Small camper vans are a great way to live the van life without paying an arm and a leg for your rig. Plus, these campervans are a lot stealthier than a high-top van like a Mercedes Sprinter or a Ford Transit.You can park on any city street stealth camping style, and nobody will ever know you’re inside such a small camper van!
Plus, mini camper vans get better gas mileage and are easier to maneuver and park. They can fit into most standard garages if you’re more a weekend warrior van lifer.
The Best Small Camper Vans for a Van Conversion
Are you convinced you want a small camper van? Some people wonder why I stick with the Chevy Astro, which is basically a glorified minivan.
But I love how its easy to park and is super stealthy. Plus, I don’t have to buy as much stuff to build it out.
There are a couple options if you want a small camper van for sale. You can either buy a custom build or do a DIY van.
You can get a new or used small cargo van directly from a dealership, or buy one that’s already built out on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay or camper van for sale groups on Facebook.
Here are our top picks for the best small camper vans for sale in the U.S.
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1) The Mercedes Metris small camper van for sale
- Price: $26,000-$34,000
- Gas Mileage: 21-22 mpg
The Mercedes Metris is a new van to the North American market, being introduced in 2015. With the cargo version of this van, you can pick from a standard or long wheelbase. It’s available in two lengths – standard and extended.
This small camper van for sale has a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine with a 7-speed transmission. The Mercedes Metris can carry more than the other vans with a maximum payload of 2,502 pounds. Compare that to the Nissan NV200, which has a payload of 1,480 pounds.
Mercedes Metris vans have a larger cargo area than the competition, which means more room for your campervan build. They come with either a 270-degree swing-open rear door or a hatchback tailgate. The exterior looks just like that of a work van, making this vehicle a very stealthy camper.
The main problem with this van is that it’s the most expensive of the smaller vans, needs premium fuel, and is harder to park due to it’s longer wheelbase. The other thing to consider is the size of the windows – these are smaller than those fitted on other vans, which means you lose visibility and gain some extra privacy.
Read more about the Mercedes Metris.
If you’d like to get a Metris converted professionally, check out Contravans, the Getaway Van by Mercedes-Benz, Peace Vans, GTRV, Keystone Coachworks and Oregon Motor Coach.
2) Ford Transit Connect mini camper van
- Price: $24,000-$31,000
- Gas Mileage: 24-29 mpg
The Ford Transit Connect is an affordable camper van that gets great gas mileage. It’s been around since 2012, which means you can find a lot of used vans for cheap, or even camper vans that are already built out.
When searching for your next home of wheels, get a mechanic involved – Transit Connects are known to have transmission issues.
You can get two types of engines with this small camper van, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder van, or a turbocharged 1.6-liter Ecoboost 4-cylinder. Maximum payload on this van is 1,620 pounds.
This is a very small camper van for sale (the second smallest in this class) that doesn’t offer the same cargo space as some of its competitors
or 4WD drive. However, it features double sliding doors on the sides, which makes it very easy to air out and access.
The look of the exterior makes it an excellent stealth camping vehicle. Plus being small it’s easier and cheaper to fix. Also, some people say this small camping van doesn’t have a lot of power but is comfortable to drive.
Click here to learn more about the Ford Transit Connect. If you can get hold of a newer model (2014 or newer), Freeway Camper Kit produces a sturdy and practical conversion kit.
3) Dodge Promaster City small camper van
- Price: $24,000-$27,000
- Gas Mileage: 21 city/28 mpg highway
The Promaster City small campervan for sale was introduced in 2015, and prides itself on being efficient with a highway fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon.
This little van packs a cargo capacity of 131.7 cubic feet, and a nice-sized cargo area width of 48.4 inches between the wheel wells. This van comes in second for cargo space behind the Mercedes Metris.
The Promaster City drives with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine, and can be loaded down to 1,886 pounds. It also has a nine-speed automatic transmission. Owners love how reliable and long-lasting the engine is.
One level up from the basic cargo van model, or the SLT, gets you a van that needs oil changes every 10,000 miles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and heated seats.
The best feature of this nimble van? The walls at the back are nearly vertical, which means it’s very easy to convert DIY. However, it’s not available in 4WD drive and doesn’t come with a diesel option.
Click here to learn more about the Promaster City.
If you’d like to get it converted professionally, you’re spoiled for choice. Opt for Contravans, Cascade, Voyage Campervans, Craft Autoworks or Kuku Campers.
4) Nissan NV 200 compact cargo van
- Price: $22,000-$23,000
- Gas Mileage: 25 mpg combined fuel economy
The Nissan NV 200 is an affordable small camper van for sale with great gas mileage, built for easy maneuvering in a city. The van does fall short in cargo space compared to the Metris, Ford Transit Connect and Promaster City.
Some van lifers managed to fit a hidden portable toilet in their own builds.
The NV 200 has less power than its competitors with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. This makes it perfect for van lifers who intend to travel long-distance regularly.
The Nissan NV 200 small camper van only has a maximum payload of 1,480 pounds, so keep that in mind when planning out your DIY campervan build. Make this van too heavy and it won’t perform as well.
The benefit of this van is that it’s the cheapest of this group of vans.
You can get your hands on a used one for as little as $15,000. Want to invest in a professional conversion? Take a look at Recon Campers, Contravans, GTRV, Caravan Outfitter and Apex Vans.
5) Toyota Sienna AWD small camper van for sale
Price: $34,710-$42,250 Gas mileage: 36 mpg combined fuel economy
The Toyota Sienna is a popular mini camper van as its one of the only brand new vans available with All-Wheel-Drive. This is one of the best camper vans to take boondocking as you won’t have to worry so much about sand, snow and mud.
The Sienna is also super reliable, which makes it cheap to maintain and durable. You won’t risk getting stuck in the desert with an engine problem.
To boot, the Toyota Sienna is bigger than some of the top cargo vans we mentioned above. Check this out:
The Toyota Sienna is 16′, 8″ long and 6.5′ wide.
The Ford Transit Connect is 14′, 5″ long and 7′ wide.
The Ram Promaster City is 15′,5″ long and 6′ wide.
The large side sliding door makes it very easy to nip in and out of the van, which is great for those days when you set up a little outdoor living room under the side awning.
The back seats are very easy to remove, so you can convert this minivan yourself, saving a lot of cash on the build.
Finally, the flat roof allows you to install multiple solar panels to generate electricity anywhere. If you’re interested in a Toyota Sienna custom build, check out Oasis campervans and Contravans.
6) Chevy Astro small campervan
- Price: $6,000
- Gas mileage: 15-20mpg
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my beloved Chevy Astro van in this list of small camper vans for sale.
I purchased this Astro conversion van with only 57,000 miles for just $6,000 on Craiglist and made a few modifications to make it completely off-grid. Two of us sleep in this extremely affordable camper van by reclining the back seats into a campervan bed, and I purchased two footstools from TJ Maxx to extend the bed.
We wanted a conversion van due to the higher fiberglass roof. Typical Astros have a low roof, and are much cheaper, like $2,000 or less.
I love how reliable this van is – it never lets us down. We converted it slowly over a couple of years, making quick and easy modifications as and when we needed them. We now spend weeks aboard, exploring remote places and boondocking on public lands.
Here’s what I added to my van to make it off-road and off-grid ready:
- A solar panel kit from GoPower
- Go Power 1500-watt Industrial Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Two deep cycle batteries
- A 37-quart ARB fridge
- A 3-inch lift kit from Journeys Off-Road
- BF Goodrich All-Terrain Ko2 Tires 30×9
7) Mitsubishi Delica
Gas mileage: 26-30 mpg
Looking for something quirkier? Check out the Mitsubishi Delica. It’s a mid-90s Japanese classic minibus that’s tough and reliable, as well as affordable.
The Delica comes with 4WD drive. It’s very small, which means you can easily find parking even in cities, but with a high clearance, which allows you to venture off-road.
This van transports 8 people and the seats fold flat, allowing you to keep them mounted. While driving the Delica is easy, thanks to its size, you will need to do it on the wrong side as these beauties have all been imported directly from Japan. Also, bear in mind that the interior height is only 51.8 inches.
Given that this van hasn’t been manufactured in the U.S., there aren’t companies that specialize in professional conversions. You can, however, adapt some of the smaller conversion kits available on the market. Think of QuQuQ Box and Egoe Nest. If you’d like something more permanent, you will need to take the time to carry out a DIY conversion.
8) Honda Element small camper van
Gas mileage: 20.3 mpg combined fuel economy
The Honda Element is a cult SUV camper popular among van lifers all over the U.S. The model was discontinued in 2011, yet more and more people have decided to convert used ones into campers in the last few years.
It’s easy to recognize, thanks to its boxy shape and the unusual bi-parting doors. The design is based on a lifeguard station. Yet, it looks just like a car, making it very stealthy.
Buying a used Honda Element is super economical – some models are as cheap as $3,499. It also comes in four-wheel drive, so you can also take it on some fun off-road adventures. Unlike other minivans, the cab of the Element is quite tall, which means you can get changed inside without having to sit down. Sitting up in bed is comfortable, too.
There are no companies that carry out professional conversions for the Honda Element. However, you can check out Ursa Minor, Fifth Element Camping, Freeway Camper Kit for conversion kits.
9) VW Eurovan Camper
Gas mileage: 18-22 mpg
Nothing is more iconic than a VW Eurovan Camper. If you’re in love with these little jewels, there are lots of used and fairly cheap ones for sale on the market.
The gas mileage is exceptional, so it’s ideal for long trips around the country. The weak point of the VW Eurovan is the automatic transmission – it can give problems. When you start looking at potential vans, it’s a good idea to research a vehicle’s history and even ask a mechanic to come check it out with you.
The Eurovan came out of the factory as a camper (Volkwagen teamed up with Winnebago to build them) and has been out of production since 2003, so there aren’t any companies who specialize in converting them. However, you can either spruce up the old interior or replace it completely. It’s up to you.
The floorplan typically included a stove, a sink and a couch that turned into a bed. Some models even had a pop top, offering a lot more interior room. Whether you keep things exactly as they were intended to be or change them completely, this little bus makes for an excellent camper.
More VW models have been imported into the U.S. over the years – the Combi, the Westfalia and the Splittie. These are rarer to find and can cost a little more, but you can find them with a little patience.
10) Dodge Grand Caravan mini camper
Price: from $27,290, new
Gas mileage: 20 mpg combined
If you prefer the lower profile of a minivan, check out the Dodge Grand Caravan. While it looks like a car, it’s very long, offering plenty of legroom for sleeping.
It can sit up to 7 people and the size is impressive. It has a total length of 202.8 inches, 78.8 inches of width and a height of 67.9 inches. You can easily fit a double bed and a kitchen. The rear hatchback door allows you to cook at the back of the vehicle.
The Dodge Grand Caravan is an extremely well-liked car and camper with a long production history. For this reason, it’s easy to find replacement parts. However, it can be difficult to find a used one for sale.
For the same reasons, it holds its value well – in case you’re thinking of buying one for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and then go back to normal life.
To convert the Grand Caravan, check out Oasis Campervans, Roadloft and Le Baroudeur.
11) Honda Odyssey mini camper van
Price: from $33,040, new
Gas mileage: 19-28 mpg
The Honda Odyssey is another popular small but spacious minivan. With a 205.2-inches length, this vehicle is suitable for taller van lifers, too.
One drawback is that to convert the Odyssey into a camper you need to remove a row of seats to obtain a flat sleeping surface. So if you plan to turn your car into a camper at the weekend, it can take a little bit of time.
It’s also reliable and long-lasting, which makes it easy and economical to maintain. However, it doesn’t hold its value well. Opt for a used one.
If you like the look of the Honda Odyssey, you can choose among 4 companies which produce conversion kits: RoadLoft, Freeway Camper Kit and Ququq. For a full professional build, look up Oasis Campervans.
12) Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid mini camper
Price: from $27,541 to $56,998
Gas mileage: 30 mpg combined
An alternative to the Honda Odyssey is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. It’s a 7-seater minivan which looks very similar and has nearly identical measurements. As such, it’s fantastic for stealth camping.
To make the most out of the space available, many van lifers create a bed platform as big as possible and fit drawers underneath it, so they can slide out at the back of the car.
The advantage of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is that two rows of seats fold down perfectly flat into built-in floor storage. This allows you to keep the minivan set up as a car all the time.
However, some people claim it isn’t very reliable. Some have issues with failing transmission lines. So it’s very important you get a used one checked by a professional before buying it.
Conversion kits for the Pacifica are available from Road Loft and Freeway Camper Kit.
More small vans for a campervan conversion
We couldn’t list out every single small van that you can turn into a camper. It’s worth doing some extra research into the topic because any vehicle in which you can sleep can turn into a camper.
To start you off, below we have listed some other vehicles which make for good mini RVs:
- Kia Sedona
- Kia Carnival
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Bounty Hunter Compact
- Nissan Quest
- Chrysler Town and Country
Conversion Kits for Small Campervans
Once you’ve chosen a model, it’s time to think about your conversion. The most affordable and quick option is to buy a conversion kit.
This is made of one or more modular units which are built in a factory and shipped out to you (or installed by the producers at the factory). You can then install them onto your van using just a few tools. Opting for a conversion kit will save you both time and money.
Let’s look at the companies which offer conversion kits for small campervans.
1) Roadloft – From $4,490 CAD
Roadloft is based in Canada (Quebec) but also delivers conversion kits for small vans across the U.S.
There are 4 units you can buy: a double bed, a bench and table, a tailgate kitchen and a “group travel” option. The last one allows you to keep two back seats. Their kits can be installed in just five minutes and no permanent modifications are required.
Roadloft kits are compatible with:
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Chrysler Town and Country
- Chrysler Pacifica and Grand Caravan
- Toyota Sienna
- Honda Odyssey
- Kia Sedona
- Kia Carnival
- Ford Transit Connect
- Nissan NV200
When ordering your kit, you need to specify which vehicle you will fit it into. Based on this, the guys at Roadloft will produce a kit that fits your van. To find out more, head to the Roadloft website.
2) Wayfarer Vans – From $5,580
Did you choose a Ram Promaster City? Wayfarer Vans specialize in converting Ram Promasters into campers. Their Wally kit fits perfectly in the Promaster City.
It’s a very clever modular kit made out of plywood boxes, which together form a sleeping platform. When you open them, some act as storage while others as a kitchen. The kit also includes a fold-up table.
More information is available on the Wayfarer Vans website.
3) Freeway Camper Kit – From $1,249
Freeway Camper Kit is a minivan and SUV conversion specialist also based in Quebec. Their kits include a dinette which turns into a bed, a slide out kitchen compartment for the rear of the camper and storage.
You can order your kit with a number of add-ons, such as a foldable mattress, a sink, a solar generator, a running water system and more.
The guys produce specific kits for these vehicles:
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Toyota Sienna
- Honda Element
- Honda Odyssey
- LWB Ford Transit Connect
- Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
- Bounty Hunter Compact
They also build 6 generic kits, which are suitable for different minivan models. These can fit in a number of minivans, which are listed on each kit’s page.
Not sure whether you want to buy one of their kits yet? Rent one for a trip to put it to the test.
Check out the Freeway Camper Kit website for more information.
4) VanLab – From $4,750
VanLab is the Ikea of camper conversion kits. They deliver your kit in flat packaging, together with all the tools you need to install it and detailed instructions. They produce two small kits – one for the Nissan NV200 and one for the Chevy City Express.
Both include a kitchen with a flip-out table and two benches, which turn into a bed. To this, you can add an integrated electrical system. Order yours for delivery or get it installed in Simi Valley, California, for an additional $850.
Use the coupon code FREESHIPWAYWARD to get free shipping on your order, which could save you around $500!
Head to the VanLab website to find out more.
5) QuQuQ Box – From $2,190
Ququq Box is a German company that builds modular conversion kits for SUVs, cars, mini buses and vans. These are also available to buy in the U.S. via a dealer in Nevada.
The company produces six kits, which suit cars and vans of different dimensions. As the name suggests, each kit is essentially a box which opens up and becomes an all-in-one bed and kitchenette. Taking it out of the car only takes a minute and it’s super compact, so it’s easy to store away during the week.
Head to the Ququq Box website for more information. If you google it, make sure you land on the U.S. site.
6) Egoe Nest – From $2,666
Based in the Czech Republic with dealers all over the world, Egoe Nest produces conversion systems for cars and vans. The Egoe Nest Box comes in three sizes – compact, medium and large. They include a sleeping platform and a kitchen with the space to add a fridge.
All the details are available on the Egoe Nest website.
7) Fifth Element Campers – From $4,995
Fifth Element Campers, based in Asheville (North Carolina), specialize in Honda Element conversions.
The complete installation takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t involve any permanent vehicle modifications. The standard package includes a bench which turns into a bed, a cabinet with a pull-out table, a console and a kitchen with a side table.
You don’t have to buy the full package, though. Simply choose the components you like and order them to be shipped to you.
Find out more on the Fifth Element Campers website.
8) California Custom Vans – From $3,600
If you’re looking for a full custom kit, check out California Custom Vans. They can work on a variety of small vehicles to deliver a built-to-order DIY conversion kit handmade from sustainable timber.
More information is available on the California Custom Vans website.
9) Trail Kitchens – From $1,995
Trail Kitchens build kitchens, chuck boxes, camping sinks and portable showers in aluminum. Most units can be quickly removed and used outside. The Minivan Camper Kitchen fits many minivan models and offers a spacious and practical surface to cook at the back of your van.
Check out the Trail Kitchens website for more details.
Van Conversion Companies That Work on Small Vans
Small camper vans have become more and more popular as people have decided they don’t need a big vehicle to get on the road and experience adventure. For this reason, there are now a number of companies which specialize in converting small vans into campers.
If you are set on turning your vehicle into a camper to use on a regular basis and don’t mind waiting, a professional conversion is perfect for you. You won’t have to lift a finger – just bring your van to the warehouse and pick it up as a camper to go camping that same night.
1) Contravans – Pricing available on request
Colorado-based company Contravans carry out custom conversions for many van models, including the Mercedes Metris, the Nissan NV200, the Ford Transit Connect and the Ram Promaster City. They maximize the space into each vehicle to fit a kitchen and dinette.
Head to the Contravans website to find out more.
2) Paved to Pines – Pricing available on request
Paved to Pines are based in Canada but do camper builds for US clients, too. They work on Transit Connects and Mercedes Metris, but it’s worth getting in touch to see if they will outfit your vehicle. Their conversions look modern and cozy.
Find out more on the Paved to Pines website.
3) Van Specialties – Pricing available on request
Van Specialities are based in Oregon and will convert almost any vehicle, including smaller vans and vintage or classic models.
More information is available on the Van Specialties website.
4) Ursa Minor – From $7,000
Ursa Minor is a camper production company based in San Diego (California) with a second HQ in Portland (Oregon). The guys convert the Honda Element and the LWB Ford Transit Connect.
They can add a pop-top sleeper, rack systems and USB, 60watt solar charging system or 12V outlets and lighting in the tent. Each conversion includes a mattress. The cab will be left untouched, so you can either convert it DIY or buy a conversion kit to add a kitchen and dinette.
Find out more on the Ursa Minor website.
5) Oasis Campervans – From $8,390
Based in Colorado, Oasis Campervans create professional conversions on various models of minivans. These come in standard or luxury packages, so they’re a little cheaper than those of the competition.
Want more info? Check out the Oasis Campervans website.
6) Other companies that do small van conversions
These were the main players on the market. There are many more companies which convert small vehicles. These include:
- the Getaway Van by Mercedes-Benz (for the Metris)
- Peace Vans (for the Metris)
- Keystone Coachworks (for the Metris)
- Oregon Motor Coach
- Cascade (for the Ram Promaster City)
- Craft Autoworks (for the Ram Promaster City)
Small camper vans: passenger or cargo?
Most of these small camper vans for sale come in two different styles – a cargo van or a passenger van. Which one you choose depends on what type of campervan build you want.
Most people go with the cargo van as it’s easier to build out. You don’t have to rip out seats and carpeting before starting your DIY campervan build.
The nice thing about a passenger van is it has tons of windows.
This option is great if you’re not sleeping in cities and trying to be stealthy. I personally love having a Chevy Astro passenger van with windows all around. All of my windows have curtains, so the van is private when I need it to be.
You’ll have to think hard about what type of small campervan build you want before you decide on a cargo or passenger van.
Pros and cons of buying a mini camper van
It’s good to weigh the pros and cons of a small camper van for sale before you buy. Ask yourself if you’re okay with not standing up. With these mini camper vans, you’ll most likely need to cook outside the van.
Conclusion on small cargo vans for a camper conversion
If you’re looking for a small van to convert into a DIY camper , there are plenty of choices on the market. Whether you choose a cargo van or a passenger van is up to you and depends on the type of campervan build you want.
Also, keep in mind that you could buy a car camping conversion kit to turn your small cargo van into a camper. Then you don’t have to do everything yourself!
The Mercedes Metris van has the most amount of interior space, but is also the most expensive at $26,000-$ 34,000. On the other side of the spectrum, the Nissan NV200 is cheapest at $22,000-$23,000 with the least amount of cargo space for a van build.
All of these small camper vans have their positives and negatives, so you’ll have to read through the specs to determine what’s best for you.
Other Van stories to check out:
Motion Windows says
Excellent explanation, it’s simple & focus.
Boat Windows says
Best of luck with the following! Thanks for sharing a smart thought.
RV Windows says
Stunning, Thanks for the excellent outline
Barbara O'Brien says
Great intro to small camper vans. I hate to go with a Mercedes, so expensive to maintain, and some of the American models I question reliability. Keep updating, I feel that the camper van meets my needs for simplicity. Wish there were more pop ups in the small van category.
Kristin Hanes says
Hey Barbara! I am super jealous about all the amazing small campervans offered in Europe that aren’t available here! What a shame!
Kenneth Sprague says
Hi, just came across this site looking for some sort of inexpensive live in van etc… Hello There , I’m pleased to happen upon you. Ideas are the beginning and though IV many your perspective is a welcome !
Thanks Kristin for sharing your research. (Good work)
Bill Hollingsworth says
Dear Kristin Hanes: Bravos and bouquets for your superb look at the top 6 tiny vans for living the van life. My wife is 82, and I am 84 with much-diminished physical strength and agility. Do any of the 6 vans strike you as easier or harder to enter and exit the front seat area and the living area — and to make it up to the bed — than are the others? Am thinking that strong handrails would be a must. We’d deeply appreciate any thoughts.
Bill Hollingsworth says
Dear Kristin Hanes: A follow-up issue to my prior message of today: Do any of
the top 6 tiny vans include a toilet? If not, I’m wondering how much larger a camper we’d need. Would deeply appreciate any recommendations. Given that my wife and I are to be the only campers, we are favoring a van as small as reasonably feasible. All best, Bill
Jenn Garden says
Although I mentioned this in my reply to Bill, in case someone doesn’t read my long winded answer, another DIY camper kit is River Leaf https://www.instacamperusa.com/ which is not mentioned here, although two which are harder to order as they are based in Euorpe, Ququq (they have a headquarters here but the correspondence is all from Europe) and Egoe Nest which doesn’t show how to order it from the Czech Republic. River Leaf is not only made in the U.S. but so confident they are of their product they offer a full refund if you are not happy with it.
Darsha Doran says
We are planning on driving from Tucson, AZ to Rochester, NY twice a year. We need a vehicle that will hold 2 people, 2 dogs and 3 cats. There needs to be room to keep the dogs and cats apart. One dog intensely dislikes the cats. We need room but probably will not do much, if any, sleeping in the vehicle. We would like to be able to leave the cats in a large kennel and if possible not have to take them into a hotel. What vehicle would you suggest? Thank you for any info you can provide.
Kristin Hanes says
Hey Darsha! I’d suggest a larger van like a Ford Transit or Dodge Promaster. You can add a platform bed with a separate area for the kitties beneath. The dogs can hang out in the other part of the van.