Ford Transit for Vanlife: 11 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Ford Transit for Vanlife?

Great choice.

With a 6′ 8″ ceiling height, tons of power, and plenty of aftermarket vanlife accessories, the Transit is a great option.

But how does it stack up against other popular models like the Ram ProMaster & Mercedes Sprinter?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

11 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Ford Transit

The Transit is versatile, popular, and cheap to maintain. But is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 11 reasons why vanlifers like the Transit:

  1. Easy Maintenance: Transit vans are widely used all across the country. That means no matter where you are, a mechanic nearby will be knowledgeable about your van and have easy access to parts.
  2. Great Ceiling Height: The high-roof Ford Transit has the highest roof of any van on the market right now (6′ 8″). Inside, you’ll have over 6 feet of headroom so you can fully stand up inside (see size comparison).
  3. Newer Vehicles: Ford started manufacturing the Transit in 2014. All Transits on the road now are pretty new, so they’ll have lower mileage and fewer mechanical issues.
  4. Relatively Inexpensive Upfront Cost: Compared to many vans on the market, the Transit is relatively cheap (see price comparison).
  5. Surprisingly Quick for a Big Van: The Transit comes with an optional 3.5L EcoBoost® V6 producing 310 horsepower and making it surprisingly quick for a large van.
  6. Lots of Van Builders Work on Transits: The Transit is one of the most popular vans for vanlife making the aftermarket van builder community quite popular  (seconded to only the Sprinter van).
  7. Square Interior Shape: The Transit has much squarer interior shape compared to the notoriously difficult to build on Sprinter van. DIY’ers welcome this as it makes securing wall panels significantly easier than rounder interiors found on the Sprinter.
  8. Cheap Repair Cost: The Transit is manufactured by Ford so replacement parts are notably cheaper than Mercedes parts.
  9. Runs on Gasoline: The Ford Transit has a gasoline engine which makes fueling up easy and maintenance related to the fuel system a breeze. Vans with diesel engines (Sprinter) required added maintenance (def tanks) which can cause problems and be expensive to fix especially when traveling outside of the country.
  10. 148” Length: The Ford Transit has a 148” length wheelbase which provides plenty of interior space yet still allows you to fit in most parking spaces.
  11. Huge Windows: For those who prefer to have a lot of windows in their van, the passenger & crew models of the Ford Transit have amazingly large windows which offer tons of natural light and make the hours spent cooped up in your van a little less cramped feeling. The views from the cockpit are about as good as it gets.

7 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Ford Transit

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Transit.

Here are 7 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Ford Transit:

  1. Not Great Gas Mileage: The Ford Transit averages around 17 MPG, so you can expect to spend a bit more on gas compared to some other vans on the market (see mileage comparison).
  2. Low Clearance: The Transit is known for having low ground clearance. That means off-roading is probably a no-go for this van.
  3. Super High Exterior: The almost 6’ 8” interior height comes at a cost – the outside of the high roof Transit is 9′ 2″ (or 110.4 inches) making garage parking and drive throughs impossible.
  4. AWD But No 4×4: Ford now offers an AWD version of the Transit, but still no 4×4 version. If off-roading is something you plan on doing a lot of, the Mercedes Sprinter 4×4 may be a better option.
  5. Plasticky Interior: Although fine, the interior of the Transit (and ProMaster) is much cheaper feeling than the Mercedes.
  6. Not A Luxury Brand: The Transit may be a better value, but for many vanlifers, owning a Mercedes matters.
  7. Not As Many Aftermarket Options: There are lots of aftermarket vanlife parts for the Transit, but the Mercedes Sprinter is still the king. If you plan on going all out with your build, the Sprinter offers more options.

 

21 Amazing Ford Transit Builds

With a high-ceiling and tons of interior space, the Transit provides plenty of layout options… but which looks the best?

Here are 21 of the coolest Ford Transits ever:

Build #21: Ford Transit with Drawer Garage Storage and Ceramic Bowl Sink

  • Highlights: This simple transit build has a few stand-out features, like the painted ceramic bowl sink, the pull-out garage storage, and even a roof deck on top.
  • Model: 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @4raeder.kueche.bett

 

Build #20: Extended Top Transit with Slide-Out Couch

  • Highlights: This transit has a large couch that serves as a workspace by day, and a bed by night. It was originally a low-top Transit that has been converted so there’s more headroom inside the van.
  • Model: 2016 130” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @spintheglobeproject

 

Build #19: High Platform Bed Transit with Slide-Out Bike Storage and Interior Cubby Storage

  • Highlights: This expertly-designed Ford Transit has a high platform bed, a couch, a three burner stove, and lots of countertop space. Storage is a top priority with lots of cubby shelves and a slide-out bike carrier.
  • Model: 2016 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @faroutride

 

Build #18: Driver’s Cab Sliding Door Transit with Oven, Lots of Cabinetry, & Fixed Bed

  • Highlights: This gorgeous van feels like a little studio apartment as it’s separated from the driver’s cab with a sliding mirrored door. The large bed in the back has a sun roof above it for extra airflow and stargazing.
  • Model: 2020 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @wheretheroadforks_

 

Build #17: All-Wood Interior Transit with Couch and Fixed Bed

  • Highlights: This Ford Transit has a log cabin feel with the wood paneling from top to bottom. The couch in front serves as a workspace, separated from the driver’s cab by a curtain. There’s tons of shelving and cabinetry throughout for storage and organization.
  • Model: 2020 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @wayfinderchronicles

 

Build #16: High-Roof Transit with Large Dinette and Dog Crate

  • Highlights: This transit build has it all: a fixed high bed, dining area, kitchenette, countertop space, fridge, and a hidden composting toilet. Under the bed is a dog crate which is accessible from the front as well.
  • Model: 2020 148” Extended AWD Ford Transit
  • Owner: @oga_vans

 

Build #15: Contravans Medium Roof Transit Layout with Fixed Bed and Large Countertop

  • Highlights: This smaller Transit van layout from Contravans is straightforward yet versatile. It features a fixed bed at the back and kitchenette at the front with a pull-out fridge and lots of counter space.
  • Model: 130” Ford Transit Medium Roof
  • Owner: @contravans

 

Build #14: High Roof Transit with Port Hole Windows, Wet Bath, and Full Kitchen

  • Highlights: This Transit build has a workspace/couch at the front and a fixed bed at the back. They’ve also included a wet bath with a shower and composting toilet. The best touch is those two unique port hole windows at the back!
  • Model: 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @boh_van

 

Build #13: Engineer-Built Transit 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.
  • Model: 2021 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @engineerswhovanlife

 

Build #12: Transit Build with Captain’s Chairs and Bike Storage

  • Highlights: This minimalist Transit build has a platform bed at the back and a workspace at the front which utilizes the two swiveling captain’s chairs. There’s room for a dog crate and bike storage under the bed, and there’s a tiny kitchen and composting toilet up front.
  • Model: 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @silverdragonwagon

 

Build #11: Boho Style Transit 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.
  • Model: 2020 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @traceythetransit

 

Build #10: Short Wheelbase Modular Transit Build with Double Pull Out Storage

  • Highlights: This simple Transit build has a small kitchen unit and a collapsible double bed. There are two large slide-out storage areas, one out of the side door, and one out of the back.
  • Model: 2018 130” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @theplyguys

 

Build #9: Wood Trim Transit with Fixed Bed, Shower, and Hidden Toilet

  • Highlights: This Ford Transit has a clean design with its fixed bed in the back, recessed lighting, and tiled shower. There’s even a pull-out cassette toilet underneath one of the dinette benches.
  • Model: 2022 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @thetriointransit

 

Build #8: High Roof Extended Transit with Wet Bath and 3-Way Dinette/Workspace/Bed

  • Highlights: This Transit build has a convertible dinette/bed/work space in the back. They’ve included a wet bath at the front which has a sliding barn door, and the kitchen is fully equipped with a sink, a two-burner stove, and a fridge.
  • Model: 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @theforeigndrifters

 

Build #7: Pop Top Transit Van from ModVans with Lots of Seating and a Full Kitchen

  • Highlights: ModVans makes pop-top, 4×4 converted Transit Vans. The sleeping room up top allows for the inside to feel more like a camper with its full kitchen and plenty of seating.
  • Model: 2020 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @modvans1

 

Build #6: Extended Wheelbase Transit with Slide-Out Bed, Kitchen, and Wet Bath

  • Highlights: This Transit van has a unique slideout bed that functions as a day bed and dinette or a queen-sized bed. This Transit build also offers a full kitchenette and a wet bath with a shower and toilet.
  • Model: 2015 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @stokeloafvan

 

Build #5: FreedomVans High-Roof Transit with Fixed Bed, Gear Drawer Slides, & Hidden Shower

  • Highlights: This Ford Transit with a raised fixed bed is made for adventure lovers with its double slide outs that have a holding capacity of 500 pounds.
  • Model: 2018 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @freedomvans

 

Build #4: Family Transit with Shower that Seats and Sleeps 6

  • Highlights: This awesome Transit build can seat up to 6 and sleep up to 8. It’s got a shower, kitchen, bunk beds, and even a hammock up top.
  • Model: 2020 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @van.addict

 

Build #3: Functional Transit Build with Dinette, Garage Pullouts, and a Hidden Toilet

  • Highlights: This Eurovan-inspired build has a platform bed atop some slideout garage storage that is accessible from the front or back. They’ve installed a small dinette with a window above, and a tiny porta-potty under the bench.
  • Model: 2021 148” AWD Ford Transit
  • Owner: @wildernessvans

 

Build #2: Long Wheel Base Transit with a Gorgeous Kitchen and Convertible Dinette

  • Highlights: This gorgeous Transit has a convertible large dinette to bed and a large kitchen with a high-rise faucet sink and lots of countertop space.
  • Model: 2017 148” Extended Ford Transit
  • Owner: @transitvanfam

 

Build #1: Transit with Slide-Out Gear Garage & Hidden Shower

  • Highlights: This Transit manages to fit a fixed bed, bench seats, shower, toilet, and kitchen all into 148″ package. Between the two bench seats there’s a hidden shower, and out back, there’s space for stowing gear.
  • Model: 2021 148” Ford Transit
  • Owner: @freedomvans

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Transit, let’s see how it stacks up against the ProMaster & Sprinter.

Ford Transit Cost

Cost: Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter

ModelNewUsedPrice
Ford Transit 130”$41,665$30,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148”$42,940$31,000Check Price
Ford Transit 148” Ext$48,085$34,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 118”$39,490$28,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 136”$41,250$30,000Check Price
Ram ProMaster 159”$44,450$32,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 144”$41,300$60,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170”$45,340$70,000Check Price
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext$50,660$75,000Check Price

 

Ford Transit Dimensions

Dimensions: Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter

ModelInt HeightInt Length (cargo)Int WidthExt Length
Ford Transit 130”56.9 inches126 inches69 inches219.9 inches
Ford Transit 148”56.9 inches143.7 inches69 inches235.5 inches
Ford Transit 148” Ext81.5 inches172.2 inches69 inches263.9 inches
Ram ProMaster 118”66 inches96 inches75 inches195.4 inches
Ram ProMaster 136”66 inches120 inches75 inches213.2 inches
Ram ProMaster 159”77 inches144 inches75 inches236.2 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 144”67.7 inches132.9 inches70.4 inches233.5 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170”79 inches173 inches70 inches290 inches
Mercedes Sprinter 170” Ext79 inches189 inches70 inches274 inches

Related: Ford Transit Van Dimensions (more in-depth stats)

 

Ford Transit Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Ford Transit vs Ram ProMaster vs Mercedes Sprinter

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Ford Transit – 3.5L PFDi V614 MPG18 MPG16 MPG
Ford Transit – 3.5L EcoBoost® V618 MPG24 MPG21 MPG
Ford Transit – 2.0L GDI I-419 MPG27 MPG23 MPG
Ram ProMaster – 3.6 L V6 19 MPG 25 MPG 21 MPG
Ram ProMaster – 2.4 L V4 21 MPG28 MPG 24 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Gas21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 2.1L L4 Diesel21 MPG24 MPG22 MPG
Mercedes Sprinter – 3.0L V6 Diesel18 MPG21 MPG19.5 MPG

Related: Ford Transit Van Gas Mileage (more in-depth stats)

 

Conclusion: Is the Ford Transit Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Ford Transit: It’s affordable, reliable, and provides tons of interior space – but it may not be for everyone.

We love these features:

  • 6′ 8″ ceiling height makes standing up for extended periods comfortable
  • 148″ length wheelbase allows for convenient parking
  • 300+ horsepower engine makes taking off in traffic and holding 70 mph a breeze
  • Maintenance concerns are minimal (all Transits are 2014 or newer)

So should you get one?

Absolutely. We recommend the Transit over the ProMaster or Sprinter for vanlifers who want a premium build, rear-wheel drive, and maximum headroom.

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