The Ford Transit van has become a popular alternative to the Mercedes Sprinter van these days. This American-made cargo vehicle is a top choice for commercial delivery vans and the first option for van lifer conversions.
RV manufacturers have also noticed, adding the Ford Transit base to their lineup of luxury Class B camper vans.
And for good reason. With more competitive mileage figures, dependable construction, and more driver-assist options, the Ford Transit van is quickly taking over the road.
Table of contents
- What is a Ford Transit Van?
- How Much Does a Ford Transit Van Cost?
- Can You Convert a Ford Transit Van into a Camper?
- The Benefits of a Ford Transit Camper Van
- The Disadvantages of a Ford Transit Camper Van
- Ford Transit Model and Spec Options
- Which Transit Model Is Best for Van Life?
- DIY vs. Professional Conversion: Which Is Better?
- Is a Ford Transit a Good Camper Van?
What is a Ford Transit Van?
Ford has created a small line of Transit vans, replacing their popular Econoline models. Originally designed as a cargo van that can easily become a people-hauler, the Transit has an EcoBoost gasoline engine that regularly posts 19 mpg on the highway.
The Ford Transit van comes in three different heights with a low, medium, or high roof. They can have windows like a typical van or remain totally enclosed for cargo. They come with rear-wheel-drive, but an all-wheel-drive option has become extremely popular of late.
Their sturdy ‘boxes’ make conversion into a camper van straightforward. RV manufacturers like Coachmen and Leisure Travel Vans have created elegant Class B vehicles using the Transit chassis.
Ford has also introduced a smaller version of the Transit Connect, which has less space and sits lower to the ground but takes advantage of the EcoBoost engine. This “mini-me” model is great for delivery vans in metropolitan areas, and it’s often utilized for DIY camper van construction.
The Transit Connect gets up to 29 mpg on the highway, giving campers more range in their fuel budget.
How Much Does a Ford Transit Van Cost?
Both models are well below the initial cost of the comparable Mercedes Sprinter van.
Pro Tip: Unsure if a Class B RV is right for you? This is Everything You Need to Know About Class B RVs.
Can You Convert a Ford Transit Van into a Camper?
Quickly becoming one of the most popular vehicles for van conversion, the Ford Transit cargo van is a clean slate, ready for almost any design from the floor up. Many DIY builders have created fully loaded RVs, kitchen space, a toilet and shower, and ample bedroom space.
Most utilize the cargo design of the van, creating a ‘garage’ beneath the bed to provide travel space for sporting equipment. And the AWD option means van lifers can take their vehicles off-road (to a point), chasing adventures wherever they find them.
The Benefits of a Ford Transit Camper Van
One of the major benefits of a Ford Transit camper van is the option for all-wheel drive. For campers, the ability to get off-pavement a bit to get to that perfect campsite without the worry of getting stuck is critical. The Transit offers this capability in a camper van for an affordable price.
The van’s design also incorporates many features that make travel more comfortable and safe. For instance, the Ford Transit includes several driver-assist features, like lane assist and pre-collision assist, along with side curtain airbags. The driver’s cabin has some pretty spacious legroom, and seats can rotate to become an active part of the interior.
The Transit model line gives buyers a choice in headroom and price. In fact, the initial cost of a Ford Transit van is substantially less than that of a Mercedes Sprinter camper van. And because it’s a Ford product, parts are easy to find and less expensive to purchase when you need repairs. This lower maintenance cost is a big plus.
As an added benefit, the Ecoboost engine runs on unleaded gas, which is usually cheaper than diesel at the pump and means no DEF is needed.
The Disadvantages of a Ford Transit Camper Van
There are a few disadvantages of the Ford Transit van. First is the prevalence of rear-wheel drive. If you don’t opt for the AWD addition, this is the only other option. Rear-wheel drive vehicles are notorious for poorer performances in slippery or soft ground conditions.
Another drawback to the Ford Transit is the small, 16-inch wheels that make the ride a little more rough than it could be.
Additionally, the Transit Connects may have had some transmission issues. In 2021, Ford issued a recall for over 190,000 vehicles for a faulty part that could allow the vehicle to roll away despite being in “Park.”
Ford Transit Model and Spec Options
When we talk about “Ford Transit vans” we can be referring to a wide variety of van heights, lengths, and capabilities – all of which are different depending on how you mix and match features. Ford Transit vans come in many shapes, sizes and technical specs.
Technical Specs of Ford Transit Vans
The Ford Transit vans are offered in Cargo, Crew, or Passenger models. There are 2 engine options, the 3.5L PFDI V6 engine or the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 engine. Wheelbases come in either 129.9 inches or 147.6 inches. Most offer single rear wheels, but the Long-EL models have a dual rear wheel option.
Roofs can either be Low, Medium, or High, which equates to 56.9in (4’9″), 67.6in (5′ 7.6″), and 81.5in (6′ 9.5″) cargo height maximum respectively (excluding the Passenger model, which measures in a few inches shorter across the board.)
Van exterior lengths come in Regular, Long, or Long-EL. “Regular” measures either 217.8 or 219.9 inches (~18′ 2″ or 18’4″). “Long” measures 235.5 or 237.6 inches (19′ 7″ or 19′ 9″). “Long-EL” measures 263.9 inches (22′).
Ford Transit vans offer two drive train options: rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. As for payload with all of these options, the max you’ll find is 4,470lbs on the dual rear wheel EcoBoost RWD Cargo van. We suggest you look up your particular combination of attributes on the spec sheet here to determine your payload.
For towing, you also have different rear axle ratios of 3.31, 3.73, and 4.10. Towing capacities range from 4,200lbs to 6,800olbs for the RWD versions and slightly less at 4,000- 6,200lbs on the AWD versions.
Technical Specs of Ford Transit Connect Vans
As for the Ford Transit Connect, it comes in 3 different body styles: Long wheelbase (LWB) wagon, short wheelbase (SWB) cargo, long wheelbase (LWB) cargo. It only offers front-wheel drive – no AWD option.
Two engine options start the technical specs: 2.0L GDI I-4 engine or the 2.5L iVCT I-4 engine. Wheelbase options are either 104.8 inches (8’9″) or 120.6 inches (10′).
Max payloads for the three body styles are 1,510 lbs for the SWB cargo, 1,550lbs for the LWB cargo, and 1,420 lbs for the LWB passenger van. Gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) are 5,240lbs, 5,302lbs, and 5,450 lbs respectively. Max towing is 2,000lbs across the board.
Which Transit Model Is Best for Van Life?
If you want the full camper van experience, the high roof Ford Transit van is probably your best choice. This will allow anyone ~6’6” and shorter to enjoy standing to their full extension without bumping their head. If living in the van full-time, this could become one of your most important factors.
But if minimal living is more your style, a Ford Transit Connect has just enough space to fit in all the essentials of van life while providing more flexibility in travel destinations and fuel economy.
Just remember, you’ll spend all of your time sitting or bending over while in a van with low ceilings. You’ll have to decide which features are most important to you.
DIY vs. Professional Conversion: Which Is Better?
If money is no object, hiring a professional van conversion company will present you with high-quality supplies and workmanship. They can give you a beautiful finished product. And because they’ve completed many van conversions, the designers know what works and what doesn’t before they start on your vehicle.
On the other hand, creating a product from the ground up means you set the specs. Plus, doing the work yourself can save you money and give you the exact outcome you desire.
Then, there’s the self-satisfaction of building your home to your own specifications. You’ll learn as you go and develop useful skills for future endeavors. With the knowledge to adjust, repair, and replace during your van conversion, you’ll be ready for more DIY!
Pro Tip: Looking for some inspiration for your van conversion? Check out these 5 Best Minivan Camper Conversions That Will Blow Your Mind!
Is a Ford Transit a Good Camper Van?
If dependability, safety, and useful design are important to you, a Ford Transit van might be your best choice for a camper van. It offers an extremely comfortable cabin with a wide variety of interior build-out options. And their efficient gas engine will prolong your fuel budget, giving you more time to enjoy road trip adventures.
Have you seen the Ford Transit camper vans? What did you think? Drop a comment below!
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