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Best Van Under $10K
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By D@n
From Boulder, CO
Jul 31, 2012
Head full of lead. Photo by Frosty Weller

The ultimate climbing vehicle thread may have been beaten to death here but how about narrowing it down a bit? I'm thinking of those folks like myself who are sick of camping out of a car and don't want a truck. Those people who would love the convenience of a van and can't dish out the bucks for a Sprinter. What kind of van does MP.com love?? Or hate??

Toyota Sienna?
Honda Odyssey?
Chevy Astrovan?
Nissan Quest?
Toyota Van?
Plymouth Voyager?


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Jul 31, 2012
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

The one I am selling in 5 weeks for $1600... Old Chevy Vandura. Already gutted and fitted with cabinets, counter, and a bed. New belts, tires, runs great.


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By generationfourth
From Irvine, CA
Jul 31, 2012

Lately I've been thinking a sienna, odyssey, or anything in that size would be perfect for people like us? take out all the back chairs, limo tint all the windows and insulate a little. seems reliable, decent enough gas mileage and able to be under the radar. I


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By Burghschred
From Bend, OR
Jul 31, 2012

I have a hand-me-down odyssey, actually the car I learned how to drive in. Back bench seat(s) fold into the floor, huge capacity, super reliable. I've made it up some pretty ridiculous dirt roads, driven across the country about 9 times. It dominated winter driving in Tahoe w/ snow tires. Currently it's at 260,000 miles, passed the last three inspections with nothing except having to replace brake rotors. Drives great, gets real world 25+ MPG highway and not much less in town.

Biggest gripe are the automatic doors. They're not so automatic anymore, and kind of a hassle at times. Other than that, couldn't be happier, hope it goes another quarter million miles.


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By Jorge Pantalones
From PRB, CO
Jul 31, 2012
Moi

+1 for the Element!


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By Eamon Doyle
From Sierra Madre, CA
Jul 31, 2012
Headshot

Volkswagen Eurovan with the pop-top camper. It is the perfect van if you ask me. Some day when I have a garage and money, I'd like to throw a lift, true 4x4 and a diesel on it. But, even as is, they are pretty sweet for camping.

Eamon


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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
Jul 31, 2012
CoR

Find an old Chevy Astro. Super solid drive train and transmission. Better than today's front wheel drive but gas mileage does suffer a bit. Last of the real mini-vans.


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By Ben Sachs
Jul 31, 2012

Ford Aerostar


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By MattG.
Jul 31, 2012

I just recently bought a 2001 Ford Windstar. Perfect camper, since a twin air mattress fits perfect. Eventually I'll make a platform for it. You can find them cheap too!


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By rj-n-foco
From Ft Collins, CO
Jul 31, 2012

This is the badass van of the week!

Badass Van
Badass Van

Ford E350, 4X4, Pop-top, solar panels, propane furnace. Drives like a charm. Use it pretty much every weekend in the winter going backcountry riding. Not so good for under the radar but it lets you get anywhere so you're out of radar range.


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By Unassigned User
Jul 31, 2012

rj-n-foco wrote:
This is the badass van of the week! Ford E350, 4X4, Pop-top, solar panels, propane furnace. Drives like a charm. Use it pretty much every weekend in the winter going backcountry riding. Not so good for under the radar but it lets you get anywhere so you're out of radar range.


You can get that for under 10K?


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By rj-n-foco
From Ft Collins, CO
Jul 31, 2012

Not quite, I paid 17000. It was still a great deal as it is a true Sportsmobile.


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By Jake Jones
From Richmond, VA
Jul 31, 2012
Me and the offspring walking back to the car after a day of cragging.

rj-n-foco wrote:
This is the badass van of the week! Ford E350, 4X4, Pop-top, solar panels, propane furnace. Drives like a charm. Use it pretty much every weekend in the winter going backcountry riding. Not so good for under the radar but it lets you get anywhere so you're out of radar range.


Dude. The environment. Come on.


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By bergbryce
From South Lake Tahoe, CA
Jul 31, 2012

The only element you'll find for under 10k is going to have 200k+ on it.

My buddy has a former electricians cargo van, white, no windows, looks like a work vehicle. Paid like $7,000 for it with ~60k on it. He can park it and sleep in it anywhere because it looks like a work van not some dirtbags crash pad on wheels.


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By Andy Kowles
From Longtuckles
Jul 31, 2012

$17K for a pimp sportsmobile? Those things are like $90K new, right?


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By rj-n-foco
From Ft Collins, CO
Jul 31, 2012

Dude, it handles anything the environment can throw at it. Well, except the Bonneville Salt Flats :-)

Stuck in the salt flats
Stuck in the salt flats

But seriously, it's not a daily driver and is great to basecamp out of. Sleeps 4 people and 2 dogs no problems. It carries 60 gallons of fuel and with the solar and propane, I can stay outta civilization for weeks at a time.


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By rj-n-foco
From Ft Collins, CO
Jul 31, 2012

Andy Kowles wrote:
$17K for a pimp sportsmobile? Those things are like $90K new, right?


Yea, they are expensive. I searched for quite awhile and found it in San Antonio. Someone looking to get out of it. It does have like 180K miles but runs like a champ with no leaks, doesn't burn oil or anything.


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By Eamon Doyle
From Sierra Madre, CA
Jul 31, 2012
Headshot

rj-n-foco wrote:
This is the badass van of the week! Ford E350, 4X4, Pop-top, solar panels, propane furnace. Drives like a charm. Use it pretty much every weekend in the winter going backcountry riding. Not so good for under the radar but it lets you get anywhere so you're out of radar range.


That thing is pretty nice looking. Diesel or gas?


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 31, 2012

I have a 1994 Volkswagon campervan and love it - but, the biggest detractor is the 5-cyclinder engine and the lack of clearance for negotiating dirt roads. I wish it had more power, a 6 cyclinder would be great. Unfortunately you cannot put a lift on the later model eurovans, unlike some of the older models that can be lifted.

If I had money to do it over again I would purchase a full sized Chevy or Ford van with a V8 engine and give it a lift and retrofit it. The minivans can't be lifted either and that presents a problem for those who really want to get off the beaten path. Much cheaper for repairs and maintence as well, the campervan is pricey to fix...


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By rj-n-foco
From Ft Collins, CO
Aug 1, 2012

Big Red is a gasser. Good ole' Ford 460 big block with perfomance cams, headers, exhaust. Also, the engine and transmission are chipped.


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By Eamon Doyle
From Sierra Madre, CA
Aug 1, 2012
Headshot

Mark Lewis wrote:
I have a 1994 Volkswagon campervan and love it - but, the biggest detractor is the 5-cyclinder engine and the lack of clearance for negotiating dirt roads. I wish it had more power, a 6 cyclinder would be great. Unfortunately you cannot put a lift on the later model eurovans, unlike some of the older models that can be lifted. If I had money to do it over again I would purchase a full sized Chevy or Ford van with a V8 engine and give it a lift and retrofit it. The minivans can't be lifted either and that presents a problem for those who really want to get off the beaten path. Much cheaper for repairs and maintence as well, the campervan is pricey to fix...


There are some lift kits available for the Astro vans from Overland Vans and lifting an Aerostar would probably be relatively easy with Ford Ranger front springs and a custom drop bracket in the rear. Anything later does get complicated because of the independent rear suspension, but anything is possible with a little fab work.

Also, the old Toyota Van 4x4s weren't bad. They're light and share most drivetrain components with the pickup from what I understand. Not terribly crash worthy though.

Eamon


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By Eamon Doyle
From Sierra Madre, CA
Aug 1, 2012
Headshot

rj-n-foco wrote:
Big Red is a gasser. Good ole' Ford 460 big block with perfomance cams, headers, exhaust. Also, the engine and transmission are chipped.

That thing is truly sick. Makes me want to dump my Expedition and buy one of those. Oh well. Maybe some day.


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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Aug 1, 2012
Stoked...

Andy Kowles wrote:
$17K for a pimp sportsmobile? Those things are like $90K new, right?


Ya that's an amazing price... I want one.


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Aug 2, 2012
Cleo's Needle

rj-n-foco wrote:
Big Red is a gasser. Good ole' Ford 460 big block with perfomance cams, headers, exhaust. Also, the engine and transmission are chipped.


My buddy has a new one with a 7.3 and a paralift on the side. It's bad ass. I think he said he gave $50k.


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By Peter Stokes
From Them Thar Hills
Aug 2, 2012
Wall Street, Moab, UT

The laws of physics being what they are, you'll have to make some kind of choice between size and fuel mileage. In a full size van the most reliable/longest lasting machine is the Ford E series- that's why thousands of fleets (and millions of tradespeople including me) own them. 16 to 20 mpg highway is about all they're good for, though. The older full size Chevy vans are pretty reliable, but the engines tend to burn oil from the valve stem seals. The newer full size Chevys have had some transmission issues, but you could do worse, and some of them are AWD. The full size Dodge vans aren't too bad either, and used prices are often lower than Fords or Chevys. The Chevy Astro/GMC Safari had a good, long lasting engine (4.3) but the transmissions have a tendency to fail, especially in the AWD models. The mileage isn't great, but slightly better than a full size. A true minivan (FWD, unibody construction) will get the best fuel mileage- 23 to 25 highway. For under 10k, you should have plenty of choices... while Toyotas are popular because of their reliability, they tend to cost a lot- they're not that much better than the other makes, and most of them have 200,000 miles on them when they go up for sale. I've had good luck with my Chrysler minivans (Caravan/Voyager), but not everyone does- beware of the transmissions. I'm not a fan of the Ford Windstar- the 3.8 engines in those tend to blow head gaskets around 80,000 miles (the Chevy Venture/Pontiac Montana has a better drivetrain). Almost everyone I know with a Honda Odyssey likes it, but like the Toyota, the resale prices are high. As with anything else, keeping some money in the bank for surprises might be better than spending your entire budget on the van itself...


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By Zappatista
Aug 22, 2012
Book me, officer.

Jake Jones wrote:
Dude. The environment. Come on.


Driving makes you a Republican, I'll have you know.


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