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Old 02-20-2016, 10:11 PM   #1
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Default Travato versus Era, RoadTrek Agile SS, Journey Decisions

We are in the final days of deciding on a Class B RV. Our plan is to hit the US & Canada in the next 18 months and embark on a longer trip down in Mexico/South American after that. I would consider ourselves mobile RV-ers in that we are not likely to park in one place for months on end but rather travel from destination to destination soaking up the culture until the calling of new places become loud enough.

We started with the following criteria and are considering both new and used:

Price
Features
Platform
Resale value
Reputation

Features - The Travato, Era and RoadTrek Agile seem to have the feature we wanted with small variations.
Platform We have drove the Era & Travato (gas & deasil) The MB Sprinter drives extremely well. The Travato deasil drive train is a bit jerky but the gas version is smooth. The Travato and RoadTrek Agile both have a smaller foot print which is attractive from the agileness perspective but both are smaller, more cramped compared to the Era.
Resale Value From what I learned, deasils will hold their value better against the gas versions and this will affect the resale value.
Reputation Winnebago and RoadTrek both have good reputations for the RV portions of the units. The MB Sprinter versus Dodge Pro-Master comparison seems to favor the MB.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback or analysis you might have worked through when make your decisions. Specifically:

1) Between the MB Sprinter and Dodge is there considerations that you could share that would assist our decision?
2) At what price differential would you consider, all other things being equal, a use Dodge based RV versus a similarly use MB base RV?

I totally get this is an open ended type babbling but perhaps it strikes some history on your journey that would help ours.

Namaste,
Bruce in Seattle
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:08 AM   #2
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One consideration that will apply to your plan is the issue of getting ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) fuel when you travel to most countries south of the US including Mexico. You will get lots of opinions on whether you will be OK using diesel fuel that is not ULSD in any of the current Diesel engines in the models you are looking at since the manufacturer recommended fuel will be ULSD or possibly up to B20 biodiesel in some cases. I believe that in many locations in These countries will only have a Higher Sulfur content diesel which will not be an approved fuel unless you go with an earlier model van such as a Sprinter with the older 5 cyl engine.

The other consideration is what type of roads you expect on your routes and whether you need a 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicle.

Just a couple things that may be different on your route to the south.
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Old 02-21-2016, 12:54 AM   #3
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Gas Travato is the only one that will work for your travel plans. It's one of the reasons I chose the Promaster for my conversion as I am headed through Mexico and Central America. All modern diesels require ULSD, which you cannot expect to find below Baja.
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:23 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jostalli View Post
Gas Travato is the only one that will work for your travel plans. It's one of the reasons I chose the Promaster for my conversion as I am headed through Mexico and Central America. All modern diesels require ULSD, which you cannot expect to find below Baja.
What jostalll said above. No ULSD south of the border. Will cause thousands of $$$ damage to the Sprinter emission system
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:42 AM   #5
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As I mentioned, if you are also looking at older vans you could go with an older Sprinter van with the 5 cyl diesel which can use the diesel fuel available where ULSD is not avaikable. This engine gets better mileage than the 6 cyl engine and is very reliable.
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Old 02-21-2016, 05:40 PM   #6
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x2 on diesel engine issue, it needs to be 2006 or earlier to avoid ULSD fuel problems in LatAm. A basic (non-turbo) gas engine like the older Ford and GM vans, or perhaps the newer Transit 3.7 or Promaster gas engines should work too.

But I don't know of any factory produced Class B that's well suited to LatAm expeditions. RV dump facilities aren't available so cassette, composting or porta-potti toilets that can be emptied in a normal bathrooms are needed. Vehicle mount propane systems can't be readily refilled and are pretty much useless once empty. But that's OK because the Topes (large speed bumps) and potholes would pretty quickly tear them off along with any low hanging generators, tanks, valves and running boards.

Due to these reasons most LatAm travelers venturing beyond the Baja RV resorts purchase a separate vehicle for the trip. Pickup campers are popular because they often have simple porta-potti or cassette toilets, use standard 5 gal propane cylinders that can be exchanged in each country (valves vary by country but a few adapters will suffice), and have internal water tanks that don't protrude below the vehicle.

Van based units are certainly possible and have the advantage of a fully enclosed space between the RV and driving compartments. Older (2006 and earlier) Sprinters, VW vans (for the mechanically inclined) and Ford E-series vans are popular.

Custom van converters like Sportsmobile, Van Specialties or Outside Van could fabricate a new Class B suitable for LatAm travel. Start with a gas engine chassis, perhaps an engine generator, cassette or composting toilet, internal or skid protected water tanks, Webasto petrol fired heater, cooktop that can use 16oz (Coleman type) propane canisters that are widely available in Latam.

Expedition Portal and Sportsmobile forums have lots of information from travelers either planning or having recently completed LatAm adventures. They're also a good source for buying gear for a trip or reselling units when travels are complete.
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:04 AM   #7
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Well I have at least one member currently on a Panamerican Expedition in his 90's vintage Dodge van right now, with all those built-in systems you say won't work. He doesn't appear to be having any issues.
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