Dodge Ram Van For Vanlife: 9 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Dodge Ram van for Vanlife?

With a cool style, V8 engine, & low up-front cost, the Dodge Ram van is a solid option.

But how does it stack up against other popular Budget Americana models like the Ford EconolineChevy ExpressChevy Astro, & GMC Savana?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

9 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Dodge Ram van

The Dodge Ram van is inexpensive, durable, & just plain cool – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 9 reasons why vanlifers like the Ram van:

  1. Great Price: The Dodge Ram Van is one of the least expensive vans on the market. Some van lifers have purchased their used Ram Vans for $2,000 or less.
  2. Cool Style: If you’re into the look of the 90s Dodge Ram Vans, they have a pretty awesome vintage style and will get you some serious “cool” points in the van life community.
  3. Many are Already Converted: Dodge originally sold tons of different Ram Vans pre-built out as conversion vans. Some of these are still around, so you won’t have to do all that conversion work yourself.
  4. Great for Simple Builds: There are also many stripped Ram Vans on the market. Since they’re so cheap, they’re low risk for a simple, inexpensive build that you can do completely on your own.
  5. Last a Long Time: Many Ram Van owners get over 200,000 miles on their vans before any major issues.
  6. Can Handle Heavy Builds: The Ram Van has a powerful V8 engine that can carry heavy builds and lots of gear if needed. The payload capacity is over 3,000 pounds.
  7. Can Tow if Needed: The Ram Van can also tow over 7,000 pounds if you need to hitch a trailer on for extra storage or sleeping space.
  8. Many High-Roof Options on the Market: Dodge initially manufactured the Ram Van in a high-roof option made for conversion vans, and a lot of these vans are still out there today.
  9. Comfortable Seats: Most Dodge Ram Vans have super cushioned comfy seats that will stay comfortable for your whole drive.

8 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Ram van

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Dodge Ram van.

Here are 8 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Ram:

  1. Very Poor Gas Mileage: The Dodge Ram van gets just 12 miles per gallon combined. If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle, this isn’t it.
  2. Lots of Mechanical Issues: Since all Dodge Ram vans on the market are at least 19 years old (they stopped being manufactured in 2003), a lot of them will have some major mechanical issues you might have to deal with.
  3. Rear Wheel Drive: The Dodge Ram van is rear-wheel drive, which means lots of slipping and sliding in icy conditions.
  4. Can Sway at High Speeds: Dodge Ram van owners say the vehicle has significant sway on the freeway at speeds above 60 MPH.
  5. Difficult to Park: The proportions of this van and its small mirrors mean it can be difficult to park, especially in cities.
  6. Outdated Safety Features: Because all of these vans are from 2003 or earlier, the safety features are really lacking compared to today’s standards.
  7. Can Have Transmission Issues: Many Ram vans with over 100,000 miles can run into some major transmission issues.
  8. Van Conversion Companies May Not Work on Them: Because these vans aren’t popular anymore, it’ll be hard to find a conversion company that is familiar and available to work on one.

 

4 Amazing Dodge Ram Van Builds

With an optional high-roof, square interior shape, & powerful V8 engine, the Ram van provides a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 4 of the coolest Dodge Ram vans ever:

 

Build #4: High-Top All-Wood Ram Van Build that Sleeps One

  • Highlights: This smart Ram Van build-out is the perfect cozy living space for one. The raised bed in the back sits above several storage drawers, and behind a wardrobe closet. The kitchen takes up one whole wall and has a sink, countertop space, and a stove. The large chest fridge is located under the wardrobe.
  • Van: Dodge Ram B250 Van
  • Owner: @julianmariano

 

Build #3: Dodge Ram Van with Copper Bowl Sink and Above-Bed Storage

  • Highlights: This Ram Van build has a rear bed with lots of storage for bins underneath. There’s even more storage built in above the bed. The kitchen area has a gorgeous copper sink and a large spice rack to keep cooking ingredients and cleaning supplies in place.
  • Van: Dodge Ram Van
  • Owner: @happysouls.campers

 

Build #2: Dodge Ram Van with Swing-Out Door Kitchen and Propane Stove Heater

  • Highlights: This simple cozy Ram van conversion has a unique kitchen that is attached to the door and can be used both inside and outside the van. The kitchen has a sink and two-burner stove, as well as a flip-up countertop. The van stays nice and warm inside thanks to its propane stove heater.
  • Van: 1994 Dodge Ram B250 Van
  • Owner: @adventure.kooks

 

Build #1: High Roof Ram Van with Vintage Fridge

  • Highlights: This boho chic Dodge Ram van has a large side-facing bed at the back and a countertop that is actually an old dresser van owner Anna installed. The vintage blue fridge adds a great pop of color. This van not only comfortably sleeps Anna, but also her cat and dog.
  • Van: 1989 Dodge Ram Van
  • Owner: @annsvan

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Dodge Ram van, let’s see how it stacks up against Ford EconolineChevy ExpressChevy Astro, & GMC Savana.

 

Dodge Ram Van Cost

Cost: Dodge Ram Van vs Chevy Astro vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Express vs GMC Savana

ModelNewUsedPrice
Dodge RamN/A$8,795Check Price
Chevy Express$38,100$26,995Check Price
Ford EconolineN/A$15,750Check Price
Chevy AstroN/A$7,750Check Price
GMC Savana$38,100$26,700Check Price

 

Dodge Ram Van Dimensions

Dimensions: Dodge Ram Van vs Chevy Astro vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Express vs GMC Savana

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Dodge Ram Van56 inches124.8 inches73.5 inches192.6 inches
Chevy Express55.1 inches126.8 inches62 inches224.1 inches
Ford Econoline53.9 inches121.4 inches73.6 inches212 inches
Chevy Astro46.9 inches126 inches55.9 inches189.8 inches
GMC Savana55.1 inches126.8 inches62 inches224.1 inches

 

Dodge Ram Van Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Dodge Ram Van vs Chevy Astro vs Ford Econoline vs Chevy Express vs GMC Savana

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Dodge Ram Van11 MPG14 MPG12 MPG
Chevy Express11 MPG16 MPG13 MPG
Ford Econoline13 MPG17 MPG15 MPG
Chevy Astro16 MPG22 MPG19 MPG
GMC Savana11 MPG16 MPG13 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is the Dodge Ram van Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Dodge Ram van: It’s cool, inexpensive, & great for simple builds – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Inexpensive
  • Cool Retro Style
  • Many Already Converted
  • Bad Gas Mileage
  • Lots of Mechanical Issues

So should you get one?

Probably not. We’d recommend the Dodge Ram van for vanlifers who either really like the retro styling or have access to an exceptionally good deal. Otherwise, it makes more sense to go with one of the other Budget Americana options like the Ford Econoline, Chevy Astro, Chevy Express, or GMC Savana. They offer better value at a similar price.

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