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Comparing the Different Options for Your Van Conversion Chassis



If you’re just getting on board with van life travels and looking to build a custom van conversion, one of the biggest decisions you need to make concerns the chassis. The chassis is a critical element and is key to a camper van's overall quality.


However, there is no single best van chassis to convert into a camper. They all come with different capabilities, and each has its shortcomings, so it all depends on your style, needs, and budget. In this post, we will pit together three of the best options for your van conversion chassis—Mercedes Sprinter vs. Dodge Ram Promaster vs. Ford Transit.


Whether you're having a camper van conversion company, like 27North, build you a custom Class B motorhome, or you're going the DIY route, this guide will help you make an informed chassis choice.


Let’s get started.



Option 1: Mercedes Sprinter

Overview of the Mercedes Sprinter Van Conversion Chassis


First introduced in 1995, Mercedes-Benz Sprinters have grown to become one of the most popular models for a conversion van camper. These vans have earned their sterling reputation in the van conversion field thanks to their advanced technology, sleek look, safety features, and sought-after 4x4 option.


You can decide to build your van around a Mercedes Sprinter Cargo Van, Crew Van, or Passenger Van, and they all have varying dimensions. However, cargo vans are the most popular to turn into a camper as they’re a blank slate.


Dimensions


All Mercedes Sprinters have either 144-inch, 170-inch, or 170-inch extended wheelbases. If you opt for the cargo van, you can pick the 144” wheelbase with an overall length of 233.5" or the 170” wheelbase with an exterior length of 274.3”.


The length you pick will depend on the amount of interior room you want, but the 144” wheelbase is the easiest to drive and maneuver. On height, you can pick the standard option, which has an exterior height of 96.3 inches, or the high roof measuring 107.5 inches. The width of all models is 92.3, including mirrors.


Powertrain


All Sprinter cargo, passenger, and crew vans are offered in several engine choices—4-cylinder gas, 4-cylinder diesel, 6-cylinder diesel, and 6-cylinder 4×4 diesel. If you want to travel off the beaten track, opt for the 4WD. Keep in mind that diesel engines also last longer.


Pros and Cons of Mercedes Sprinter Van Conversion

Pros


Great Fuel Economy - The diesel engine on a Mercedes Sprinter camper van means it gets better MPG than similar-sized vans.

4x4 Option - If you want to build an off-road capable Class B RV, the Sprinter offers the only factory-ready 4x4 cargo van option.

Safety Features - This van is brimming with features and options that make it easy and safe to drive, such as active brake assist, attention assist, active distance assist, traffic sign assist, and lane-keeping.

Superior Interior Appointments - The Sprinter offers more interior refinement than the other models, such as the leather-covered steering wheel, Wi-Fi hotspot, and an infotainment center with a large touchscreen.

They are an Asset - Sprinter vans hold their value extremely well for resale value.

Reliability - Sprinter vans have an outstanding reputation for excellent reliability.


Cons


More Expensive Than the Competition - Mercedes Benz Sprinters tend to be the most expensive vans in terms of upfront and maintenance costs.

Fewer Mercedes Dealerships - Finding a dealership to service your Sprinter van can be tough as they are few dealer shops around the US compared to Dodge and Ford.

Fuel Limitations - Mercedes requires you to use ultra-low sulfur fuel, which may not be available in all places. They also state that any damage caused by using non-approved fuels will not be covered.



Option 2: Dodge Ram Promaster

Overview of the Dodge Ram Promaster Van Conversion Chassis


Dodge Ram Promaster is another great choice for camper van conversions. It’s a spacious, powerful, and efficient van that suits practically everyone who wants to experience van life. Most importantly, it has the widest body among the three campers.


It also has a boxier profile, with more square than rounded interiors, helping maximize the interior space. Although it doesn’t quite pack in the adventure features of the Sprinter and Ford Transit, it has a few of its own perks.


Dimensions


The Promaster is available in multiple configurations, but the largest and best option for a campervan conversion is the 159-inch wheelbases—standard(236” exterior length) and extended(251” exterior length). The standard has an interior cargo length of 132”(from front seats in most rearward position to rear door).


On the other hand, the extended wheelbase has an exterior length of 251” and an interior cargo length of 146”, and it only comes in a high roof configuration (6’4” interior). You can find the standard Promaster with a regular roof(5’6”) and a high roof.


Powertrain


The new 2022 Ram ProMaster features an upgraded 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine producing 280 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. While the van remains an FWD, it has a new nine-speed automatic transmission that helps with acceleration. This engine offers maximum efficiency and the ideal level of capability for most campers.


Pros and Cons of the Dodge Ram Promaster Van Conversion Chassis