View Full Version : Vehicle for six passengers?
03-02-2007, 09:58 AM
My buddy and I were discussing various expedition vehicles and which ones were best for certain criteria. The usual names came up, Unimogs, Pinzgauers, Land Rovers, Toyotas, etc. It got me thinking about group camping and expedition travel using only one vehicle. I really can't come up with a "relatively" affordable vehicle that can carry six people, handle rough terrain, and still be highway capable. Maybe some sort of LR or LC towing a trailer would work? Can anyone give me suggestions to the six passenger problem?
03-02-2007, 11:29 AM
I really can't come up with a "relatively" affordable vehicle that can carry six people, handle rough terrain, and still be highway capable. Maybe some sort of LR or LC towing a trailer would work? Can anyone give me suggestions to the six passenger problem?
What's affordable and how much comfort? A troopie sort of fits the bill, although getting one here is not simple.
My first thought, though, was a 4x4 converted van, like the Quigley. Figure something like $10K above the purchase price of the van and your configuration is wide open, up to 12 or 15 people!
03-02-2007, 12:08 PM
I think the most comfortable solution is a full size van. My Land Cruiser has seating for 7 but the rear seating is not good for larger adults.
For that matter, any full size SUV should be able to seat 6 comfortably. Think Excursion or Suburban.
We did a little road trip with 7 before and everone was relatively comfortable, although the adults in back were petite.
You could pull a trailer and carry equipment that way, like you said.
03-02-2007, 12:10 PM
Affordable being around 20-30K (cheaper the better though) and comfort being somewhere around typical SUV levels. The Troopie is awesome and I've got a special place in my heart for Toyota but if finding one is a problem then it gets knocked out of contention. That van seems like a decent compromise. Tow an off-road trailer and throw a rooftent or two on it and I think it might be a winner. I'm assuming parts would be easy enough to find when/if it starts falling apart, being a domestic and all.
Even though I dream about a Pinz, I don't know if they would fall into the "relatively affordable" category after customization, nor do I think they would reach the comfort level of a typical SUV. I could be way off though as I have no experience at all with them. The big SUV's like the Suburban and Excursion just don't appeal to me for some reason. I can't put my finger on why, I just don't see myself driving one. The more I think about it, the modded conversion van mentioned seems like the way to go unless there is something I'm missing.
03-02-2007, 03:32 PM
We all struggle with these ideas - no matter what we have now, we find many times where we want more room, or just daydream about an additional vehicle.
The Quigleys and Sportsmobiles are natural platforms to hold 6 people in comfort, and allow them to bring a lot of stuff. They are relatively capable off road, very capable on dirt roads and comfy on interstates. They usually have the suspension and motor/drivetrain appropriate for the task. For rough terrain, it isn't so much that the van can't make it, but your passengers and gear become scrambled eggs - so we need to ask ourselves is this the sort of terrain 6 people want to experience in one very large vehicle? And although they show pictures of these vans tackling technical trails, that takes a very experienced driver - when you test drive one in city traffic, they are very, very, very BIG!
The Suburbans and Excursions are less expensive, easy to find, and close in capability to the van. This depends on each vehicles particulars, but a short wheelbase E250 Quigley/Sportsmobile has much better approach angles than the big wagons, although a basic 2500 Suburban (think ex-fire department) sits pretty high and clean, compared to the 1500 with running boards and stuff.
Or, any of the fullsize crew cabs offer 6-seating, although the front bench middle is not a nice place for an adult to ride for days on end. But kids may love it there. A 4-door F250 is almost a second home.
A Land Cruiser with a third-row and off-road trailer may be a great choice - quiet, comfy human-space plus a trailer for all that 'stuff'.
Does it have to be 6 adults? 5 vs 6 makes a big difference. 3 adults can enjoy a mid or fullsize back seat, assuming the front row is 2 buckets, making a 4runner with a trailer a nice option for 5. Third row seats are hard to get into into for grown-ups.
I spent much of my youth riding around the country as a family of 4 in a Ford E150 van, and they are hard to beat as family wagons. Throw in a 4wd conversion, and go luxo with a sportsmobile penthouse top, and a big family can travel in comfort without having to tow anything. Used 4wd vans aren't hard to find, and they are simple trucks. I hope to add one to the stable one of these years myself.
03-02-2007, 04:17 PM
Well owning a 4x4 van I'd have to say I think it's your best option. Comparing the cargo capacity of a regular body van to an excursion the ford regular body van can hold 257 cu ft while the excursion can only hold 146. The excursion is also 15 inches longer, although the van will be taller.
Depending on how hard core you want to go some conversions are better than others. Sportsmobile sets theirs up for hard core offroading... longer travel shocks, atlas transfer case, dynatrac front axle with a better than stock turning radius. Quigley's on the other hand have a horrible turning radius, reuse factory shocks, and don't come with a front swaybar that is easily disconnected. Also I'm not sure about the sportsmobile but quigley leaves the transfercase unprotected! no skid plate at all! But I still love my quigley :D
i've also heard good things about quadvan, apparently they'll do just about whatever you want and they convert used vehicles. Sportsmobile and Quigley only do new ones.
Having seen a few pinz's in person I think they're much smaller than people realize although I guess it really depends on how much gear you want to carry with the 6 people.
That said the crew cab superduty's or excursions would definitely make a capable platform and be much easier to find, i just think the van would be a better choice.
03-02-2007, 04:17 PM
Well, my wife and I live in a van that theoretically has seating for 6, though I think for periodic travel with that many people a different floor plan would be good, especially if you are going on rough roads and technical trails.
If we end up with kids at some point we will probably get a tent-trailer for some privacy and noise insulation when the whole family heads out.
The one comment I really wanted to make is that they aren't actually that big. They are bulky, and overhead clearance can be an issue with lifted tops, gear racks, and such, but in terms of length our van is 1.5' shorter than my first car (an old Buick). I can fit in most any parking lot in the states and Canada, and even with our motorcycle mount on the rear we are shorter than a crew-cab pickup with regular bed.
We are using a regular body Ford E350, and total length is around 19' with bumpers and all.
03-02-2007, 04:19 PM
I'd like to second the suggestion of a 2500 (3/4 ton) 4x4 Suburban. I've used several of these for expedition style field work in Sonora & Baja Mexico; NM, AZ, & CA over the years with good results. The most recent model I've driven was a 2001, so I'm not sure that the more recent are as capable (the body panels seem to appear lower when I see newer ones on the street). Six passengers travel two to a seat which is really comfortable and allows everyone to have their daypack with cameras/binoculars etc. easily acessible.
The ones I used were University vehicles and ran 16.5 inch rims with "all terrain" type tires 9-10" wide, 12,000 lb winches, 3 seats, long custom roof racks, and large (35 to 45 gallon) fuel tanks. Range was over 400-500 miles with lots of reserve. We were often completely self sufficient with 6 people (except fuel) for 7 to 9 days, although everyone packed like they were backpacking.
If you need more capacity for fuel/gear/water an M416 style trailer with a spring over conversion tows really well behind these trucks - only two problems: the trailer can disappear behind the truck when backing and the track of the trailer is narrower than the truck requiring a spotter more often for some obstacles.
University vehicles suffer lots of abuse from drivers that aren't owners. In general these trucks stand up really well for the major systems. All of the problems I've had were cosmetic/nonessential - irritating but the truck always got us home.
I wouldn't want one for fewer than four passengers since they are large, but they are great for four to six passengers and gear.
Howard L. Snell
03-02-2007, 04:33 PM
I would recommend an excursion or suburban. I even researched an excursion early on before purchasing my Tacoma. With the diesel, it would be my pick.
03-02-2007, 05:53 PM
The Pinz is capable (arguably, the most capapable stock multi-passenger vehicle offroad other than big rock-crawling); it's affordable - 710M can be found for around $10,000 - double that for repair allowance and you're still only at $20K. Sure, you can get a Pinz for $40+ but you don't really need one that plush. Customizations? What do you need, it's got high clearance to begin with, hydraulic lockers built-in, not that much you really need to add. Maybe a set of tires; a winch if you think you need one (a snatch-strap always works better for me); a big-*** roof rack if you're a cargo wh*re (or like me, would like to sleep in a big tent on the roof).
The biggest two failings of a Pinz would be highway speed and comfort. I can cruise at 55mph all day and be happy, but a lot of people want to go 70-90; doing that in the Pinz, even if it were possible (modified engine and high-speed transmissions are available, add about $10,000 more) it isn't safe and will wear out the rest of the drivetrain in a hurry.
Then there's the fact that the rear pax sit sideways on poorly padded benches, with little visibility unless you roll up the sides, and no seat belts unless you improvise them. Luckily its easy to hose out the back to clean up vomit! Even the front isn't all that comfortable - all the whiners are going to ask for air conditioning and/or adequate heating, a stereo, padded seats with lumbar support... Sorry, there's built-in rifle mounts, but no cupholders.
"Having seen a few pinz's in person I think they're much smaller than people realize although I guess it really depends on how much gear you want to carry with the 6 people."
You're kidding, right? The 710M has room to carry 9 passengers, plus driver - so carrying six people and gear would be a snap. If it's a problem, add a full roof rack. Or get a (six-wheel-drive) 712M and carry 14 people.
Yep, the Pinz has a small external profile, but people don't realize how space-efficient forward control is - the back is huge.
You can fit a whole bunch of people and gear in the back of a Mog 404, as well; then the offroad abilities of the Pinz are increased, and the highway speed and passenger comfort are decreased.
03-03-2007, 09:04 AM
Hmm, 10-15K for a used Pinz or E series van plus another 20K upgrading the vehicle. Either start with a Pinz and spend the money making it more plush or start with an E350 and make it more offroad capable. Decisions decisions. The new vans from Quigley or Sportmobile would be nice but at 50-70k, they are a little spendy for me. The big Excursions and Suburbans seem like they would do the trick but with a little less room than the Pinz or van and maximizing space is key. Four adults, two small kids and everything that goes with them. Excellent suggestions from everyone. Thank you all.
03-03-2007, 12:29 PM
Suburban, my sub. can comfortably seat 7 with room to spare. Driveline configurations vary depending on year and weight rating. In 1990 the Suburban went to an independent front end. In my opinion my 1989 and older are the best for off road use. Suburbans are large but surprisingly good off road. I have an 89 1/2 ton Suburban. the only thing I would change are the axles front a 3/4 ton sub.
03-04-2007, 02:13 AM
Its not very often you hear a pinz compared to a suburban! Its really comfort and speed vs capability and load carrying. A 712 will take 6 adults and 6 full sets of camping gear and still be under gross weight and more capable than most trucks. A suburban loaded with 6 adults is not going to take much gear before it hits gross weight.
To me there is not even a comparison and I would take the pinz in a minute but I like to go slow, look around and enjoy the drive, lack of AC and noise are not a problem. The regular person is not going to see it that way so there is no point in even considering a pinz or mog.
05-21-2007, 03:51 AM
Just found this thread.
Being the owner of first a '79 and now a '91 Sub I'll offer my impressions of using them as expedition rigs. Hopefully I can help out whom ever might be thinking of a Sub.
The '79 was a carb'd 350ci/TH400 3.73 geared 3/4t 4x4 & it finally succombed to the Rust Monster after it's first trip abroad to Punta Conejo. It got 9 mpg pretty much anyway I loaded it. The '91 is far better about that, I've recorded as good as 15.6 mpg (lightly loaded, but not babying it) with a 350tbi/700R4 3.73 geared 4x4. I used exactly the same tires on both trucks, 285/75-R16's on late model GM Alcoa alloys. With that trans, axle gear, & tire size I've found the best mileage happens when OD is not used below 70 mph. The 3/4t axle swap onto a 1/2t is highly recommended. If nothing else, you gain significantly in the brake dept., but losing the C-Clip rear axle is also a good idea.
BTW, '91 is the very last year of the square body & front live axle. The pick-ups changed to the first gen 'round' body style in something like '88 or '89, but the crewcabs and the Subs didn't change until the '92 model year. The last two years of production are most easily recognized by their quad, puny headlights. All of the TBI vintage trucks (save possibly the first year?) have far better rust-proofing than the earlier trucks. First place they show rust is along the seam right at the top of the door openings.
I never had the 3rd seat for the '79, I do for the '91 though I have not used it. The front is OE buckets with a console. I don't find the buckets to be all that comfortable. At some point I would like to swap in some sportscar buckets or quality aftermarket buckets. With the '79 I entertained putting in one Mastercraft Off Road seat for the driver and then next to it one of Mastercraft's double wide 'bench' buckets. That combo would equal the stock bench seat width & retain 3-wide front seating. After going on a Baja trip in a truck that had such seats I abandoned that idea. They are a PITA to get in & out of.
So mine is a 5 seater as I normally use it. For extended trips going with 4 people leaves everyone lots of room to move around. Backpackers are funny, they pack extravagantly when car camping. At least that's been my experience. The last 3 trips out have seen the rear of the Sub filled to nearly the bottom of the rear windows. Some of that is admittedly recovery/repair gear & spare, but maybe only 10% total of the volume.
Subs of this body style are odd in a way. For as big as they are, there aren't many nooks & crannies to stash stuff. Under the 2nd seat and in the spare tire well are really the only two spots. Under the seat won't allow anything very tall. The 11th Essential (TP), camp axe, tire gauge/inflator, etc. are mostly what I carry there.
There are a couple suspension tricks to these live axle - leaf sprung trucks that aren't well known. Rather than listing them here, PM for details.
06-02-2007, 07:11 PM
i use a 710m for our camping and exploring. the negatives are that it is slow, no ac, and poor heating if you dont have the gas heater. the positives are that it is very capable, me and my wife sleep in the back on an air mattress. if you put in the gas heater (from 300 to 1100 new) you can leave it on all night. another plus is that it performs better offroad when it has alot of weight in the back. you can add ac to it if you like, either a roof mounted or normal pump off the pulley, id go for a generator powered roof top unit and have electricity for other goodies. so to me the only unavoidable negative is that it is very slow. also there is 100% parts availability and it dead reliable and easy to work on.
06-17-2007, 03:19 AM
IMHO there are more disadvantages to a single rig expedition then advantages. Six people three rigs has a safety factor built in. Plus there is a big advantage in manuverability, any rig that can accomadate six and their gear will be restricet as to where it can go, especially with a trailer.
06-17-2007, 03:32 AM
The Ford Vans are relatively nice.
My off highway experience with them was only muddy back roads pulling a 20ft flatbottom boat. It wasnt modified, but the 4x4 and diesel combo works pretty good. Same engine as an F350 if i remember correctly.
I did drive/ride in it for about miles and it was comfortable and never any issues.
For having a tall roof, I would actually say they have a relatively low COG. I wouldnt say to go rock crawling like the Quigly van, but for off highway travel... go for it. They have a heck of a payload and a proven drive train.
Heck, I'm going to look into one now...
06-17-2007, 04:04 AM
Great question. My wife and I have 4 kids. I just sold my 1996 Land Rover SE7 that was able to seat all of us but it was on it's last legs as a daily driver. So now I am faced with several choices... another DI or do I go with a DII this time? I can't afford a 110 but I can afford a rebuilt 109, spend another grand on aftermarket AC to please the wife and keep the baby comfortable and I have something that can hold us all, gear and all.:costumed-smiley-007
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