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  1. #1
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    Anyone use an Express or 15 passenger van?

    I need some help deciding what to get....I have 1 kid on the way and I want to be able to haul the family with the dog and our mountain bikes. I am considering a Chevy Express or similar 12-15 passenger van. My thought was-take out the last two bench seats and store the bikes in there. There would still be room for the car seat. Anyone use this setup or seen it?
    Thanks for the help!
    Nick

  2. #2
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    That would be fine, but you could do the same with a 1/2 ton truck. Get a ford, nissan, or toyota and the rear seat folds up. You could actually take out half of the rear bench and have a nice flat floor for the dog. Put a tonneau on the bed of the truck and keep all your luggage, bikes and gear in the back.

    Here's a picture:


    You could also get a mercedes benz sprinter CREW van which just has a middle bench seat, they get over 20mpg, the older 2.7l and newer 2.1L engines get mid 20's mpg. However, you'll need to insulate with sound deadening material, although the baby would probably fall asleep from the road noise.

    You might also be able to do the same thing with a ford expedition EL. Just take out the third bench, might be enough room for the bikes. The great feature on the expedition EL that i liked is the center of the middle bench seat slides forward. Great for your wife to attend to the baby from the passenger seat. The price on a used expedition EL is also right. In an effort to regain sales from GM for that era, ford heavily discounted the expedition, they were selling for just over $30k brand new. So used a few years, they can be had for $15k for a nice one.
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  3. #3
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    I have this setup on my '97 Ford E350 PSD EB passenger van
    when you say store bike, is a requirement to keep front wheels on?



    my van is stripped of all the rear bench seats, but installed these Toyota Sienna leather recliners for my 2 kids. and 8yr old and 5mo old. seats have the latch system, the old bench seats did not.

    this pic is from the fabricator who made the custom seat mounts specifically for these seats.

    my interior is still a work in progress... it's not intended to be a 'camper van' ala Sportsmobile but more a gear hauler.

    exterior



    if you want a van get a van... don't be persuaded by the truck crowd.
    trucks are great, but get what you want. with a newborn on the way the ability to walk back into the cabin is invaluable for my wife. and the ability to keep the front wheels on my bikes when storing them in the rear was a major factor for me.

    have you seen kntr's van?
    Motovan

  4. #4
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    That's a nice setup you've got Rodel. Keeping the front tires on isn't a requirement per-say, but it is definitely preferred. I like KNTR's van-that wouldn't be a bad setup. What kind of mileage are you getting out of your setup? I have a GMC sierra ext cab so I can haul the family in it "as-is" but I would like to have something more friendly and my main concern is keeping the bikes safe. I could buy a shell for the truck but it's about $1600 and my thought is that if I am going to start shelling out money it might as well be fore something more suitable.

  5. #5
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    The problem with the Ford E series or GM Express/Savana vans are their aged designs. They have changed little since the 90's. They have done almost nothing to the suspension and steering geometry. This is ironic because these vans and cutaways for RV's sell in very large quantity due to their lower price. You would think they would put more R & D into them.

    A more modern van like the Nissan NV can do everything these vans can do, only better. It turns like a modern vehicle, this is especially crucial in parking lots. The seats in the NV are highly configurable, but the carseat latches are only in the middle seats. There is also a pleothera of cup holders, and the nissan engines are well known being used in the pathfinder, xterra and titan.

    If you are buying brand new, i'd consider a sprinter passenger van. You will pay more up front, but it gets around 23-25mpg. Ford also has a new transit van to consider, they have a gas van which will probably 3-4 more mpg than the van you're considering, or a diesel coming out later. Fords new transit VAN(Wagon) will probably run you about $35k brand new, but you have to keep fuel economy in mind. The old vans will probably get you no better than 16mpg but likely more like 13mpg on average in the real world. The ram promaster gets 19mpg on average, so assuming the ford transit gets the same, you're looking at nearly a 50% increase in fuel economy. At today's fuel prices that's about 27 center per mile to 18 cents per mile. If the price difference of the vans is $5k, you would break even at 55k miles. If the price difference is $10k, you would break even at 110k miles.

    The GMC sierra ext cab is probably fine for a toddler forward facing seat, but i'm not so sure it'll fit a rear facing infant seat. Perhaps it would fit in the middle of the rear bench, so it protrudes between the front driver and passenger seat.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicksstorm View Post
    That's a nice setup you've got Rodel. Keeping the front tires on isn't a requirement per-say, but it is definitely preferred. I like KNTR's van-that wouldn't be a bad setup. What kind of mileage are you getting out of your setup? I have a GMC sierra ext cab so I can haul the family in it "as-is" but I would like to have something more friendly and my main concern is keeping the bikes safe. I could buy a shell for the truck but it's about $1600 and my thought is that if I am going to start shelling out money it might as well be fore something more suitable.
    Oh my MPGs are terrible... with the 6" lift on 35s, 4x4 conversion and re-geared to 4.10 i'm averaging about 12mpg in the city. This summer we took it on a 3200 mi road trip through NorCal, OR and ID then back to SoCal... I averaged no better than 14.
    Doesn't bother me much though as this is the vehicle i want... gotta pay to play.

    That said... If i could do it all over again I might opt for a gasser, my wife and 8yo complain about the loudness of the diesel, even after all the Dynamat and extra insulation i put in it. So I'm waiting on the new MB Sprinter AWD to come out we'll see if she likes it.

    I'll keep this as a MTB road trip vehicle for me and the homies, since all it costs me is fuel and insurance to keep and the Sprinter as the family adventure vehicle.

  7. #7
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    Re: Anyone use an Express or 15 passenger van?

    15 pass vans are the best, I've had crew cab trucks, but this is my first van, a 06 Ford E350 eb (extended body). If i want, i can fit 5 bikes inside the back with the last 2 rows removed and more bikes outside on the hitch and still have room for 8 people and all of everybody's gear inside. Mostly I find the van useful for keeping my bike and paddleboard inside and secure and the freedom of movement inside when your getting you and your bike ready for a ride or a shelter during inclement weather. I also plan on a set of the Toyota Sienna bucket seats and a awning for shade. I have the 5.4 gas engine and before I added the lift and larger tires I was seeing 15/16 mpg ' s.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Anyone use an Express or 15 passenger van?-uploadfromtaptalk1413696353721.jpg  


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1transition View Post
    15 pass vans are the best, I've had crew cab trucks, but this is my first van, a 06 Ford E350 eb (extended body). If i want, i can fit 5 bikes inside the back with the last 2 rows removed and more bikes outside on the hitch and still have room for 8 people and all of everybody's gear inside. Mostly I find the van useful for keeping my bike and paddleboard inside and secure and the freedom of movement inside when your getting you and your bike ready for a ride or a shelter during inclement weather. I also plan on a set of the Toyota Sienna bucket seats and a awning for shade. I have the 5.4 gas engine and before I added the lift and larger tires I was seeing 15/16 mpg ' s.
    Nice van 1transition are you on Expo or the SMB forum?
    I often wish I had something other than a white van.
    When you find the seats, don't hesitate to pull the trigger...
    they are difficult to find now, that is if you want the full leather recliners.

  9. #9
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    Hey 1transition, any details on how you secure those 5 bikes when you're carrying them inside? I just scored a '00 Dodge 3500 Maxiwagon (15-passenger, 94k miles, 5.9L Magnum and $1,100 - woohoo!) and I'm looking for a better solution to carrying bikes inside. Right now I can carry 4 using fork mounts that I've got secured to the floor, two facing starboard and two facing port, but it's not ideal and there's the hassle of dealing with the (removed) front wheels. I could build something out of plywood and 2x10s like rodel linked, but I'm exploring other options. Thanks!
    We rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character.

  10. #10
    jrm
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    I had a toyota sienna i could fit 4 bikes with gear and 4 people. I just had to remove the 3rd seat and fabbed a fork mount rack from 2 x 4s set up opposed to each other.

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