Van conversions: an RV and a passenger vehicle

A growing number of value-conscious consumers looking to travel in comfort but with plenty of cargo space and room for extra passengers are choosing van conversions.

Van conversions are vans originally manufactured by automakers and then modified by specialized companies. Custom windows, luxurious carpeting, designer wall treatments, plush seats and sofas that convert to beds are some of the most popular added amenities. Many models also feature TVs, DVD players, high-tech stereos, cellular phones and video games.

Even with all the space and unique features, the cost of a van conversion is comparable to that of a four-door sedan.”Owners find van conversions deliver more for the dollar,” said former Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) President Richard Coon. “Whether transporting the kids to Little League, vanpooling, grocery shopping or vacationing, owners say these vehicles offer comfort, convenience, and flexibility. For hauling bulky items or towing camping trailers, boats or snowmobiles, van conversions have the power to get the job done,” he said.

When buying a van conversion, here are two suggestions:

Decide how the van will be used. For outdoor recreation or traveling with young children, rugged carpeting, durable upholstery, a sofa that converts into a bed when parked and large sliding doors are recommended. If used by adults for business or pleasure travel, many models feature luxurious fabrics and plush carpeting.

Visit local automotive dealers for specific model information, a firsthand look and an opportunity to see how well van conversions handle by taking a test drive.