Full-Size Vans: The Next Big Thing?

Transit Chassis II

Sure, full-size pickup truck sales are doing well and are clearly headed in the right direction, but some are saying the next big Thunderdome cage match will be in the full-size van segment. And why not? There is plenty of territory waiting to be conquered.

We're at the 2013 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis this week, and it's no coincidence that both Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster chose this venue to make some big announcements regarding their new full-size van entrants. And although some think the new design shapes are quite ugly, their numerous assets could make them quite attractive to many downsizing, cost-conscious buyers. 

Ford Transit

Transit Chassis Rear II

First, the Transit folks showed their never-before-seen chassis cab option (looking like an ideal candidate for a 10-foot pickup bed), as well as making the announcement that the 3.7-liter V-6 engine in the Transit will be offered in both CNG and Autogas (the latter of which is commonly called LPG or propane).

Both of these offerings will make commercial truck buyers happy, and we fully expect some upfitters to create a custom bed option for the platform in the not-too-distant future. No doubt the RV industry will find the low floor and efficient engines a wonderful blank canvas as well.

"No other automaker offers the variety and adaptability that Ford Motor Co. brings to our commercial customers," said Len Deluca, director of Ford Commercial Vehicles, in a press release. "Transit's best-in-class capabilities are combined with an extensive nationwide network of commercial upfitters to provide an unparalleled number of body choices to suit almost any job."

To read the full press release on Ford's new chassis cab Transit, click here.

To read the full press release on Ford's new CNG/LPG offerings, click here.

Ram ProMaster

Ram ProMaster Chasssis II

Ram just announced pricing for its full-size van competitor; it starts at $27,025 (chassis cab cutaway model). The ProMaster will come in 14 configurations and top out with the long-wheelbase high-roof extended body at $37,145. Prices include destination.

"The latest addition to the Ram Commercial division, our 2014 Ram ProMaster, is an incredible value and contributes to a one-stop shop experience for customers looking for a full line of commercial-duty Ram trucks and vans," said Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand (and Chrysler de Mexico), in a press release. "The ProMaster focuses on principal segment demands with best-in-class features, quality, durability, capability and low total cost of ownership."

Ram ProMaster Pricing

To read the full press release on the Ram ProMaster pricing, click click here.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

3 Sprinter II

Finally, although it's likely to continue as a premium player in this growing segment, we just had the chance to drive several Mercedes-Benz Sprinters at a "Test the Best" dealer event tour that started in Southern California. The instructors taught us how to be more fuel-efficient cargo and passenger van haulers, allowed us to test out the adaptive electronic stability program and even gave us a shot at cruising the big-boys through slalom cones.

By event's end (which included a demonstration where the instructors turned off all the electronic stability controls) we were impressed. Although the Sprinter has a starting price about $10,000 higher than the ProMaster, it was impressive how well it handled and performed, even with 1,500 pounds basically mounted on the roof.

Whether this segment becomes as popular as Ford and Ram Commercial seem to think it will (based on their big investments) remains to be seen, yet with the number of configurations and platform flexibility they offer there is reason to be optimistic. We like the fact that this new competitive segment certainly has a good selection of small turbodiesel engine choices for fleet buyers.

Sprinter water tanks II

Comments

Any word on whether GM will bring their Euro vans to the States?

http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/vans/vivaro/index.html

http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/vans/new-combo/index.html

Another interesting article.

It's good to see a cab chassis Transit that can take a 10' tray or pantech coming out.

The engine choice suit a wide audience as well.

What exactly are those giant USB ports in the back of the Transit Chassis cab???

I can understand coming out with new vans but why are looks not important to Ford and Ram? But I guess looks do not matter to someone who buys a Ford or Ram.

@Toycrusher. Those are the cab vents.

Saw a 2500 4x4 Nissan Nv thsi week. don't know if it was off the lot or conversion but only had 6 lug rims. shape of things to come for the new titan. Still ugly as sin.

I'll bet you those new Eurovans, expecially one from Ford will start outselling Chevy Express within 2 years of being on the market. I've seen Ford's van in Detroit this year. It is a MONSTER! First thing that came into my mind when I saw it, I said to myself "you can park Express inside of that thing"!!

@Toycrusher

They are pressure vents to keep from blowing your ear drums out when airbags deploy in a crash.

Looks like the Sprinter tips over easy.

@Ford guy & Shibby - Thanks, Although the mental image of a giant thumb drive is somewhat more entertaining.

So this is going to be offtopic, but weren't we promised 2 weeks ago a mileage report on loaded and unloaded ram 1500's with the pentastar?

I also vaguely remember a promise for a driving review of the Grand Cherokee with the ecodiesel?

What happened to those articles?

@Phillyguy: The driving review of the Grand Cherokee diesel was on Cars.com last week. Since the Cherokee isn't considered a pickup truck, they stuck it there.

@Rick: If you look at the photo after the 'tipover', you'll note they put a heavy load high in the van to make it do that. Any vehicle with a high center of gravity like that will tip. They were doing it to prove their systems at least attempt to mitigate that problem. With such a low load floor it also implies a capacity for volume and weight that no previous American van could match. Since all three brands are offering similar capabilities, the new vans should offer better functionality at lower overall costs. Conversely, I'm not a fan of the high prices for an otherwise 'naked' van.

@Greg: Looks are important, as you'll note that all three do have some form of styling on the nose; they're just not "Americanized". However, if you will recall back to the American vans of the '60s, they all had flat noses to maximize internal capacity but which subsequently meant the engine was entirely in the cabin of the van. This meant that even the simplest maintenance procedures required popping that big engine cover and having to work over and around the seats. It wasn't until the early '70s, when the government started pushing for the 20mph bumpers in front that Ford and later the others actually pushed the engine forward a bit (which I thought ruined their looks) and created a short hood for changing belts and checking oil and water levels. If you took those '60s styles and modernized them for today, they would now look something like what these three (Ford, RAM and Mercedes (among others)) are offering today.

Ugly? Don't think the Transit fits that description. I like the Transit. The design fits a truck quite handsomely. Applications are endless.

I agree with GoFaster; I don't think that 'ugly' fits with the Transit(or the Sprinter, FWIW). Now the ProMaster and the Nissan NV, uh, well ...

I'm waiting for GM to come out with a new Traditional American Full Sizer before I buy any of this Euro Crap

Rumor is that Ram will go even bigger with a van based off of the IVECO Daily. the ProMaster is more of an inbetween size (my personal feelings are that it hits the sweet spot for price/capability) but the Daily is much more of a Transit or Sprinter size and price.

For those concerned about towing with a FWD vehicle the Daily will be the van you want from Ram.

Wow, that Transit looks better every time I see it. It looks rugged.

@FYI "Any word on whether GM will bring their Euro vans to the States?

http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/vans/vivaro/index.html

http://www.opel.ie/vehicles/opel_range/vans/new-combo/index.html"

These vans will never make it to the US market as a GM as they are already being sold as a RAM Promaster. GM has an agreement with Fiat, who makes these for GM in Europe and badges them as a Opel.

"I'm waiting for GM to come out with a new Traditional American Full Sizer before I buy any of this Euro Crap."

Hey Ryan, don't hold your breath. The "Traditional American Full Sizer" is going the way of the dinosaur—and it couldn't happen fast enough.

@Bigger Bob: The Opel Combo has a capacity of 162 cubic feet which is a fraction larger than the RAM CV (Caravan cargo).

The Opel Vivaro has a capacity of up to 294.6 cubic feet which, depending on the model chosen comes close to the Transit and the ProMaster.

I would almost expect the next full-sized Chevy/GMC to be the Vivaro. I don't expect to see the Combo in the states (but I could be wrong.)

@ howam00 Yes the Daily is Sprinter sized but has a much greater capacity.
http://www.ivecospares.com.au/images/uploads/iveco_daily_35%20s13_2005%20side.jpg

http://www.ivecospares.com.au/images/uploads/free%20ads/iveco%20daily%20van%2035s13%20side.jpg

The Opel vans are the product of a joint venture between Renault and GM, not Fiat. The Renault version is called the Trafic.

Chevrolet is going to rebadge an Opel van huh? Just like they rebadged the Holden Commodore. I'm just curious, is there anything outside of the Corvette they make themselves anymore? Or are all Chevrolet's soulless nameplates and badge jobs. Oh wait, it is GM we're talking about.

I think these will sell as fast as they can build them.

@Ford850 we use the smaller Japanese and Korean Vans a lot as well. The Hyundai Iload is as much a personal 'people mover" as a commercial vehicle.
http://www.caradvice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/image42059_b.jpg

I agree they will sell VERY WELL in the US as commercial Vans.

@Big Bob. Someone posted this on a RV Forum

"We were headed south on I-5 just out of Medford Oregon. Came up on a Cargo Van. New, no markings, as we got beside it I thought it was a Freightliner sprinter type perhaps a 4500.. Passed it and looked back to see the Mercedes on the grill.. Saw GMC. Have done a search and do not see any thing like it at GMC.. What do you think it might have been??? Is GMC making a body change or is Freightliner using GMC engines?? "

Supposidly Quigley is working on a 4x4 version of the Transit. I can't wait to see that one. A low-roof van with 4x4 and a small diesel would be a perfect vehicle for the back country.

Actualy the full size Ford version here is not bad looking at all, I thnk the 6 sided grill (Aston Martin like) that Ford had ownership of till a couple yrs ago, has a nice look, and it had mutated thru-out the whole line on there more modern vehicles, of Euro design, and will be big sellers, and has a nice corporate identity to it, and yes even though uni-body, will be able to work quite hard, and carry heavy loads, the full size is rea drive, but the smaller one is ft drive, and although that gives them a room advantage, it does distract from a heavy work load/traction advantage, as I believe you can not beat rear drive for heavy work and towing.

I personally like the shift to more efficient packaging on full size vans. I really wish volkswagen would bring over the transporter range- proof that the execution does not have to be hideous

am I the only one who thinks a website called Pickup Trucks should focus on...pickups? These cargo vans and tranports are deadly dull.

Yea, I think if they cover anything else is should be sports cars.

@ Robert Ryan

I have been hoping to see these vans not just cargo haulers but used for other purposes. Nice to see that since other areas of the world are doing the US market should bloom.

To be honest I have seriously looked at some Isuzu NPR trucks for my own personal use since i don't care about towing a space shuttle or dragging some poor horse from 0-60 in 5 seconds. A used NPR goes for less than a used GM Duramax or Ram Cummins and these trucks have the payload I need (well WAY more than I need). I'd live the more midsize trucks you get but if some upfitters can get a Ram promaster diesel with some type of traditional bed on the back under $35-38k then that would be fairly tempting. I knw in the used market these would be edging on the $10-15k range in just a couple of years.

@Bigger Bob- The Vivaro is actually a Renault/Nissan Van, not Fiat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Trafic
That van is (coming) here as the Nissan NV200.
The Nevw combo is the Doblo. The Bigger Movano is a Renault Boxer, which like the Transit (in Europe) comes in both fwd and rwd versions.
@Ryan- funny enough, that of the new vans, the NV2500/3500 is the closest to an American type van.
@Paul810- It would make sense for Quigley to use at least some of the 4wd parts in production for the Transit in Europe, even if they use a T-case right from the F150. On their GM 4wd conversions, they use almost all GM parts. I was surprised to see a Quigley E350 at the Chicago auto show. Perhaps they could even partner with Dangel to convert Promasters. Either would make a sweet chassis for a small (maneuverable) Class C.

Where'd my post go?
@Bigger Bob- The Vivaro is actually a Renault/Nissan Van, not Fiat.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Trafic
That van is (coming) here as the Nissan NV200.
The Nevw combo is the Doblo. The Bigger Movano is a Renault Boxer, which like the Transit (in Europe) comes in both fwd and rwd versions.
@Ryan- funny enough, that of the new vans, the NV2500/3500 is the closest to an American type van.
@Paul810- It would make sense for Quigley to use at least some of the 4wd parts in production for the Transit in Europe, even if they use a T-case right from the F150. On their GM 4wd conversions, they use almost all GM parts. I was surprised to see a Quigley E350 at the Chicago auto show. Perhaps they could even partner with Dangel to convert Promasters. Either would make a sweet chassis for a small (maneuverable) Class C.

While I appreciate the notion that full-size vans could make a comeback, I respectfully submit that you're only half correct here.

Ford is rumored to be giving any legit customizer a free Transit Connect wagon as long as they show the van at this year's SEMA show. They're going "all in" on the Transit Connect, because they see these smaller vans making a comeback in the near future.

So, I'd say that your title should be "Are small vans the next big thing?," as Ford seems to be betting that they will be.

@Sandman4x4, I agree, the Ford's do look nice. The Aston Martin look is so sophisticated. I did like the look of the last Chevrolet Express though. As an Opel, it would look all wrong however. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. I'm of the opinion that this is a more profitable segment over the trucks even. There's nothing to the cargo vans but a shell. And given they sell for big money, there must be tons of profit there to be had. Ford vs. Chevrolet vs. Dodge yet again. Here we go.

@howam00
These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

@howam00
These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

I would also like to see information from Ford regarding the power, torque and fuel economy from the "US" 3.2 diesel.

If they drop a twin turbo set up on it it would have significant gains. Ford Racing in South Africa had a Ranger with this setup and the off road racer was as competitive as a highly tuned V8 gas off roader.

This 3.2 was putting out HD diesel power. Diesel is much better at getting hp and torque gains with minimal fuel consumption increases.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.

These are very versitile vehicle platforms for work, I like cab chassis as they give you the opportunity to drop what ever configuration onto them.

Up here in the Northern Territory I do see these vehicles that are 27' long as RVs. Builders are using these more than the Asian style LDTs as well.

Both of these in diesel should also offer performance better than the Asian diesels you are getting.

The advantage I like is the economy of these, they should be very cheap on fuel compared to HDs and carry more weight than some HDs.

If you have one of these with a tray back you will tow less as well. And if you don't tow "15 000lbs" they would work as well.

As I've stated in the past towing a trailer wastes fuel and effort. I do know some require a decent towing ability.

I hope this comment isn't multi posted.



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