Such limited 4x4 van choices with decent gas mileage (in the US)

Ditchmonkey

New member
You should really do a total cost of ownership analysis rather than just thinking about mileage. Sprinters have the highest cost of ownership over the long run, despite the better gas mileage. I read an article from a guy who owned a company that had a whole fleet of the Sprinters, and he said that pretty much every one of them needed a new exhaust system withing 120k miles, and that cost around 16k each (if I am remembering the details correctly. It is that fancy exhaust system that allows Sprinters to get good diesel mileage while complying with US emission requirements, so you are paying a huge premium for that better mileage, both in the short term for the overall cost of the vehicle, and in the long term in maintenance.

Ironically, the Nissan NV van with its thirsty V8 was identified as having the lowest total cost of ownership despite its dismal gas mileage–its really too bad they quit selling them.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
That’s shocking that Sprinter exhaust systems are sooo expensive. I know Mercedes, but that’s insane.

At 65-70 mph I got 16.5 mpg in a 10k e350 Ambulance. In the 8 years I’ve owned it the fuel bowl rebuilt cost me about $30, alternator $250, GPR $30, vacuum pump $50, tires about $400 for all 6, and about $100 per oil change every 5000 miles.

I may not see 20-26, but I’m way ahead of the cost of a sprinter.
 

b. rock

Active member
I just got back from a euro trip and almost every single car & van on the road over there is a diesel with an adblue system. I asked around about failures and high maint costs and people just looked at me weird. Is there something in the US fuel making it harder on the systems? Or why are they so prevalent over there and such a fiasco over here?
 

86scotty

Cynic
I just got back from a euro trip and almost every single car & van on the road over there is a diesel with an adblue system. I asked around about failures and high maint costs and people just looked at me weird. Is there something in the US fuel making it harder on the systems? Or why are they so prevalent over there and such a fiasco over here?

It's probably that the Germans are still mad at us over the war. You can't miss an opportunity for a conspiracy theory these days.
 

TheDantee

New member
I just got back from a euro trip and almost every single car & van on the road over there is a diesel with an adblue system. I asked around about failures and high maint costs and people just looked at me weird. Is there something in the US fuel making it harder on the systems? Or why are they so prevalent over there and such a fiasco over here?
Germans maintain their vehicles more than the average american.
 

Farfrumwork

Well-known member
And the prevalence of such failures are exaggerated. Not every Sprinter (or even more than a very low % of them) requires $16k worth of exhaust system work within the first 120kmi. If something does go wrong in the system, its more likely to require A new part, not all of it replaced. But, agreed that MB repair will be costly compared to a lot of other offerings.

And I also agree that the adblue system isn't great, and I'm generally not a fan of how the diesel emissions have been dealt with in the US (across any platform), although I love that my van is about as clean as it gets (besides walking). I would also mention that the adblue isn't the driver of the fuel economy, but it is the driver of low emissions. You could tune out and remove most all of it and actually get better MPG's.

I average ~18mpg in our V6 144" WB 4x4 with 33's in mixed driving. It's not overweight, and not a daily driver though so most of the miles we put on are not city miles - we leave home and climb up the Rockies. I didn't buy a Sprinter for fuel economy alone. We all have wants/needs for an adventure vehicle and the Sprinter fit more of those for me than other makes/models... I didn't just jump into the Sprinter, it took a lot of thought and consideration.


Cost of ownership. I had couple warranty repairs in the first 15kmi, but nothing that would have broken the bank without the warranty. I also know I can get every penny I put into our build back if I were to sell the van (self built, besides the SMB pop-top). No, it's not cheap in initial costs, but not many new vehicles are.


Back to the OP - I'd agree with most of the sentiment in this thread, which is to get the vehicle that does the job you want it to and not be fully constrained by MPG. Nothing is going to have 'great' fuel economy...
 

trasko

Adventurer
OP (SpaceJamHikes) : I'm resurrecting this thread from awhile back: What did you choose? Are you still in the Outback? Did you compromise your MPG vision and get a big van? Find a Delica somewhere?
 

SpaceJamHikes

New member
OP (SpaceJamHikes) : I'm resurrecting this thread from awhile back: What did you choose? Are you still in the Outback? Did you compromise your MPG vision and get a big van? Find a Delica somewhere?

I am still in the Outback lol I test drove an L400 and the roof was just a little too low for my liking and I realized I should "buy nice, not buy twice" aka not upgrade to a minivan with only slightly more interior room and then upsize again when I get sick of how cramped it is. Also, I'm not keen on having a 25 year old vehicle with hard-to-find parts, I don't want to have my house stuck somewhere while I wait 2-3 weeks for a part to arrive from Japan

My new frontrunner is a small Fuso with a pop top. Then I'll have plenty of space, great 4x4, and will sacrifice on the MPGs a bit ... But I could add a veggie oil conversion kit to help that area! Or convert it to a diesel hybrid like Edison Motors is starting to ramp up
 

Johnboyy

Active member
I just got back from a euro trip and almost every single car & van on the road over there is a diesel with an adblue system. I asked around about failures and high maint costs and people just looked at me weird. Is there something in the US fuel making it harder on the systems? Or why are they so prevalent over there and such a fiasco over here?

As a european I've often wondered that myself. It's not that these things are infallible or anything, but they also don't fail on a constant basis. I remember when DPFs were first a thing and the sky was gonna fall. we've had 7 or 8 DPF equipped vehicles here over the years, and we generally buy things around the 100k mile mark and not had one issue with them. I'm on my first adblue equipped one and am hoping for similar results.
 

rruff

Explorer
EU emissions are much higher.

"...the average (model year 2010 onward) car on the road in the EU emits around 6 to 10 times the amount of NOx emitted by an average car in the U.S., while the EU standards permit emissions only about 1 to 4 times higher than the U.S. standards.

But it's not a new story. We have known for years that average NOx emissions from EU cars are extremely high. And we have known the cause: high emissions from diesel cars due to poor compliance provisions in the EU regulation."

 

gator70

Active member
Best fuel economy (1) diesel (2) 3:20 axle gear ratio (3) small tires (4) carry only a back pack to keep the weight down
 

tlrols

Active member
This is from the WV brochure
Payload 3300Lb
Towing 5511Lb
Not bad for such a small van.

View attachment 793139

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@rruff

You are not wrong, but I think the people who are interested in vans, even the AWD ones, are less inclined to crawl the rocks.
The most of them, especially the Sprinter can handle the most of the dirt roads quite well. Yes, there are people who think that a 4x4 badge means they have a capable offroader.

Other advantage of the van is it's versatility.
You can pull over anywhere (within reason) and sleep if you are traveling long distance.
They usually have an visibility and bring additional layer to the experience.
Quoting…”You can pull over anywhere…and sleep.” So huge! In fact, it was so important to me that I sprung for a new 144” Sprinter in AWD. It has 9 speeds so it has some good low speed crawl. It isn’t my 4.7 liter 4Runner but wow, vans are popular for a reason. Any forest service road of reasonable repair and it’s fine. Downsides: Tall and $$$$$$.
 

trasko

Adventurer
I am still in the Outback lol I test drove an L400 and the roof was just a little too low for my liking and I realized I should "buy nice, not buy twice" aka not upgrade to a minivan with only slightly more interior room and then upsize again when I get sick of how cramped it is. Also, I'm not keen on having a 25 year old vehicle with hard-to-find parts, I don't want to have my house stuck somewhere while I wait 2-3 weeks for a part to arrive from Japan

My new frontrunner is a small Fuso with a pop top. Then I'll have plenty of space, great 4x4, and will sacrifice on the MPGs a bit ... But I could add a veggie oil conversion kit to help that area! Or convert it to a diesel hybrid like Edison Motors is starting to ramp up
I skimmed back through the entire thread just now. Did you ever give a budget? You can get 20mpg+ with a diesel Sprinter or maybe AWD Transit. But they'll be expensive.

If you can wait another 6 months and have $50-$60k to drop on it the VW ID.BUZZ should be out. That should get you the "efficiency" you want ("small on the outside, big on the inside" was the slogan for the Eurovan). It uses zero gasoline and has AWD as an option (maybe standard? I don't think that is known yet). I'm considering one as a replacement for our 2001 Eurovan MV Weekender.

To me the Astro van or Toyota Sienna (AWD variants) seem like exactly what you're looking for (but you responded they are smaller than would make sense to get given the effort/cost).

If you could sacrifice the AWD requirement and just make do as best as you can a 2001 to 2003 Eurovan could work. It has airbags, ABS, traction control and makes decent power (unlike all previous VW vans). It has typical VW reliability (meh), but they are affordable and very efficient on space. You can find tin-tops (like a regular mini-van), pop-tops or even "full-campers" with stoves, fridges, etc. All are the same size and can navigate a grocery store parking lot much better than my mid-size truck. Oh, and ours gets 20-21mpg (premium, though).

Lifting them costs about $20. Crank torsion bars up front and make a spacer out of UHMWPE cutting board for the back. You get about 1" there and you can get another couple of inches w/ bigger tires.
 

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Scotty D

Active member
Remember that in the UK, MPG is calculated with imperial gallons, so you need this conversion formula

miles per gallon (US) = miles per gallon (UK) × 0.832674

So 25 MPG in England is only a little over 20 in the US

This causes a lot of confusion
 

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