After spending countless hours (perhaps days) hemming and hawing, I think the Mercedes/Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter has won. While it’s probably the best compromise for my needs, the price is still somewhat of a deterrent. Sellers are asking around $17,000 for a decent 2006 158″ WB with a high top, which is considerably more than I’d like to pay.
What do I like about the Sprinter? Mostly the 13 ft. cargo length, and the 20+ mpg. I’m also considering converting to SVO (Straight Vegetable Oil), which would require a diesel engine. I’ve been warned that doing this might make my vehicle smell like french fries… YUM!
I’m not so keen on the Sprinter’s tiny wheels, low ground clearance, or the potential scarcity of qualified Sprinter mechanics. In theory, the wheels could be switched to larger ones, the suspension could be lifted, and I could learn how to fix Sprinters. But it all sounds very scary.
Coming in second at the moment is the Chevy Express with an extended body. The price is right for a gasoline engine, but an Express with a diesel engine is hard to find (assuming SVO is still an option). The Express cargo length is only about 11 ft., and it gets 11-16 mpg. I haven’t seen many Expresses on Craigslist with a high top, so it’ll be an additional $3,000 to have one put on.
I think this is why I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. When I make a decision, I like to be 100% sure of my choice. That way there’s no room for regrets. The anxiety-inducing hemming and hawing will likely continue for a few more days.