Do you really need 4x4?

One of the most frequent questions we receive is: “Do I need 4x4?”

The answer to this question isn’t always easy to answer as the answer is always dependent on the customer and how they want to use their conversion van.  Where do you plan to take your van? Are you going into the deep backcountry? Will you be completely alone?  These are all good questions to ask when considering your van.

Do you absolutely need 4x4?  More than likely the answer is no.  We have taken 2WD (2 wheel drive) vans to almost all the same places our 4wd vans have gone. Of course there are situations that may arise where 4x4 would be needed, but these tend to be rare.  Heck we even think that 2wd vans drive and handle better than 4x4.

At the end of the day, most customers are putting quite a bit of money into their van conversions.  Be smart about the places you plan to go and don’t put yourself in situations where you need 4x4. 

2WD Benefits:

Fuel Economy-

2WD vans weigh less, around 270 lbs, and thus get better fuel efficiency than 4x4.  Over the course of time, this adds up.  Especially on cross country trips.
Cost: 2WD vans cost close to $10k less than a 4x4. 


2WD chassis vans are more readily available, especially right now. Wait lists for 4x4 chassis can be extremely long, especially in our current economic situation.

Ground Clearance-

While 4x4 may look like it has more ground clearance, they are actually the same.  The body of the 4x4 is lifted.  This is in regards to Sprinter vans.



Tips for success in a 2WD Van:

Larger Tires and/or Wheels-

We recommend upgrading the tires on any build, especially 2wd.  A good set of tires will help overcome obstacles and make your rig as capable as possible.

We are big fans of the BF Goodrich KO2’s.  With an aggressive tread that still rides well on the highway, you can’t go wrong with these tires.

2019+ Sprinter 2500 2WDs can safely run 245/70-R17 tires without fender modification. With the installation of Agile No Rub Fenders 265/70-R17 tires fit without rubbing or trimming.

Recovery Boards- 

MaxTrax is one of the top names in the game when it comes to recovery boards.  Good in snow, mud, sand, slush and even gravel.  These boards will help you get out of any situations you find yourself stuck in.


A good shovel can be a life saver.  Not just for getting yourself out of sticky situations, they have plenty of applications for vanlifing as well.  Dig a fire pit, holes for defecation, moving embers in the fire, or leveling out the ground.

Tow Strap-

If you can’t get yourself out, it never hurts to have the gear so that another could.  Bonus: you then have the great to help someone else get out.

Air Compressor-

One of the best ways to gain some extra cushion and/or traction is to lower the air pressure on your tires.  However, you obviously need a good way to air them back up!  Air compressors also come in handy if you get a flat.


Tire Repair Kit-

While most vans come with a spare tire, the worst can always happen and you damage your spare as well.  Having a heavy duty, tire repair kit is never a bad idea when you are far from 


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Jennifer F. Herrera

My dream is to hopefully one day to own one of these vans.I would Love to travel and join the Van Life community.I lost my First born only Son in 2015 he was only 25.I lost him due to addiction,that I wasnt aware of.My dream is to go speak to the younger youth that substance abuse is killing our children, Son’s daughters Parents need to speak to there children and keep the communation open.

Randy s

We need the equivalent of a Limited Slip Differential if you are going two wheel drive, though some don’t like that if their habit is to drive too fast on freeways while tailgating in poor conditions. But I don’t want one wheel drive ever, I live in Alaska.

Sprinter suspension/wheels will tripod if uneven ground. if I go with 4×4 package, will all four wheels stay on the ground in un level ground or does Sprinter still tripod? American truck designs for off road don’t tripod, so have better traction.

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