Here Are 5 of the Best Small Vans for a Camper Van Conversion

We can’t get enough of the camper vans. The van life has taken over, and there is no escaping it. Of course, Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, the need for safe, socially distanced travel, and the growing interest in adventure travel have created a booming market for RVs of all shapes and sizes. But the best small vans for camper van conversions can be tricky to nail down until now. 

An camper van on the open road.
RV | Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Many larger RVs can be very expensive and intimidating to drive. These roadblocks have forged a second mini-boom for small camper vans that are also more affordable. These smaller rigs are more nimble, easier to drive, and often much cheaper than the massive Class A motorhomes or the thundering camper trucks like the EarthCruisers. Here are five of the best small vans for camper van conversions on the market. 

The Mercedes Metris is one of the best small vans for camper van conversions

This Mercedes camper van came to the North American Market in 2015, and frankly, it should be at the top of more people’s “dream camper” list. According to The Wayward Home, the Mercedes Metris costs anywhere from $26,000-$34,000. 

The Mercedes Metris is a small van powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a seven-speed transmission. This tiny camper van can carry over 2,500 lbs making it a great option for building the perfect small camper van. 

The Ford Transit Connect makes for a great small camper van

Most camper van builders know the Ford Transit, but the Transit Connect is smaller and more unique. These small vans are perfect for camper van conversions because they are easily found used for fairly cheap. 

The Ford Transit Connect comes with two different engine options, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder van or a turbocharged 1.6-liter Ecoboost 4-cylinder. It can haul around 1,600 lbs, even though these are pretty tiny. 

The Dodge Promaster City is ready to roll 

the Dodge Promaster pictured is a tiny van perfect for a camper van conversion
Dodge Promaster | Dodge

Many camper upfitter companies use the Dodge Promaster, but few use the small van version, the Promaster City. This tiny van is perfect for your next camper van conversion because it can carry nearly 2,000 lbs, gets 28 mpg, and still packs 131.7 cubic feet of cargo space. 

If you step one level up from the basic model, the Promaster City SLT gets heated seats, a leather steering wheel, and cruise control. This is a strong contender for the best small vans for a camper conversion. 

Look out for a Nissan NV 

This compact cargo van has all the things you want out of a great small van for a camper conversion. This thing was made to be tiny for easy maneuverability around a city. That means it gets great gas mileage and is easy to drive. 

The downside of this small van is that while it is still one of the best options for a camper conversion, it is slightly smaller and has less power than the others. However, that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. In fact, for the right camper, this tiny rig could be the perfect fit for more deep country camping. 

Don’t sleep on the AWD Toyota Sienna 

A red 2021 Toyota Sienna parked outdoors
2021 Toyota Sienna | Toyota

The last spot in our top five small vans for a camper conversion goes to the mighty Toyota Sienna minivan. This is the perfect example of the right answer being under your nose the whole time. 

These are easy to drive, super comfortable, and plentiful on the used market. Although most people don’t think of Toyota Sienna as the best off-roader, the Toyota AWD system can easily carry you deep into the wilderness with a few slight alterations. The small package also helps in the off-road department. 

The only real downside here is the amount of labor needed to convert this into a RV if you wanted a more full-time rig. Even still, the majority of the work is confined to removing seats and carpet. 

Small camper vans are the best camper vans

The van life is quite the alluring one for those of us who feel the tug of adventure on our sleeves. However, the massive rigs and price tags are super cool but simply out of reach for most people. Picking a prebuilt conversion camper van can save money and offer a friendlier driving experience. 

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