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89s rule

Adventurer
So I have been lurking/posting/dreaming about buying our family a full size van for over a year. We just returned from a 1500 mile trip to Mammoth Cave NP, Cumberland Gap NP and the Creation Museum with our 4 kids in our 3rd gen 4runner my wife (I have added a 3rd row).
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From last summer's trip from South Carolina to Seattle and back 7041 miles in 15 days. (Wife and myself only.)

It now sports an ARB front bumper, about to go down to 265/75/16 tires to help with comfort and MPG.
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My wife is now convinced that we need the space. I have had my T100 for sale for about a month and it sold this past Saturday so I have some $ to work with. As with many of us my manhood wants a 7.3. My pocketbook says different. Not planning on a full build out as we need seating capacity but would have some amenities. Must be a '97+ Ford van. I have seen several 92-96 that fit but I can't go with that dash among other things.
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Needs:
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1. Space for 9+ people. (We have 4 kids now 9,7,5,3 and would like to have the space for guests and we are considering adding more kids down the road of our own or through adoption/foster.)
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2. Decent fuel costs... We had a FZJ80 Land Cruiser before our 4runner and 12 MPG hurt as a DD, the 4runner gets 16-17 most of the time now. I would like to stay as close to that as possible. (From my research this leaves me with the 5.4 V8 or the 7.3 Diesel, no need for the V10 since MPG will be in the 12 mpg or less range. Not sure about the 6 cyl, we do not plan to tow anything heavy but I would like to feel like I have some ability to pass when needed.)
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3. Dependability - I will add mileage here, although I have seen many vans with 400 to 500K+ miles I am not sure I want to be over 200K, Actually prefer to be <150K in a 5.4. My budget comes into play here big time, especially when looking at 7.3s. I am ruling out the 6.0, I do not want to start a debate here but from my research as well as talking with a few good friends who are diesel mechanics I do not have the $ to throw at the 6.0 to make it dependable enough for me.
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4. Affordable - This is usually a funny one when I look on Expo as many people on here have close to the $ into thier vehicles that I have into my house. My budget for inital purchase is $5K max. I woudl prefer to stay in the $3-4K range so I have some modification/maintenance $ to work with in the begining. (I also want to keep a little $ to the side to get a cheap used truck so we can still haul a few things for the yard, trash, etc. Trying to find a 67-72 Chevy in the $1500 range thats not rusted out.)
- This one has prove to be the kicker for some of the "wants" below.
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5. Daily Driver - Must initially be able to be a DD for at least a few years. Plans always change but given our current situation and possibility of adding more kids in the future this is going to have to be a DD. We drive approximately 20K in 2 different vehicles each year.
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6. Rust free. - Having owned a FJ62 from Minn. I will never deal with that again. For a few reasons, #1, your vehicle is litterally falling apart and will need body work for the life of the vehicle, it also sucks breaking off bolts, etc. When it does come time to sell the purchased vehicle it is very tough here in the south to get anyone to look at anything with major rust. Lastly I don't feel like having to constantly warn my kids to not touch the vehicle because of fear of tetanus. ;)
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Wants:
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1. EB - I do not want to have to carry a cargo box or two on every trip we have over 2 days long. So I would like to have the space possibly behind the last row?
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2. Diesel - Don't we all drool over the sweet diesel? I know I do. My main issue here is affordability, not only with inital purchase but also with continued upkeep. I have a good friend who can do the work at a somewhat discounted price or even help me with projects if needed so that discounts some of the costs, but diesel parts seem to be $. Although this is a big want it is definately not a need, we do not plan on towing anything substantial but there is a possibility of a camper way down the line.
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3. Customized to my needs. This one plays into budget as well. 15 pass EB vs EB cargo vs EB conversion van.
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- 15 pass., rear air is already installed at times they are not loaded down by PO as much as cargo vans. However it has windows everywhere, this could be an advantage since I will need seating for at least 7 in the rear and I think they will want windows. (I am thinking 2 rows of buckets in the rear followed by a rear bench, possibly a bench that lays down. Leaving rear for storage/bags, etc. If I can find some Sienna recling buckets at a bargain that woudl be perfect.)
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- EB Cargo - Ability to customize to our needs, put seats and windows where I want matched together. Traditionally these seem to be maintained well and do not need much maintenance $ up front. I have heard that many times they are overloaded, idled, and not always treated kindly by thier drivers. Another downside is cost after purchase to make it work now or soon for us as a family, we can keep using the 4Runner as the family DD but I don't want it to be a forever long build. (I had our 4runner in condition pictured about in ~ 5-6 months after purchase.) I am fairly handy with things, but know how long it can not only take to get the project completed, but also to not only find the items needed but also find them at a reasonable price can take awhile. Remember the budget/afordability thing above it keeps going. I just don't have the $ to throw at these projects like many guys on here do.
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- EB Conversion van - I have seen very few of these at a decent price. Windows are usually large and placed by 2 rows in the rear, not exactly the size I would use or where I would put them but very close. These are usually already modified some and have rear air, TV/video at times and are not loaded down/ idling etc like a cargo can be. I have literly seen 2 of these in the last few months that fit some but not all my requirements.
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4. Barn doors on the side, sliders seem to have an issue with staying on track and with small kids the ability to shut the doors is most important to my wife and I so we do not have to close it every time.
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5. I'll pile a few more here as they are nice but not 100% needed at least to begin with. TV/video system, fridge, some camping (Does not have to be fully contained in the van, but ability to sleep a few would be a plus.) Raised roof for ability to move around the van, We do not want it to be a huge bubble top more like a traditional conversion van height.
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So, I have put a few thoughts down and really want to make sure I am thinking about everything. At this point I know 4x4 is cool, but we don't "need" it. Can't believe I am saying that after I have only owned 4x4 family vehicles since we have had kids. Same deal with a poptop, I would love to have one but $ wise I dont see it hapening.
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I would also appreciate any leads that you guys might have. I have been searching searchtempest and autotrader in the southeast off and on for a few months now, but since I sold my truck I "need" to buy something fairly soon.
 
Last edited:

mgmetalworks

Explorer
16-17...I would like to stay as close to that as possible. (From my research this leaves me with the 5.4 V8 or the 7.3 Diesel, no need for the V10 since MPG will be in the 12 mpg or less range. Not sure about the 6 cyl, we do not plan to tow anything heavy but I would like to feel like I have some ability to pass when needed.)
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4. Barn doors on the side, sliders seem to have an issue with staying on track and with small kids the ability to shut the doors is most important to my wife and I so we do not have to close it every time.
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16-17 MPG? From a 5.4L? Maybe unloaded, going downhill, with tailwind, drafting behind a semi... :sombrero: I've got a 5.4L EB and the BEST mileage I've seen is 14+. I had a 4.6L E150 cargo that got 17 on the highway but that was with nothing in it. Let's face it, Ford has never been known for its fuel mileage. If I weren't converting to Cummins power, I would have gone with the V10 because as long as you're getting crap mileage, you may as well have some power. I'm sure you could put a tuner on the 5.4L and get a little improvement but don't expect to pass many gas stations with 9 people and all your gear loaded in there. I've been very disappointed in the mileage from our van. Our previous vehicle (2008 Tahoe Z71) would get over 20mpg loaded floor to ceiling with people and stuff. The van can barely break 12 on my daily commute (unloaded) and struggles to get over 14 on long highway drives (with not much loaded in it). I've had other vehicles with a 5.4L...all of them had about the same crap mileage. Good reliability though, I will say that. That's my experience with the 5.4L... others may have something different to say.
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You're right about barn doors being easier to close for kids but I'd disagree about the "issue with staying on track" comment. As long as you're not abusing the slider, there is nothing wrong with it. It is a solid system. I've tried to abuse my door just to test out my modified/extended hinge and it is pretty robust. You'd really have to attack it with a vengeance or do something really stupid to f it up. This is my second van with a slider (the first was a company rig which got some serious usage) and I've never had an issue.
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I'd definitely go with the EB. Lots more room. We love our van and we'll probably always have a van from now on just for its versatility.
 

89s rule

Adventurer
Higher mileage, but seems decent. It is on the other side of the US tho...

http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/4166237988.html
V10, I just can't bear 10MPG, been there and done it dont want to go there again. Guy locally has an EB V10, engine replaced a few years back has ~ 120K on it 250K on body. Says its clean, no leaks, maintenance needed, etc. He said I could have it for $2K. But even with a price that good, fuel costs will quickly make it the more expensive vehicle over the corse of 2 or 3 years.

Thanks for the input I have been following your build and projects great work. I showed my kids the Sienna seats you put in and they went nuts.
From what I have seen gearing, speed and keepign your foot out of it as well as a few other things has a good part to do with MPG. I am open to getting a tuner and doing a few other mods, as you can see with the 4runner I have a hard time leaving most vehicles alone.
I have seen guys getting 14-16 in some 5.4 vans and others getting 12. I know that it will not be great as it is a huge vehicle to push around, but I don't think I want to get near the 12mpg range again. Thats close to $5K in gas per year.

Also, on a daily basis it will be 5-6 people with little loaded. We live in a rural area with minimal hills, most trips are 10-30 miles with a majority of it being 50-60 mph.

Is 18-20 realistic for the 7.3 unloaded? As with the 5.4 I have seen MPG for 7.3s all over the place with 2wd versions from 15-22. One of my diesel mechanic friends has a 7.3 F250 ext bad LB with all kinds of mods (turbo, exhaust, meth inj, injectors, etc) and gets over 20 almost all day long lifted with 35" Toyo MTs.

Looking at this from a $ stand point. 5.4 @12 mpg 20K miles per year @ ~$3 per gallon = $5K per year in fuel.
7.3 getting 20 mpg 20K miles per year @ 3.50 per gallon = $3500. I know, oil and filter changes take a bite into some of that but thats a good bit over the corse of just one year. Especially when you are looking at a diesel costing andwhere from $1K - $3K more on the used market. If I look at 7.3's whats the limit on mileage for a family vehicle?
Current 4runner has 223K on it and runs strong, T100 had 264K and I trusted it but it certainly was not near as strong as the 4runner.
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I have seen 7.3 EB anywhere from $3K to $unreal+, but like all van prices they are all over the place. I don't know what they are selling for but they are certainly listed all over the place.
 

Jeffh555

Observer
I have seen 7.3 EB anywhere from $3K to $unreal+, but like all van prices they are all over the place. I don't know what they are selling for but they are certainly listed all over the place.
For comparison's sake. I just bought a 2000 E-350 EB Passenger 7.3L with 280k for $4900 (was asking $5750), in the San Francisco area. It runs good and looks good, but will probably need injectors this winter (rough idle and no power until oil warms up).
 

mgmetalworks

Explorer
I had a 2001 7.3 Super Duty, 6-speed manual, lifted, 35's.... Never saw anywhere close to 20 mpg. More like 15 unloaded on a good day, below 10 towing (12.5k trailer). I kinda think most people fib a little on their mileage claims to make themselves feel better about blowing so much money on fuel. :)
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I have a hard time believing a 7.3L can get near 20mpg with routine driving but that's just me. Newer diesels with the fancy computers getting 20+...I can believe that. Older diesels built during a time when no one gave **** about mileage and it was all "'Murica! F-Yeah!"... I'm not buying the claims. There will always be that friend's brother's co-worker who has a 7.3L rolling on 42's getting 25mpg but when you have actual hands-on, real-world, mixed-use experience, the 7.3 in a 7000lb vehicle gets 15mpg or worse in every day driving. I'd love to be proven wrong with mileage logs and fuel receipts but I bet it would be the exception, not the rule.
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I bought a 4x4 van for what it does best, getting us to the places we want to go comfortably and with all our stuff protected from the elements. It comes at a price though...they just aren't good for conserving fuel.
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I drive like a grandma in the van trying to get the best possible mileage I can and it still won't go over 15. I've been close a couple times but it is what it is...not a good mileage rig. The versatility and the space inside make up for the punch in the gut every time I fill up.
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Ford vans get crappy mileage. It's just part of the deal. (unless you start looking at sprinters...they do ok).
 

bknudtsen

Expedition Leader
My 6.0 returned horrible mpg's for what I had expected on our road trip this summer. I found that it was the aerodynamics that were the biggest culprit. The speed limits were 70 and 75 most of the way. 68mph was the sweet spot for mpg's, any faster, and you'd be amazed at how far I had to press the go pedal to stay with traffic. Granted, I am a much bigger profile than many, but I have relatively no weight in the van. So, instead of getting 17-19 on the highway, I returned 13-14mpg. Next time, I am parking it in the right lane and taking my time.
 

tommonta

Observer
My V10 got just over 13mpg on the highway until I installed the 4" lift Ujoint kit and 33" tires. Now it gets around 11mpg on the highway. My Tacoma gets 19-20mpg on the highway but not with two adults, two teenagers, two dogs, two weeks worth of camping gear and four bikes. Oh yeah, and my son does not complain about the legroom and we are not 500+ pounds over GVWR in the van.
 

Stitebunny

Adventurer
This:

Next time, I am parking it in the right lane and taking my time.
My 97 v10 gets 13 on the highway. That's with 4x4 and the penthouse top too. 60-65 is the sweet spot for us. And that's fine, because we're usually not in a hurry if we are in the van.
 

ujoint

Supporting Sponsor
Like MG said, better to have the V10 and have the power if the mileage will be crap anyway. My 5.4 RB has a 6" lift on 35's w/4.88 gears and gets 12.2 avg on my daily commute. Doesn't change much on the hwy. It has a tune, and I've tried to keep the weight down (aluminum bumper & tire rack, 2 Sienna seats and a bench with an aluminum platform)

My 7.3 gets 17-18 unloaded on the highway and 70-80mph. Thats on the 80hp eco tune. I would estimate a healthy motor with a 4-6" lift loaded for camping in the 14-16 range hwy. Full bodied van of course.
 

bdog1

Adventurer
Mine is out of your target range at 1994. It manages a little over 16 mpg from the 7.3IDI. Extended body and 4x4 now on smaller 31's. I'm really pretty happy with that for 8000lbs.


Sent by wing, prayer & ATT
 

dcguillory

Adventurer
I have a 2000 EB 7.3 with the mods listed in my sig. I hand calculate every tank. I NEVER get less than 16mpg. I have 9 bodies in the van more often than not, I live at sea level and travel from Sacramento to Tahoe (max 9000ft dureing drive) 2 to 4 times a month loaded, I tow about 5k just as often and I still dont get less then 16mpg. 18.5mpg is my standard. I cruise the freeway about 70 and I have healthy appreciation for acceleration. I can get 20mpg if I channel grandma. I will be picking up my van from SMB next week (two weeks over schedule) and I'm sure I will get worse mileage with the high top on it. Then when I go 4x4 and bigger tires I expect to be down about 15-16, but I am hopeful.
 

arlon

Adventurer
Considered a Sprinter van? Most are going to be above the budget but fuel saving might might help offset that. They have been around long enough for a good number of them to have show up on the used market at reasonable prices.
 

89s rule

Adventurer
I found two vans that I am considering going to test drive this weekend. I know what I want, EB 7.3. But looking at budget and not knowing 100% how its going to work out having a full sized van for a DD (for my wife most likely or myself) I think I may try to get what we can afford at a good price and go from there.
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Again not sure what vans are actually selling for but they are priced all over the place one van will be $6K and almost same van will be $3K. Given that if I can find one that works for us for now I can see how we like it and if we want to upgrade in 6 months or a year. I should be able to break even or close if I do sell it as long as I don't go crazy with mods right off, just seating and a few other comforts.
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I found a '99 e-350 v10 15 pass with 250K miles, 120K on engine. 3 owner Guy says it is really clean, no rust, leaks, etc. Originally owned by the State and then another lady who had the engine blow not long after she purchased it. He has paperwork for the engine. This one has one bench in the rear. Front end is tight as well. He will take $2K.
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Another is '98 e-350 5.4, 180K miles High roof with wheelchair lift in the rear. No rust. 2 owner 75 year old lady has driven it the last 10 years and 80K miles to transport her art to art shows. First owner was a wheelchair transport company who sold it at just under 100K miles (she said in her state those companies have to have vehicles with under 100K?) No seats in the rear and has a barrier for the front seats which I would sell. Not sure if used lifts are worth much but I would probably sell it as well. Has a book of receipts and her mechanic of 25 years has always done anything she needed. Did mention that it has not had any major issues. Even mentioned having the lift serviced, etc. She doesn't know a lot about vehicles but says I can speak with her mechanic. She is asking $3K.
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My wife isn't a fan of the looks of a high roof, but I think it would be helpful when dealing with the kids and while camping, etc. I am not a huge fan of the large high roof, thankfully this one is similar in style to the conversion vans.

Anything I shoudl ask about on each specific engine? I hear things about spark plugs but not sure exactly what to ask to make sure that is not an issue. Every diesel EB I have seen has been either rusted out, huge $ or a really high mile cargo which I would have to put more $ into for modifications and be at the top of my budget. For now I think I have to put the Diesel dream on hold until I can confirm that this is what we as a family need/want.
 

Jeffh555

Observer
For now I think I have to put the Diesel dream on hold until I can confirm that this is what we as a family need/want.
I did that very same thing, I bought a 200k 5.4 RB cargo for $800 with a salvage title, just to see if this van thing is what I really want. The 5.4 is underpowered for what I do with it, but it gets the job done. It was a low risk way to really get a feeling for what it's like owning a van. I thought I wanted a RB cargo that I could build out for my use. I found that a RB isn't big enough, and I really wanted all the windows, but nobody could have told me that, I had to learn it first hand. Driving a van every day is also a bit of a commitment (I don't unless it's raining, motorcycle most days) so buying something cheap to try it out is probably a good idea.
 

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