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Old 09-27-2014, 05:46 PM   #1
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Wheelchair van MPG?

I've been interested in converting a 72 passenger diesel pusher bus since I was 16. Reality has placed limitations on my ambitions, however, and 7-8mpg on diesel is way out of my budget. I became interested in converting an extended 15-passenger van, as the 16-18 hwy mpg on gas makes it more affordable to take trips, and more practical as a "daily use" vehicle. These vans have enough floor space for me, but the ceiling is too low. I plan to spend up to a month in the vehicle, and would prefer to be able to stand up in it. I can get ahold of a "Wheelchair van"... The same as a 15-passenger van, but with a high roof, and taller rear doors (in attachment). The price is about the same. Being able to stand up is a big plus, but I'm concerned about the extra fuel consumption from the larger front area. All specs I can find say "16-18" hwy mpg for the regular extended van, but I cannot find info on the high-top version. If the mileage hit is too severe I would rather keep the low top. Can anybody enlighten me where Google has failed?
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Old 09-27-2014, 07:33 PM   #2
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Your typical short bus (look at my avatar) has plenty of head room. Dunno about 16 mpg with a diesel though...
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:44 PM   #3
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I know of a few people that added a hightop to their existing van, most say they lost 2-4 mpg just from the top (running same weight and same route as a daily driver).

and 16-18 is 55 mph and unloaded (driver and passenger). 14 is good for a loaded 15 passenger regular height on the highway.
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Old 09-27-2014, 09:21 PM   #4
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Just a heads up. The trans on that model Dodge isn't their best and they cost a Bzillion Bucks to get rebuilt. Voice of experience--been there done that
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:36 PM   #5
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

In my experience many moons ago with Ford and Dodge vans, 10-12 mpg was the maximum we'd get. Personally I preferred the Dodge 15-passenger version to either of the Ford vans, but we NEVER got anything close to 15 mpg, even when I drove an empty van from Portland to Boise. IHMO 16-18 mpg sounds unattainably optimistic. YMMV, of course...
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Old 10-01-2014, 08:29 PM   #6
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Holy moly. And I get around 12-14 mpg with my half bus! What is going on with those vans?
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Old 10-01-2014, 08:52 PM   #7
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

underpowered gas engine (no torque) and almost as bad of a aerodynamics.

I have a 15 passenger van, normal roof, and 14 is a good day on the highway. I can just squeek by 16 if I am on a flat highway with a strong tailwind. But I get 11 dealing with the headwind on the way back.

I looked at getting an ultralight bunkhouse to tow behind it, but 1) my mileage would be worse and 2) it would cost more than buying a bus.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:01 AM   #8
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I think you could 18 mpg if you drove it off a cliff...with a tailwind...empty. But I'm not sure that would count as hwy mileage.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:03 AM   #9
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

If you want to get a real 15+ mpg on the hwy, look for a Ford E350 diesel with SRW.
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Old 10-03-2014, 04:37 PM   #10
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Sure, I could get diesel, and get higher MPG, but that doesn't really accomplish much when diesel is more expensive. Maybe 16mpg is optimistic, but that's not a big deal. My search is for a vehicle that offers the most interior room for the lowest fuel costs, and still fits in a regular parking space... And costs less than $3000 used (So unfortunately no Sprinters). Without getting into specifics, I was trying to be as informed as possible in making the trade-off decision between a hightop and lowtop 15-pass van.

I appreciate the head-up on the 2000's dodge van transmission. I haven't found any specific information they are bad, but I have seen a disproportionate number of dodge vans for sale with blown trannys, and got suspicious... I also don't trust automatic transmissions in general (Too bad no large vans have manuals in the US!). Are the late 80's/early 90's dodge van transmissions any better? Assuming most of my driving is 55-60mph highway, does anyone have alternate suggestions for vehicles that fit my criteria? I considered a short-bus, but they seem to get in the range of 6-8mpg... far worse than the high-top vans.
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