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Old 09-19-2021, 02:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Looking to track down a van that can get 30 mpg

Hello all,

I'm starting my search with very few, but important criteria for what I'm searching for. First, I might as well give up on a couple of points on finding something here in the US. That would be a diesel motor with a manual transmission. But one criteria I'm hoping I can make is getting something that can get 30 mpg. This would have to be with a highway average of about 60 mph. This I'm assuming, I can hit this with something like a Ford Connect or Ram Promaster City. I'm open to which ever can regularly achieve this 30 mpg barrier. Obviously you have to be pretty ginger with gas pedal to do this. I'm hoping this can be done also with pumping up the tires to max on the label too. Any one doing this now? Another would be to get something that has pretty good storage capacity. In other words, get something that is considered a long wheelbase van.

Anyone have any ideas on years and makes to shot for?

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Old 09-19-2021, 02:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sounds a bit hard to do.

Ford did have some 5 cylinder diesel Transits. I don't think they offer the diesel option anymore.

GM offers the Chevy Express or GMC Savana with a 4 cylinder diesel option.

Of course none of these have manual transmissions. But with 10 speed automatics, your probably better off with the automatic unless you want to shift through 11 gears (manuals need one more gear than an automatic to be comparable.)

The Ford Transit Connect and Dodge Promaster are midsized vans and I'm not sure if they offer any with a diesel engine. The others I mentioned above are full sized and come with extended versions in the one ton variety. Even in the half ton they are the next step up from the midsized vans as I'm unsure if there's an extended midsized van right now like back when you could get a Chevy Astro in short or long wheel bases.

Could you explain highway average a bit more? Flying down the highway at 90mph and then going through start and stop traffic at around 30mph might average 60 but would be terribly hard to get good fuel mileage from.
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Old 09-19-2021, 02:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What you are asking for is exactly like the 1961 VW Type II panel van I drove in the 1980s and 90s.

With a fresh 1600 dual-port motor, dual 40mm Solexes and oversized rear tires it got 30 MPG traversing the Oregon Coast Range. Top speed of 85 and it would reach the summit at 75 when it was empty. 17 MPG at 72 on the Interstate. 3/4-ton axles and Quartz Halogen headlights in the 1980s when they were legal only in OR and WA states.

I [still] have a five-speed and stroker 1776 that was going to go in it, but the restoration work got out of hand and I cashed out about five years ago.

Not for everyone of course, but they hold their investment and you'd make lots of friends,
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Old 09-20-2021, 02:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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@ Isaac,

I'm looking to be able to average about 30 mpg on flat land, with no tail/head wind, and going ~60 mph. To do this, one of the first things I'll do is make sure the tires are up to max on tire pressure.

Some of these city vans are reported at being 28-29 mpg highway. So I don't think shooting for 30 mpg is out of the question.

@freebeard,

yeah I had '71 Westfalia that was a German or Euro floor plan. That was in part a bench sit, instead of the useless walk-through front seating. The spare was in the middle and under the seat. The sink, stove, water, battery, and some storage was behind the seat. Was alot better at using the space. I had some really nice extras too. Biggest one was the tent that was offered with them.

'71 was the 1st year for discs brakes. Had a dual port 1600 engine. Man I wish I had it now!
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Old 09-20-2021, 03:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by User1 View Post
@ Isaac,

I'm looking to be able to average about 30 mpg on flat land, with no tail/head wind, and going ~60 mph. To do this, one of the first things I'll do is make sure the tires are up to max on tire pressure.

Some of these city vans are reported at being 28-29 mpg highway. So I don't think shooting for 30 mpg is out of the question.
In that case your best bet are probably aero mods, although the most effective, a "boat tail" will make the van longer. Of course going slower also helps reduce aerodynamic drag, but probably isn't what you'd want to do.

Of course if you aren't looking to mod, just buy the van with the best highway fuel mileage rating. Personally though, if go with the Ford Transit Connect as I've heard the RAM Promasters have had problems. Highway driving probably isn't going to affect whether you have FWD or RWD either as the Promaster is FWD if I remember correctly.

Full tires may help. Seems that somewhere here on the forum there have been ones who've filled tires and found there's a point at which more pressure no longer increases fuel mileage. It might be worth testing out at what point does more pressure stop increasing fuel mileage because A) so you don't wear out your tires prematurely for no real reason and B) so you have the best controllability possible while still getting good fuel mileage.

I wonder if pulse and gliding would even be worth it at around 60mpg, but that's another thing you could think about doing.

I'm still not sure of any of these newer midsized vans having both a manual and a diesel, at least here in the USA. The diesel full sized Chevy Express has an engine that gets 29 or 30mpg (depending on year) in their midsized trucks. But in a full sized van is expect it to get less than that. If Chevy only made a midsized van with that engine, that would be the ticket. But the last (current?) midsized van Chevy made was actually built by Nissan IIRC.
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Old 09-20-2021, 05:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
71 was the 1st year for discs brakes. Had a dual port 1600 engine. Man I wish I had it now!
1971! Best year for the Superbeetle and Type II (lowlights rule), Standards and (aguably) Type III peaked in 1967.


vwbuswagon.blogspot.com/2014/02/low-light-bay-window.html

I had a full-length rack like that on my 1961 panel van, a guy came and leaned on me to sell the vehicle to him, so I let the rack go just to get him to go away. This example is nicely optioned, with a spotlight for the shotgun seat, Raders and the rubber bumper inserts (center wrapped with rope).

I had a 1960 13-window with the walkthrough. When my son was born, we put a bicycle child seat in the walkthrough so his eye-level was the same as the grownups. These days I'd look for a clean Vanagon. More body width and A-arm front suspension. On the streets around here the Westphalia campers have outlasted everything else from their era.

edit: so I took a look through www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/newads.php?type=cars
Second listing was 71 Deluxe sunroof bus in Canada for $35K.
[scroll]
1984 One Owner VW Vanagon Camper Westfalia in Maryland for $10.5K
[scroll]
1988 Vanagon Westfalia GL Camper — NO EXHAUST in Santa Cruz for $10K
[scroll]
1975 “Automatic” All Original paint in Spokane for $15.5
So the going rate seems to be $10K unless it's really nice.
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Are you aware that the Hot VWs magazine Mileage Motor got a Beetle to 39.8 MPG? I built a similar motor for the panel van, which is gone but I still have the motor. The biggest difference is I used aftermarket big valve heads thinking it would be a truck motor. Hot VWs went with stock fuel injection heads which have smaller intakes.

In a more perfect world, it would be in some vehicle, with a 72 Volt mild hybrid altermotor replacing the starter and generator.
ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/controller-mods-build-e-assist-altermotor

The battery pack would be an Ecoflow Delta Pro turning the vehcile into a microgrid.
ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/ecoflow-delta-pro
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Last edited by freebeard; 09-20-2021 at 05:54 PM..
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Old 09-20-2021, 05:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac Zachary View Post
I'm still not sure of any of these newer midsized vans having both a manual and a diesel, at least here in the USA.
USA and Canada get only gassers with automatic transmission in the Ford Transit Connect and Ram ProMaster City.


Quote:
The diesel full sized Chevy Express has an engine that gets 29 or 30mpg (depending on year) in their midsized trucks. But in a full sized van is expect it to get less than that.
I wouldn't expect it to be much worse.


Quote:
If Chevy only made a midsized van with that engine, that would be the ticket.
Such as bringing back the Astro?
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Old 09-20-2021, 06:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Pacifica hybrid does what you want
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm so happy with the deal I got on the Pacifica after seeing used car prices. I don't know why they were doing it, the chip shortage hadn't kicked in or something, but they had $5000 rebates on the redesigned 2021 and I bet even bigger rebates on the leftover 2020s which there were 5 available in a 200 mile radius.
Also mine was the most basic hybrid version with just cold weather package added but that still gives it a 8.4" screen with carplay,android auto, and a full set of adaptive cruise, lane correction, auto braking, etc.

So it was $42,000 msrp with destination charges, I paid that, but got the $5000 off. So now I'm $37,000 in it but I also will get most if not all a $7500 tax rebate, so it's really under $30k.
Now I am looking at selling but only because it looks like Vroom might give be $40k for it. It's still perfect and has very low miles. Then I'll just do this tax thing over next year. The problem is finding something available. I just walked in to the Chrysler dealer and this van had just rolled off the truck still in shipping plastics etc.
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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vwbuswagon.blogspot.com/2014/02/low-light-bay-window.html

I had a full-length rack like that on my 1961 panel van, a guy came and leaned on me to sell the vehicle to him, so I let the rack go just to get him to go away. This example is nicely optioned, with a spotlight for the shotgun seat, Raders and the rubber bumper inserts (center wrapped with rope).

I had a 1960 13-window with the walkthrough. When my son was born, we put a bicycle child seat in the walkthrough so his eye-level was the same as the grownups. These days I'd look for a clean Vanagon. More body width and A-arm front suspension. On the streets around here the Westphalia campers have outlasted everything else from their era.

------------------------------------------------
Messed this up, but my (User1) comment starts here -
Man VWs buses and beetles both photograph well! Old ones far more than anything new too. Sounds like you had a really nice bus! Hope you got what you wanted out of it.

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