10 Amazing Cargo Van Conversions
Considering a cargo van conversion for van life?
With their spacious interiors, wide availability, and the option to convert to 4×4, cargo vans are a great option for vanlife.
But what about the upfront cost? And what kind of conversion can you build with a cargo van?
In this post, we’ll find out.
Here’s everything you’ll learn:
Table of Contents
10 Amazing Converted Cargo Vans
Cargo vans provide a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?
Here are 10 of the coolest cargo van conversions ever:
#10: Cozy Wood Ceiling Sprinter Cargo Build with High Bed and Shower
- Highlights: This DIY sprinter build has a slatted wood ceiling, two skylights, a unique sliding shower door, and a booth dinette across from the single wall kitchen. The fixed bed is high up for lots of storage underneath.
- Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170” Extended
- Owner: @a_van_and_no_plan
#9: Chevy Express Cargo Van with Pop-Top and Convertible Dinette
- Highlights: This Express is fitted with a Quigley 4×4 system for rugged mountain roads. Inside is a dinette setup that converts into a comfy bed, a hidden porta potty, and a kitchen unit with a fridge, stove, and sink. Beartooth Vanworks also installed a super high pop-top that provides standing room inside.
- Van: Chevy Express
- Owner: @beartoothvanworks more photos at (beartoothvanworks.com)
#8: Boho Style Transit Camper with Pull Out Table and Large Butcher Block Counter
- Highlights: This stylish Transit build has a fixed bed at the back and a pull-out table for the dinette. The gorgeous kitchen has a butcher block counter and a painted ceramic sink.
- Van: 2020 148” Ford Transit
- Owner: @traceythetransit
#7: ProMaster Cargo Build with Large Convertible Dinette Bed and Walk-In Shower
- Highlights: This functional ProMaster build offers a comfortable couch/dinette/bed in the back. The galley kitchen has a full-sized sink and the shower is roomy and works as storage for a composting toilet.
- Van: 2021 148” Extended Ram ProMaster
- Owner: @thehuntersvanlife
#6: 4×4 Off-Road Ready Pop-Top Ford Econoline Campervan
- Highlights: This gorgeous Ford Econoline has a bench seat inside that converts to a bed, as well as a kitchen with a sink, stove, and fridge. The generous pop-top adds lots of room to stand up inside. The heavy-duty 4×4 and lifted chassis can handle any terrain.
- Van: 2014 Ford Econoline
- Owner: @sportsmobile (more photos at sportsmobile.com)
#5: AWD Lifted Chevy Astro Cargo Van with Double Booth
- Highlights: This Chevy Astro overlanding rig has a double booth that folds down into a cozy bed. The kitchenette has a sink, oven, and stove. The whole van is lifted 4 inches for some extra clearance.
- Van: 2003 AWD Chevy Astro
- Owner: @vandalorianlife
#4: Luxury Sprinter Build with Skylight and Tiled Shower
- Highlights: This fancy Sprinter build from Reset and Chill Campers has a high fixed bed at the back underneath a huge skylight. The one wall kitchen has a farmhouse sink and there’s a large faux-tiled shower at the front.
- Van: Mercedes Sprinter 170”
- Owner: @resetandchill_campers
#3: High Top Off-Road Econoline Camper with Motorbike Storage
- Highlights: This Econoline was converted from an old Airstream campervan and features a large high-top roof design. The owners gutted the van and converted it to a 4×4 with a lift to make it a great off-roading vehicle. The interior has a fold-down bed, lots of storage, and a rear toilet.
- Van: 1992 Ford Econoline
- Owner: @cobbsbetrippin
#2: Engineer-Built Ford Transit Cargo Van with Convertible Couch to Bed
- Highlights: This heavy-duty van build was made with four seasons living in mind. It has a unique couch to queen bed design and a large garage.
- Van: 2021 148” Ford Transit
- Owner: @engineerswhovanlife
#1: DIY GMC Savana Van with Convertible Bed and Pop Top
- Highlights: This 4×4 Savana is made for all things adventure. There’s a sleeping room in the pop top, as well as the convertible bed inside the van. The rear of the van has a rack that holds six mountain bikes.
- Van: 2019 GMC Savana
- Owner: @vanlifeepic
11 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like Cargo Van Conversions
Cargo vans are great – but are they the best option for van life?
Here are 11 reasons why vanlifers like cargo vans:
- Spacious Interior: One major benefit of cargo vans is their spacious interior. They have plenty of room inside for a large bed, kitchen, and bathroom.
- Off-Road Conversions: Many conversion companies work to convert cargo vans to 4×4, and the new Mercedes Sprinters come in 4×4. Unlike minivans and small cargo vans, larger cargo vans can be excellent off-road vehicles.
- Pop-Tops and High-Tops: Lots of these larger cargo vans come with pre-built pop-tops and high-tops, and there are also companies that will convert cargo vans to pop tops.
- Square Interior: Most cargo vans have square interiors, which can make DIY builds much easier.
- Widely Available: Vans like the Transit, Sprinter, and Econoline are some of the more popular vehicles on the market, so they won’t be difficult to get your hands on.
- Stealthy: If you’re looking for stealth, it’s relatively easy to disguise a large cargo campervan as a utility vehicle which will allow you to “legally” camp in urban areas (although you might have to give up things like metal roof racks and large windows).
- Lots of Conversion Info Online: The community of cargo van converters online is massive. You won’t have trouble finding tons of DIY conversion tips and forums to post questions on.
- Roof Space: One of the best things about cargo vans is their flat roofs, which means lots of room for van conversion solar panels, gear racks, roof decks, and extra storage.
- Long Lifespan: A lot of cargo vans are known for lasting a really long time–the Ford E-series, and Mercedes Sprinters in particular.
- Heavy Payload Capacity: These cars are designed for hauling heavy loads, so you probably don’t have to worry about a cargo van being able to handle a heavy build.
- Lots of Used Options: There are tons of used options on the market, and if you keep your eye out you can get a great deal on a used cargo van.
6 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike Converted Cargo Vans
As with every vehicle, there are downsides to cargo vans.
Here are 6 reasons why vanlifers dislike converted cargo vans:
- Lower Fuel Efficiency: Compared to smaller conversion vehicles, cargo vans get lower fuel efficiency, which can be costly in the long-run.
- Expensive to Buy New: New cargo vans like the Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit can cost over $50,000 new–a huge investment if you’re a first-time van lifer.
- Won’t Fit in Every Parking Space: Cargo vans are usually long and quite tall, and may not fit into parking garages, or tight spots in cities.
- Fewer New Options: Older cargo vans like the Econoline have been discontinued by the manufacturer, so there are no new options available.
- Can be Slow: Cargo vans typically don’t have very powerful engines, and adding a heavy interior build onto that will make them even slower. Don’t expect to be racing down the freeway in your new cargo van conversion.
- Used Options Prone Issues: Older vans can have major structural and mechanical issues. Look out for things like rust, transmission health, and leaks when buying any used vehicle.
Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy
Now that you know a little more about cargo vans, let’s see how they compare.
Cargo Van Cost
Cost: Sprinter vs Transit vs ProMaster vs GMC vs Chevy vs Ford
|Mercedes Sprinter||$45,340||$70,000||Check Price|
|Ford Transit||$42,940||$31,000||Check Price|
|Ram ProMaster||$41,250||$30,000||Check Price|
|GMC Savana||$38,100||$26,700||Check Price|
|Chevy Astro||N/A||$7,750||Check Price|
|Chevy Express||$38,100||$26,995||Check Price|
|Ford Econoline||N/A||$15,750||Check Price|
Cargo Van Dimensions
Dimensions: Sprinter vs Transit vs ProMaster vs GMC vs Chevy vs Ford
|Model||Interior Height||Interior Length (cargo)||Interior Width||Ext Length|
|Mercedes Sprinter||79 inches||173 inches||70 inches||290 inches|
|Ford Transit||56.9 inches||143.7 inches||69 inches||235.5 inches|
|Ram ProMaster||66 inches||120 inches||75 inches||213.2 inches|
|GMC Savana||55.1 inches||126.8 inches||62 inches||224.1 inches|
|Chevy Astro||46.9 inches||126 inches||55.9 inches||189.8 inches|
|Chevy Express||55.1 inches||126.8 inches||62 inches||224.1 inches|
|Ford Econoline||53.9 inches||121.4 inches||73.6 inches||212 inches|
Cargo Van Fuel Economy
Fuel Economy: Sprinter vs Transit vs ProMaster vs GMC vs Chevy vs Ford
|Mercedes Sprinter||21 MPG||24 MPG||22 MPG|
|Ford Transit||18 MPG||24 MPG||21 MPG|
|Ram ProMaster||19 MPG||25 MPG||21 MPG|
|GMC Savana||11 MPG||16 MPG||13 MPG|
|Chevy Astro||16 MPG||22 MPG||19 MPG|
|Chevy Express||11 MPG||16 MPG||13 MPG|
|Ford Econoline||13 MPG||17 MPG||15 MPG|
Conclusion: Is a Cargo Van Conversion Right for you?
There are a lot of reasons to like cargo vans: They have spacious interiors, they’re widely available, & and they can be converted to excellent off-roading vehicles – but they may not be for you.
- Spacious interior
- Off-road options
- Poor gas mileage
Have questions about cargo van conversions? Comment below ✍️