauty contests either. However, I've been able to stealth park overnight in church parking lots even in busy places like Moab with nary anyone even noticing.

I have a friend who is an airplane mechanic, and he tells me that most pilots with their own plane assume it costs about 10-15% the value to keep it maintained every year. Well, I'm easily dropping between 20-30% annually to keep this van in good working/driving order. It sucks, but it's hard to get over these sunk costs: I'm in too deep already! Perhaps part of the problem with buying a used van, is that most folks who took good care of theirs are (like me) are hard-pressed to give all that up and sell it (so they ask a lot); which also means the market tends to be saturated by more moderately-priced lemons that have (likely) been abused. Further frustrating things are the clueless people and prospective Van Lifers out there that are constantly looking for mythical garage queens, along with their wildly unrealistic ideas about what its like to actually drive a van (handles like a bus, not a car or truck). So if you dive into the used van market with your eyes open and a "you-get-what-you-pay-for" mentality, things will probably work out. But rarely do big dreams line up with the practicality and experience of actual van ownership.

Once I relented and tried to sell my van (pre-pandemic), but became entirely disillusioned by the effort due to all the tire-kickers and cheapskates. I was asking $20k and had at least $20k in mechanic receipts to prove just how meticulously had maintained it, yet these clowns only wanted to make insulting lowball offers and whine about stuff any/every 20 year old vehicle has. But I recently got some affirmation as well as a dose of humility when bemoaned about cost of the last visit to the shop; where the owner sorta laughed at me and said "<pshaw>...just be glad you don't have a Sprinter, and never even consider one unless you're rich enough not to care whatsoever about repair costs". So now when I see a Ford van (esp 4x4) still on the road, running strong and looking good...I know its because the owner made a concerted effort. Whereas when I see some juiced-up Sprinter, I perceive a pay-to-play dilettante. In the end, if I had this all to do over again, along with the benefit of hindsight and today's van offerings; I'd finance a brand-new Transit AWD van with the Adventure Prep Package and build it out slowly myself. YMMV
 

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It would seem that at Ford, quality is now problem #1... I wondered why they changed their slogan from "Built Ford Tough" to "Built Ford Proud"...


Isn't it exhausting to continually beat the same tired drum?
 

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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?

You bring up some good points: Tires matter. Not everyone needs AWD or 4WD. FWD can work in lots of places.

I've owned 2 Promasters. Setting aside all of the reliability issues I had, the only way those vans would have gotten me home every night all winter would have been to run chains. Which would not come close to fitting.
 

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$43k for 10 year old technology. And you can't even stand up in it.

I paid $42k for my brand-new-with-warranty AWD Transit. That was right at the start of the pandemic and yes, I got really lucky.
$42k for a weak V6. And you can't even go through the drive thru with it! ;) I'll keep the older tech for the power and reliability.
 

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$42k for a weak V6. And you can't even go through the drive thru with it! ;) I'll keep the older tech for the power and reliability.
While I do think the Ecoboost is solid technology, you're right, it is still just a lil v6. When I run the numbers on what I'd demand on a rig, I know I'd just be yankin the guts out of it half the time. That's a recipe for high maintenance cost, limited lifespan.
One of the reasons I'm thinkin a 350 or 450 pickup with a custom camper box makes more sense for me...
 

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Bought my f350 for $45k with 34k miles…I can tow more, and do more with it. 43k for a van that has an ied strapped to the steering wheel and less day to day practicality doesn’t add up. I guess if I had more money I could see having an extra car..but I hate keeping stuff that doesn't get use frequently.

Also..fun fact..the 5.3 v8 Chevy offers is 310 horse power…the 3.5 ecoboost offeres the same..v6 or not..she’s got the power
 

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Bought my f350 for $45k with 34k miles…I can tow more, and do more with it. 43k for a van that has an ied strapped to the steering wheel and less day to day practicality doesn’t add up. I guess if I had more money I could see having an extra car..but I hate keeping stuff that doesn't get use frequently.

Also..fun fact..the 5.3 v8 Chevy offers is 310 horse power…the 3.5 ecoboost offeres the same..v6 or not..she’s got the power
I thought about a 350, but this suits my lifestyle better. I bet you don't even feel a load with that truck!

The EcoBoost AWD Transit is quite a bit more expensive. I like them, just didn't want to wait a year and spend 55k. Short roof or not, I like the classic style of the Chevy, personally. To each their own, but I've driven the standard V6 Transit and it doesn't have enough power for my taste - and the Chevy AWD system has proven tough and reliable for decades.
 
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