The reasons that I chose a Sprinter van over other types of RVs or campervans were:
1) Sprinters come with a 2.7L turbo diesel engine which produces a super efficient 21-25mpg with a very active community on the Internet
2) The interior height allowed a tall guy (I’m 6’2″) like me to stand upright
3) I wanted a van that wasn’t huge, imposing, and obvious if I parked it in a residential neighborhood. I wanted ‘stealth’ so I could camp anywhere. Sprinter vans do not look like an RV.
Minor reasons to go with a Sprinter van:
4) A fixed top/roof. I really preferred the fixed ‘high’ roof over popups (like a Westfalia van) because they are warmer in the winter, quicker to setup (or instant), easier to walk around in and easy to boondock (aka camping where you are not supposed to camp).
5) Shorter vehicle for better manuverability and easier to park than a big RV and high clearance so you can take it off-roading.
6) Most Sprinters are cargo vans so they typically empty and a blank slate for your vanlife building imagination!
7) Has tiptronic shifting which is nice on hilly roads and as a brake assist.
Here are a few annoying issues that I have had since I purchased the van:
– The door locks are a royal pain in the ass. I hate the Eurovan ‘central locking’. Give me a simple lock/unlock button any day. Quite often the remote doesn’t even work. Very frustrating for what should be such a simple thing.
– The lack of an anti-sway bar. The van handles front to back bumps just fine, but if you hit any bump that rocks the van sideways, be prepared to wait for 20 seconds for it to stop rocking.
– Failure of the turbo resonator and the associated pipe. Both of which are easy fixes but can leave you in Limp Home Mode (where you can’t accelerate over 35 MPH).
After searching for weeks on Craigslist, eBay, cars.com, and used car dealer websites, I purchased a 2005 Dodge T1N Sprinter from a HVAC company on the border of Wyoming and Montana that was the 2nd owner. It was originally from Pennsylvania where the wet winters caused a significant amount of rust on the frame. I got it for $10,000 with 160,000 miles.
I used CarGurus website to give a quick and dirty estimate on whether a van was a good value.
Overall, I have had a great experience with my Sprinter van, learned a lot about repairing a diesel engine and would definitely purchase a Sprinter van again!