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Drove Ram, Transit and Sprinter - my thoughts

44437 Views 34 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  sportcoupe
Sorry for the upcoming novel. My first post here and I need some info from Transit owners.

I currently own a 2013 Mercedes 3500 dually extended Sprinter and am looking for a 2nd van for our business. So the last few weeks I've driven 3 Ford Transits, a Ram Promaster diesel and a 2015 Sprinter 3500 170 dually.

First off, I need to make the point about the price difference between competing vans of the type I'm looking for. It's not really a factor. I need the tall roof and longest version I can get that has a capacity of around 9500 pounds fully loaded. In this class all 3 are pretty close in price. In fact the other day I drove the 3500 sprinter with a 9990 GVWR and a Dually Transit with a 10360 GVWR. The difference in price is about $1000 between the two with the Sprinter being the higher. But, the discounted prices I was quoted were almost identical, maybe a $100 between them, with the Sprinter being the cheaper of the two.

My usage: This will be loaded down to near capacity almost 100% of its usage, and it will be taken on an 11k mile 2 month trip around the US once a year, and lots of 300 to 1000 mile trips the rest of the year. So I need something that gets at least as good of mileage as my current van, and enough power and torque for this type of usage. This is why I'm thinking diesel is my best choice.

I liked the drive of all of them, with the exception of the way the transmission shifted on the diesel Ram. It emulates a standard transmission with slow manual type shifts between gears. And the position of the steering wheel was not ideal, as the distance to the pedals were out of whack with the comfortable steering wheel position - for me. The weird transmission shifting with the diesel was better when I stepped on it, but driving it with a regular foot on the accelerator was weird and makes me think you could potentially get in trouble if you have to get out of a dangerous situation immediately while waiting for the van to shift slowly between gears. That didn't give me too much confidence so I narrowed my choices to the Transit and Sprinter.

The Transit I first drove was a 3.5 EcoBoost and it surprised me with power, but I think this engine might be better suited for shorter drives and not fully weighted down as far as mpgs are concerned. Then I drove a diesel passenger van because it was all they had in San Jose at the time. It was a great driving machine, but it had very little power on the freeway. I tried stepping on it to simulate passing while going 65 mph and it sped up very gradually even when I floored it. Then I finally found the exact match for the vehicle I would buy in Newark CA and drove that last week. A 350 tall roof dually cargo van with the diesel 3.2 engine. It drove like a car but again it dogged on the freeway when stepping on it. And this is an empty van. What happens when I put 3500 pounds in it?

The Sprinter, in comparison is the same engine as my Sprinter, the V6, and it took off when I stepped on it. It also was rock solid on the freeway, as is my Sprinter, empty or fully weighed down. Plus it has the new wind avoidance system, which may or may not work perfectly, but is of interest for anyone that has driven across the country with a tall roof van on a very windy day. Regardless, the dual back wheels definitely make it more stable than single wheel tall vans. I know because my first van 3 years ago was a 2500 170 tall roof Sprinter and it moved around in the wind much more than the dually. More white knuckle drives in high winds.

And as far as mileage is concerned, my 11k GVRW extended high roof Sprinter fully maxed out in weight got an average 16.4 mpg across the country this Spring in all kinds of different weather and winds over the course of 2 straight months. It was driven at speed limits or 5 mph over, which means it was being driven between 65 and 80 depending on the highway limits across the country. This is calculated by hand after each fillup, not using the display as those are rarely correct. Empty, I have gotten as much as 21 mpg btw.

So I need to know if the Transit diesel gets peppier when it breaks in or if this is just the way it reacts. Plus it seems that the few mileage reports I've seen here and at another site so far have the Ford 3.2 getting less mpgs than my Sprinter even when their Transits are not fully loaded to capacity.

I'm not a Sprinter fanboy, but I need some more reports from actual users, which I haven't found too many yet online, before I put down my $44k to $48k. Please help if you have experience with your Diesel (or even 3.5 Eco Boost) Transit at full GVRW. I'm about a week or 2 away from buying this second van and I want to give the Ford the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard with so few being reported on and no long term reports yet in hand. Any help would be appreciated.

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Interesting read, thanks for posting your thoughts and experiences.

As noted in my signature, I'm still looking at the different vans, and keeping an open mind. My preference seems to vary from week to week (currently thinking Sprinter again).

I like the Promaster, but want more options and goodies in the cabin, not so much a gussied up work truck. For the Transit I would want the extended body, but that's only available in the high roof, and that is SO tall (and has one helluva overhang past the rear axle). Still have a soft spot for the Sprinter, as that's where my cargo van wanderlust started, but am hesitant at the potential costs (purchase and service). *sigh*
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