Transit vs Sprinter

What would you buy in 2023

  • Sprinter AWD

    Votes: 3 7.1%
  • Sprinter 4x4

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Transit AWD

    Votes: 33 78.6%

  • Total voters
    42

tomtaylz

Member
Another thread on a topic that’s been beat to death ?. I’ve been looking at vans a bit more recently, and read a few topics here on this subject but curious a more modern take with the new Sprinter AWD and trail transit models.

I’m looking to build something to live out of for a year while traveling in NA, and as with everyone else love the look of sprinters. We are going to spend a lot of time on highway but I like dispersed camping and exploring some more remote areas, within reason — no rock crawling planned here.

The pros on the sprinter for me are really the ground clearance and availability of accessories, lifts, bumpers, etc — being on a secondary platform in the midsize space I recognize how much easy to find solutions and choices to problems improve quality of life.

With the transit you get a gas engine (I see this as a decent sized plus), easier service which is appealing as I’ll likely spend more time rural but i’m struggling to get by the lack of ground clearance. Granted while I won’t be doing anything too technical I am already making some compromises with going to a van where handicapping myself here is a mental struggle. Also fords seem impossible to get right now which might just make this a moot point unless I go with the storyteller build.

Even more interesting is the likes of storyteller overland having a ford model in their offerings. With outfitters prices only seemingly increasing a well regarded build like this is certainly tempting and could be nice to live out of with some more minor modifications.

Curious for the minority who have build out transits how do they keep up? And who has sprinters which they love and wouldn’t consider another platform?
 

dman93

Adventurer
We have a built-out (internally for travel and camp living) 2020 AWD Transit with the 3.5 gasoline twin turbo, aka EcoBoost. Ground clearance was an issue stock but much improved with a Van Compass lift, which includes shock bracket mods, and slightly larger tires. Even with the suspension mods and tires, the cost was less than a Sprinter. 34K miles and zero maintenance costs other than $50-80 oil changes and a few $15 air filters. No warranty or other repairs needed. I wish the Transit had the aftermarket parts availability of the Sprinter and somehow Sprinters seem more “rugged“ but as the owner of many Toyota’s including an FZJ80, T100 and now a Tacoma, the quality and driving experience of the Transit is pretty good.
 

Victorian

Approved Vendor : Total Composites
We love our 2019 transit cab chassis camper. Non eco boost. At times a bit gutless but reliable. Can be serviced anywhere across NA. Try that with a Sprinter and it's sensitive emission system. The MB looks better, hands down. In daily life and operating cost, the transit wins.
 

Highlander

The Strong, Silent Type
The Sprinter for sure looks cooler and may have a better off-road capability, but the power of the Eco Boost and Ford's availability is hard to beat.
Even the NA engine seems to be very simple and reliable.
 

tomtaylz

Member
Yep! Managed to get driving both last weekend and being 6'1ish the transit felt a lot nicer in the headroom department and certainly drove better. Hoping transits aftermarket catches up!
 

coguzzi

Adventurer
I'll play. Ive built both and i have always said the sprinter is a much better looking van. proportions on the transit are just weird, like a sick guppy. ground clearance is kind of perceived. sprinter for sure has better approach/departure and breakover since the body is raised and bumpers just better designed, BUT, if you get your tape measure out the transit critical items underneath sit just as high or higher in some cases (once you fix the stupid rear shock mounts on the transit that is). sprinter 4x4 (no new aWD experience) vs the Transit AWD = Transit for the win. the sprinter 4x4 is, um, kind of $#@&%* with 33/67 f/r split (or something like that), transit can and will put 50/50 output. Transit is much more square inside and easier to build with much more usable space. the ecoboost motor is honestly almost to much for a van, race car like. sprinter performance--what performance? gas vs diesel (im a gas person).

NOW, all that said. I owned a 2020 AWD transit ecoboost i stupidly sold, but i already had a replacement on order so didnt think it would be that big of a deal. 27 months later FORD has still not even built the van. Many months ago i put in a Sprinter order because my life has been held hostage by ford long enough, Sprinter has been in my garage getting built for a week now. I really tried to be the transit person, but FORD really let me down. and with all this talk about ford being able to be serviced more places, that is true, BUT ONLY if FORD can provide the part to fix, which they have been having trouble doing as of late. SO, is there really a difference there? Transit i had was a 148 HR long (comparable to 144 sprinter) and i could make it work with east/west bed and still have decent living space. Sprinter i went 170 because interior space is just that much less after you do a north/south bed (im not a flare person) and curved walls.

So what i am saying, get the van that you can actually get and live life
 

Farfrumwork

Well-known member
So what i am saying, get the van that you can actually get and live life

Truer words have not been spoken.

Both are fine for what most want to do with a 8000-9000lb camper van. If you're building it out to actually live in, it will be heavy.


I will say that my 144 low top Sprinter '4x4' on 33"s is pretty damn capable, in spite of the wacky F/R split. Although still not a jeep - duh, try to sleep a family IN a jeep! I've got a Renntech tuner which also helps a lot, both hauling up mnt passes at elevation and in slow, low gear, offroad use (much more responsive and controlled to throttle inputs). I also built our van as a 'weekender', keeping it as light as possible while having space for 4 to sleep in comfort.


I would like the lower maintenance hassle of a gas motor, but I average ~17mpg in our rig (I've seen as high as 21mpg on a couple tanks too). I'm not sure the gas powertrains can muster that when pushing a built van.

I can't imagine the Transit aftermarket wouldn't catch up, but there needs to be demand... which means Ford needs to get vans on the road.

And yes, looks are totally subjective, but I think my van is bad a-to-the-ss. Engineer pass top.jpgEggnog 1.jpgbutte 1.jpg
 

Highlander

The Strong, Silent Type
@coguzzi

Do you think it would be impractical to a get a Tranist or Sprinter with a low roof?
I have no intention of living inside it for an extend time. But just trips form east cost to west (MT, ND, ID) that would involve sleeping / staying in the van nut not longer than two weeks.
And extended weekend hiking/ hunting trips in Maine or NH.
 

carleton

Active member
@coguzzi

Do you think it would be impractical to a get a Tranist or Sprinter with a low roof?
I have no intention of living inside it for an extend time. But just trips form east cost to west (MT, ND, ID) that would involve sleeping / staying in the van nut not longer than two weeks.
And extended weekend hiking/ hunting trips in Maine or NH.

I'll chime in on this one. Previous Transit High Roof owner.

I one of the primary advantages of the Transit/Sprinter is the higher roof. In a regular/low roof configuration, the E350 or even Chevy Express, is, IMO, a better chassis. More "truck-like" body on frame, more wheel options, better towing, more capable off-road, pretty decent aftermarket support. The Sprinter Low Roof might have more headroom than an E350, but the Transit Low-roof looks pretty comparable.

& to contradict a previous post about E350 Ambos, the high roofs on Transit/Sprinter actually have very low COGs. The stock extended height is lighter than an aftermarket fiberglass topper, so then it really comes down to how you build it out (keeping weight down low, having insulation & paneling being really the only things up high).
 

AbleGuy

Officious Intermeddler
@coguzzi

Do you think it would be impractical to a get a Tranist or Sprinter with a low roof?
I have no intention of living inside it for an extend time. But just trips form east cost to west (MT, ND, ID) that would involve sleeping / staying in the van nut not longer than two weeks.
And extended weekend hiking/ hunting trips in Maine or NH.

Get a low roof and have a slimline pop up top installed. It’s very doable!

GTRV just south of you (Sebastopol) does a pretty nice job on them.ModVans also does low profile pop tops for transits.

And last week, there was a good deal on a newer, blank slate AWD low roof Transit in SoCal.
 

coguzzi

Adventurer
@coguzzi

Do you think it would be impractical to a get a Tranist or Sprinter with a low roof?
I have no intention of living inside it for an extend time. But just trips form east cost to west (MT, ND, ID) that would involve sleeping / staying in the van nut not longer than two weeks.
And extended weekend hiking/ hunting trips in Maine or NH.
if you do it the way Farfrumwork did with a poptop added, it can have its advantages...and cons. Every single answer is different for the next person. I used to have a Econoline 4x4, i added a poptop to that. I also had a slew of Vanagon Syncros, couple were tin top (low roof fixed) couple were poptop. all depends on your criteria of your end use
 

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
We bought a Transit AWD EcotBoost because:

-Cheaper at every junction (buy, maintain, insure, etc)
-More power
-You are not going to do crazy off-roading with a fully loaded van you live in full time so AWD is totally fine
-Gas engine so you can take it anywhere in the world
-Parts and Repairs 1000x more common
-Wider so we can sleep sideways with adding expensive flare


The reasons to go with Sprinter:
-Looks cooler.
-Better mpg.

1683819016399.png
 

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member

rmnkb

New member
Sprinter has a gas engine too since 2019 (I have one) and it's actually quite a bit cheaper to purchase than diesel. It only comes in 2WD though.
 

fotojoh

New member
Truer words have not been spoken.

Both are fine for what most want to do with a 8000-9000lb camper van. If you're building it out to actually live in, it will be heavy.


I will say that my 144 low top Sprinter '4x4' on 33"s is pretty damn capable, in spite of the wacky F/R split. Although still not a jeep - duh, try to sleep a family IN a jeep! I've got a Renntech tuner which also helps a lot, both hauling up mnt passes at elevation and in slow, low gear, offroad use (much more responsive and controlled to throttle inputs). I also built our van as a 'weekender', keeping it as light as possible while having space for 4 to sleep in comfort.


I would like the lower maintenance hassle of a gas motor, but I average ~17mpg in our rig (I've seen as high as 21mpg on a couple tanks too). I'm not sure the gas powertrains can muster that when pushing a built van.

I can't imagine the Transit aftermarket wouldn't catch up, but there needs to be demand... which means Ford needs to get vans on the road.

And yes, looks are totally subjective, but I think my van is bad a-to-the-ss. View attachment 777821View attachment 777822View attachment 777823
Farfrumwork, I'm very intregued by your low topped Sprinter with a pop-top. I've searched a bit for other images of your van and found one with the top up. is the point of the pop top to add headspace or just for sleeping space? Where/who did the work? Thanks.
 

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