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Which engine would be best for a camper conversion?


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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am looking for a used van and am trying to decide which engine to target for my search.

Here's what I'm planning:
  • High Roof Extended Body
  • Camper Conversion - examples seem to be about 2,000 pounds of continuous payload?
  • Probably a lot of highway miles
  • I care less about the "power" and being "fun" to drive
  • I am leaning toward purchasing a passenger van or a van with windows all around. Most of these are 3.5 Ecoboost, but I have seen one or two that are diesel.
Since I am purchasing used, there doesn't seem to be a huge difference in upfront costs, so I'm mostly concerned with maintenance and fuel economy. I've read that the diesels have higher maintenance costs, but it looks like the 3.5's do too?

For those of you who have high roof extended vans, I would love to hear your experiences with the different engine types in terms of fuel economy, maintenance, and life expectancy before major problems. Also, does the axel ratio have a major effect? How about single vs. dual rear wheel?

Thanks so much for your time!
 

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You need to go with the 3.5L EcoBoost engine and the 3.31 rear axle ratio. With your small weight factor and mostly highway miles, that would give you the best drivetrain for your use. Would be good to get one with the Trailer Towing package or at least the Tow Mode option. Trying to find a cargo van with the 'All Around Windows' option may be hard to find in a used Transit.

What price range are you looking at for this Transit van? Right now the best bet would be to find a off-lease Transit that someone ordered and is turning in. Not sure where you are located but if you get down to exactly what your requirements are, I may be able to locate one that a Ford dealer would get from the Ford dealer closed auction. That is where the lease units end up once they are released.
 

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No problem with you getting a HR Extended passenger van other than you will be getting a DRW Transit model (U4X) that will come with full 15 passenger seating. In the cargo van, you can get a T-250 (R3X) or T-350 (W3X) in the SRW model or the T-350HD DRW models in the 9,950 GVWR (F4X) or the 10,360 GVWR (S4X) model. Some states require you to list the 10,360 model as a commercial vehicle since is over the 10,000 GVWR limit.

Your price range may limit you to what you may get as far as the DRW passenger van. Even the high mileage ones bring high prices as they are used as transport vehicles in areas where a lot of people are being transported. I can help but would need a price range so I don't waste time looking for something you don't want.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much for the info @[email protected]!! That is really good to know about the 10,360 GVWR (S4X) model. I'm not sure what that changes in term of licensing and insurance, but I will definitely look into that before jumping on that model!

Other than the cost of extra tires and the space that it takes up inside of the van, are there other drawbacks to a dual rear wheel (DRW) that I should be aware of? Does it make a difference in terms of MPG?
 

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Some of the forum members can give you the MPG on the DRW models but with the 3 I delivered that were T-350 HR Extended DRW models they got from 12.7 to 13.6 MPG depending on the roads I travelled on and the conditions. They all had the 3.5L EcoBoost and the 3.73 limited slip rear axle ratio.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OUCH! Ok, thanks so much for the info @[email protected] - was that loaded up or empty?

Hopefully some other members will weigh in on how that might compare to their dual and single rear wheel HR extended vans.

Have you seen a lot of issues with the diesel models?
 

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All 3 were empty vans. Mostly highway miles with the best one getting some of that 100% gasoline in New Mexico that made the difference in the fuel mileage as well as the performance.

Stay away from the Diesel especially a used one. The DEF issue has come up on the NEW Transits as well as the used ones that end up on the dealer lots after the customer gets stranded on the road with a clogged exhaust system.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ah, OK. Thanks @[email protected]... I was originally planning to buy a Sprinter, but departed from that idea for the same issues. I was hoping to hear that the Transit diesel has fewer issues that are less costly to repair, but I guess that's just all newer diesel engines.
 

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Would still need to know your price range as I have access to NEW Transits through the Ford Nationwide System, used vans through the Ford Dealer only auctions throughout the country, and Ford dealers used inventories if they are in the Ford Nationwide pre-owned inventory system.
 

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T350HD so DRW, ecoboost 3.5, extended high roof, A/C and solar on top, Winnebago Paseo so running about 9,000 pounds. About 15 mpg coast to coast. Your mileage really depends on the pressure of your right foot on brakes and throttle.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Mpg

This is probably not as specific as you're asking for, but a lady I met recently has a (gorgeous!) 2018 Transit camper, short wb and medium roof, that gets 13 mpg city and just about the same on the highway. Not sure what engine, but I don't think Transit campers are ever going to get dreamy gas mileage. Still my choice, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
@marshwalker - wow - 13mpg? Thanks for the info. I was really hoping for the high teens, but it sounds like that's unlikely. I guess I'm going to have to make my build as light as possible, be cognizant of the pressure of my right foot and hope for the best!

Too bad those hybrids aren't making it to the US any time soon, I would seriously consider that.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Why ecoboost over 3.7?

Well, I've found a great deal on a 3.7 (2017 with 20,000 miles for $25,000), but so many of you suggested the Ecoboost... what are the main reasons that so many of you are suggesting the Ecoboost over the 3.7. Is there a huge difference in fuel economy?

I need to decide tonight :eek:
 

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The Ecoboost has a LOT more torque for climbing hills and general driving. Turbocharged engines don't lose as much power in the mountains, if that is important for your usage. We get just over 17 mpg on the freeway.

You will be happy with the 3.7. Just don't drive an Ecoboost after you buy it...
 
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