White 2019 GMC Savana 4x4 Cargo Van Conversion with Pop-Top

10 Amazing Cargo Van Conversions

Key takeaways

Wondering what the best cargo van for a conversion is?

Check out this list of 10 of best cargo van conversions ever.

10 Best Cargo Vans for Conversions

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Square Interior: Most cargo vans have square interiors, which can make DIY builds much easier.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Long Lifespan: A lot of cargo vans are known for lasting a really long time–the Ford E-series, and Mercedes Sprinters in particular.
  10. 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.
  11. 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:

  1. Lower Fuel Efficiency: Compared to smaller conversion vehicles, cargo vans get lower fuel efficiency, which can be costly in the long-run.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Fewer New Options: Older cargo vans like the Econoline have been discontinued by the manufacturer, so there are no new options available.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Model New Used Price
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

Model City Highway Combined
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.

Biggest factors:

  • Spacious interior
  • Off-road options
  • Pricey
  • Poor gas mileage
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