Sprinter vs. Transit vs. ProMaster: What’s the Best Camper Van?

Mercedes Sprinter vs. Ford Transit vs. Ram ProMaster: Campervan Comparison

Camper vans are insanely customizable. But there’s one thing that’s impossible to change about any camper: the vehicle platform it is built on.

At first glance, many of the van conversions seem to be quite similar even if they’re built on different platforms. But upon closer inspection, each van comes with a variety of pros and cons. Since the vehicle itself cannot be changed, it’s important to understand the differences before your purchase.

There are three van options that most people use for modern camper conversions: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit, and Ram ProMaster. This post will go over the pros and cons of each van platform, the most important specifications, and the various options from each manufacturer.

A VW campervan sitting in a lovely location surrunded by greenery.

Why These Three? Height and Efficiency

Let’s begin by recognizing that you can build a camping-capable rig out of nearly any vehicle on the market. You should stick to what works best for your needs and desires! This post should not serve as the all-encompassing comparison for camper vans, but there is good reason for considering these three (Sprinter vs. Transit vs. ProMaster). Here’s why:

The Volkswagen bus (Eurovan/Vanagon/Westfalia/etc.) are the OG of the van camper world. They still have a cult-like following and we love the look of these vans. But the interior space and engine performance are simply no match to the modern van platforms. They can also have a premium price tag due to their limited supply and die-hard fans.

Chevy Express and Ford Econoline (E-Series) vans are still regularly used in the camping world. These have a bit more space, more powerful engines, and a lower price tag. Some RV companies transform them into comfortable spaces with pop-up ceilings, under-mounted tanks, and electrical systems.

While many people are happy with these vans as campers, their main downfalls are the lack of headroom, smaller interior space overall, and gas-guzzling engines. Because of this, they don’t fall into the same class of vehicles as the Sprinters and sprinter-like vehicles.

So why are today’s most popular choices these three (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vs. Ford Transit vs. Ram ProMaster)?

(1) They have unmatched interior space and headroom; (2) they utilize some of the most fuel efficient engines in any RV platform; and (3) they come in a variety of lengths/drive-train options to fit individual needs!

That’s why this article focuses on these three. Let’s dive into the details so you can see if they are a good choice for you!

If you want to try out a camper van experience before buying, visit Outdoorsy! They offer rental vans of all types; it’s like the AirBnb of the van world.

An old VW van sitting on a nice beach in Mexico.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: The Gold Standard

The term “sprinter van” is often thrown around when discussing tall vans. But Mercedes-Benz is the only brand who actually manufactures a model that is named Sprinter. It is considered the gold-standard of tall vans in the camper conversion world.

They’ve been around the longest, are considered the most capable vehicle platform, and can come with a gluttony of bells and whistles (modern tech and safety features). Simply put, they are the top choice for the best outfitting companies and camper vans.

Generations of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters: A Quick History

T1N is the first generation of Mercedes Sprinter vans, made from 1995 to 2006. These were available in North America from 2001 to 2006, but were rebranded and sold under Dodge and Freightliner badges to avoid a hefty tax. That means if you want to search for a T1N Sprinter in the United States, you should look for Dodge Sprinter or Freightliner Sprinter. (You might be able to find a Mercedes-branded T1N, but they are extremely rare in the United States.)

T1N’s have a more simplistic design with fewer electronics and systems, which makes them a popular option to this day. They do not require Diesel Engine Fluid (DEF) nor Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). If you’re interested in driving to remote areas in less-developed parts of the world, this makes them a top choice.

T1N’s also do not have Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), removing an entire system that can be costly to repair. The downside is that they are hard to find without rust and in good mechanical shape, they aren’t as environmentally friendly, and you might have difficulty finding certain parts (although a handful of online retailers do a great job at providing most parts, including EuroParts and Million Mile Sprinter).

NCV3 is the second generation Mercedes Sprinter, sold in the United States from 2007 until 2018, with a major update in 2013. These were also sold under the Dodge (until 2010) and Freightliner badges. In 2015, the first 4×4 option was introduced, marking a new period in the Sprinter world.

The NCV3’s include better emissions controls (DEF and DPF), as well as a variety of modern upgrades: crosswind stabilization, blind spot monitor, captive highbeam, and lane departure warning systems. This generation basically marks the change from an older basic vehicle to a high-tech modern one. But as many gear-heads know, buying a used, high-tech, German-designed vehicle can come with many headaches and repair bills.

VS30 is the third and current generation of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, sold from 2019 to present. This model has many upgrades and options, but the one people talk about the most is the 7-speed transmission (compared to the NCV3’s 5-speed). They also include upgraded suspension and active safety management systems.

A brightly colored Ford Transit van camping near some hills.

Mercedes Sprinter Wheelbase Options and Types

Sprinters have been sold in two wheelbase lengths: short wheelbase (144” newer models and 140” older models) and long wheelbase (170” & 170” extended newer models, and 158” older models). They also come in various options based on the desired load (dual rear wheel and other suspension-based models made to increase gross-weight, towing, and load ratings).

The shorter versions are easier to drive and can usually fit into a single parking space. Simply incredible compared to almost any RV on the market. While you can still pack in a TON of options (including a bathroom), the short wheelbase is a little tight on internal room. This option is usually best for a maximum of 2 people.

And watch out: the short wheelbase version is made in a low roof option, which most people cannot stand upright inside. If you find one that seems under-priced, this might be why (or it needs repair work; after all, you get what you pay for).

The 170” length is only made in a high-roof version, but comes in standard and extended length versions. The regular 170″ is longer than any Ford Transit or Ram ProMaster, and the 170″ extended version is massive!

Quite a few people opt for the 170” length for camper conversions. It provides a much larger space for dedicated seating, sleeping, and bathroom areas. The 170” extended is tempting to fit even more inside, but it also limits the vehicle’s capability as the rear end hangs pretty far off of the rear axle.

There are three main types of Sprinters, depending on their intended purpose:

(1) The “cargo” version is the cheapest and comes with an empty rear end and no rear windows (you can add your own!);

(2) The “passenger” version is the other end of the spectrum with rear bench seating, windows all around, and a roof-mounted heating & air conditioning (HVAC) system; and finally,

(3) The “crew” version has seating for up to 5 and usually two rear windows. Cab-only with empty chassis are also available for a more box-truck like option.

A happy camper working on building out an older model Mercedes Sprinter van.

Which version is right for you? That’s a tough call.

The cargo option is a popular route. Start with the cheapest blank slate. After all, why should you pay for features you might not want? Then add the windows and interior you desire to create the perfect camper.

The passenger option usually requires a lot of tear-down work for a camper conversion. You’ll likely need to remove some rows of seating. They also have already finished the interior walls and ceiling, which sounds great, until you realize you want to rip it out and heavily modify the wiring. Most campers use an electrical system that is essentially completely separate from the vehicle electronics (but perhaps connected to the alternator so it can be charged while driving).

The crew version gives you a couple windows and one row of seating. This might be good for a family who knows that they’ll need a second row of seating, but you’ll have to make sure you aren’t buying things that are not ideal for your build. With so many ways to customize rear seating and windows, don’t limit yourself to what the factory offers! On the other hand, if you know you want to have the rear windows in this placement, it might be perfect for you.

A new fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, some surely going to be used as recreational campers.

MB Sprinter Dimensions

There are many dimensions to keep in mind while buying a van for a camper conversion. And like many vehicles on the market, the options are basically limitless and impossible to sum up in a quick blog post.

Here are a few major highlights of the specifications offered by Mercedes-Benz:

144” Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 233.5”
Interior cargo length: 132.9”
Exterior height: 107.5” to 114.2”
Interior height: 79.1”
Maximum cargo width: 70.4”
Interior cargo volume: 319 cu.ft.

170” Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 274.3”
Interior cargo length: 173.6”
Exterior height: 107.5” to 114.2”
Interior height: 79.1”
Maximum cargo width: 70.4”
Interior cargo volume: 430.1 cu.ft.

170” Extended Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 290”
Interior cargo length: 184.9”
Exterior height: 107.5” to 114.2”
Interior height: 79.1”
Maximum cargo width: 70.4”
Interior cargo volume: 532.6 cu.ft.

What does this mean? Well, obviously deciding on the wheelbase length is the number one factor in size. But also pay attention to interior width and height. While 70.4” wide and 79.1” tall sounds like plenty of space, just remember that you’ll be adding a floor, ceiling, plus the wiring and insulation you desire.

On top of that, there is a major design factor that some people dislike about the Mercedes Sprinters: They have a tapered design, meaning the width gets narrower as it approaches the ceiling. In other words, it looks like an archway when viewed from the rear. This creates a lot of challenges in designing cabinets and furniture to fit the curved space.

The tapered design also means that fitting a bed across the width of the van is difficult, especially for tall people. This is why companies like Flarespace exist. You can remove the rear panels of the van and add small, permanent pop-outs to create a larger bed space. These “flares” are made for most of the Sprinter models and other sprinter-like vans. Their downfall is that they can be hard to insulate while maintaining the additional space.

A rear view of a Ford Transit, one of the most spacious vans on the market.

Mercedes Mechanical Options, Specifications, and Maintenance Costs

The Sprinter vans are available in rear-wheel drive (RWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD). A few front-wheel drive Sprinters are out there, but not many. The most recent model have incorporated a variable torque distribution system offering superb off-road performance.

The 4WD version comes with a 4×4 low range setting for the toughest spots and uses two different electrical systems to assist with traction. According to Mercedes, the combination of these electrical systems gets rid of the need for locking or limited slip differentials. Having said that, there are third-party options for adding an air-locking system to these platforms. It seems some people think that you just can’t beat a locking differential.

Another benefit to the 4WD version is higher ground clearance. But the 4WD system comes at a cost: the price is higher, maintenance/repairs can be more expensive, and fuel mileage is much lower.

I’ve also heard first-hand from many 4WD Sprinter owners that they aren’t really all that pleased with their off-road capability. These can be large, heavy vehicles after all. If you want to go rock-crawling, this is not the platform you should choose and no in-class competitor will do any better (they’re all actually much worse). You might consider a Chevy Express or Ford E-Series, which have more truck-like off-road capabilities. Or even a truck with a slide-in camper.

Additionally, if you’re thinking 4WD is a necessity, then be careful with the wheelbase you choose. The 170” length is a long vehicle; high-centering and dragging the rear end (especially of the extended version) is a possibility on rough roads with dips or ruts.

Mercedes Sprinter vans have been built using diesel options for a long time. The most recent versions are include gas and diesel 4-cylinder options, both getting pretty solid fuel mileage. The diesel version can get upwards of 22 miles per gallon or more! There is a 6-cylinder diesel option as well, most often outfitted on the dually versions. Remember, any 4WD version will suffer from a dramatic reduction in fuel mileage.

The interior of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, the nicest of the bunch.

Diesel options are popular for camper builds, because generally speaking, they last longer before needing to be rebuilt. Diesel fuel has lubricating properties, while gasoline is a solvent. Diesel engines rely on compression for combustion unlike gasoline which requires a spark for combustion (glow plugs exist in diesels, but are only utilized for cold-weather starts; the engine runs without the glow plugs working). The increased pressure/compression in diesel engines also means that the engine blocks, liners, and heads are designed to be more durable.

The downfall of the diesel options are the additional systems required: DEF and DPF, as well as increased fuel pressure. These are some of the common failure points for Sprinters. DEF can be difficult to find in remote areas, DEF heaters can stop working. DPF systems get clogged, especially if not run at highway speeds regularly (the DPF system should “regenerate” itself while highway driving, which essentially means it cleans itself out). Black Death is a term used when the fuel injectors leak and require attention. And of course, there can be the typical issues with transmissions, differentials, and engines/head gaskets that all vehicles have.

Now here’s the catch with Mercedes Benz: price. They start around $38k, which seems reasonable. Until you realize that the one you dream of with a long wheelbase, high roof, 4WD, and all the bells and whistles of a modern luxury vehicle can put the starting price well over $60,000, possibly even over $80k. The average price for all Sprinter purchases is $64,250.

A lot of people think the Sprinter maintenance costs are going to be extreme. And they can be. It’s no lie that Mercedes mechanics and parts are often higher than their domestic counterparts. They are also more complicated machines, often requiring specialized mechanics.

But the fact is that the average annual repair cost of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters is just under $2,000. These machines can be incredibly reliable if well cared for, but some unlucky few (or those who fail to do proper maintenance) can have astronomical repair bills. If you’re buying one new, don’t neglect it and make sure its driven on the highway regularly. If you’re buying used, look for ones with detailed maintenance records.

On the other hand, Mercedes also report the lowest cost of fuel and the best retained value. What you pay up front might pay off in the end, especially if you care for it.

General engine specs, which depend on the model you choose:

6-cylinder diesel engine
188 horsepower at 3,800 RPM
325 lb.-ft. torque at 1,400 to 2,400 RPM
24.5 gallon fuel tank
7-speed transmission

4-cylinder diesel engine
161 horsepower at 3,800 RPM
325 lb.-ft. torque at 1,400 to 2,400 RPM
24.5 gallon fuel tank
7-speed transmission

4-cylinder gasoline engine
188 horsepower at 5,000 RPM
258 lb.-ft. torque at 2,500 to 3,500 RPM
22 gallon fuel tank
9-speed transmission

Towing capacity range 5,000 TO 7,500

Reported, estimated fuel mileage (non-4WD):
21-22 MPG for diesel
19 MPG for gasoline

To see the most recent details for Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, go directly to the MB website here or check out the Sprinter Source wikipedia page.

A Ford Transit sitting in a nice field.

Ford Transit – The More Reasonable Runner Up

If the Mercedes Sprinter price tag or specialty repair shops/parts give you pause, then Ford Transit might be more up your alley. As it is for many people.

A lot of the options for the Ford Transit mimic the Mercedes Sprinter. It’s almost as if other companies tried to copy the Sprinter models. Wink, wink.

In the United States, Ford replaced the Econoline (E-Series) van with the Transit in 2015. Ford Transits have been made in two wheelbase versions. The short wheelbase is 130” and the long wheelbase is 148”. The long wheelbase comes in regular and extended length versions. Almost everyone goes with the 148” wheelbase for van conversions of Ford Transits. That’s because the short wheelbase does not offer the highest roof!

(Side note: The Ford Transit Connect is a different vehicle entirely and is a very small van. It is good for people on a budget who are alright with a smaller rig, but doesn’t compare to the full-size Transit’s interior space.)

Similar to Mercedes, you can buy a Ford Transit in three purpose-built versions: cargo (no windows and empty rear), passenger (rear bench seats, full windows, and rear HVAC), and crew (two rear windows and seating for 5). Once again, these are basically identical options to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, so please read the Sprinter’s section if you want more details on what these options entail.

The Ford emblem, which sits on the front of Ford Transits, a good option for a camper van

History and Engine Options of Ford Transit

Ford has been making am model called transit for many decades. But the modern Ford Transit as it exists today started production in 2013 and was first sold in the United States as a 2015 model. A 6-speed transmission was standard until 2020, when a 10-speed transmission replaced it.

It comes in two different engine types now in the United States: V6 gasoline and V6 gasoline EcoBoost (turbo-charged). There are a few diesel EcoBlue ones out there, but Ford stopped producing them for the US market.

Ford is now focused on bringing their all electric e-Transit to market instead, and all signs point to it starting off with a pretty low range of about 126 miles; they are targeting the city-running commercial fleets for this van. As much as I’d love to recommend an electric Transit for camper van conversions, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case quite yet due to this limited range. (If buying electric is your priority, the Tesla Cybertruck has a top range of 500 miles, so check that out!)

While you can find an older model Transit in diesel, the newer ones are gasoline only. Gasoline is better for people who don’t drive often on highways (since diesel DPF systems need that highway driving to regenerate/clean themselves) and they are easier to find mechanics for. These gasoline engines still get solid fuel mileage, and if well taken care of, should still last a long time. However, diesel engines provide more torque and more true driving power.

The gasoline option also comes with an Ecoboost option. This adds a turbocharger to the engine, which forces more air into the engine, allowing for increased power and fuel efficiency. The downside is that turbochargers can fail and can be costly to repair.

A view looking out from the interior of a Ford Transit camper conversion.

Off-Road Capability: All Wheel Drive

For the first few years, Ford Transits did not have a 4WD or AWD option from the factory. Some aftermarket conversion packages did exist, but nothing from the factory.

As of 2020, however, Ford Transits now have an All Wheel Drive option! Also, even if you don’t get AWD, the 2WD versions are rear-wheel drive. Since van conversions often put a lot of weight over the rear axle, most people agree this is the better axle to have under power.

But let’s get one thing straight: most people agree that the AWD Ford Transit is not as capable as the 4WD Mercedes Sprinter.

AWD depends on computer input to detect slippage and send power accordingly. Most of the time it is only powering the two rear wheels and there is no way to manually tell the system to engage all four. The Mercedes Sprinter 4WD system divides the power between the two axles when in 4WD at all times. It also has a 4-high setting for most 4WD conditions and a 4-low setting for the worst situations. It does rely on electrical systems to detect slippage and adjust power accordingly, but the Mercedes 4WD system is known as being superior to Ford’s AWD system overall.

The AWD Ford is a very capable vehicle, but not meant for regular 4WD roads and isn’t really the same class as Mercedes 4WD.

Just like there Mercedes Sprinter, there are third-party companies who specialize in turning the Ford Transit 2WD or AWD systems into a true 4WD system. Quigley takes a Ford Transit directly from the factory for 4WD conversion, retaining the warranty. They also recently started to convert used Transits. Quadvan is another company that is turning 2WD and AWD Transits into 4WD machines. Check out these companies if you want to get a Ford that is insanely capable. But beware, the price tag on these conversions is pretty steep (likely well over $10k).

Sizing and Pricing of Ford Transits

One of the biggest advantages of Fords compared to the other sprinter-like vans is the headroom. The maximum interior height of the Fords is the highest out of all three: an astonishing 81.5” (before installing floor/ceiling). While a couple inches doesn’t seem like much, it’s a major difference if you’re someone over 6 feet tall and if you desire thick flooring or ceiling.

The Ford Transit 148” wheelbase is the only model that comes in the high roof option. Here are the specifications of the two 148” options:

148” Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 235.5”
Interior cargo length: 143.7”
Exterior height: 109.6”
Interior height: 81.5”
Maximum cargo width: 72.6”
Interior cargo volume: 453.4 cu.ft.

148” Extended Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 263.9”
Interior cargo length: 172.2”
Exterior height: 110.4”
Interior height: 81.5”
Maximum cargo width: 72.6”
Interior cargo volume: 536.4 cu.ft.

Notable features are a slightly wider maximum width and slightly higher interior height, when compared to Sprinters. However, the Ford Transit does have a tapered design as well, so the width toward the top of the van is a slightly smaller.

Both of Ford’s high-roof options are shorter than any 170” wheelbase Mercedes Sprinter, and the 170” extended length Sprinter is much longer.

Compared to Mercedes, many people go with Ford for one reason: the price tag. The starting price is around $36k and the options don’t add up the price tag quite as rapidly compared to the Mercedes Sprinter. Used options can be found at a much more affordable price. Just remember, this means that they drop in value more rapidly too.

The annual repair cost is reported to be around $800. Not bad for this size of vehicle and about half of the Mercedes estimated repair bill. Plus, a Ford doesn’t require as specialized of mechanics nor as specialized of parts. Overall, easier to deal with routine problems and maintenance.

General engine specs, which depend on the model you choose:

3.5L V-6 gasoline engine
275 horsepower at 6,250 RPM
260 lb.-ft. torque at 4,000 RPM
10-speed transmission
Towing capacity range 3,800 to 5,300

3.5L EcoBoost (turbocharged) V-6 gasoline engine
310 horsepower at 5,000 RPM
400 lb.-ft. torque at 2,500 RPM
10-speed transmission
Towing capacity range 4,200 to 6,900

25-31 gallon fuel tank
Payload range 3,269 to 4,947

Reported, estimated fuel mileage (non-EcoBoost)
15-17 MPG gasoline
22-27 MPG diesel (no longer offered)

Get more information about Ford Transits on Ford’s official website here. Check out the Ford Transit Wikipedia page here and the RVwiki page here for more information.

A happy couple spending time outside of their campervan conversion.

Ram ProMaster – Affordable and Easy Build Structure

And finally, there’s the Ram ProMaster, which has been available in the United States and Canada since 2014. Unlike previous years, these vehicles have been designed and built by Ram. The 2001-2010 “Dodge” Sprinters were actually Mercedes-Benz vehicles, but 2014 and later Ram ProMasters are actually Ram/Dodge.

These vans can be found under a lot of different manufacturer badges, depending on the country they are sold in. This can be beneficial for international travel because parts might be available where any variation of this van is sold. If you really want to confuse yourself, read up on the many labels the Ram ProMaster vans are sold under here or the history of the Ram parent company (Stellaris) here.

A Ram ProMaster on the beach in Mexico

Like both the Mercedes and Ford, there are some great things about Ram ProMasters and some not-so-great things about them. This section might seem overly pessimistic about the Ram ProMasters, but many people love these vans. It’s just that they have challenges when stacked up against the competition (the whole point of this article).

Don’t get discouraged if you think a ProMaster fits your needs best. Make the call that’s right for yourself!

Let’s start with the good. The Ram ProMasters are attractive because (1) they have the lower price tag out of the three modern van options while retaining a similar space and (2) they have a less-tapered structure so the upper corners are closer to a square 90-degree angle than the Mercedes and Ford counterparts. As a result, the interior is slightly more spacious. And even more important for beginner builders, designing and constructing the square interior walls and cabinets is easier.

The Ram ProMasters design also allow for a lower interior floor. Ram’s is lower than Mercedes or Ford, making it easier to get in and out of. If climbing into a high vehicle might be an issue for you, the ProMaster is a good idea.

However, some people are not big fans of this design for camper vans. The lower construction method results in a much lower ground clearance. The ProMaster frame is best for city and on-road driving, while Mercedes and Ford are superior off-road and for heavier loads (even in their 2WD versions).

Another feature unique to the Ram ProMasters is that they are front-wheel drive (FWD). On one hand, some people prefer FWD for slightly easier driving and maneuverability. But if you consider that most camper van conversions put a lot of weight over the rear axle and you often need the most traction when climbing hills (resulting in weight shifting to the rear axle), a lot of people prefer the rear-wheel drive.

I found this to be quite surprising as someone who comes from snow country and is used to hearing how RWD vehicles are the worst in snow. The general consensus is that the camper van experience is different.

As far as brand reputation goes, Ram falls in last place here too. Of course, this is an extremely broad generalization and most major car manufacturers build incredibly reliable vehicles. Proper maintenance and care go a long way, and you should get the vehicle you like the most, not one that everyone says is the best.

The average annual repair cost is quite similar to Ford Transit, coming in around $800 per year.

Sizing and Pricing of Ram ProMaster

Down to brass tacks. Ram ProMasters start around $32k. That’s quite a deal! It’s not impossible to find low-mileage ones under $20k. So if budget is a top concern and off-road capability is low priority, then Ram is probably the right choice.

The high roof Ram ProMaster comes in two wheelbase options. Here are the general specifications of each version:

136” Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 213.2
Interior cargo length: 122.8”
Exterior height: 103.6”
Interior height: 76”
Maximum cargo width: 75.6”
Interior cargo volume: 353 cu.ft.

159” Wheelbase
Bumper-to-bumper length: 236.2”
Interior cargo length: 145.9”
Exterior height: 102.1”
Interior height: 76”
Maximum cargo width: 75.6”
Interior cargo volume: 420 cu.ft.

The highlights of the specifications include the widest interior cargo. Since the walls are closer to vertical, this extra width goes all the way up to the ceiling and is ideal for those who with to sleep across the van.

General engine specs:

3.6L V-6 gasoline engine
280 horsepower at 6,400 RPM
260 lb.-ft. torque at 4,400 RPM
9-speed transmission
24 gallon fuel tank
Payload range 3,940 to 4,550
Towing capacity range 6,480 to 6,700

Estimated fuel mileage:
17 MPG

The downfall of the ProMaster’s specifications are the MPG since no diesel exists, and the lack of ground clearance.

Find out more about Ram Promaster on Ram’s official website here.

A Mercedes Sprinter van on a rough road in the forest, putting its 4WD to good use.

Overall Comparison: Sprinter vs. Transit vs. ProMaster

Now time for a quick overview of the three options: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vs. Ford Transit vs. Ram ProMaster.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

  • Known as the gold-standard for this class of vans due to superior interior and mechanical features
  • Most expensive and require specialized mechanics and parts, but also hold their value the best
  • The only current diesel option (older Fords can be diesel), with the top fuel mileage
  • The only true 4WD option and known for off-road capability
  • The 170” version is the longest van available (and the 170” extended is simply massive)
  • Nearly as tall as the Ford Transit

Ford Transit

  • More reasonable in initial purchase price and maintenance/repair costs
  • Maximum interior height of all three brands
  • AWD and RWD versions available
  • Used models can be found in diesel versions and current models offer increased power and fuel mileage in the EcoBoost (turbo) version

Ram ProMaster

  • Most affordable option
  • Maximum interior width off all three brands, and with the most square construction design
  • The design with lowest floor height (easy entry) and lowest ground clearance

Best Camper Van Comparison Summary

Which van is right for you? That’s YOUR call!

You really can’t go wrong with any of these three: Sprinter vs. Transit vs. ProMaster. Or perhaps none of these fit your needs and you should check out a classic VW bus, Ford/Chevy’s other vans, or many of the other options available to get your outdoor life rolling along. A camper van is not right for everyone.

Whatever it is, just make sure you pull the trigger, make it happen, and start exploring! Don’t wait for life to come to you. It’ll pass you by.

If you want to try out a camper van experience before buying, visit Outdoorsy! They offer rental vans of all types; it’s like the AirBnb of the van world.

Do you have something to add? Do you want to stick up for your favorite brand or shoot down one you dislike? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “Sprinter vs. Transit vs. ProMaster: What’s the Best Camper Van?”

  1. THIS statement below is NOT TRUE….
    Please clarify this as it causes confusion.

    My 2011 Mercedes Benz Sprinter is built on a unibody design.

    Is the Mercedes Sprinter unibody?
    Space Overview. With the Sprinter Cab Chassis by Mercedes-Benz, there’s room to be flexible. With Best-in-Class payload capacity and a light, but sturdy unibody frame, it supports just about anything you can throw on or at it.

    “The Sprinter vans are a unibody vehicle which means the frame is integrated with the body as opposed to body-on-frame vehicles which have a separate boxed frame that the body sits on. “Unibody” is short for unitized body or unitary construction design.”

    Ram ProMasters are the only unibody design van in this category (Mercedes and Ford are both body-on-frame). Many vehicles are made as unibody designs now because it decreases the total weight of the vehicle and lowers the center of gravity. Providing slightly better fuel mileage and handling.

    Finally, Sprinters get superior fuel economy….on long trips I frequently get 18 MPG regularly.

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely correct. All three options are technically unibody constructions and I’ve updated it accordingly. The emphasis of that section is pointing out that frame of the Sprinter and Transit sit much higher than the ProMaster. There is a major difference in the construction method, and according to Doctor A (a well-known Sprinter mechanic) you actually can purchase the Sprinter frame as a separate part number, which can cause even more confusion about the construction design. Nonetheless, thanks for taking the time to ensure the information is accurate.

      I agree about fuel economy, as reported in the article. Some people report even higher than 18 mpg, especially in the two-wheel drive Sprinters. My T1N can get nearly 25 mpg if running at the right speed (around 60 mph), giving me more than 500 miles on one tank. It’s incredible! You can see more reports in this link (also listed near the Sprinter fuel economy section).

      Safe travels!

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