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Discussion Starter #1
PMFrs-
I'm in a quandry of engine indecision. To diesel or not is the question. As we sit on the precipice of purchase I am getting mixed emotions. Our plan is to build out a 2500 (159) dry camper/daily(ish) driver to fit our (5) heads so that we can take further advantage of the Boise proximity to the rest of the west. Being as I am a shift worker (48hrs on 96hrs off) the van will mostly get me to work to sit and get me home to sit some more, lest we are on the road. My diesel fascination comes from a history of ownership, torque and towing performance, and general longevity but from what I have gleaned here and from talking with the dealer heads I'm starting to lean toward gas. Thoughts? Help.

DnelsonID
 

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We are at almost 12 months of ownership and just turned over 12,000 miles on our 3500 Ext Diesel.


If I had to (or got to) do it again? Same thing. All around. Well... maybe change the color to Sandstone instead of Silver.


OK, I have only driven the gasser on my first test drive of the PM long, long ago. But I am so pleased with the way the diesel drives that I'd stick with it. I also just love the sound. Its not a 'loud' diesel like a nicely built early-90s Cummins with a big turbo and open pipes... but it still sounds like a diesel. Even though there's often times I'm surprised by how quiet it is on the highway. Oh, and I really, really enjoy the automated manual transmission. I smile a little bit every time it shifts. Just love it.


I could probably get used to a gasser, I'm sure it does just fine. I think that's evident in the large majority of PM sales being gassers. Even Winnebago has dropped the diesel option on the Travato to do just gas. But then part of that I think is a misunderstanding of the diesel, and especially the transmission. Sure, there are some folks scared of the emissions stuff and the potential problems there; especially anyone that's read about Sprinter diesels since 2007.


If you can, go drive a diesel. Even if you have to take a day trip to another dealer to find one. We took a (relatively short) drive from Richland, WA down to Hermiston, OR to find a diesel in stock that we could drive. I would have gone much farther than that if needed.


As for use, sounds like it would get enough miles. Our van really gets used on Tuesday evenings (bike event for me) and probably every other weekend, with some little bits in between. It did sit for a few weeks at a time over the winter as we had nowhere to go and I wasn't doing much work on it.


Oh, and to bring up the old re-hashed fuel mileage bit... Personally, I wouldn't care about the fuel prices, nor have I calculated it out for lifetime operating costs. But... it is certainly easier on the mind to see 22-24mpg instead of 17-19mpg. (yes, I know folks have done much worse and much better than that on mileage, but that's probably close to the majority).




But seriously... go drive one of each. And more than just around the block. A good 30 minutes or so, include some highway and around town.
 

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I already have the Sandstone and I'd do the diesel again. Zyzzyx covered the issues well but I would add the mileage for the same use and driver is going to be about 140% better than the gasser- near the theoretical limit. I too smile when that little robot shifts it for me! Everything I expected from the diesel has been better and nothing has been bad. I didn't really think much about it as a long distance improvement over the gas van but I can't imagine a better hauler when we travel. This thing NEVER has to downshift on the interstate! [email protected] AMAZING! 550 miles between fill ups, 18000 miles between oil changes, 7500 miles until DEF added ($7.88/2 1/2 gal @ Wallyworld) and clean filling stations everywhere!
 

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I drove a 136" gas cargo van and was impressed that is a nearly perfect Urban assault vehicle - congestion and tight corners, parking lots and alleys, backing into tight spaces all felt natural. Then I remembered paying $5 a gallon for fuel on a NY expressway & got greedy for more room for those days trapped in the van by weather etc. and wanted to be able to have 360° views... So talked up the salesman about a diesel 159" WB window wagon that he magically made appear six weeks later..

Boise? Starting the diesel below 10°F or thereabouts will be memorable.. Yes, it will will start immediately but will act like it's trying to rattle the van into little pieces. Having the block/transmission heaters (800w~) plugged in protects the seals & components but can't help the rough idle from shaking the cold-hardened rubber motor mounts from ringing the whole chassis.

FCA does not recommend prolonged cold weather diesel idling due to combustion chamber low temperatures fouling the rings with carbon, excessive blow-by and getting the exhaust soot filter soggy w/ incomplete combusted fuel. Having an auxiliary heater would be good, there is an extra fuel tank pickup reserved for one.

Other than those items it is great in cold weather, the extra 300 pound weight stays warm much longer than a gas engine, neat to fire it up after four or five hours off and have it run smooth and rapid heat. There are reports that the higher torque does not make standing starts easy in snow since the wheels break free and spin more easily, so manual starts in 2nd gear might be required.

The diesel 4-cylinder does remind one of a 1950 french/italian milk truck, it warbles and clatters but converts fuel to motion like few other US vehicles can. Once the engine & drivetrain are warmed up it does smooth out considerably. The V6 gasser is a way more US 'feel' traditional sled, with five people for the best leisure quality time that might be the way to go..

How long is your commute?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
To call it a commute is a bit comical. 12-15, mostly highway, miles depending on where I am stationed. My last diesel was the vaunted early 90's Cummins, she was beaut, except for the nights I'd forget to plug in. Those Alaskan winter mornings could be a bit shaky.
 

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I am loving my 2016 diesel 136 HT but mostly for subjective reasons. I test drove both gas and diesel quite a bit and I thought the gas to be a little jumpy and the diesel to be more reserved with a mildly quirky transmission but not in a bad way. Whether the price premium for the diesel pays for itself with fuel mileage and extended oil change intervals is a math problem. If i make short trips with a cold engine I get 21 or 22 mpg, if I travel 50 miles or more on the freeway I get 24 or 25 mpg. I am thinking the price and mileage will be a wash for me but still prefer the diesel.
When you drive the diesel be sure to try manual shifting at least for upshifts it will downshift for you pretty reasonably even in manual. The automatic mode won't have time to learn your style in a test drive but still works well.
I got the one I enjoyed driving the most.
 

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I bought a 136 gasser 6 weeks ago and I'm very happy with it. The only caveat is the fuel consumption when loaded with weight or aggressive driving..
 

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I picked up a 136 LR Gasser & absolutely love it for the "Urban assualt vehicle" aspect. It is my daily driver (when not taking a motorcycle) so managing it vs my dream Promaster (159 HR Diesel) just made more sense... However, if I were to do it over again, I'd go with the 159 HR Diesel.

I'm finding that I am far more constrained than I originally anticipated regarding the camper build-out (Apparently I'm a +1 now, which was NOT in the plans...) so things that I could have gotten away with solo are not near as practical 2-up. The downsides of the larger van (primarily turning radius in my circumstance) are minimal enough that it would have been worth it, overall, to go with the bigger platform in my circumstances.
 

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136 hi top '14 gasser here. Very pleased with it, but really wish I could have afforded the diesel. I really like small diesels. Retired Navy mechanic, my Dad had a diesel VW Rabbit back in the day. One of my many VW vans was a diesel westy. I just really like them. If something ever happens to this one, I'll go oil burner next time. In the meanwhile, I'll enjoy what I have. It runs and drives great. Terrific for road trips and camping.
 

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136" low roof gasoline model here. In Canada the diesel carried a high premium (C$6000) and I simply crunched the numbers based on fairly low annual mileage. I guessed around 12,000 km per year; it's heading for a smidge more than that but not much. Lifetime consumption is at 11.9 L/100 km and that includes two 3000 km trailer towing trips accounting for about a quarter of what's on it. At today's fuel prices ($1.08 per litre for gasoline and about $0.96 for diesel) and assuming the diesel would use around 9 L/100 km, it costs $12.85 to go 100 km with what I have, and it would cost about $8.64 to go 100 km with the diesel - so $4.21 per 100 km. On strictly cash flow it would take over 140,000 km to break even which will take me 11 years and meanwhile I've got the cash outlay that I didn't spend invested elsewhere instead of sunk into a vehicle. Yep, I'm still okay with what I've got.

Maintenance-wise, the scary thing with all modern "clean diesels" is the DPF and SCR/DEF systems, and the scary thing with the gasoline powertrain is the minivan-derived 62TE transmission. Likely six of one and half dozen of the other; call it a wash.

In a vehicle like this, I would prefer the diesel's driving characteristics ... but not by enough to offset the economics.
 

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You and I agree on the miles to break even... I got 100K miles and in the US the van was $4K more with diesel. For me that's 5 years and in the meantime I get the great engine. Same facts different conclusion.
We have seen a few transmission and engine failures in the gassers but they are so small a sample no pattern of failure is obvious. The diesels are seening no failures emision relatlated since 5/2015 so in the short run neither seems an issue, relax. Time may show a pattern of failure but we won't know until and if it happens. It may or it may not.
 

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I have a 159" Sandstone 2500 HT gasser. I originally drove the diesel version and decided to go with the gas engine. It boiled down to (my) familiarity of gas vs. diesel. The diesel seemed fine; it was a matter of personal preference. I think you will enjoy the van with either powerplant. Cheers!
 

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Given the history of success that Mopar has had with its 6 cylinder gas engine, I decided it would be a better choice for me. Coincidentally, I have a 6 cylinder gas engine in our Journey, and the same in my recently acquired Challenger. They have put a lot of time, money, and research into their current 6 cylinder engine. It's offered in almost every FCA vehicle they make!

Although the PM is truly a truck, I consider my conversion a bit more elegant than a work truck for a plumber or electrician. The sound of a idling diesel just doesn't fit for me, for my van. Even a top of the line Mercedes car with a diesel engine sounds like a rattling bucket of bolts to me. No offense intended to my diesel friends on the forum, the Promaster is a great van with either powerplant!

ed
 

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Gasser has been great. Cost of ownership is lower, cheaper tag price, cheaper oil changes, an engine that techs know. But then their are always the potential negatives, maybe a weak trans? MPG isnt as good. Towing and hill performance not so great.

If I could have afforded the diesel I probably would have bought it. Here in FL we dont have cold to worry about and we dont have altitude. Which seem to be 2 things with the diesel, but I dont own one so I cant speak first hand.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for all the great comments and musings. I think I am going to stay the greasy course and go diesel, as difficult as that quest is proving. Thus far I have focused my sights on a used 2014 w/ approx. 11K with an asking price, from a dealer, in the neighborhood of $26K with most of the options I am looking for minus backdoor windows. Unfortunately, it is out of state and will require an internet leap of faith if I am to close the deal. Further thoughts and musings? Much appreciated.
 

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That price if $26K isn't really helpful without knowing what Promaster you are looking at. If it's a 118" WB low roof then thats high. If it's a 3500 extended then it's low.

I've seen multiple dealers with discounts of $5k-$9K on a new Promaster. A saw a great deal on a 3500 Extended with dual sliders with windows. It was nicely equipped, had a list of $47K, and they were dropping the price in their add every week. When it got to $35,202 it sold.
 
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