finally comparing Transit and Promaster

After striking out recently I had two excellent dealer visits today.

First stop - SouthWest Auto mall Ford in Greenville, Tx

SW Auto mall is a Buick/Ford/GMC dealer but of course all I cared about was the Ford area. I was met by Cole, a friendly millennial with an easy manner.  He didn’t have any high roof Transits in stock (no surprise, I haven’t seen one anywhere yet) but he did have several MR.  

For my purposes:

  1. check seating ergonomics

  2. check cargo hold

… a medium roof would be sufficient.

We got into one and poked around.  The seating ergos are quite good.   The cockpit reminds me of being in a somewhat bigger and stouter minivan.  Tiltable wheel (see below) and plenty of headroom (also see below).

The LWB model’s 10ft cargo space was workable, even if narrower at the top.  There were some D-loop tiedowns and places to route wires.  Workable, not exciting.

The backup camera was mounted in a door.  I don’t like that as you lose your shot if the door is open.

The Transit should be easier to service in any Ford dealer.    In any given configuration it costs several thousand dollars more than the PM.

Second stop - Greenville Chrysler in Greenville, Tx

Greenville Chrysler was right down the road.  While Cole brought me a high roof 139” wb (10ft bed) model to check out the receptionist mentioned she loves hers.  She has the same gas model I was looking at.  She said she was getting 15.x to 18.x mpg, which was lower than I expected.

I asked if hers was a passenger van and she said it was a cargo van she was converting to an RV.   She already had house batteries installed. :-)    I told her I was doing a conversion, too, and she asked me if I had heard of the Cheap RV Living Forum and Bob.   Epic!

She is a retired schoolteacher working recep to pay for the van and conversion.  She aims to be on the road by the end of 2017.  It was awesome to meet a like minded individual in person.

Anyhow, on to the van.  The seating position was odd and more workmanlike.   The wheel does not tilt and seating puts one’s eyeline only a few inches below the top of the windshield.  This did not bother me.  I am light sensitive and generally drive with sunshades down anyhow.  It will make a difference when it comes time to install swivel mounts.  Maybe just swivel the passenger seat?

The cargo area absolutely felt roomier and more suitable for a living space.  I’m not talking about the height, since I was comparing the 76” Promaster standing height to the 72” MR Transit.  It felt somewhat wider at the bottom and a lot wider at shoulder height. I think this is a function of the aggressively boxy Promaster body.

The cargo walls had more attachment points and places to stuff insulation.  There was a roomy shelf built in above the cockpit which the Transit didn’t have.  They both had cubby holes above the sun shades.

From what I read the PM can only be serviced at RAM dealers, not normal Chrysler/Dodge dealers.  And the diesel requires rarer skills than that.  I will likely ease the service issue by going gas, even though I love the idea of that automated manual.

The PM costs significantly less than the Transit in any given config.


Before the comparision I was 80% convinced the Promaster was the right platform for me.  After standing in both I am 95% convinced I’m getting the Promaster.  The Transit is likely the overall better work van, but IMO the Promaster is the better living space.

I think I would be happy in either Promaster wheelbase, and may end up making that decision on what deals are available.    And if an amazing Transit deal fell in my lap I could go that way and feel good about it.

We are blessed with so many good choices.