#vanlife .

Once we had decided we want a full size van, we then needed to decide which van to buy.  Our thoughts on the different vans are here.


Sure this van provides you with a decent box.  But the dashboard is straight out of the 80's  One look at that it was off our list.


This one looked odd to us. It reminded of us of some one completly enclosing a pickup truck with its longer hood.  It was comfortable to drive and seemed the most solid of anything we drove.  Yet it seemed smaller on the inside and much longer on the outside.


This is a smaller large van. The front area was much more car like and I would say the one we liked the best in that area.  But it was smaller and that led us to drop it from consideration.


Ok this van is large. In fact it felt too large.  We did like that 4 wheel drive was an option but did not like the lack of a gas engine.  Sure having the better mileage of diesel would be nice but I prefer knowing that I can get gas at any station I pull in to.  I have been known to wait till the last few drops of fuel are flowing out of the tank before I pull into a gas station.  I would hate to do that with a diesel and discover they do not sell diesel.


Ok these things are ubiquitous.  There are work van and passenger van and shuttles and mini buses.  Every Ford dealer seemed to have a bunch on the lot.  There are different box heights and lengths.  And there are lots of option, almost enough options to order one and toss a bed in it and you are camping.  If they had vented windows that pop out from the bottom we could make a screen for it...The driving position was good and it drove like the pickup we owned.  There are Ford dealers everywhere.  But the width at the level we wanted to put the bed was 72" - not quite wide enough to put the bed crossways.


This van was born from the Fiat Ducato.  Knowing it had a Fiat pedigree did not inspire  us.

Our first thought when we saw it, "Even in the short version of this thing is just too tall."  Yet after reviewing all of criteria and driving everything a few times it began to feel just right. It is unique in this group as it has front wheel drive.  If we could not have all wheel drive, front wheel drive was a good second choice.  And it seem to drive much more like our Dodge Caravan than a large truck

Inside, at the level we want to put the bed, it was slightly more than 74" meaning we could fit a full size bed crossways in the van.  This opened up more space for us to use in the shorter version.  In the end we felt we could work with the 138 (middle length) van with the standard heights (7'6" not including the antenna)

Where this van is lacking are the options and arm rests.  There are so many options that you should be able to have factory installed but can't.  How about a power seat? No.  Radio with a hard drive like my caravan? Nope. Dual climate control? No way.  Seats in the back?  Why would you want those!

As for the arm rests, the drivers and passenger seats are just a little too far from the doors, making me wish I had armrest on the outboard side of each chair.

Other Notes

Gas Mileage - these vehicles are just large enough that the government does not force them to publish a rating.  That makes it much harder to figure your operating costs. Searching various forums and web sties I came up with rough numbers.  The Ram appeared to have the best mpg with 18 to 20 for the gas engine. (Link to future post on our MPG)

Mercedes dealer - One of the things were least impressed with was the dealer.  We have always driven what I might call "regular" vehicles.  We have had Dodges, GMC, Toyota, Chevy, etc.  We expect a "better" experience at Mercedes.  In reality it was not much different than any other dealer.  Except that their van guy was not in which meant get any information or even a test drive was more difficult than normal.  And their official van guy never did give us a call.