Tips, Tricks & Trends

Big Used Vans Under $5,000

Vans are a fairly popular segment right now. With many taking to the open road because airlines aren’t what they used to be, a big van for a summer on the road is more appealing than ever. But do you have to spend the big bucks to join the craze? Are there good big used vans for under $5,000?

Ford Aerostar is a great big used van, here is a 1996 one in bright blue
Ford Aerostar | StrongAuto

Van life was already a growing trend, and now it has even more draw. Large cargo or passengers are also great utility vehicles for moving either people or stuff for businesses. Plus, they are the right size for a small van conversion for those DIY project seekers or conversion commissioners.

But buying a big van Mercedes Sprinter or Nissan NV new can easily cost a lot of money. A new one will run around at least $30 grand, while used versions easily go for over $15 grand even for model years from nearly a decade ago. If you’re looking for a van––for work, travel, or conversion––it’s absolutely possible to find some pretty fun older used van options for under $5,000.

Ford Aerostar

Perhaps one of the more novelty options, the Ford Aerostar was well-loved in its prime. It offers the option for 4WD, and is a still a great passenger van. Plus, imagine all the fun you could have restoring one of these for a van conversion.

It’s not difficult to find one with under 150,000 miles. There are plenty out there from the mid-1990s for under $3 grand. If you want a van for an inexpensive price with the capability of 4WD and but of novelty fun, the Ford Aerostar might be an exciting choice.

Ford E-Series

Before the Ford Transit, or T-Series, we had the Ford E-Series. There are still loads of these in just about every configuration. Though most are high mileage, they are pretty tough vans that last a long time. Car and Driver praised the 2012 E-Series for its reliability.

a red extended size 350 E-series
Ford E-Series | Ford

“A box is best for hauling a lot of stuff, and this is one of the biggest boxes. The E-series plugs away without complaint, which is why it doesn’t matter that it’s wieldy to maneuver and seriously not fun to drive.”

Car and Driver

The Ford E-Series may not be fun to drive, but it’s a great van for a spectrum of uses. The passenger wagon boasted seating for 15, while this be-wheeled box was nice and roomy as a work van for commercial uses. The Ford E-Series can be found as new as 2006 or 2007 for under $5 grand. Even a 2012 model year can be had for just over $5 grand if you hunt for it.

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The Chevrolet Express

One more awesome van that’s pretty easy to find for under $5,000 is the Chevrolet Express. This is a trusty work or passenger van that is ready for you to budget buy and serve nearly any purpose a big used van can serve. This van, like its counterparts, comes in a variety of configurations.

Chevrolet Express cargo van
Chevrolet Express cargo van | Chevrolet

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They are out there as new as the mid 2000s for under $5 grand. These are a great buy, and the new models are virtually unchanged. So you’ll basically be getting the exact same van from, say 2005 that you’ll get in the 2019 model year. However, it will cost just a fraction of the new van price. Whether for work or play, the used Chevy Express is a large van worth checking out if you are searching for something under $5,000.