High-Top Van – Credit: van-derlust.com
We gathered statistics from surveying 725 van lifers and found cargo vans to be the most popular van to live in. This is no surprise as it’s practical, affordable, stealthy, easy to repair, easy to find on the market, and much more.
Pros of living in a passenger van or cargo van
- You can get away with parking it in certain areas because it blends in with other vans.
- They will last many miles.
- Not too difficult to fix if broken down.
- Better MPG compared to other options – RVs and Skoolies in particular.
- Much easier than others to convert into a camper.
- Some allow you to stand up inside.
- Very safe and secure.
Cons of living in a passenger van or cargo van
- Don’t expect to get great mileage, especially on older models.
- Less character than something like a VW.
- Less natural light and viewing for some models because of fewer windows.
- Everything needs to be customized.
Passenger vans and cargo vans are similar, but they do have a few differences worth pointing out:
- Passenger vans have more windows which can be nice because it makes the van seem bigger and provides for better views and more sun.
- Passenger vans are more difficult to convert because the inside of the vans have junk that you will want to tear out like seats and walls.
- Cargo vans are easier to insulate than passenger vans because they typically have ribs on the van walls allowing you to stuff with insulation. Cargo vans also have fewer windows which allow for better insulation.
- Fewer windows also allow you to be more stealthy when sleeping at night.
High Top vs Low Top Cargo/Passenger Vans
High Top Vans
Some examples of high-top vans include Mercedes Sprinter, Freightliner Sprinter, Dodge Promaster, Ford Transit, Nissan NV
Pros of high top vans
- They allow you to stand up inside
- They allow for more storage
- The taller sealings allow heat to rise, keeping you cooler
- You can build bunk beds, which is nice if you’re traveling with more than a couple people
Cons of high top vans
- They are not always easy to find when you’re looking to buy
- They are more expensive than low top vans
- You may be too tall to fit under some drive-throughs or parking garages
Low Top Vans
Some examples of low top vans include Ford Econoline, Chevy Express, and GMC Sierra.
Pros of low top vans
- They are more affordable
- They are easier to find when you’re looking to buy
- If you’re willing to spend some money you can get a pop top or extended roof installed
- Typically better fuel economy
Cons of low top vans
- There’s typically only room for two people to sleep comfortably
- Less storage space available
- Short ceilings force you to crouch or sit at all times