If you’re in the market for a Class B motorhome, you’ve probably noticed the debate on which chassis is best for van life. The Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ram ProMaster camper vans are soaring in popularity and all chassis options are great in their own unique ways. Several factors can help your decision on what chassis is best for you and your adventures. This is the first of a three-part series looking at the top three camper van chassis by Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Ram. We will dive into the Ford Transit camper van chassis and how it’s driving the #vanlife movement.
History of the Ford Transit Van
Ford has been around since 1903, leading innovation in the automotive industry worldwide for more than a century. In fact, the Ford Transit is the oldest cargo van built, compared to the Ram ProMaster and Mercedes Sprinter, and has gone through multiple generations. In 1965, Ford introduced the Transit, also known as the T-Series, as a cargo van in the European market. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that Ford presented the fourth generation of the Transit chassis to the United States. People loved converting Transits into RVs and Ford took notice, acting on the popular movement and manufacturing the beloved chassis for RV companies.
What is the Ford Transit Van Chassis?
The Ford Transit is one of the most popular lightweight commercial vehicle chassis that Ford manufactures, making it a great chassis for camper vans. The Ford Transit camper van drives very similarly to a cargo van, even with the added weight of all the motorhome essentials. You will find it comfortable to drive with the shorter front end and the familiarity in the driver’s seat and dashboard. These vans are also not so high off the ground and have AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control and side-wind stabilization. These features greatly improve stability and control, while maintaining a smooth, comfortable ride. Transit camper vans are also very easy to maneuver and have a tighter turning radius.
In 2020, Ford introduced all-wheel drive and a 10-speed automatic overdrive transmission for the Transit van chassis, making it a popular choice for camper vans. The Transit van also features 310 horsepower and 400 ft-lb of torque for handling everything from straight plains to rugged mountains with ease. Almost all RV manufacturers produce their camper vans with the AWD Transit van for tough terrain. That same year, Ford also introduced adaptive cruise control and pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking (AEB). This is helpful if you are in the wilderness and animals cross your path or in the city with pedestrians.
Inside the Transit van cab, you will have an AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth, as well as a large digital display. The Transit is also equipped with the FordPass Connect, an app that allows you to check important stats of your camper van, remotely start and stop it, as well as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and more. A great thing about camper vans is that the front driver and passenger seats swivel around for added seating room, and many floorplans have removable tables for these seats.
How Does the Ford Transit Van Compare to Other Camper Van Chassis?
Ford Transit Van Price Comparison
If you’re looking for a new camper van, the price can range from around $100,000 MSRP to over $250,000 MSRP. If you’re looking for a lower-priced gas motorhome, the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster are great B van options. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has a higher price point for camper vans; however, diesel camper vans do start at a higher price compared to gas.
Ford Transit Gas Camper Vans vs. Diesel Alternatives
There are pros and cons to gas and diesel camper vans. The Ford Transit camper van is a gas fuel type like the Ram ProMaster and is available in a gas or diesel option depending on the year and make of the RV. Diesel camper vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, have better fuel efficiency than gas camper vans. Diesel engines can also last longer if properly maintained. On the other hand, gas engine RVs have a lower initial price point. They’re also cheaper at the pump, and there are more fuel stations available compared to diesel. An added bonus is that engine repair and maintenance cost less.
Ford Transit Camper Van Power & Towing
The Ford Transit features AWD as well as options for rear-wheel drive camper vans. The ProMaster camper van is front-wheel drive and the Sprinter camper van has a rear-wheel drive. 4WD is also an option that is available for many new Sprinter camper vans. A great thing about the AWD option in the Transit camper van is that you don’t have to think about when to enable the traction needed. Like a car, AWD and 4WD also provide great handling in the snow and heavy rain.
The Ford Transit camper van chassis boasts 400 ft-lb of torque and 310 horsepower, which is more than both the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ram ProMaster camper van chassis. This power is important to get your RV moving and keep it moving over rough terrain.
The towing capacity can vary on camper vans, however, most have the capacity to easily haul a small trailer for a motorcycle, kayak or lightweight toys. Some camper vans can even tow up to 5,000 lbs. for heavier machines you want to take on your adventures. Camper vans also include great features like bike racks, gear racks on the roof or cargo storage inside.
Diesel camper vans can pull more weight and easily take on mountains and rougher terrain where gas camper vans might struggle. Even though class B RVs have less towing capacity than larger RVs, you can still tow a small trailer with a powerful enough engine. Diesel camper vans like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van have a higher towing capacity, but there is more upkeep and routine maintenance needed.
Ford Transit Camper Van Repair & Maintenance
With the Ford Transit camper van, there is a lower maintenance cost to keep your motorhome running longer. Because the Ford Transit is a gas motorhome, you’ll save money on maintenance costs. With more than 3,000 Ford dealerships and 600 commercial vehicle centers (including 14 General RV Center locations), preventative service, repairs, parts and labor can be found nationwide. Stuck on the road? There are 800 mobile service vans ready to assist.
Ford Transit Camper Vans You Can Buy Right Now
The Beyond is built for adventurous RVers. This gas camper van is 22 ft. 2 in. long and features three floorplans to choose from, with AWD and RWD options. The 22C features a lay-flat sofa at the rear, while the 22D has two facing sofas that convert into a large bed. The 22RB has a wet bath in the rear and two twin beds that are perfect for camping with friends. All the floorplans have a wet bath, galley and tons of overhead cabinets for storage. To learn more, check out this RV overview for even more features and benefits of the Beyond Transit camper van.
The Sanctuary 19PT and 19LT camper vans are great options for off-grid camping. Both floorplans are 19 ft. 7 in. in length and have great layouts for couples and solo campers. The 19PT features a foldout sofa in the rear, with a removable table and overhead cabinets. There is also a large refrigerator, sink, microwave and two-burner gas cooktop. The 19LT has a spacious bed in the rear of the camper van. Plus, there is additional seating with a removable table, as well as a large refrigerator, microwave and sink. Both floorplans have a spacious wet bath with a cassette toilet. The Sanctuary also comes in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis for a great diesel B van option.
The Gemini is a Class B + RV that’s built for the long haul. This camper van is 24 ft. to 26 ft. long, depending on the three models available. All three floorplans have a slide out for more room to move, tons of storage space and a full bath. The 23TE features plenty of room with the rear bath and spacious floorplan. A Murphy bed folds up to reveal a comfortable sofa with a removable table for dining. The Gemini AWD 23TW has a larger slide-out for more room. There is a flip-up queen bed with a couch underneath, as well as a dream dinette for additional sleeping space. Last but not least is the 24KB floorplan. This camper van has a rear bedroom with two twins that can convert into a king bed. This gives you a great option for camping trips with friends or loved ones.
Interested in learning more about Class B motorhomes? Check out this Class B RV buyers guide for helpful information. The camper van experts at General RV can also help you find the perfect Transit camper van. Our online showroom is always open and our internet sales specialists can answer all your questions via text or chat. Prefer to explore Class B motorhomes in person? Visit one of our RV dealers near you today.