Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-27-2016, 09:09 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 74
Lifted Sienna Micro Camper

Sorry if this is a long post. Don't know if anyone on here will be into this or not. I'll include pictures from research to keep you interested. Sorry, if this never happens however this post may serve as a good resource for anyone looking to lift a minivan.


After 8 years I said goodbye to our 1996 EB Dodge with contempo top. It served us well but off to a new owner for adventure. Sold for $6,100 with 119,000 miles on it (fridge wasn't working at sale); if anyone is curious.

As one rig leaves, we look to what is next. We are thinking about now: Goals are to use as week/weekend rock climbing trips and one night backcountry skiing trips. Often trips involve 4-9 hr hauls with the cruise set at 78 mph. We are not big offroaders but love to roll down a dirt road and knockout for the night. Normally this is done in a Honda Element but the Element has 183,000 miles on it. Getting time for something new.

The Rig for us:
1. Must be able to do 90 mph if needed and cruise at 83 mph no problems (comfy and safe). We have 80 mph zones in Utah so traffic of course goes faster than that.
2. Must have decent ground clearance (my Honda Element has always managed with 6.7" of clearance)
3. Must space for have a comfy bed (48"x76" can taper to 40" wide at feet).
4. Must get 20+ mpg
5. Must hold a 6 pack of beer cold for a day. Prefer power verse ice ok.

6. Must hold 6 gallons water (no sink needed)

7. Must fit in my garage so no taller than 90" or longer than about 220"

8. Must be no older than 2006.

9. Has to handle awesome in snow. (snow tires expected requirement)


Now - What I've looked at and thoughts

Sprinter low roof
Pro - Amazing rigs for sure! Space, great clearance.
Con - Just too big (will not fit in garage), speed governor at 82 mph, and real pricey.

If only we didn't have to work...



MB Metris
Pro - Man I love the size of this rig! Drives great; for me.
Con - I don't like the rear suspension supports as there is not enough clearance about 4.5" next to the rear wheels. Wife hated the driving position.



Dodge Promaster low roof 118" wheelbase. Drove a diesel and gas.
Pro - Wide at the back 73" I could lay sideways for a bed
Con - Hated the auto-manual transmission on diesel just a non-starter for me. Found the driver seat to not be that comfortable and wife hated the driving position.



NOTE: We knew my wife is all legs. I'm 6'2" and she is 5'10"; our legs are the same length. What we learned she HAS to have a telescoping AND tilt steering wheel. The Metris and Promaster have a tilt wheel but do not telescope.



Ford Transit - Drove the standard 3.7 L engine with low roof 136" wb.
Pro - fits the size requirements
Con - This just felt completely gutless and it was empty! Just didn't like it; don't know why; even went back a second time.
?Maybe the 3.5 ecoboost or diesel would be better. From reports I've been reading online I'm not seeing glowing reports for either of these engines. Not inexpensive.


Chevy Express - doesn't meet the mpg requirement.



Mini cargo rigs (Transit Connect, City Express) the cargo beds of all of these are too small ie less than 6'.



Sienna

Pro - drives easy, tons of "cheap" used ones available

Con - might be short on clearance stated as 6.7" but look short. "living" space will be tight. No spare tire in AWD models. Seriously Toyota? Ok have to fix that.


Winner for us; we think? SIENNA

We would want to put in is a bed, some gear storage, a cooler, and a water jug. We might put in a 100 Ah AGM to run an Electrowarmer Bunk Warmer. As for layout Sinbad has a great example of a layout conversion I like. His bed is 60"x74" and tapers at the feet to 48".







As does the Grove Guy, his bed is 45"x73".







David at Gypsy Campers is a good friend and may help me with some of the wood working.

That leaves me with the CON. Clearance - I feel I want more. Don't you always? Through the process I've learned stated clearance is meaningless so I've started measuring behind the front tire and in front of the back time. I've become a focused on tire line clearance as it is easily measured and very often the critical point as you roll over rocks. Behind the front wheel of my Element have 10.5 inches. As luck would have it a friend rented a Sienna for the weekend. While he was at the house I got to play in and under the rig. Under the Sienna I got 8.5" behind the front tire so 2" lift should put it similar to the Element.


So how do I lift it 2"? Lots of possible options out there.


Gonzoman setup a Baja Surf Rig and swapped out his Sienna struts for Highlander struts up front then did a strut extension and bigger tires; he did 3" custom springs in the back with a shock extension. He says he's had no problems. Seems kind of sweet but also sounded like more than I want to undertake. He also said he went as far as he could to still be able to align the front end and has no issues with the CV joints other than a leaky boot.





I've read some posts with folks doing 2" lift with 4 new coils; doesn't sound ideal. Suspension stiffens and bottoms out at times. 4x4Cal used coilsprings.com, while cpsdds used a local shop. cpsdds stated: As far as cv joint stress. At regular ride height the CV joint is at an upward angle towards the wheel. So, I think when you lower these vans you put more stress on the joints than the lift. After the lift my cv joints are almost straight into the wheel from the trans and rear diff. Both looks greath though.






Billybull from Imgur did a lift to a Honda Odyssey. However, he used coilover adjustment sleeves for a 2" steel shock and installed thoses with 1-7/8" viton o-rings inbetween the shock body and the sleeve to get rid of the rattle. coilsprings.com for the rear. I don't really understand how the coilover thing works but looks great.




Someone else posted timsrv's description of how he lifted a Previa. He uses a strut extension and new springs for the front and new springs for the back. Back springs from coilsprings.com.






I think timsrv's method sounds ideal to me. I figure with all the 4x4 shops in the Salt Lake area I probably can find a shop to weld me up a strut extension. Order up some custom springs from coilsprings.com; I've checked they are about $250 per pair. After this I will look at bigger tires, however I think that is pretty easy to examine once the rig is lifted.


Hope you enjoyed the tour of lifted minivans. So anyone think this is a terrible idea?

Cheers!
__________________

__________________
Working on Converting a 2014 Sienna AWD Limited for rock climbing and back country skiing
Previous Rig: 1996 EB Dodge with Contempo Top
Sierrasclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2016, 09:55 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
86Scotty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: TN
Posts: 9,385
Na, do what works for you man! I like seeing different stuff. That interior is really neat.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
__________________

__________________
-Eric

2010 Chevy AWD home build
86Scotty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2016, 11:17 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
WhitH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 1,036
Will a lifted and loaded Sienna really get 20 plus mpg? I like different stuff too and this seems like a pretty cool idea to pursue, I just wonder how much mpg should be factored into the decision when comparing this direction with a GM Savanna or Express AWD which would be much more supported in terms of parts for a lift. The difference between 18 and 20 mpg for 10,000 miles at today's gas prices is about $200. Is that really enough to head in a less supported direction. Seems like you could easily chew that money up chasing parts or having custom ones made. Having said that, if you just want to do something different then go for it!
__________________
2015 Chevy Express 3500 Duramax
w/ Quigley 4x4 & Agile Fox shocks
Sold 2005 E350 Chateau
Quigley with Agile RIP, 6.0 PSD
WhitH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 07:15 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
86Scotty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: TN
Posts: 9,385
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhitH View Post
Will a lifted and loaded Sienna really get 20 plus mpg? I like different stuff too and this seems like a pretty cool idea to pursue, I just wonder how much mpg should be factored into the decision when comparing this direction with a GM Savanna or Express AWD which would be much more supported in terms of parts for a lift. The difference between 18 and 20 mpg for 10,000 miles at today's gas prices is about $200. Is that really enough to head in a less supported direction. Seems like you could easily chew that money up chasing parts or having custom ones made. Having said that, if you just want to do something different then go for it!
I wondered the same thing. I'd like to know some long term MPG figures for this venture.
__________________
-Eric

2010 Chevy AWD home build
86Scotty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 10:00 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
carringb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Corvallis, OR
Posts: 5,105
I think trying cruise at 90 MPH in a lifted minivan is a maintenance nightmare in the making. Just like lifted Subarus, the CV angle will be so far off it'll eat them up quick, and high speeds=more heat which will only accelerate it. Also I cringe when people talk about building strut and shock extensions.... often those are a disaster in their own making.

You should really try test driving a diesel Transit as least. I agree that the 3.7L is missing too many torques. The diesel has them though. Of course the EcoBoost is the real powerhouse but you probably won't get over 20, more like just under 20 for a low roof model. But then again I doubt you'll be getting 20 in a lifted Sienna, especially with a roof rack. Change their aero at all and fuel economy plummets.
__________________
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
carringb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 10:21 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
BrianW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 3,851
Did you see the recent thread about the AWD Sienna with GTRV pop-top and interior build on CL? Sounds like it would meet your needs if you put the lift on it.
BrianW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 07:43 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Salt Lake City
Posts: 74
Thanks for the comments when debating a conceptual rig they are always helpful.

I have looked at GTRV and they have a nice package and are very friendly. They are a much smaller shop then SMB but seem to do good work and stand behind it. However being a small rig I'm trying to keep any weight to a minimum and probably not do a poptop. Their Westy layout is neat but too much conversion for a micro camper; the bed ends up 41"x74". Once you go to the more simple layout I think I can do it myself.


The AWD Express is an interesting option to examine. I can't say I believe a full size AWD Express will get 18 mpg? I guess I don't see it as 18 verse 20. According to fuelly a 2014 Express gets 13.9 mpg while a 2014 Sienna gets 19.4 mpg. Both are probably slightly lower for the AWD versions so assuming 13 verse 18 for AWD. For 80k miles that's 6,153 gal verse 4,444 gal or 1,709 gals more or about $6,800 more in vehicle gas. If I used the hwy mpg that is 17 verse 24 mpg. That ends up more like 1,372 gallons or about $5,500. Yeah I'd say I think that is significant. Hard call maybe the right one would get somewhere up there and the Sienna will lose 1-2 mpg with the lift and conversion.

Looking at the 3.5L Fords they are getting in the low teens for mpg. One 3.5L is even listed as getting 10 mpg. The diesel looks much better. However, that would require ordering a custom build van which adds about $20k and only deisels I ever see are T-350 with a hightop.



Is there something I'm missing with these full size rigs that you have to get just the right engine/axle ratio to get the good mpg? Feels like a bigger gamble that I might buy rig that gets 13 mpg.


As for the lift, I've been really worried about this as this is the biggest gamble part. I'm curious if you think strut extensions are a bad idea, what do you think about increased height using custom springs up front and in the back? I'd thought the strut extensions would be better as they wouldn't "alter" the strut at all but maybe I'm mistaken? Or its just a kind way of saying you think its a bad idea.

One of the items which has given the idea that it will not just screwup the CV joints is that Sienna's are very popular mobility vehicles. If you look at the BraunAbility rigs they are clearly raised in front and back in order to drop the floor in the center. I can't say I ever noticed them before but now I've seen a few mobility/rampvans. Some are lifted just in the back but some are front and back. The lifts look great so it is hard for me to think the CV will get messed up right away?

This is a what a BraunAbility rig looks like:


Again thanks for the comments good thinking about what other see as possible options.
__________________
Working on Converting a 2014 Sienna AWD Limited for rock climbing and back country skiing
Previous Rig: 1996 EB Dodge with Contempo Top
Sierrasclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 10:26 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
86Scotty's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: TN
Posts: 9,385
I've read a lot of threads about AWD Chevy vans getting upper teens. Too many to deny it, in fact. I'd say 17 is probably realistic if you don't beat on it or lift it and add larger tires. Most people who post here or on Expo do lift and add tires, bumpers, etc so I'm sure those modified rigs get lower.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
__________________
-Eric

2010 Chevy AWD home build
86Scotty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2016, 10:46 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
BrianW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 3,851
My 1998 Ford E250 EB with SMB PH top and full interior (2wd, 5.4l, Michelin LTX road tires) consistently gets 16-18 MPG as tracked on several month-long road trips. So for a newer-tech van I can believe in the upper teens.
BrianW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2016, 07:52 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
carringb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Corvallis, OR
Posts: 5,105
One thing to keep in mind on fuelly is demographics..... There's no correction or filter for user base, so commercial vans will be heavily biased towards commercial users who most definitely don't have the same drive cycles as a more family based vehicle. Also, no way to exclude people who tow.

The EcoBoost F150s pretty uniformly get 17-18 highway. Seems the high roof Transit guys do about the same.

I have no idea how Braun lifts their vans. Certainly worth exploring. I wonder if they lower the engine cradle? Even if they did that it would still improve the break over angle.
__________________

__________________
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
carringb is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:41 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×