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Old 05-07-2014, 04:12 PM   #1
evy
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Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Hi everyone!
I'm still looking to buy my starter vehicle for my DIY campervan conversion.

After looking up fueleconomy.gov with these selections :
Model Years: 2006 - 2015
Price: < $15K
Make: Chevrolet, Ford, GMC
Class: Vans
Fuel Type: Regular Gasoline, Diesel
Vehicle Type: Gasoline, Diesel
Transmission: Automatic

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Power...no=1&tabView=0

The 2008/2009 GMC Savana/Chevrolet express with a 4.3L 6cyl is the winner with 15mpg(city) 20mpg(hgy)
I heard good things about these engines, very reliable, very common and good fuel economy but is this accurate? how long can they last?

For my vehicle selection, all that matters for me right now is fuel economy, extend cargo, cruise control.
Am I forgetting anything? windows can easily be added after.

Personally I don't care about pulling capacity, so diesel or gas, 1500 or 3500, it doesn't matter to me.

Also It's important that the vehicle I choose is very common, for exemple if I break a window on a Ford E-250, I'm pretty sure I'll find it very quickly vs a Sprinter model. Or if an engine belt breaks, or If I have transmission problems etc... you get the idea.

Is a 1/2 ton ratted van strong enough to carry all the equipment and full tanks similar to the roadtrek's/pleasure-way's?
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Old 05-07-2014, 04:24 PM   #2
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Short answer. No.
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Old 05-07-2014, 04:50 PM   #3
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Even though you might not be pulling anything behind you, you have to consider the added weight you will be carrying when you finish your conversion. It seems as though the Ford 5.4 is a good compromise between enough power to get you there and decent gas mileage. There are a million E series vans so I would think finding most replacement parts would be easy.
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:23 PM   #4
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

"Personally I don't care about pulling capacity, so diesel or gas, 1500 or 3500, it doesn't matter to me."

I would be more concerned with the heavier duty radiator, suspension, and brakes needed to handle all the "stuff" safely. This alone would put me in a E250 or better yet E350 (2500/3500 Savanna, respectively.)

I spent a heck of a lot of time worrying about mpg, it is what it is, and it is absolutely a trade off. Reality is you are going to get between 11/12/13 (nicely powered V10) and 16/17/18 (underpowered gas / or diesel). In the Ford line - 5.4L is probably your sweet spot based on your specs and there are plenty around. Not sure about GM.

Do the calculation as to what the differences really cost in hard $$ including the extra wear and tear on an underpowered rig / the extra maintenance on a diesel rig with a high top. The experiences, safety, enjoyment are worth what? The difference in fuel costs (12 mpg vs 16 mpg) over 12,000 miles is about $1k, less than $100 per 1,000 miles. Subtract from that the extra maintenance / wear and we are now talking maybe $50/$60 per 1,000 miles.
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Old 05-07-2014, 05:58 PM   #5
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by evy
......cut.......

Is a 1/2 ton ratted van strong enough to carry all the equipment and full tanks similar to the roadtrek's/pleasure-way's?
I'd go by the van's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and also front and rear axle weights compared to what you plan to add to the van.

I personally find it interesting that the GVWR of a Ford E-150 vs. E-250 vs. E-350 are not as different as one would expect.
Additionally, many campers are built on single-rear-wheel Sprinter vans which have fairly low GVWR. Just compare numbers to see differences.

I've seen many professionally-built campers on E-250 chassis. As I recall the GVWR is higher than that of Sprinter, although it may weigh more too so payloads may be similar.

Having stated the above, I wouldn't go with an extended E-150 unless it was a great deal. I think they are fairly rare anyway. On the other hand if I was building mine over again I'd strongly consider an E-250 with the smallest V8, the 4.6L. Most people think it's too small but I'd be willing to try it to get better MPGs.
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Old 05-07-2014, 06:43 PM   #6
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Look at Accretes build.Around page 4 he talks about MPG I think it is 5.3 V-8,but you can pm him. http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=24&t=5996
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Old 05-08-2014, 12:30 AM   #7
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

I'd second the GM van with the 5.3 drivetrain.
My work truck is equipped with the 5.3 and I've been impressed with how well everything has held up and it has plenty of power for what you are looking for.
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Old 05-08-2014, 06:50 AM   #8
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Mine is a Chevrolet Express 2500 Extended cargo van with a 5.7L Chev. small block V8 (350). When I kept track: 15.7mpg over 95,000 miles.
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Old 05-10-2014, 07:15 PM   #9
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

To evy and to anyone else desiring to know real world mileage of the various Ford engines, I suggest the following procedure:

The Ford-trucks.com forum lists about every one of Ford engines as a separate subforum. Here is the list:

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/index.php

Each of the engine subforum's has a recent mpg thread asking "What's your mpg" or words to that effect. Just scroll down the active threads and something like that can usually be found rather quickly.

After looking through the 5.4 gas, V10 gas, 6.0 diesel and 7.3 diesel subforums, the most common mileage range is between 8 to 15 mpg. (This also seems to apply to the Sprinters. Check out their forum.)

The determinative factor seems to be the vehicle's weight.

IMHO, quite simply it takes a certain amount of energy (i.e., fuel) to push a vehicle weighing a certain amount, regardless of the size or configuration of the engine.

But try it out for yourself. Every vehicle has a forum. Every engine has a forum. And with fuel prices being held as (artificially) high as they are now, every forum has a thread by the owners' of that vehicle/engine complaining about mpg.

Read those forums for real world numbers from real vehicle owners for a real eye-opener.


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Old 05-11-2014, 06:52 AM   #10
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Re: Best fuel economy vs DIY Campervan conversion

Ford's new Transit comes with 3.7, 3.5, or 3.2 liter size engines.

A one-ton Winnebago Travato with 3.6 liters was tested to over 17 MPG by MotorHome magazine.

These trends towards smaller engines for fuel economy are not by accident.

When driving normally and trying to get better MPGs, smaller engines normally do better most of the time.

For larger engine to do better, power demand has to be high; as when towing or pushing a 10,000 pound 4X4 at
high speeds on highway.

Large engines and exceptional fuel economy rarely come in one package.
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