Best Van for Vanlife: 24 Vans Compared

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What’s the best van for vanlife?

There is no perfect solution.

Large vans provide more space but limit maneuverability, while small vans sacrafice comfort.

Even hybrid setups (like pop-top campers), which expandable living spaces do so at great cost to comfort.

So what really is the best van for van life and overland travel?

In this post, we’ll discuss 24 of the best vans for van life so you can decide:

Things to Consider

1. Style

Although everyone discusses reliability and gas mileage, at the end of the day most people make buying decisions based on what they think looks cool – and that’s okay.

2. Overall Value

There are no shortage of companies lining up to sell you stuff for your $60,000 Sprinter van… which is great… but what if could spend half that and get the same value?

3. Reliability

There’s nothing worse than buying a vehicle with plans of making it better only to find out that you need to constantly spend money just to keep it how you expected it to be when you bought it.

4. Utility

When confining yourself to a single vehicle to live and travel, having a vehicle that allows you to drive on the freeway, stand-up comfortable, and also go off-road makes a big difference in how enjoyable the experience is.

5. Everything New

New Technology (v2 is when the catastrophic bugs get fixed), new models (big issues get worked out just like with new tech and no one makes aftermarket parts yet and if they do there is no competition so everything is double the price)

6. Depreciation

New vehicles lose an average of 20% of their value within the first year of and a whopping 40% within 5 years [1]. Why not buy slightly used and get 99% of the value without eating the cost of depreciation?

 


 

Best Vans for Vanlife

1. Mercedes Sprinter

Fully built Mercedes Sprinter van

Category: Modern
Cost: $55,000
Pros: Comfortable to Drive, Lots of Aftermarket Parts, Tons of Online Info, Can Handle Heavy Builds, Long-Lasting, Lots of Professional Builders, Relatively Fuel Efficient, Great Resale Value, High Ground Clearance, Comes in 4×4, Luxury Brand, High Ceiling, Long Cargo Length
Cons: Expensive, Difficult/Expensive to Service, DEF Issues, Prone to Rust, Need to Ship Parts Internationally, Not Stealthy, Doesn’t Fit in Parking Spaces, Rounded Shape Makes DIY Builds Difficult, Hard to Find Used

Related: 21 Amazing Sprinter Van Conversions

 

2. Ford Transit

Man sitting on roof of built Ford Transit

Category: Modern
Cost: ~$45,000
Pros: Easy Maintenance, Great Ceiling Height, Newer Vehicle, Relatively Inexpensive, Surprisingly Quick, Lots of Van Builders, Square Interior Shape, Cheap Repair Cost, Runs on Gasoline, 148” Length, Huge Windows
Cons: Not Great Gas Mileage, Low Ground Clearance, Super High Exterior, AWD but No 4×4, Plasticky Interior, Not as Many Aftermarket Options as Sprinter

Related: 21 Amazing Ford Transit Conversions

 

3. Ram ProMaster

Ram ProMaster driving down gravel road in mountains

Category: Modern
Cost: ~$35,000
Pros: Long Wheelbase, Inexpensive, Available Gasoline/Diesel, Wide Interior, Short Exterior Height, Cheap Repairs, Easy to Drive, Van Builders Are Knowledgeable About ProMasters, Excellent Traction and Turn Radius, Square Shape, Short Enough to Fit in a Parking Spot, Stealth, Lots of Roof Space
Cons: No 4×4 or AWD Options, Small Front Windows, Not a Mercedes, Cheaply-Made Parts, Uncomfortable Seats, Stiff Suspension, Low Clearance, E-Brake Placement, Fewer Aftermarket Options, Door Lock Issues, Shortest Ceiling Height, Front-Wheel Drive, Resale Value

Related: 21 Amazing Ram ProMaster Conversions

 

4. Vauxhall Movano

Man driving Vauxhall Movano on European street

Category: Modern
Cost: ~$30,000
Pros: Comes in Electric, Lots of Interior Room, Long-Lasting Engine, Great Gas Mileage, Inexpensive New and Used, Oil Service Every 25,000 Miles, Lots of Height and Length Options, Newer Models Look Cool, Can Handle Heavy Builds, 100,000-mile Warranty on New Vehicles
Cons: Needs to be Imported, Few Aftermarket Options, Uncomfortable to Drive, Fewer Conversion Companies Work on Them, Engine Not Powerful Enough for Largest Size, Steering Wheel Height Not Adjustable, Plasticky Interior, Not Easy to Service in the U.S.

Related: 9 Amazing Vauxhall Movano Conversions

 

5. Renault Master

Dog standing in front of silver Renault Master van

Category: Modern
Cost: ~$25,000
Pros: Recently Face-lifted Exterior and Interior, Engines Last a Long Time, Can Handle Heavy Builds, Square Interior Shape, Good Fuel Economy, Comfortable Inside, Great Dealer Service, Rear Doors Open 270 Degrees, Large Fuel Tank Capacity, Great Color Options, 5 Year Warranty
Cons: More Expensive Than a Movano, Doesn’t Have a Great Safety Rating, Not Sold in the U.S., Fewer Aftermarket Options, Fewer Van Building Resources, Doesn’t Handle Bumpy Roads Well, Noisy Engine

Related: 12 Amazing Renault Master Conversions

 

6. Ford Transit Connect

Ford Transite Connect parked in desert in front of mountains

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$20,000
Pros: More Fuel Efficient Than Large Vans, Inexpensive New and Used, Easy to Drive, Stealth Factor, Great for City and Rural Driving, Lots of Online Info for Build-outs, Cheap Parts and Repairs, Comfortable Ride, Interior Allows for Lots of Storage Space, Widely Available, Good for DIY Builds, Good Visibility
Cons: Can’t Handle Heavy Builds, Small Interior, Poor Acceleration, Plasticky Interior, Transmission Issues, Underpowered Engine, Noisy Ride, Only Comes in 2WD, New Connects Have Very Low Ceiling Height

Related: 16 Amazing Ford Transit Connect Conversions

 

7. Ram ProMaster City

Ram ProMaster City with roof top tent parked next to river

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$27,500
Pros: Great Fuel Economy, Can Handle Heavier Builds Than the Transit Connect, Great Handling, Decent Engine Power, Can be Serviced Anywhere, Inexpensive Parts, Comfortable to Sit In, Can Fit in a Normal Parking Space, Good Visibility, “Stealth” Factor
Cons: Low Headroom, Very Small, Noisy at High Speeds, Doesn’t Retain Value Well, Not as Widely Available as the Transit Connect, Clunky Transmission, Not a lot of Cargo Length

Related: 16 Amazing Ram ProMaster City Conversions

 

8. Renault Trafic

Grey Renault Trafic van converted into campervan

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$27,500
Pros: Reliable, Comes in Many Different Wheelbase and Height Options, Diesel Engines Last a Long Time, Good Fuel Economy, More Interior Room Than Most Small Vans, Comfortable to Drive, Boxy Shape Makes Build-Outs Easier, Quiet When Running, Good Stereo System, Newer Models Have Great Safety Features, Fits in a Standard Parking Space
Cons: Fewer Conversion Companies Will Work on Them, Not Tall Enough to Stand up in, Sliding Door Issues, Turbo Failure is Common, Not Sold in the U.S., Fewer Online Resources for DIY Conversion

Related: 14 Amazing Nissan NV200 Conversions

 

9. Nissan NV200

White Nissan NV200 conversion parked in woods

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$15,000
Pros: Fuel Efficient, “Stealth” Factor, Inexpensive New and Used, Easy to Service, Reliable, Great Turn Radius, Easy to Park in Any Parking Spot, Great for City Driving, Comfortable Seats, Great for Simple DIY Builds, Fully Electric Option Offered in Europe
Cons: Not Enough Height to Stand Up, Small Interior, Not Great Resale Value, Slow Acceleration, No AWD Options, Noisy Ride, Low Clearance, May Not be Long Enough for Tall People, Difficult to Install Rooftop Fan

Related: 11 Amazing Renault Trafic Conversions

 

10. Mercedes Metris

White Mercedes Metris Conversion Parked Next to Ocean

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$27,500
Pros: Easy to Drive, Fits in Any Parking Space, “Stealth” Factor, High Horsepower, Mercedes Name Brand, Nice Interior, Large Rear Windows, Mercedes Sells a Camper Option, Wide Cargo Area, Sleek Exterior Look, Great for Simple DIY Builds, Higher Payload Than Other Small Vans, More Room for Builds Than Other Small Vans
Cons: Requires Premium Fuel, Expensive New and Used, Poor Visibility, RWD Only, Low Headroom, Major Issues With the 2016 Model, Not Enough Room for All-Inclusive Builds, Pricey Parts and Maintenance, Not Great Fuel Economy for its Size

Related: 16 Amazing Mercedes Metris Conversions

 

11. VW California

Green and white Volkswagen California parked at campsite

Category: Modern Mid-Sized
Cost: ~$70,000
Pros: No Need to Build Out, Great Aesthetics, Smart Interior Design, Comfortable to Drive, High-Quality Build-Out, Long-Lasting Engine, Pop-Tops Already Installed, Fits in a Standard Parking Spot, 4WD Option, Can Sleep 4, Tons of Safety Features, Good Fuel Economy
Cons: Few Customization Options, Bad Handling, Poor Engine Range, Pricey to Buy, No Toilet or Shower, Diesel is Expensive, Not Available in The U.S.

Related: Volkswagen California Van Configurations

 

12. Ford Econoline (E-Series)

Yellow vintage Ford Econoline (E350) parked in front of mountain

Category: Budget Americana
Cost: ~$15,000
Pros: Inexpensive to Buy, Good “stealth” Factor, Great Cargo Length, Lasts a Long Time, Easy to Repair, Inexpensive Parts, Durable, Can Handle Heavy Builds, Lots of Conversion Info Online, Many Aftermarket Add-ons Available, Good Handling for its Size, Good Visibility, Powerful Engine
Cons: Low Ceiling Height, Not as Visually Appealing as a Transit Van, Can Have Rust Issues, No New Options, Bad Gas Mileage, Can’t Quite Fit Into Small Parking Spaces, Low Resale Value.

Related: 15 Amazing Ford Econoline Conversions

 

13. Chevy Express (G-Series)

White Chevy Express van with built out campervan interior

Category: Budget Americana
Cost: ~$25,000
Pros: Easy to Service, Great for Stealth Camping, Fits in Parking Garages, Easy to Maneuver, Cheap to Buy, Can Tow if Needed, Can Handle Heavy Builds, Lasts a Long Time, Spacious Interior, Inexpensive Parts
Cons: Dated Exterior, Can’t Stand up Inside, Small Side Mirrors, Poor Gas Mileage, Uncomfortable Seats, No AWD Options From Manufacturer, Very Few Updates in Recent Years.

Related: 15 Amazing Chevy Express Conversions

 

14. Chevy Astro

White Chevy Astro campervan with roof rack parked on desert road

Category: Budget Americana
Cost: ~$7,500
Pros: Inexpensive, Last a Long Time, Comes in AWD, Easy to Drive, Fits in a Standard Parking Spot, Good for Simple Conversions, Square Interior Shape, Robust Suspension, Rear Swing Out Doors, Can Tow if Needed
Cons: Small Interior, Poor Gas Mileage, Can’t Stand up Inside, May Need Lots of Mechanical Work, No New Options, Loud Cabin Noise, Dated Look.

Related: 11 Amazing Chevy Astro Van Conversions

 

15. GMC Savana

Lifted 4x4 GMC Savana campervan with custom graphics parked on grass

Category: Budget Americana
Cost: ~$25,000
Pros: Affordable, Widely Available, Pretty Stealthy, Easy to Fix, Comes in AWD, Long Wheelbase, High Payload Capacity, Can Tow if Needed, Lasts a Long Time, Fits in Parking Garages
Cons: Low Roof, Outdated Exterior, Not Fuel Efficient, Plasticky Interior, Hard to Maneuver.

Related: 11 Amazing GMC Savana Conversions

 

16. Dodge Ram van

Converted Dodge Ram campervan parked in snow

Category: Budget Americana
Cost: ~$7,500
Pros: Great Price, Cool Style, Many are Already Converted, Great for Simple Builds, Last a Long Time, Can Handle Heavy Builds, Can Tow if Needed, Many High-Roof Options on the Market, Comfortable Seats
Cons: Very Poor Gas Mileage, Lots of Mechanical Issues, Rear Wheel Drive, Can Sway at High Speeds, Difficult to Park, Outdated Safety Features, Can Have Transmission Issues, Van Conversion Companies May Not Work on Them

Related: 4 Amazing Dodge Ram Van Conversions

 

17. Dodge Caravan

Silver dodge caravan conversion parked in woods with solar panel

Category: Minivan
Cost: ~$5,000
Pros: Inexpensive Used, Great for “No-Build” Builds, Very Stealthy, Fits in Any Parking Space, Stow ‘N’ Go Seats, Inexpensive Conversion Kits, Powerful Engine, Great Handling, Cheap Maintenance Costs, Comfortable Front Seats
Cons: No New Options Available, Poor Acceleration, Doesn’t Come in AWD/4WD, May Require Repairs, Outdated Look, Bad Gas mileage, May Not Last a Long Time

Related: 6 Amazing Dodge Caravan Conversions

 

18. Toyota Sienna

Silver Toyota Sienna campervan parked in front of field

Category: Minivan
Cost: ~$25,000
Pros: Excellent Fuel Economy, Comes in AWD, Hybrid Models Available, Lasts a Long Time, Great for Towing, Easy to Park, Very Stealth, Safety Features, Fewer Transmission Issues Than the Odyssey, Great Visibility, Easy and Inexpensive Maintenance, Widely Available, Lots of Space Behind the Rear Seats
Cons: Seats are Difficult to Remove in Second Generation Siennas, Breaks Can Wear Down, Not as Fast as the Odyssey, Pricey for a Minivan, May Not be Large Enough for Full-time Vanlife

Related: 10 Amazing Toyota Sienna Conversions

 

19. Kia Sedona

Dark grey Kia Sedona camperan parked on residential street

Category: Minivan
Cost: ~$22,500
Pros: Affordable, Easy to Remove the Seats, Great for No/low-Build Conversions, Better Gas Mileage Than a Larger Van, Small Size With the Benefits of a Minivan, Slide-and-Stow Seats, Reliable
Cons: So-so Fuel Efficiency, Lacks Built-in Storage, Not Made for Off-Roading, Few Conversion Kits Available, Not A lot of Online Info

Related: 2 Amazing Kia Sedona Conversions

 

20. Honda Odyssey

Red Honda Odyssey campervan parked in outdoors setting

Category: Minivan
Cost: ~$20,000
Pros: Fits in a Garage, Very Reliable, Large Interior Space for a Minivan, Lots of Conversion Kits Available, Good for Non-Permanent Builds, Decent Fuel Economy, Widely Available, Easy and Inexpensive to Service, Fits in Any Parking Space, Good for Stealth Camping, Easy to Remove Seats, Powerful Engine
Cons: Can be Pricier Than Other Minivans, Large Blind Spots, Can’t Stand up Inside, Not Enough Room for an Interior Kitchen, Difficult to Navigate City Driving, Transmission Issues on Older Models

Related: 5 Amazing Honda Odyssey Conversions

 

21. VW Van

Blue 70's Volkswagen Campervan parked next to ocean during sunset

Category: Throwback
Cost: ~$30,000
Pros: Most Come Already Built Out, Large, Wrap-Around Windows, Awesome Street Cred, Pop-tops and High Roofs, Good for Off-Roading, Functional Interiors, Great Visibility, Large Online Community, Easy Repairs, Holds its Value, Unique Interiors
Cons: Slow, Requires A lot of Maintenance, Rust Issues, Safety Concerns, No A/C, Pricey, People Will Know You’re Camping in Them

Related: 9 Amazing Volkswagen Campervan Conversions

 

22. Toyota HiAce

Toyota HiAce parked in field - photo by Vanlife Northwest

Category: Throwback
Cost: ~$15,000
Pros: Comes in 4WD, Super Unique, Reliable Engine, Small and Nimble, Large Interior, Great for Off-Roading, Lasts a Long Time, Room for More Amenities Than the Delica, Great Handling, Decent Gas Mileage
Cons: Needs to be Imported (If you Live in the U.S.), Older Models Might Need A lot of Work, Hard to Get Your Hands on, Not Many Conversion Companies Work on Them, More Difficult to DIY Build-Out, Rust Issues, Right-hand Drive

Related: 9 Amazing Toyota HiAce Conversions

 

23. Mitsubishi Delica

Mitsubishi Delica Campervan with roof rack parked on sandy beach

Category: Throwback
Cost: ~$20,000
Pros: Diesel Engine, Good Gas Mileage, High Clearance, 4×4, Enough Room for an Indoor Kitchen, Very Reliable, Relatively Easy Repairs, Very Unique, Crystal Lite Sunroof, Seats Fold Into a Bed, Online Community
Cons: Parts Can be Hard to Find, Mechanics May Not be Familiar, Diesel is Pricey, More Expensive Than a HiAce, Right-hand Drive, Has to be Imported, Needs A lot of Repairs, Rust Issues

Related: 10 Amazing Mitsubishi Delica Conversions

 

24. Nissan Urvan

Blue Nissan Urvan campervan parked on beach

Category: Throwback
Cost: ~$15,000
Pros: Pop-Tops, Many Come Already Converted, Decent Gas Mileage, Enough Room for an Indoor Kitchen, High Clearance, Lasts a Long Time, Holds Value Well, 4X4 Options, Super Unique, Powerful Engine, Larger Interior Than Other Throwback Models, Cheaper Than Other Older Vans
Cons: Hard to Get Your Hands On, Needs A lot of Repairs, Parts Can be Pricey, Not as Great for Off-roading, Right-hand Drive, Needs to be Imported to the U.S.

Related: 10 Amazing Nissan Urvan Conversions

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