The 2023 All-Wheel-Drive Ford Transit / Canada:
We considered a pickup truck with a camper in the bed. Unfortunately, if one takes into account the weight of a camper loaded with water, food, camping and recovery gear, plus passengers, the only choice available is a full-size heavy duty truck. Any mid-size truck will lack the load-carrying capacity by a wide margin, and will end up being overloaded by the time it is ready for adventure. That is both illegal and dangerous. Also, we did not want the inconvenience of having to get out of the truck, walk around it, maybe in inclement conditions, and then setup a pop-up camper roof every time we stop and want to prepare lunch. The option of a rigid camper would be too high to be convenient off-highway. The higher the vehicle, the higher the center of gravity, and the more the vehicle will sway sideways in curves and off-camber situations. We abandoned that idea.
We turned to a converted cargo van. Although in theory a van is not a good off-road choice, we no longer plan to travel to places that would require a true off-road vehicle. We only want to be able to get off the highway to non-paved roads and tracks, in order to get to remote campsites. AWD (All-wheel-drive) is desirable and should be sufficient for us. A camper van has the convenience of being self-contained, making everything accessible from inside the vehicle. For the same vehicle size, the volume of living space available is greater than a camper on the back of a pickup. A van is in all respects more convenient.
In North-America, as of this writing, there are only three models of cargo vans available new:
The Dodge Pro Master. Since there is no AWD option available we did not consider it further.
The Mercedes Benz Sprinter offers an AWD option. The Sprinter is expensive to purchase and maintain. The dealer network in North-America is limited, and spare parts are costly.
The Ford Transit AWD. We settled on the Transit because we have owned a number of Ford vehicles over the years and have had a good experience with them. The AWD option is important to us, the dealer network is extensive everywhere, and the availability and price of replacement parts is pretty good. We ordered a 2023 model, with AWD, limited-slip rear differential and the 3.3L V6 Eco-boost engine. We asked the dealer to install the Van Compass 2″ lift kit and replace the factory tires with Toyo AT III All-Terrain tires, in a larger size: 245/75R16 mounted on the factory rims. The bigger tires will give us an additional inch of ground clearance, and lift the frame a total of 3″ between tires and lift kit. The spare tire will no longer fit under the chassis with the larger tire, so we also asked the dealer to install the Aluminess rear tire and ladder combo.
Other than the gasoline heater and the side windows, I will do the complete camper conversion myself. Check the Camper page for details on that.
The 2016 Ford Ranger Pickup / Argentina:
After a lot of research and considerations, the requirements for our truck are as follow:
- Locally made in Argentina, so that parts and service can be easily obtained
- Small enough to fit in our building parkade when not traveling
- Be discreet once on the street
- Have 4 wheel-drive capability since many roads in South America are still unpaved and can quickly become treacherous in bad weather.
- Be as fuel efficient as possible since gas is fairly expensive in Argentina.
- Be as recent and as low mileage as budget allows.
We finally decided the single-cab pickup truck with a fibreglass shell is the best compromise for us. Toyota and Ford both offer a single-cab, 4WD model, though there are few on the road and even fewer available on the used market. The dual-cabs are far more popular. We finally came across a 2015 Ford Ranger single-cab 4WD in our price range, and with only a thousand kilometres on it, as good as new but without the price tag.
Here is what the base vehicle looks like from the photos posted by the previous owner in the for-sale ad. The next step will be to find and purchase the shell. Stay tuned!
- 2015 Ford Ranger, manufactured in Argentina
- 2.2 Litre diesel engine with variable-geometry turbo
- Power: 125 HP @ 3700RPM
- Torque: 370Nm between 1750 and 2300 RPM
- 6-speed manual transmission
- 4-wheel drive high and low
- Electronic shift-on-the-fly to 4WD up to 120 km/h
- Electronic descent assisted system
- Four wheel ABS
- 80cm of wading capacity
- Air conditioning
- Power steering
- Stability control
- Traction control
- Assisted uphill start
Here is our vehicle with the hardtop installed: