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...
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'.
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?