10 year old-ish van: Econoline or Express?


Are there any major advantages between the Econoline or Express/Savanna vans of the 2010 era for a simple family hauler with some bunks in the back?

We are mostly an RV family and I have a Ford F250 as a tow vehicle. I'd like to set up another to be an easier system for the times I don't want to drag the trailer around, and maybe as a daily driver to keep miles off my tow pig.

I'm looking at Econoline and Express passenger vans with a plan to build out the back myself. I don't need 4wd. We have two kids so I probably only need to maintain one bench seat in the van.

Is this use case simple enough where condition and history of the vehicle are more important than the specifics of the vehicle itself? Or do you see a major advantage between the Ford/GM platforms?



I haven't made a for sale thread yet, and it's a little older than you're looking for, but I've got a lifted '97 V10 with only 100k original miles on it. I have a mild (easy to remove) build in the back, should you choose to go the Ford route and may be interested...

Build thread - Spaceball 1

I considered a GM extended but the wheelbase turned me away from it. The Ford even with the huge overhang is "easier" to drive, park, etc... because of it. Plus I just think the Ford looks better. :)
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Active member
I think either should be fine for your use case. Usually the biggest deciding factor I see mentioned is the ability to convert to 4x4. While it's possible on both, most seem to prefer the Fords for that purpose.

I think both of the brands' drivetrains are fairly well known and reputable. If I were in your position I'd just keep my eyes peeled for a low mileage, clean, and well-maintained example of either example.

Not sure how old your kids are but the bench seats in the Econolines don't have any real headrest, so that may or may not be a safety concern. I'm swapping out my bench seat to a couple of captain's seats, both for comfort and aforementioned safety. Don't know anything about the bench seats and aftermarket seat options for the Express.


You’ll find more aftermarket support for Ford. Camper Interior parts, suspension, bumpers etc.

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Well-known member
At my job we have about 50 electrician vans. About 1/2 Ford, 1/2 GM.
And their drivers often are not too careful with them.
They average 5 years, 140-160k before retiring them.
When new, they are basically equal. At about 70k, GMs begin needing far more repairs than Fords.
Yep, coming from the oil field I'll back up the fact GMs are not as tough as Fords.

The big advantage to the Express van is factory AWD.
And I like the longer wheelbase of the GM vs the massive overhang of the extended Ford.


Expedition Leader
The building contractor around the corner from me has had a surprising amount of work done to his GM van of that area. He works it hard but it’s his own, and he’s now mostly retired now. He’s not a young punk driving it like he stole it. Our ‘97 E350 ambulance with 250k miles has needed much less work in the last 8 years than his in a similar period (even though it’s much younger).


@TFin04, for your case I would definitely recommend finding an E350 extended passenger van with a 5.4l. Lots of reasons, chief among them are availability and value. Tons of churches, schools and government agencies continue to retire them sometimes at extremely low mileage and they are almost indestructible if not from the rust belt.

They are easier to maneuver than Chevy extended vans. They are more durable. Chevy makes a great van but the interiors and steering/suspension don't hold up to abuse as well as the Fords as stated above.


New member
Econolines are nice because of the availability of body panels. Not to mention you can put a full front clip from a newer model on an older model for a nice facelift!


GMC Savana all the way, I have an "05"AWD with 217,000 on the original engine 5.3, and have had it 14 years
Love the looks and how it has held up all around, has never left us sitting on the road.
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