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Hello. I want and need a newer vehicle as our suburban is simply too small in terms of hauling passengers and stuff.

The way I see it, the only real choice is to buy a full sized (extended) passenger van. This narrows the field to Chevy, Ford, or Dodge. For current models, the Dodge is actually a Mercedes Benz built vehicle that is badged as a Dodge or Freightliner.

I am not a new car buyer, but would lean toward a used current year or previous year vehicle. The Dodge sprinter is nearly non-existent in the used market and sells at near it's new price anyway. The Chev/GMC and Ford can be bought for just over half the price of a Dodge Sprinter. While the Sprinter is a slick vehicle with a diesel engine, it is quirky and expensive to maintain. The fact that the diesel could run for 1/2 million miles is a plus until you realize you will have high maintenance costs for that 500K. Who wants a car to run forever if it is bleeding you dry? Another consideration is that the Sprinter averages 24mpg vs 12 for the Chev or Ford. This plus is also quickly shot down once you do the math and account for the difference in purchase price.

Comfort is another consideration. The Dodge Sprinter is very comfortable and drives/handles like a minivan. The seats and room in the rear are superior to the typical '15 passenger' benches.

I don't really know or trust the Fords. I would be very comfortable buying another Chevrolet (or GMC) as our suburban is an outstanding vehicle. Perhaps the Express is the way to go. I'd be looking for a one ton version. A diesel, if available would be great, but that option in a used vehicle may preclude availability.

Would anyone care to share your thoughts, or to organize mine a little better? ;)

Polywilliams



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Let's check the math again? Assume (worst case) that gas is $2.50 and diesel is $3.00 (just a 50-cent difference to REALLY account for the worst case possible).

500,000 miles / 24 MPG = 20,833.33 Gallons of diesel used :
20,833.33 gallons X $3.00/gallon: $62,500 in fuel costs.

500,000 miles / 12 MPG = 41,666.67 Gallons of gas used :
41,666.67 * $2.50/gallon: $104.166.67

Over 500K miles, you're spending $41,667 less. Or $8,333.33 over just 100K miles. Is the difference between the Sprinter and the Ford/GM vans less than $8000?

Okay, so maybe maintenance on the Sprinter is more than the Ford/GM vans? Could be. I don't know, but Mercedes engines should be more bulletproof than Ford or GM.

I think the Sprinter also comes with a lot more standard, such as traction control (the Ford and GM's have just the conventional limited-slip diff).

But you also mentioned that the Sprinter drives nicer anyway and has better room.

I'm leaning towards the Sprinter, the only question seems to be about the general reliability and maintenance.

But what do I know, I drive an AZTEK.

Duck
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I have a Ford Chateau (E-150). It is a 1995 and has 176000 miles and is still running great. We bought it at 12000 miles and it was 1 year old. We did have to replace the transmission last year but that was the only major repair we did to it. We do have to give it a front end alignment very 25000 miles and the front brakes do not last as long as the suburban. Might be true of all vans.

The van has 7 seat belts but it has more room for all the passengers than the suburban or the Excursion. The back has 3 times the space for cargo than the subarban. We have 6 Kids but one is moved out and married so the van is a perfect fit for us.

Ford does put a diesel engine in a one ton van. It is rare to see one but I know a electrian who owns one. You can expect about 18 to 20 miles to the gallon. I have a F-350 and get about 16 miles to the gallon, but it is the older 7.3 Diesel and I haul a lot of weight and trailers. I a masonry contractor.

You can also buy a strip down van and have it designed by one of these van companies that do custom vans. There is one here in Dallas that does that.

If you have any more questions, let us know.

Smith
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The GMC and Chevy model pass vans are identical. Gas mileage isn't
quite as bad as you thought (check the PDF file for specs). No diesel
is available. An AWD model is available.

http://www.gmbuypower.com/vehicleHomePage.bp?zip=06901&null&model=Express%20Passenger&modelId=011&make=Chevrolet&makeId=001&sellingSource=13
http://www.gmbuypower.com/vehicleHomePage.bp?zip=06901&null&model=Savana%20Passenger&modelId=019&make=GMC&makeId=012&sellingSource=48

The Ford E-series seems to have more engine options and a diesel.

http://www.fordvehicles.com/trucks/eseries/features/specs/

The Dodge Sprinter looks like it can be had for the low 30's if you stick
with the base. The difference in price does not seem to be that huge (but
with all the options I may have left out a frame or something

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http://www.dodge.com/sprinter/index.html?context=vehiclePage&type=vehicleLink

Since finding a Sprinter new is a challenge I can see why finding one used
would be impossible.

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Would anyone care to share your thoughts,.............................


While I'm not sure what "it is quirky and expensive to maintain." means* or where you heard this, I'll pass on a bit of trivia.

UPS runs more vehicles on the road than any other single organization in the world, I'm guessing that you could do way worse than buy something that they would buy.

Shortly after the Sprinter first came out, I noticed that UPS (the parcel guys) picked one up presumably to see how they would like it. The other week I was driving by a local Chrysler dealer where there were 10-15 UPS Sprinters on the lot, so I can assume that UPS thinks that they will run for a long time, save them a ton of fuel and not break the maintainance budget.

Unless there is a seriously premium price to buy one over a GM or Ford diesel van, I think I'd go with the Chrysler/Freightliner/M-B Sprinter.




Pete


*diesel should mean change the oil, oil air and fuel filters and that's about all the engine needs
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I think your mileage for the GM trucks is off and you'll do better. Folks I know who own the 8.1L Vortec V-8 can get better than 12 MPG even on a bad day.

I think you've answered your own question - the Sprinters are nice and it sounds like to me you're thinking:

a) If I could find a deal on a Dodge Sprinter I'm there but...

b) Would be happy in a Chevrolet/GMC van. I know that in the fullsize van category Consumer Reports rates the Chevrolet van at the top of the pile (ducking now).

Curious on what you're hauling that a Suburban can't handle!
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""I'm not sure what "it is quirky and expensive to maintain." means* or where you heard this""

Well, Pete, I have subscribed to a Sprinter-only email forum where I get digest batches of posts a few times per day. Over the 18 months I have watched the posts, I have picked up that this is a rather quirky vehicle reminiscent of the vw microbus and that it is expensive to maintain. I do not know any UPS drivers personally, but I have heard from many people who both drive and OWN a sprinter that as an owner, you get to know this vehicle intimitely. For some, this is not a problem. It may be a problem for me as I am Dad of a large family with little/no time on my hands.
I haven't ruled it out...I'm just sayin'.

Another piece of the puzzle is that the local Dodge dealer does not sell or service the sprinter. The nearest repair dealer is 55 miles away. This is a big negative if the vehicle frequents the shop.

I hear what you are saying about UPS. In fact, many tradesmen seem to be making the switch to the sprinter also. That said, it is also a gamble being a newer vehicle in this market. It is expected to last for 500K, but I've yet to hear of anyone who actually reached that yet. The 500K number is a bit of a moot point also in my case. As a family vehicle, I'd have to own the van for more than 27 years to hit 1/2 million miles. It probably won't happen. If it did, how much will parts cost in 15, 20, 25 years when the vehicle is at salvage value?

As to Duck's numbers, I don't dispute them, except that since I drive 18k per year, I'd save under $1400/year in fuel costs. (based on current $2.13/gal/gas with diesel running .30 more). A sprinter would cost me more than 14 thousand dollars more than a slightly used Chev/GMC. Yikes! More than ten years to recoup the premium price.

I know that rising fuel prices sweeten it some. Also, it isn't only about the cost. The sprinter drives like a dream. For rear passengers, it is really roomy... reminds me of riding in a jetliner with standing room even for me at 6'+.

I still need more info and discussion before I'm sold either way. Thanks so far and keep the comments coming.

Polywilliams
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........ It is expected to last for 500K, but I've yet to hear of anyone who actually reached that yet..................................


Because even running 100,000 miles a year that's 5 years, and they haven't been available that long, have they ?


You say it will take you 27 years to go half a million miles
OR
in 10 years when you don't need it any more, there should stll be another 10 years left in it so that the guy you sell it to will pay more for it than he would pay for a 10 year old GM or Ford ?


A THOUSAND dollars a year in fuel savings ain't nothing to sneeze at.


Pete
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The sprinter drives like a dream. For rear passengers, it is really roomy... reminds me of riding in a jetliner with standing room even for me at 6'+.

D@nm, now I want one and I don't need another vehicle. *pout*

ßillƒ
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Hmmm. I 'built' a long wheelbase sprinter with few options and it rang up right at $40K. Scary when I could get a Chev/GMC for $21K.

Ok, factoring in the fuel savings and assuming I'd drive the sprinter for 15 years vs a Chevy for 10 (somewhat arbitrary projections) the costs stack up like this:

sprinter= 40K/15yrs=$2666 per year exclusive of maintenance. Subtract $1373/yr for fuel savings for a cost of $1293 yearly.

Chev/GMC =21K/10yrs =$2100 per year.

Am I way off here? Would the fuel savings be less?
Thanks.
PW

Oh, and Millergram, you nailed it.
""Curious on what you're hauling that a Suburban can't handle!""
A: nine people and gear on a daily basis. ;)

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""Because even running 100,000 miles a year that's 5 years, and they haven't been available that long,""

Pete, this is exactly my point. The 500K is speculation.

I think I've argued myself out of needing to hit 500K anyway ;)

PW
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""Curious on what you're hauling that a Suburban can't handle!""
A: nine people and gear on a daily basis. ;)


I think you should be introduced to the Trojan Man no matter what Van you pick up. LOL.
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Hah! Does he have a 'big and tall' line?
PW
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Since this is the Fool, let's not forget the opportunity cost. $19K invested for 10 years...

I hate that vehicles are so expensive. Insurance, plates, tax...ugh!

PW
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Hah! Does he have a 'big and tall' line?

LMAO!!!

ßillƒ

Sorry, OORFTD.
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""Because even running 100,000 miles a year that's 5 years, and they haven't been available that long,""

Pete, this is exactly my point. The 500K is speculation.


Well, they have been available in Europe since the mid 1990's. I suspect some folks over there have racked up a few miles on them.

My understanding is that it took a while to clean up the diesel engine to US specs. (And if you go looking, there are a couple of more engine options available in Europe. Bummer that we can't get them here.)

I think you've hit the biggest drawback to the Sprinter - the initial cost. The other drawbacks I found were seating limited to 10 (vs. 15 passenger versions for Chevy and Ford), and the rather spartan interior finish of the Sprinter. Cloth seats in any color you like, as long as you like gray. And an interior that can almost literally be hosed off. Plus towing capacity is limited to about 5000 pounds. The Ford and Chevy will do more like 8000 - 10000 pounds.

Still, you can stand up inside it, the seats ARE pretty comfortable, it is easy to drive, and with the longer wheelbase versions, there's a ton of storage behind those cavernous rear doors. And considering you'd be using it well-loaded most of the time, the fuel economy is good. Especially if a lot of the miles would be around town.

I was tempted by one about a year ago, but it would have been my wife's car. And she didn't like the idea of getting into a bigger vehicle. Plus, she's grown rather accustomed to some creature comforts which the Sprinter is lacking. So it was another Town & Country for us.

--Peter
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