4x4 van & introduction

Hello vanlifers! I hope to live up the van life soon, but am a super newbie and am in search of my future adventure mobile. I’m looking for a 4x4/AWD Van to make my on the road home. The challenge I’m up against is how to find it?! Most listings don’t even say if the van is 4x4. Is there an easy way I can tell, like for instance, is there certain Series For Econoline or GMC Savanna that is 4x4 Forgive me if I’m already asking a silly question. But I hav to start somewhere. Thanks soooo much!

Most anyone selling a 4x4 van would list it as such because it’s a big selling point. Look for Sportsmobile if you’re looking for a 4x4 Econoline, or put 4x4, AWD, four wheel drive etc. into your searches.

Personally I didn’t go for a 4x4 for several reasons: high initial cost, running costs (mostly high fuel consumption), and higher cost/frequency of maintenance and breakdowns. Another reason is that they’re just too big and long for serious 4x4 adventures unless you get something small like a Mitsubishi Delica or a little 4x4 Toyota. I’d rather bring my dual sport motorcycle for the backcountry exploring.

I find it laughable when seeing pictures of a Sportsmobile or other van equipped with a snorkel. I’d like to ask the owner if they’ve actually submerged their van conversion in a body of water - LOL.

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Thanks Axel! Looks like they are just hard to come by. Although, I’m not looking to do serious off reading I do plan to take it off the road and into snowy conditions, so I’d prefer to be able to get out of sticky situations.

You might be able to get away with a locking differential instead of 4x4. A locker (not limited slip), locks the axle to prevent spinning, and in some cases is better than a 4x4 without lockers. Once installed its a simple matter of flipping a switch to get unstuck and then turning it off once you’re rolling again. You want a pneumatic, mechanical, or electric locker - don’t get something that doesn’t turn off because you want a free differential for on the road/dry conditions.

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Many have snorkels to get dust-free (or at least cleaner) air while driving in dry climate. Even more will have one just for show though :wink:

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Greetings!

In my humble opinion, good rescue/recovery equipment & techniques is much more important than 4x4 or AWD.

Cheers!


"The only place where health, wealth, money, success,
or happiness comes before work is in the dictionary."
~ Rubber Tramp



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That’s like preferring cast and crutches instead of not falling from the tree in the first place :smiley:

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FWIW the new Transits are AWD, I feel they gave a fairly low ground clearance though when I see them.

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Greetings!

If you’re boondocking, you’re always at risk of your exit having changed from your entrance, and no amount of planning or careful driving can change that. I’ve encountered fires, flash floods, downed trees, bridges being washed out, and more, when the day before everything was perfect.

Cheers!


"A cheap factory camper van or motorhome will save
you money both now and later." ~ TruthMatters


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Before you give up on owning a 4x4 van, make sure you search your area for Toyota Hiaces or Mitsubishi Delicas. You can usually find them between 10-18k (bought mine for 12) and they are absolutely bulletproof.

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I’ll look into that!

I feel the same. Not A true off roading option

Rented a Toyota camper van in New Zealand several months back - other than a maintenance problem that required roadside assistance on our first day it was okay (the ignition switch was worn out and didn’t allow us to start it, blocking traffic in a construction zone). It had more than 600,000 Km and ran fine after.

I think the Delica vans are good, but the vast majority were imported from the Japanese used market, and therefore have right hand drive. Not a deal breaker for some, but in my opinion can be dangerous to drive where we drive on the right side of the road. Something to keep in mind.

I’d present discussion to support 4wd/AWD. This forum is worldwide and as such many are considering only their homeland terrain. I live in North Carolina and I promise you that 4WD is required for nasty mountainous conditions here. It’s not a good idea to drive our mountain roads in winter with only RWD. Similarly, don’t think about driving on the beaches here without 4wd. Getting stuck isn’t a question of if but of when. Lockers help and some are mechanical. This means when one wheel slips a pivot activates on the spider gears forcing them to lock. When a mechanical lock occurs it sounds like a hard thud and can be a bit scary if you’re not used to it. Rather than tell you what you need, it may be best to ask where you intend to drive? If you won’t be seeing ice, steep inclines, heavy runoff, and other serious hazards then you likely will not need 4wd/AWD. It really depends where you want to go.

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I personally enjoy the right hand drive in the states, gets a lot of looks, and makes parallel parking an absolute breeze.

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Hiace, I don’t like right hand drive unless I’m driving in a country that drives on the left side (such as New Zealand or England). Feels natural then.

I had a friend when I lived in (Continental) Europe from Wales, and his Toyota truck had right hand drive. There were several times while riding with him when he almost got into an accident due to right hand drive. Maybe he was just a bad driver, but it showed me that it’s not quite as safe. It was fun to sit in the passenger seat while pretending to sleep while cars zoomed by on the autobahn - got some surprised looks.

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Thanks so much! I live in WV, but plan to travel to other mountainous terrains, beaches, etc. I’ve lived in Appalachia (including the Asheville area) & the Rockies and can not imagine going without 4wd/AWD. That being said I feel that is my only option. The advise I need is how to find a van that is 4wd, or good options to do an off road conversion. If o go the off road conversion route, I’d be looking at only spending under $5,000-$7,000 to leave room for conversion costs. I like retro vans but wonder how I would adjust to the less than driver friendly amenities (or lack there of)

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It sounds like you’ll need 4WD/AWD. The downside is this severely limits your possibilities. I am considering the Nissan NV2500 V8 and conversion using factory parts, but the conversion runs about $14k if you pay someone to do it. You might consider buying domestic with 4wd from the factory, just make sure you have a professional mechanic check it over. 4wd systems can be expensive to fix. I’d be wary of the Sprinter which we often see glamorized by IG. It has a bad reputation for costing loads of money to keep on the road but does get the best fuel economy. The new Transit comes AWD but has an underpowered v6 gas engine. If you’re not looking for that much space, the older E-250’s and E-350’s are solid vehicles. Also the GM products were great as well. I use CarGurus for my searches. You may want to search nationwide. Try to buy from below I-40, away from the beachea, and below 3000 feet in elevation to avoid rusty rides. A few grand more for a ride from NC, SC, GA, TX, etc will save you loads in repair labor.

Ha ha it’s so hard to drive RH here. I have driven a few Nissan Skylines here and changing lanes is a real pain. But like you say, the looks you get are worth it.

At this point I’ve put a good 100+ hours on the road with my RHD Toyota, I guess I’ve just gotten used to it. I’m also thankful it’s an automatic, shifting with the left hand would be a recipe for disaster for me haha

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