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Old 05-08-2021, 05:34 PM   #1
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5.4 v8 Opinions

Hello everyone,

First of all, apologies if there are multiple existing threads regarding this, but for some reason the forum software doesn't seem to like it when my search keywords include "5.4" in any variation. I found this thread which seems to view the 5.4 pretty favorably.

I'm shopping around for a 2008+ E-series to do a U-Joint 4x4 conversion on. Will have a very minimal buildout - bed, some storage, and a fiberglass high roof or pop top. Will be hauling a couple of dirt bikes pretty regularly as well. I'm thinking overall vehicle weight will be much lower than a lot of the full SMB builds I'm seeing. Ideally I'd like to find a van with the 6.8l V10, but the 5.4l V8 is certainly much more commonly available. I was hoping to get some people's opinions/experiences with the 5.4l engine in terms of power, drivability, and reliability. It seems like there are many SMB 4x4's rolling around with the 5.4, so I have to imagine it's totally acceptable for this application. But you know what they say about assuming...

EDIT - Found this thread as well, so I guess there's my answer. No towing and it's probably fine. Towing heavy loads, probably want the V10.
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Old 05-08-2021, 09:47 PM   #2
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I have a 5.4 E350 with a similar build out to what your looking to do, haul bikes and sleep inside. Is it a powerhouse? No. Does it go everywhere I need it to? Absolutely. The only time I really wish for more power is on long, steep grades, but slowing down or dropping it out of OD usually does the trick.

Iíve towed a small expo-style trailer from AZ to the mountains in Colorado with two passengers and two dirtbikes inside the van with no issue.

For reference, my van is 2wd with 3.73 gears and 265/75R16 tires, and about 7000 pounds with a full tank of fuel. I think jumping up to 4.10s would put the RPMs in the sweet spot for hills. I frequently go from Phoenix to Flag on and back on I-17 and can hold 75mph most of the way. The only spots that give me any real grief are the climbs up to Sunset point northbound and the out of Camp Verde southbound. I think the higher gear ratio would solve this problem.

Iím also looking at a U-Joint conversion down the road (6Ē kit with 35Ē tires) 4.56 gears seem to be the typical prescription for the 5.4 vans with that lift/tire combo. Iím considering 4.88s just for a little more oomph on the big hills, I also may end up with a small cargo trailer at some point which would also benefit from the higher gear ratio.

Iíve also gotten the 5 Star tuner for my van which seemed to make a difference according to the butt dyno. I had a hard time deciding on drivetrain when shopping my van, so hopefully this helps. I do see some 5.4 bashing happening online, but if you plan on keeping your total build under 8000 pounds I donít see any reason to not go for it.
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Old 05-08-2021, 10:16 PM   #3
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One thing I will add about the 05 and newer V10 vans is they come equipped with the 5R110 transmission which offers a wider gear range and can be converted to 4x4 while still in the van. The V8/4R75 trans has to be removed and disassembled for the the conversion.
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Old 05-09-2021, 07:23 AM   #4
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I own a 2012 5.4 with 4 inch ujoint conversion, 285 toyo at3's, smb pop top and weekender build inside. Hauled multiple dirtbikes long distances in north carolina, including 2 bikes on coleman e2 popup toy hauler for years that made regular trips to mountains. Totally agree with ibike...plenty of power 95% of time with steep grades being only issue. Would often forget the trailer was back there on interstate. Less power but so much smoother and quieter than diesel. No regrets on 5.4 purchase for me...and completely stoked on the ujoint build, their workmanship and service. Chris and his crew are awesome at what they do and great to deal with. DM me if you have any specific questions
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:15 AM   #5
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I've a 2008, 5.4L 3.73 gearing, advanced 4WD conversion and 285/70-17's.


As already mentioned by others, it works fine but needs to downshift on long grades, of which there are plenty here in So Cal. I regularly either have a dirt bike on the back, or a folding harbor freight trailer when I'm hauling two bikes.


If you can get a good high speed run at the grade beforehand it's not that big of a deal.



The advanced 4WD conversion uses a welded tube coupler to the transfer case, I think this eliminates the need for taking the 4R75 trans apart, but results in a smaller gas tank.


I get around 11-12 mpg and also think 4.10 gears is likely the sweet spot for this setup.
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Old 05-09-2021, 02:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravytrain View Post
I own a 2012 5.4 with 4 inch ujoint conversion, 285 toyo at3's, smb pop top and weekender build inside. Hauled multiple dirtbikes long distances in north carolina, including 2 bikes on coleman e2 popup toy hauler for years that made regular trips to mountains. Totally agree with ibike...plenty of power 95% of time with steep grades being only issue. Would often forget the trailer was back there on interstate. Less power but so much smoother and quieter than diesel. No regrets on 5.4 purchase for me...and completely stoked on the ujoint build, their workmanship and service. Chris and his crew are awesome at what they do and great to deal with. DM me if you have any specific questions
Thanks for the insight, everyone! I think I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a V10 but will likely jump on a 5.4 if a good example pops up.

Gravytrain - great to hear you had such a positive experience with UJOR. I've been emailing Chris and he's been super helpful. How does your van's on-road manners compare before and after the conversion? I've driven plenty of econolines on the road, but never a lifted/4x4 example. I was considering asking him if I could fly out to test drive one of their rigs before committing to their kit, but it seems like most people here are pretty happy with how the UJOR setup drives both on and off road, so I'm half considering just jumping in with both feet!
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Old 05-09-2021, 05:03 PM   #7
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I agree at that weight, the 5.4L is sufficient. Once you hit about 10k, the V8 and V10 are a match for fuel economy, but the V10 still has a surplus of power.
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Old 05-09-2021, 11:44 PM   #8
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2001 Advanced conversion, 410s, full build out, 33in tires, 8500lbs, and a 5.4. As most folks have said, it’s fine most of the time but steep hills or high altitude take a toll and require downshifting. Normally, with the torque converter unlocked and OD off it pulls ok, getting a good run at hills really helps too.
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Old 05-10-2021, 06:26 AM   #9
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I bought my rig 3 months old and drove it alot before converting. Can honestly say it drives better than stock- no roll when cornering and super stable at all times. Goes effortlessly from interstate to snow, sand & trails. My son has a built transit that he loves but would trade for my rig in a minute because of how capable it is offroad.
DM me if you have any more questions...glad to discuss more...or come out to NC and visit and see for yourself.
Go with Chris and Ujoint ...you wont be disappointed.
BTW- for what its worth Im so satisfied with chris' work we recently rented a class c to see if the interior would work for wife with intentions of doing another ujoint build.
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:09 AM   #10
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I've since sold mine, but my 4x4 SMB with 4.56 gears and 34s averaged 14.1MPG over the 18,000 miles I owned it. Mostly highway at 7-10k elevation. It's no rocket, but got the job done. Replaced it with an Ecoboost 4x4 Transit that gets 15.5mpg over the 65k miles I've owned it and IS a rocket.
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