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The full-size van is a popular platform for conversion into a vanlife ride. There are several of them available. Some have four-wheel drive. They are also roomy. However, when new, they can be pricey, which can be prohibitive to someone considering vanlife as a possibility. So, the used van is an alternative many people move to. Here are five vans that have seen a good bit of depreciation already but still have a lot of potential vanlife to give for under $20,000.

1976 Volkswagen Westfalia Bus
1976 Volkswagen Westfalia Bus | Bring a Trailer

2005-2018 Chevrolet Express van

The Chevrolet Express Van seems like it has been around for eons. So, there are plenty of these models around. It comes in two lengths and only with a low roof. That low roof does not make them too popular with the vanlife scene. But some have been adventurous enough to cut it out and put a popup in. The van has the availability of a V6 and V8 gas engines, a V8 compressed natural gas engine, and a diesel four-cylinder engine. Look for the Chevrolet Express vans from 2005 to 2018 to be available in the $10,000 to $20,000. 

A white 2020 GMC Savana cargo van sits in front of a large commercial building
2020 GMC Savana Cargo Van | General Motors

2015-2018 Ford Transit van

Like Ram, Ford currently has two Transit models. This is not the smaller Transit Connect. The Transit is the larger family member. The larger van is available in three lengths as well and has three roof heights. It has three engine choices – two gas V6s and a diesel five-cylinder. Four-wheel drive is available. The Ford Transits from 2015-2018 typically will have samples from $13,000 to $20,000.

2020 Ford Transit Cargo Van
2020 Ford Transit Cargo Van | Ford

2010-2015 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van

The Sprinter van is a little pricier. So, reaching back to older models will be necessary to come in under the $20,000 budget. Two roof heights are available, and three lengths. It has four-cylinder diesel, a six-cylinder diesel, and one gas V6 engine. The 4×4 equipped model seems to be very popular with the vanlife and overlanding community. Look for 2010-2015 models to be $10,000 to $20,000.

Mercedes Sprinter van conversion by RB Components
Mercedes Sprinter van conversion by RB Components | RB Components

2014-2017 Ram ProMaster van

Ram currently has two ProMaster models. This is not the smaller ProMaster City. The ProMaster is the larger family member. This van comes available in three lengths and is propelled by a V6. Two roof heights are available with this model. No all-wheel or four-wheel drive is available. The Ram ProMasters from 2014-2017 can be found from $15,000 to $20,000

the bulbous face of a white parked ProMaster
Ram ProMaster | Ram Trucks

2013-2016 Nissan NV van

Nissan currently has multiple NV series vans. The NV200 is a small city-type van. The 2500 and 3500 models are the larger vans typically chosen for vanlife conversion from this manufacturer. It is available in two roof heights with two engines, a V6 and V8. This model is not available in all-wheel or four-wheel drive, but conversions to four-wheel drive have been found. The NV vans are fewer and harder to come by. When found, they are typically in the $13,000 to $20,000 area. 

An overlanding conversion of a black Nissan NV 3500 van | TFLTruck
An overlanding conversion of a Nissan NV 3500 van | TFLTruck

Used vans from the manufacturers listed above may be good alternatives for the budget-conscious vanlife enthusiast. Finding one under $20,000 will be a good starting point for the conversion process. Then the fun part of the conversion begins to make the van the unique expression of what the new owner wants. Ultimately though, the van will be the traveling headquarters and home of a traveling driver that wants to be better connected to the road than the hubbub of city life. 


Nissan 4×4 Van Is Ready For Overlanding Straight Out Of The Dealer