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Old 04-03-2021, 03:01 PM   #1
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Chevrolet Express Van as TV

Saw this nice looking van today. With the 6.6L gasoline it is rated to tow 9600 lbs and the 3500 version has a payload capacity of ~3500 lbs.

Unfortunately only currently available Duramax is the 2.8L with much lower tow rating.
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Old 04-03-2021, 03:15 PM   #2
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You buyin' or dreamin'? You can always order one to spec...
When we had two kids to accommodate, we had some good times in a Ford E350.
Now that pickup trucks are plusher than any van, an F150 is what we are towing with.
Happy camping!
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Old 04-03-2021, 03:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
You buyin' or dreamin'? You can always order one to spec...
When we had two kids to accommodate, we had some good times in a Ford E350.
Now that pickup trucks are plusher than any van, an F150 is what we are towing with.
Happy camping!
We are happy with our current setup, but if we ever "upsize" I think a fullsize van might be on our list as an option. We have owned fullsize vans before and they are pretty great in many ways (good as a camp vehicle, stand up to change clothes at the beach, or on a river rafting trip for example, great as race car or motorcycle trailer tow vehicles, hauling bicycles, and again, stand up to change). Of course I did end up also driving senior citizens to theatre events, and scouts on field trips "hey you own a van right?"
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Old 04-03-2021, 03:31 PM   #4
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The You Tube family 'Less Junk, More Journey' towed their Airstream all over the country with a used Chevy van. Diesel, he found used from a rental car lot and drove across half the country to buy.
I happen to like the van option, it's got tons of room, just secure cargo so it's not a missile in an accident.
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Old 04-03-2021, 03:51 PM   #5
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A big van is a great way to tow a Airstream.Plus, it solves the problem of limited space in a Airstream.Youve got a bunch of big cargo doors to easily put stuff in.
I'm a Chevy guy, have a early 90s G-20 3/4 Ton.The more weight in it, the more it likes it.Heavy with a long wheelbase = Great tow vehicle.
I'm not a big Ford van, but hauling trailer parts / big Dexter axles put in with forklifts,with a fleet of E-350 cargo vans, sold me on buying one.
Those 1 Ton E-350s love a lot of weight.You can pick them up pretty cheap in midwest, used.Get a gasser, lot of power.
For pulling a Airstream, you've got 2 turtles going down the road.Paint the van silver, would be pretty sweet ...
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Old 04-03-2021, 03:57 PM   #6
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As long as it don't "hang over" like this.
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Old 04-03-2021, 04:05 PM   #7
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Currently towing a 1960 22 foot Airstream with a Chevy Express 1500 AWD.

Hauls us off road all over the Mojave.

Van has a bed and fridge in the back and solar on the roof. Roof panels also recharge the trailer via cable.

Surprising how convenient a full size van is.
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Old 04-03-2021, 04:19 PM   #8
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FYI earlier van-as-tow vehicle threads:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f23...se-171397.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46...le-156975.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f42...le-202437.html

Our Ford Transit 350 is detailed in the first thread Post #25. [hot link in blue]

Vans are great . . . started delivering newspapers in high school in a VW panel van . . . vans since then mostly . . . vantastic.

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Old 04-04-2021, 02:44 AM   #9
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The only downsides are the Spartan interior (no GPS for example) and the lack of certain safety features like blind side detection, even as an option. Four/all wheel drive is not available either.

Cheers,

John
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Old 04-04-2021, 03:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trnpk Crsr View Post
The only downsides are the Spartan interior (no GPS for example) and the lack of certain safety features like blind side detection, even as an option. Four/all wheel drive is not available either.

Cheers,

John
I just looked at the 2021 Chevy Express on line. They have added things like blind side detection as an option. Nice things, like Car Play are not available.
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Old 04-04-2021, 11:40 AM   #11
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I remember when friends had vans decades ago and the first thing was to put up interior insulation, wood panels over that, and of course shag carpeting. LOL
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Old 04-04-2021, 12:34 PM   #12
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FYI Ford's 2022 E-Transit all-electric van is being marketed now:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46...ml#post2479566
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Old 04-04-2021, 12:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYC2Vette View Post
Saw this nice looking van today. With the 6.6L gasoline it is rated to tow 9600 lbs and the 3500 version has a payload capacity of ~3500 lbs.

Unfortunately only currently available Duramax is the 2.8L with much lower tow rating.
I'm towing with a GMC 3/4 ton Savana with a 6.0 liter gas and a 4.10 axle. Towing capacity is 9,900 lbs. At the time mine was built no diesel was being built in the GM van line. Also use caution with the GM's again from when mine was built, going with the one ton van with the same engine and axle specs reduced the towing capacity by 300 lbs.

The GM vans, Chevy and GMC are built on the same assembly line in Wentzville Mo, just west of St. Louis off I70. They also build the GM and Chevy downsized pickups there. I went for a tour of the plant and they told me that customer orders were top of priority line and mine was delivered two weeks after I placed the order with a local GMC dealer. No real differences between the Chevy and GMC vans other than the tags and front end grills. I shopped Chevy and GMC dealerships with the same specs and got the best price from a GMC dealer.

Options I added were the rear A/C and heater, 4.10 axle and 6.0 liter engine, I had them put a 6 way drivers seat on the passenger side to match the drivers seat, and chose the painted halo over the back doors that matched the body paint rather than the black trim piece you typically see. You can see that black halo on the Chevy Express picture. I deleted the third bench seat in the rear which is standard on the 3/4 ton passenger van (was a credit on the list price). I also added the towing package. One last thing was I had side doors added to the street side of the van so that I could access either side.

The only negative at build time was that the hitch platform on the towing package had a 1000 lb limit using a weight distribution hitch. I had that replaced by my Airstream dealer with a 1,400 lb Hidden Hitch model as part of the deal when I bought my Classic Slide out. Hitch weight on that trailer is 1,280 lbs.
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Old 04-04-2021, 01:04 PM   #14
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One last thought. Passenger vans are lighter than conversion vans. The after market folks making those conversions add a lot of weight with the creature comforts. I've always owned GM passenger vans (never the stretch ones). In the GM series I couldn't find any advantage that the 1 ton van had over the 3/4 ton models.

I did test drive an E-350 Ford van but found that fuel economy for the gas version was less than the GM's and the ride of that one ton Ford when not towing was really rough.

One other thing was that the 3/4 ton van stands taller than my half ton Chevy. I had to remove a small piece of trim at the top of my garage door to allow the van to clear that.

Jack
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Old 04-04-2021, 01:27 PM   #15
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Vans make great Tow Vehicles

Currently tow our 2019 Flying Cloud 25' RBT with a 2013 Ford E150 XLT Premium Passenger (full Factory Interior) van. Van has Factory Tow Pkg, 8600 LB GVW (way more than any 1/2 ton pickup truck), 5.4 engine, 3.73 axle LSD, 3700LB Front axle, 5120 Rear axle and a huge 2538 LB payload rating! CVWR is 13,000 LBS. Our rig fully loaded and ready to travel is 12,400. Van pulls it very well. We use an Equalizer 10,000 LB WDH with 1,000 LB bars. (5 washers and bars set level to frame on L Brackets. We average right at 12 MPG towing and 17/18 not towing. We love our van. Holds all our stuff in a safe, secure and dry place.

The Chevy/GMC vans are just good old fashioned workhorses. Heavy duty and take a beating and come back for more. We owned 2 of them over the years to tow our boats that weighed around 7,000 LBS.

Although they are ending production of the Nissan NV3500 Passenger van in July 2021 they are certainly worth taking a look at. Rated to tow 8,700 LBS with a 2,500 LB payload rating they are tow monsters. My good friend bought a new one couple months back to tow his Lance 1985. Tows it like it is not even back there. Really nice driving vehicle. Tons of power. He paid $42,000 OTD for a 2021 NV3500 SL Passenger van in Pearl White paint color.

Bottom line is that vans can and do make excellent tow vehicles. Get yours today!!
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Old 04-04-2021, 01:42 PM   #16
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Modern Van Interiors and Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trnpk Crsr View Post
The only downsides are the Spartan interior (no GPS for example) and the lack of certain safety features like blind side detection, even as an option. Four/all wheel drive is not available either.

Cheers,

John
Our 2013 Ford E150 XLT Premium was Factory Equipped with Leather Seating for 7 (4 Captains Chairs and a Rear Bench). No, it is not a "Conversion Van". Also a super nice Navigation System (Sync III), Large Screen Backup Camera, Backup Alarms, Front/Rear HVAC, Sirius/XM Radio and Bluetooth. Of course all the expected features like Power Windows, Door locks, Cruise Control, Tilt Steering Wheel, Etc are included.

Not sure when the last time you looked at a well equipped van but things have certainly progressed from the 1970's and shag carpet days. I actually drove a 1969 Ford Econoline van back when I was in High School in the early 1970's. As I remember I had a ton of fun in that van!!!!!!
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Old 04-04-2021, 04:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B. Cole View Post
A big van is a great way to tow a Airstream.Plus, it solves the problem of limited space in a Airstream.Youve got a bunch of big cargo doors to easily put stuff in.
I'm a Chevy guy, have a early 90s G-20 3/4 Ton.The more weight in it, the more it likes it.Heavy with a long wheelbase = Great tow vehicle.
I'm not a big Ford van, but hauling trailer parts / big Dexter axles put in with forklifts,with a fleet of E-350 cargo vans, sold me on buying one.
Those 1 Ton E-350s love a lot of weight.You can pick them up pretty cheap in midwest, used.Get a gasser, lot of power.
For pulling a Airstream, you've got 2 turtles going down the road.Paint the van silver, would be pretty sweet ...
Agreed, I have been towing 10,000 lbs of AS or car hauler with a 2000 PSD Ford E 350 for 20 years. It works, not a well as a F350 but with upgraded brakes, a Supertune, and 17.5" OTR tires it has proved to be reliable and effective. The van is also loaded - a Sportsmobile and weighs 9100 lbs.
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Old 04-06-2021, 05:07 AM   #18
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We towed our AS with a 6.0L Chevy Express 3500 van for years, took it all over the USA. It would get 10 mpg towing or not, but we could fill the van with all the stuff we wanted outside the AS at the various campsites. We also tow an enclosed trailer with ~9,000 lbs of stuff occasionally with the van and it handles it with ease.
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Old 04-10-2021, 05:49 AM   #19
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Back in 1989 (I think) we had a 2500 HD which had an odd mix of parts like heavier leaf springs and the same rear end (differential) as the 3500, and an increased tow rating over the "non-HD" 2500. Main advantage that I see of a new 3500 is the apparent payload increase of ~1,000 lbs no doubt accompanied by a stiffer unladen ride quality.
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Old 04-10-2021, 06:19 AM   #20
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FYI an updated reminder -- in this brave new world of small screens -- that these other threads have lots of good info:
Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
FYI earlier van-as-tow vehicle threads:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f23...se-171397.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46...le-156975.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f42...le-202437.html

Our Ford Transit 350 is detailed in the first thread Post #25. [hot link in blue]
. . .
Have a good weekend.

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