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The #1 Best Minivan For A Camper Conversion

For many outdoor adventurers, the idea of having a camper van (and living the van life) is a dream come true. The ability to travel in comfort and style, all while having the convenience of having a bed and kitchenette with you wherever you go, is a wonderful thing.

While the traditional camper van might be a bit too expensive for some, there is a great alternative – converting a minivan into a camper.

Many people will convert a cargo van or Sprinter vans into campers as well but since they are larger you will have to spend more money to renovate the inside. Although having the extra space is nice spending the extra money on the larger vehicle just isn’t practical for some people.

In this article, I will discuss the best minivan for camper conversion, including the pros and cons of converting a minivan to help you decide if it is the right choice for you.

What is a Camper Conversion?

When talking about a camper conversion it is important to know exactly what it is as some people have different definitions than others. When I’m talking about a camper conversion I am referring to the process of taking a standard minivan and transforming it into a fully functional camper van.

This includes adding features such as a mattress, bed platform, kitchenette, stove, cooler, storage, and other amenities that make the van more like a traditional RV. This process can be done either by an expert or by a do-it-yourselfer, depending on the individual’s knowledge and skill level.

Converting a minivan into a camper van can be an exciting and rewarding project and it makes stealth camping much easier (since no one expects a minivan). It will take some time, money, and effort, but the end result of your DIY campervan conversion will be a fully customized vehicle that you can use for camping, long road trips, and more (without needing to pack a tent).

Of course, determining which minivan you should use for this project is important (and I will go into detail about that below) but before that, you need to decide what kind of camper van you want to build.

  • Do you want to make a full-size camper van or a smaller one?
  • What is your budget for the project?
  • How many people will be traveling with you?
  • How often will you use the camper van?
  • Do you want to be able to only use it as a camper going forward or should it still be able to use as a normal minivan too?

All of these are questions that you should ask yourself before you get started.

Depending on your budget, you can customize the interior of your van to fit your needs. You can add all of the comforts of home with enough cargo space left over to pack camping gear as well.

Although a minivan will have plenty of space for most of the things you will need, one thing that most minivans won’t have room for is a fully functioning bathroom. This means you will have to buy a small composting toilet or even get one that you can set up outside.

If you don’t plan on using your minivan as a camper full time you will want to make sure that anything that you add can be easily removed as well. Don’t go drilling holes to mount things unless you are sure you want your minivan to stay a camper permanently.

Once you have decided on the design of your camper van, you will need to begin the conversion process.

You will need to make sure that your minivan is properly insulated and soundproofed. You might also want to install a propane tank for heating, cooking, and other needs.

Some people treat it more like actual camping so they will bring firewood to cook over an open fire. Either way, you have to decide what you want in regards to comfort while you are sleeping in the minivan that is now a camper.

You will also need to install the necessary electrical components. This includes outlets, switches, lights, solar panels (you get some that connect to your roof rack), and a power converter. You will also need to buy separate batteries for this (which again takes up extra room).

Exactly how much of this you will want or need to do depends a lot on your budget and what you are wanting to do with your vehicle.

You will also need to install a water tank and plumbing for the sink and shower (again assuming you want those comforts and won’t just be staying at campgrounds that have them).

Then you will need to finish the interior of your camper van. This includes adding furniture, appliances, and any other items you want. You will also need to install curtains or blinds for privacy.

So now that you have a little better idea of what converting a minivan into a camper van looks like let’s take a look at what I consider to be the best minivan for a camper conversion.

The Best Minivan for Camper Conversion

When it comes to choosing the best minivan for camper conversion, there are a few factors to consider. The most important factor is the size of the minivan.

Since the goal is to create a comfortable and functional living space, it is important to choose a van that is large enough to accommodate all of the necessary amenities.

The second factor to consider is the type of engine and transmission the minivan has. This will affect how much power the van has, as well as its fuel economy.

Another factor you will also want to consider is your budget. More expensive minivans can cost you many thousands of dollars more than the base models. And since you will be gutting the interior of the minivan starting with a cheaper option is better (at least in my opinion).

When looking at these and other factors there is one minivan that I feel stands out from the rest. I believe the best minivan for a camper conversion is the Chrysler Pacifica or Voyager

This minivan is large enough to fit all of the necessary amenities because of its large storage space, has a powerful engine and transmission, and is fuel efficient. It also comes with a variety of features that make it ideal for a camper conversion, such as the fact that all of the seats fold down into the floor (it is the only minivan that offers this).

This can be especially helpful if you aren’t planning on keeping your minivan as a camper all of the time.

The Chrysler Pacifica or Voyager minivans are also considerably cheaper than the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, or Kia Sedona. Since you will be essentially gutting the interior of the vehicle when doing a minivan camper conversion having a few thousand extra dollars can make a big difference when it comes to adding in comforts that you might not be able to afford otherwise.

If you want to go even cheaper you can choose a used minivan as well. The Dodge Grand Caravan also has plenty of storage and all of the seats fold into the floor as well (via the Stow and Go system). So if you get a gently used Dodge Grand Caravan you might be able to save ten thousand dollars or more on your camper conversion when compared to getting a brand new Chrysler model.

Of course, the Pacific (and Voyager) aren’t without some cons as well which is why I will dive into both the pros and the cons of this specific minivan model below.

Chrysler Pacifica Pros & Cons

Now that I have given you my choice for the best minivan to convert to a camper, let’s take a quick look at some of the different pros and cons that the Pacifica has going for it and against it.

Pacifica ProsPacifica Cons
Spacious interior – The Chrysler Pacifica minivan offers plenty of interior space for up to eight passengers, making it an ideal choice for large families.High cost – Despite being cheaper than the other new minivans on the market the Pacifica still doesn’t come cheap. The base Pacifica starts at slightly over $37,000.
Powerful engine – The Pacifica comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that provides a smooth and powerful ride.Poor resale value – The Pacifica has poor resale value, so buyers should be prepared to take a hit when it comes time to sell it. This is true of most camper conversions however no matter which vehicle you convert.
Safety features – The Pacifica comes with a variety of advanced safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.Outdated design – The Pacifica has an outdated design, so buyers who want a more modern look should look elsewhere.
User-friendly technology – The Pacifica comes with an intuitive Uconnect infotainment system that makes it easy to stay connected while on the road.Poor rear visibility- Due to the design of the rear window of the Pacifica you will likely have some issues seeing your surroundings to the rear. Of course, if you cover the windows when converting the vehicle that won’t matter as much.
Fuel efficiency – The Pacifica averages 28 mpg on the highway, making it one of the most fuel-efficient minivans on the market.Expensive hybrid option- If you want to get even better fuel efficiency you can upgrade to the hybrid Pacifica model. However, the Pacific hybrid starts at almost $50,000 so it doesn’t come cheap!

So although the Pacifica is a great choice for a camper conversion (and I personally believe it is the best option) it is far from perfect in every single way.

Pros and Cons of Converting a Minivan to a Camper Van

When it comes to converting a minivan to a camper van, there are both pros and cons. The biggest pro is that it is much more affordable than buying a traditional camper van. Additionally, it is more flexible and customizable, as you can choose the exact features you want and design the interior to your exact specifications.

Additionally, minivans are generally more fuel efficient than other types of camper vehicles, making them a great choice for long trips. Getting 30MPG will save you a fortune on fuel (especially at today’s prices) when compared to the 10-15MPG that a normal camper will get.

On the other hand, there are also some drawbacks to converting a minivan to a camper van. It is more difficult to maintain a converted minivan than a traditional camper van, as it isn’t designed to carry all of the weight that you might put inside of it.

You also have to consider how much time and money you will be putting into the conversion to determine if it is better than just buying a small camper instead.

It can also be difficult to find parts and accessories for the conversion process, as many of them are not readily available. This can be pretty frustrating and extend the amount of time that it takes you to get your minivan conversion project completed.

Final Thoughts

Converting a minivan to a camper van can be a great way to get the convenience and comfort of a traditional camper van without the hefty price tag. The best minivan for camper conversion is the Chrysler Pacifica, due to its large size, powerful engine and transmission, and fuel efficiency.

When it comes to the pros and cons of converting a minivan to a camper van, the pros outweigh the cons. However, it is important to weigh all of the possible pros and cons carefully before making the decision to convert a minivan to a camper van or before choosing the Pacifica (or Voyager) as the minivan that you want to convert.