USA Market 4x4 Vans Rant

erstwild

Member
This is not intended to be a particularly productive thread (hence "rant") and somewhat hyperbolic, but I am trying to poke some fun at this topical absurdity.

For the life of me, I do not full understand why the concept of a reasonably priced factory 4x4 or AWD van is so much to ask in the USA.

It would seem to me that you either have to buy into the Sprinter 4x4 starting at, clunk, $54k (of course they restrict the number of 4x4 so you cannot negotiate to pay under MSRP) and put up with the diesel emissions crap (until they make the gas engine version maybe).

You can get a Ford Transit conversion done by Quigley for an eye watering ~$10k...but not for the high-roof version of course because just screwing with you...go spend another $4k on a fiberine top or $10k for some flimsy glorified pop up tent crap. Quadvan, etc. all options. Enjoying trying to get anything fixed when the dealer points to the third party conversion shop and vice versa to put on a time consuming production of "I'm with stupid".

Ram promaster equivalent in Europe, the Fiat Ducato, can get a 4x4 conversion by the French company, Dangel, but of course for the US market they leave us all "Dangeling".

Otherwise, it is all usually used, usually old, usually modded, usually high mileage E vans, express/astros, and other obscura. Not my speed.

How the heck did we end up in this plight? Emission regulations? Conspiracy to drive Americans into more-expensive, higher-profit margin trucks?
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
The Sprinter 4x4 is priced roughly in line with similarly equipped F250 crew cab with diesel 4x4 etc. The reason for the low 4x4 sprinter numbers is that only one company makes the front diff, and they don't have the capacity (they make all worldwide 4x4 diffs). in 2019 Mercedes is switching to a new MFG which will increase parts availability. They will also be offering a gasoline engine (cheaper), and an AWD non-lifted version.

Basically full sized vans are a pretty small market, most folks want a minivan, or a pickup. In fact Americans love our pickups a crazy amount! I know trade workers (construction HVAC) who refuse to consider a full sized van (high roof or not), because they would be ridiculed because they are for pu**ies.

Given that 4x4 vans would be a small slice of an already small market, it doesn't make financial sense to invest the significant resources for a 4x4 variant. Note that a 4x4 variant would need its own crash tests, etc, which can cost millions.

The same goes for imported 4x4 variants , which would need their own emissions and crash tests separate.
 

grampswrx

Observer
We all hang out in this echo chamber of van lovers, but out in the world no one likes vans, they all have pickups or trailers or whatever and don't buy vans. Only with the advent of the sprinter and transit have we even had decent offerings and that's within the last few years. Things will get better, but we will never have 4x4 van options like in europe where you can choose from 10 in different shapes and configurations.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Full sized vans are a fast growing market though. In 2016 they broke half a million, which was a record in the USA (this includes box type commercial delivery vans). Many younger families, and middle class individuals want something like an RV based outdoor lifestyle, but don't see a Full Sized RV working in their driveway. Pickups are not ideal for families, with 2 or more children either, especially if you want valuable gear out of the open or elements.
 

erstwild

Member
The Sprinter 4x4 is priced roughly in line with similarly equipped F250 crew cab with diesel 4x4 etc. The reason for the low 4x4 sprinter numbers is that only one company makes the front diff, and they don't have the capacity (they make all worldwide 4x4 diffs). in 2019 Mercedes is switching to a new MFG which will increase parts availability. They will also be offering a gasoline engine (cheaper), and an AWD non-lifted version.

Basically full sized vans are a pretty small market, most folks want a minivan, or a pickup. In fact Americans love our pickups a crazy amount! I know trade workers (construction HVAC) who refuse to consider a full sized van (high roof or not), because they would be ridiculed because they are for pu**ies.

Given that 4x4 vans would be a small slice of an already small market, it doesn't make financial sense to invest the significant resources for a 4x4 variant. Note that a 4x4 variant would need its own crash tests, etc, which can cost millions.

The same goes for imported 4x4 variants , which would need their own emissions and crash tests separate.
It looks like Mercedes just announced their 2019 Sprinter offerings today! Unfortunately, no gas engine 4x4 offering by the looks of it. Wish they even did a lighter duty AWD like you suggested.
 

Binky

Member
We all hang out in this echo chamber of van lovers, but out in the world no one likes vans, they all have pickups or trailers or whatever and don't buy vans. Only with the advent of the sprinter and transit have we even had decent offerings and that's within the last few years. Things will get better, but we will never have 4x4 van options like in europe where you can choose from 10 in different shapes and configurations.

I love my AWD Astro. Too bad they went out of production in 2006!
They must have sold all of them in the West, because I see them by the dozens every day!
Decent examples bring good money around here, either 2WD for the trades or the AWD version for camping. Low mile examples can still be found, parts are cheap and they are not bad to work on. There is even a factory locking diff. I only wish it was a foot longer.
More than a few folks on this forum have them.

Why GM killed it is beyond me! In fact, I think it was the cancellation of the Astro/Safari they led to the explosion of small utility vehicles we have now.

John
 

Choff

Adventurer
I love my AWD Astro. Too bad they went out of production in 2006!
They must have sold all of them in the West, because I see them by the dozens every day!
Decent examples bring good money around here, either 2WD for the trades or the AWD version for camping. Low mile examples can still be found, parts are cheap and they are not bad to work on. There is even a factory locking diff. I only wish it was a foot longer.
More than a few folks on this forum have them.

Why GM killed it is beyond me! In fact, I think it was the cancellation of the Astro/Safari they led to the explosion of small utility vehicles we have now.

John
I agree!!!, Why did they stopped making full size AWD Vans too???
My AWD 2005 GMC Savana is the best handling in Snow I have ever driven
 
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Grump E-Vet

Active member
Sorry to ressurect this thread, but I was thinking why couldn’t some 4x4 shop in the U.S. do something similar to the Dangel Fiat Ducato conversion (links provided for reference)? I understand it might be costly but I would certainly be down to commission a build if a company wanted to take it on since I am from an FCA only family.

https://newatlas.com/westfalia-amundsen-offroad-camper-van/53845/#gallery

https://newatlas.com/fiat-ducato-4x4-camper/51134/

https://www.dangel.com/sites/www.dangel.fr/files/pdf/EN/Citroen/5215Y Dangel conversions Pricelist - Citroen.pdf
 

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b. rock

Active member
.....You can get a Ford Transit conversion done by Quigley for an eye watering ~$10k...but not for the high-roof version of course because just screwing with you...
I didn't realize some shops wouldn't convert high top vans. Is that just Quigley?
 

sg1

Adventurer
In Europe you can get an OEM Ford Transit AWD at a very reasonable price. I have one and it works great.
 

shenrie

^^^ hates cars
^^^ never heard they wouldn't convert any specific vans. all ive heard is that they wont convert a used van. something about the van has to come to them from a ford dealer in order to do any 4wd conversions. I could be way off, but that was my understanding.
 
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