I'm trying to decide what is the right platform for me to build an Overland vehicle for my family. I'd like to be able to get us reliably in and out of places off the beaten path, but I don't need to be able to rock climb in MOAB. We also have a lot of stuff - bikes, camping, hunting and photography gear. I already own an Excursion. But I was open to other options (as long as they were Ford) and trying to weigh the pros and cons I'm seeing of going with other vehicles specifically SMB modded ones.
Here's what I've gathered as pros / cons of the options I'm considering (Excursion / 4x4 Econoline / 4x4 Transit)*
+ If I'm going this route, it's gonna be the 6.0 diesel. I have one already, and have a spare motor to keep getting stupid on. Lots of power opportunity, easier to maintain/mod versus the Econoline. I don't think I would go beyond a stock transmission so that'll limit the power I built it out to. It's still a family hauler after all. I would also stick with the diesel because power potential is the Excursion's strength in this competition, and the diesel is the best base for that.
+ Gonna have the best tow capacity of any of the options, 11k+
+ Probably easiest to upgrade due to the similarities with the f250, lots of options available and probably cheaper
+ Best ground clearance and overall handling
+/- Has windows, good for travel, although not great for camping if we're going to be using it as a primary shelter
-I wanted to be able to stand up in the vehicle we end up going with, so it's gonna take a significant topper or pop-top in order to make that happen in the Ex
* #1 priority is suspension - which I want soft on paved roads but able to handle some rough terrain if we come to it.
Some good reference videos I found for Excursion builds
Ford Transit (practical, but ugly)
* I think I'd go with EcoBoost/10r80 combo. Everyone I've talked to loves the EcoBoost. It performs well, gets good gas mileage. It's in a ton of Ford vehicles so I'm confident that parts/repair will not be astronomical (still high given the pieces but it's not a Land Rover). I5 diesel combo seems like a good alternative, but I am not a fan of modern diesels with all their BS.*
+ Definitely the largest interior capacity. Squarish dimensions are practical and going with the cargo version eliminates a lot of window shielding problems. Won't need a topper for this one if I design the interior right.*
- Unibody construction. Still specs out at 7k tow capacity (decent). It's strong enough for what I'm looking to do, but I'm assuming that this increases the risk of an astronomical repair if I hit the wrong bump while off roading.*
+/- Lowest ground clearance, but easier to get into. With the 4x4 install, I'm confident it will have the height I desire.*
- Not a vehicle I'm going to be posting photos of me with anytime soon.*
- Could be most expensive option, but it's not that far off when I spec out all the things I also want to do with the other vehicles. Getting the same headroom in any other vehicle is at least $10k, and is not going to be as strong as something built from the factory.
Some Transit build videos
Econoline Build (A-Team nostalgia)
* 6.0 diesel / v10 - I think I'd go with either option here since I'd keep the engine factory for best reliability. Not fun working on this engine bay.
* 10k tow capacity, depending on suspension upgrades.
+ Body on frame construction, sturdy and easier to repair
+/- Some compatibility with f250/excursion, don't think suspension parts though
- Worst for*crash/rollover risk of the 3
Some other notes:
The most ideal is that the vehicle is able to be lived in full-time if necessary (ie. bath/shower internal). REALLY TOUGH to do in the Ex, but it is possible. I'd still like a sink/fridge internal as well. Stove would be nice, but I think having to cook inside is not necessary. Also, since I'm taking the family, I'd still like to be able to seat four and sleep at least two in the vehicle (two more maybe on outside or in roof tent).*
I'll also go with Li-Ion power system, so will need space for that internally as well.*
I'm a fan of the Aluminums setup for the Excursion, and probably would look for something similar on either of the vans too. (full size spare / bike rack, big box)
Anyway, if you made it this far, I applaud and thank you for ensuring my stream of consciousness and would appreciate any feedback/ideas you may have.*