Trying to decide what to buy?
It’s an exciting time. You’ve made the decision to become the owner of your very own camper van. There are so many reasons to take the leap and become a camper van owner. The hardest part might simply be: What type of van to get? Should you get a Transit or a ProMaster?
Carmen Chan and Chris Dumas were deep in the Transit vs ProMaster debate. So they took out one of each, a Ford Transit called “Adventure Out Loud” and a Dodge Ram ProMaster called “Nora” to help them decide what type of camper van they’re going to call their own.
“Somewhere deep down I’ve always had the dream to travel and live out of a van. I never really thought of it as an actual possibility. But when Carmen and I started to do more road trips, and we rented a few camper vans, we got a taste of it and really enjoyed the lifestyle.
It still was just a fun travel experience though. Then, more recently we rented one to do a trip around California. By the end of that trip we started to think, “Could we really do this?”. That led us to stopping at a dealership to look at vans while we were still driving the one we rented back from our trip.” – Chris
THE PROMASTER (Nora)
“Nora” the Dodge Ram ProMaster is an elegant 21′ long, 2WD, automatic transmission dream come true.
“For the Dodge Ram ProMaster, there wasn’t any overhead cab storage that was accessible from the seat but there is a huge overhead storage that is accessible once you’re behind the seats (which we prefer). I was a little worried that it would feel a lot bigger, being wider than the Transit, but was pleasantly surprised when I drove it and didn’t really feel much difference. It did sway a little bit more, but we both agree that we can get stiffer springs to help with that. Being that this will be the first van we convert, I love the interior shape and dimensions of the ProMaster. It’s a little more boxy and can give the feeling of having more space inside. After reading specs and doing my research I was a little nervous since it has less horsepower than the Transit and 6 speed transmission vs. the Transit’s 10 speed, but was again surprised how I honestly couldn’t notice that big of a difference when driving. We’ve decided to look for and purchase a Dodge Ram ProMaster 3500 High Roof Extended. It is the longest/biggest ProMaster they make and are a little harder to come by used, so if you hear of one, let us know! :)” – Chris
THE TRANSIT (Adventure Out Loud)
The Ford Transit known as “Adventure Out Loud” is a compact and nimble 16′ long, and is also 2WD, with automatic transmission.
“For the Ford Transit, I loved how the front area (cab/cockpit) was laid out and how much space and little cubbies there are to keep stuff organized. It drives incredibly smooth and had less noticeable side to side swaying on turns and in wind. For now there’s only two of us, but one thing that’s a must-have for us, is installing a third single seat in the back for a car seat if we’re lucky enough to need one in the future. It’s crazy how big they can look, but once you get in and start driving, it honestly feels no bigger than a minivan (until you check your mirrors and notice how long it is, haha).” – Chris
Did you develop a pros/cons list comparing the two types of vans? Were there other types of vans that you had in mind? What made you whittle down the decision to Ford vs ProMaster?
“We didn’t make a list, but we constantly would talk about the two and every time found ourselves coming back to the ProMaster – partly bc of price, dimensions, and overall look. We love the look of the Hiace vans in Asia, but since they aren’t sold here and really expensive when you do find someone who’s shipped one over, it’s not realistic for us. I’d love to convert a bus, but I’m not a mechanic and don’t really trust myself starting on a project of that size. Same goes for finding an older van, plus we like being able to get places fast if we need to, so an old VW bus topping out at 55 mph just isn’t for us. And like most starting vanlifers, we’d love a Mercedes Sprinter but it’s just not within our budget. That’s how we got down to the Transit vs. ProMaster debate – it really came down to what size van do we need, and within our budget, those are the two main options.
(And Chevy, if you’re reading this… MAKE A FACTORY HIGH ROOF VAN! PLEASE!)” – Chris
So … what’ll it be?
A few photos from someone else’s experience probably won’t make the decision for you, so consider taking out a camper van rental for a few days to get to know the different kinds from the inside out. If you think being a van owner is for you and are wanting to personally compare the Transit vs ProMaster, you may want to try before you buy.
“Both the ProMaster and the Transit are pretty comparable. There are some major differences that set them apart, but after doing a lot of online digging and even asking different people we rented from, they all pretty much said the same thing – “I love my van!”. So I don’t think you can choose wrong, as long as you choose what makes sense for you. I’ve looked into both and scoured online forums looking for that one insight that will make my mind up for me, and to be honest, I couldn’t find it. For every person you find saying Transits have tons of problems, you’ll find someone else saying how much trouble their ProMaster has given them. So I think you really have to think about what YOU are looking for, and what YOU plan to do with it, and then stick with your choice and see what happens. Let’s be real, they are cargo panel vans intended to deliver packages and haul tools and equipment, not build a house inside of and live. Neither are going to come perfect, but either might work really well depending on how you’re planning on using it as a camper van.”
As for Carmen and Chris?
“We are pretty certain we’re going to get the ProMaster next month. 😊” – Carmen