I haven't been around here much lately, but thought I'd give a quick update of the van now that we're well into our second season with it. I also wanted to update our experience with the CCV top since they've been getting a bit of negative press recently.
Here's a quick summary: We LOVE our van!
Our plan to consolidate vehicles has worked great. My wife splits her time between the Express and her cargo bike and doesn't mind daily driving the Express at all. This makes it great for road trips too, as I was the primary driver with with the old van.
The only complaint we have about the CCV top is that we've had a couple screens that have ripped a little where they were sewn into the PH fabric, but honestly it could have been user error too. No big deal. The top itself works great, seals great, and with the first 14" or so of removable penthouse section removed offers pretty great headroom and maneuverability in the van even while the top is down.
The general '50-ish' layout is still working great.
Since my wife is the main driver, I usually don't have the opportunity to hand calculate the mileage, but if the computer is remotely close then this is what I've found:
Average combined for about a year, mostly around town, trips from Bend to Mt. Bachelor, etc: 13.6 mpg (computer)
Recent trip from Bend to Ashland (highway, avg speed about 60): 18+ mpg (computer)
From Ashland over the Siskyou's, over some passes in Northern Cali including about 20 miles of mountain gravel roads, and then up the coast: 14.5 mpg (hand calc'd)
Average mpg for that 800 mile trip: 15.5 (computer)
Overall I'm pretty pleased with the economy considering we are 7000+ pounds rolling down the road.
One thing I am still on a quest to tinker with is the suspension setup. At 7000+ pounds, we are pretty much right at GVWR. I've added helper springs and a rear sway bar which leveled out the rear and also makes the van feel pretty planted. Bump absorption still feels a bit harsh, so I'm sure it is time to ditch the stock shocks and shell out for some Bilstein's or something similar. If I had the garage clearance I would get a set of torsion keys and 3/4 ton leafs to swap in, but not sure if it is worth the trouble if I can get the shocks dialed. Thinking to myself here, I may also look into the Z71 or Timbren bump stops. I didn't realize that the bump stops were such an integral part of this suspension design until after I had already installed the helper spring set; however, I probably needed the helpers anyway to level out the rear.
I hope everyone is getting out and having some excellent adventures!