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Old 01-30-2011, 05:06 PM   #1
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Test drove new Ford and Chevy

Mrs. hally and I test drove the Ford and Chevy yesterday in preparation for our upcoming DIY build.

Ford E250 with 5.4L V8 and stability control
Chevy Express 2500 with 4.8L V8, locking differential, and stability control.

Cockpit
The Chevy had a lot more foot room and the engine is mounted about 12" further forward, which creates a large space between the seats. This space would be very usefull while driving and while camping. The Ford overall seemed to have higher quality materials and fit/feel of controls. The seatbelts on the Chevy couldn't be adjusted high enough for me (6'-1").

Cargo area
The interior headroom was about 2" higher in the Chevy. The wall construction (exterior skin with interior ribs) looked easier to insulate than Ford (double-wall construction).

Ride/handling
Both vans drove better than our last van (1992 Ford). The Ford steering was pretty slow. The Chevy steering was faster but still not too sensitive. The Chevy had a more plush, smooth ride, while the Ford seemed a little firmer. Both handled rough country roads well, although we didn't test the suspension travel.

Engine/transmission
The Ford had a lot more power as expected from engine size. The Chevy 4.8L engine would be marginal for our intended use, which includes lots of hills and some towing. The 6-speed transmission with manual shift feature is cool, would give me something to play with while driving.

Stability control
There was a light rain so I decided to test the stabiltiy control. The Ford system seemed to work smoother but neither van went sideways or displayed any other alarming reactions (unlike Mrs. hally). The locking differential on the Chevy may have played a part. Does anybody know how traction control and locking differentials are supposed to work together?

Overall impressions
We won't be able to make a decision based on these test drives. We will probably want to test drive the Chevy 6.0L V8, but the final decision will be heavily influenced by reliability, fuel economy, and rough road capability.
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Old 01-31-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

Good write up. Is there a reason why you're avoiding the 1 ton chassis? I just assume you plan on a lightweight build.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:00 PM   #3
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

As far as ride goes... The Ford E150 is actually more comparable to the GM 2500 in terms of GVW and payload, so you may want to keep that in mind. Ford doesn't make a true 1/2-ton van anymore. They make a 3/4 ton with a 1/2-ton badge (This change in '07 when the E150 got the 8600 GVWR and 8-lug wheels). Which I guess makes the E250 a 7/8-ton?


Here's a couple other considerations.... Will you even tow a larger trailer? The E-series has an integrated trailer brake controller, and backup cam which sees the hitch ball. Think you would ever want 4x4? If yes, then that would be a strong reason to get the Ford, because it not only has a larger frame, you can have it converted to 4x4 used, which Chevy vans can only be done new, and you only get one conversion choice with Chevy, with multiple company and setup options available for the Ford.

But.... The 6-speed auto on the chevy is pretty sweet. I wish I had a 6-speed (maybe I'll find an Allison under my van one of these days...)
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

We drove 3/4 ton chassis because that is what our local dealers have in stock. I don't think it's too bad a comparison since it's empty. I'm thinking an empty 1-ton may be stiff.

As far as our build, I am still researching and adding up weights. Right now I've come up with a range of 2300 to 2900 lb payload all-in for the build plus live weight. If towing wasn't a factor either 3/4 ton unit should handle that just fine. I'm still doing the calculations for cargo plus trailer, or possilby a hitch-mount MC carrier. I'm guessing we will end up with a 1-ton van.

We would welcome any input from others' experience on whether a lighter duty chassis has any advantages with light to medium weight build.
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:47 PM   #5
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
As far as ride goes... The Ford E150 is actually more comparable to the GM 2500 in terms of GVW and payload, so you may want to keep that in mind. Ford doesn't make a true 1/2-ton van anymore. They make a 3/4 ton with a 1/2-ton badge (This change in '07 when the E150 got the 8600 GVWR and 8-lug wheels). Which I guess makes the E250 a 7/8-ton?
Very good point, here are the payload capacities:

E150: 3,300 lb
Express 2500: 3,200 lb
E250: 3,600 lb
E350: 4,100 lb
Express 3500: 4,200 lb

This could explain why the Ford seemed to have a more firm ride. Looks like I need to do more test driving...
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:42 AM   #6
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

I have a 3/4 ton Chevy Express with a Dura Max. I must say it is amazing I have had the Ford as well but the Dura Max makes it a much better Van (IMA of course). You also have more than 1 option for 4X4 if you want to have that done and it doesn't have to be new to do it. You just have to search it more. My Chevy is a 2wd and with the locking rear is works really good but it is not 4x4 and I only push it a little. the locking rear diff only works up to 25mph and locks the rear diff together like possy when there is a difference from the right or left tire. I really think they are both great Vans, I happen to sell new Chevy's
and would only own one with the Dura Max but you cant get it new anymore and they are really hard to find. I would tell you to go with the Ford because of the options. Please PM me if you want somemore input.
good luck in your search.

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Old 02-01-2011, 08:53 AM   #7
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

Quote:
Originally Posted by bettyford
...and would only own one with the Dura Max but you cant get it new anymore and they are really hard to find. ...

Ron
I didn't realize a diesel in a Chevy wasn't an option anymore. Another casualty of stricter emission regulations?


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Old 02-01-2011, 09:03 AM   #8
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

Or supply and demand with the Ford lineup being vacant?
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:15 AM   #9
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

if the ford and chevy had the same exact back space on EB versions i would get the chevy. however for the plan i'm lookint to do the ford EB is best for me.

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Old 02-01-2011, 01:10 PM   #10
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Re: Test drove new Ford and Chevy

We love our Chevy 1-ton EB, wouldn't consider any option other than the Duramax, although the GM gas powertrains are seemingly superior, too.

We are considering selling ours (one of the last solid front axle 4x4s built) and our SMB trailer only because even the EB is a bit cramped for more than a week with 4 of us. We are thinking of a fifth wheel, heavy 4x4 (topkick (Duramax, of course!)) combo. Definitely a sacrifice, but my wife is a trooper as camping is not her thing.
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