By on February 26, 2021

We’ve been on a cheapskate (or value, if you prefer) kick lately at Buy/Drive/Burn. We’ve covered the cheapest new sedans and trucks on sale in America for 2021, and today we tackle everyone’s favorite type of vehicle: vans. But these three aren’t just any plain cargo vans, they’re passenger vans you can use to haul around your whole family.

Chrysler Voyager

The cheapest van in today’s trio comes to us from Stellantis, and is the only vehicle here without cargo van roots. The Voyager exists as a name resurrected from Plymouth, and plays down-market sibling to the Pacifica. Seating seven people, Voyager is available in L or LX trims. Said trims carry base prices of $27,535 and $30,245, respectively. Both trims are equipped with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, good for 287 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Six different colors are available at no cost on Voyager, with Black or Cognac interiors, also gratis. Destination charge is $1,495, which means the Voyager is slightly less expensive than its more basic ProMaster competition, at $29,030.

RAM ProMaster City Wagon

The ProMaster wagon is the middle priced offering in today’s trio. It’s available in two trims, Base and SLT. The Base asks $26,130 while SLT starts at $27,730. Both trims only seat five people, even though the ProMaster is only two inches shorter than the Transit. Standard is the 2.4-liter Fiat Tigershark engine (178hp), paired to a nine-speed automatic. Only two colors are available with no additional charge: red and white. Interiors come in Black, and are fitted with cloth seats, as vinyl carries an upcharge of $325. Including a destination charge of $1,595, the ProMaster in its basest form asks $29,325.

Ford Transit Connect Wagon

The most expensive van of today’s trio is the Ford Transit Connect Wagon, where wagon means it has rear seats. Available in XL, XLT, or Titanium trims, it ranges in price from $27,400 to $31,600. The base XL seats seven, and has the smaller of two offered engines, a 2.0-liter good for 162 horsepower. The 2.0 receives an eight-speed automatic, versus a six-speed in the larger 2.5-liter mill. Buyers can select a rear hatch or dual cargo doors for no additional charge. Nine paint colors are available for free, as well as Ebony interior materials in cloth or vinyl. Destination is $1,395, and the acquisition fee of $645 makes for a final ask of $29,440.

Three vans, all available for under $30,000. Which goes home with the Buy?

[Images: Ford, Stellantis]

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48 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: The Cheapest Passenger Vans in America for 2021...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    You kidding? Buy the Chrysler for the V-6 and burn the others.

    I do kind of have a soft spot for the Ford, though – it’s unapologetically utilitarian.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Not using effective family planning will result in having to buy and drive one of these. Make sure your teenage sons and daughters understand the consequences of decisions made in the heat of the moment.
    Even in red, no thank you to any of them, for myself.

    The correct answer to this quiz is to buy whichever one your wife likes the most. Drive something else entirely (she can have the kid shuttle). Crush the one that she likes the least, which is a tossup between the Ram Promaster and the Ford Transit (most likely the Ram – what woman wants to drive a “Ram Promaster”?).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      We planned our family and ended up with 5 kids.

      Now that they are all out of the house, our red minivan continues to serve as a capped truck that can tow or haul stuff, or both. I don’t ‘have’ to drive it; I *like* driving it, even more when it was full of kids and a dog.

      As for my wife, her favorite car is the one that starts and stops on command; she cares little about the details, yet we do make such decisions together.

      Sorry not to fit into your stereotype of a wife-whipped husband who lets the ‘little woman’ deal with the kids while appeasing her with a car she likes.

      • 0 avatar
        Mike-NB2

        “…our red minivan continues to serve as a capped truck that can tow or haul stuff…”

        This makes sense. I am convinced that for most perceived uses for a truck that a van would make so much more sense for most people. But vans are about as popular as crab lice these days. I wouldn’t own a van because I don’t need one, but I like them for their unapologetic utility.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          For most, as in 51%, of uses, you are likely very right.

          Many, at least in more rural areas, buy trucks specifically for occasional usages outside those 51%, though. And that’s where they do shine.

          I don;t think many at al, feel a leaf sprung pickup is the best vehicle for any particular, specialized task. Even hauling, as “real” trucks beat them handily at that. But for spanning the entire spectrum, from commuting into a city parking structure, to occasionally hauling dirtbikes and snowmachines, to pulling a camper or skid steer, pickups are hard to beat for someone with room for just one vehicle, as long as he may occasionally do any of the above, and has space for one.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I would take our Pacifica any day of the week and twice on Sunday over a CUV. More room, better power, better mileage and they are quiet and comfortable inside. I wholeheartedly prefer the 9 speed over the CVT in our CUV as well. If I have to tow more than 3500# I will use our Durango, or trade for a newer Durango, but for road trips and utility it is hard to beat a minivan.

      All that said, burn the Ram, buy the Ford since it doesn’t say you have to drive it if you buy it, and drive the Voyager.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “you can use to haul around your whole family.”

    : ‘(

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I had a Grand Caravan. It was a piece of sh!t. So burn the Voyager. I’d buy the Ford. The Promaster? I’d drive it but change the name to “Pornmaster” just to see if anyone would notice.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    The above seems out of balance. A comparison of apples and oranges. I see the Ford Transit and ProMaster as service vans driven by appliance repairmen, plumbers, and home alarm installers.

    A proper Drive, Buy, & Burn would be a comparison of the utility nature of the ProMaster, Transit, and the Nissan NV200. On a recent driving tour of Poland and the Czech Rep, these city vans represented a significant number of the vehicles on the highway and in the cities.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      NV200 is dead in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        3SpeedAutomatic

        All the more reason to “burn” the NV200.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Didn’t that billionaire mayor choose the NV200 as the official taxi of New York City? What Happened?

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          The NV200 was selected by the TLC as the official NYC taxi to replace the Crown Victoria however there were lawsuits from the disabled groups since it wasn’t quite accessible. Additionally they never found a way to incorporate the Leaf electric platform as planned. Meanwhile even as yellow medallion cabs have been battered by ride shares there’s a decent mix of not only the NV but the Prius and hybrid electric sedans. The entire notion of a one size fits all edict wasn’t the best idea. Even during the era of the hallowed Checker the standard allowed many full sized cars like Impalas as well as mid sized cars like Dodge Coronets.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re the three cheapest passenger vans on sale. That’s the only criteria here.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    > We’ve been on a cheapskate (or value, if you prefer)

    I most certainly do not. “Value” does not mean “cheap”. I value lots of things that cost lots of money. So do you. So does everyone else.

    “Value” includes cost, but does not mean “the minimum thing you can get”. It never did.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Buy the Ford; this is a durable platform.
    Drive the Chrysler for one-wheel-peel antics.
    Burn the Ram because it’s a hateful little thing.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Buy and drive the Chrysler. The other two are cargo vans with seats. Good for shuffling people on college campuses or airports but not for a families daily driver.
    And for the $$$ Ill take a used odyssey over any of these. For half the price I can get a 2 year old grand caravan!

  • avatar

    Isn’t RAM Promaster actually rebranded FIAT Something? Design is very Italian. And also Voyager is a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      It’s sold in Europe and overseas as the Fiat Doblò. The Fiat as well as the Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo are functional work vans which are popular among tradesmen and small businesses. The Chrysler is the traditional minivan whose lineage goes back to the segment breaking Voyager/Caravan which is far more comfortable and usable for families.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        ^This. The Voyager was designed for civilian use from the ground up. The other two? Repurposed city cargo vans, and they drive accordingly. Plus, I’m not sure the street price for the Ram and Ford have ever approached the big incentives and discounts FCA lays on the Voyager.

        It’s a shame this query wasn’t posed a year ago when the old Dodge Grand Caravan was still in production. Yeah, it had been around since 2008, but was still servicable as a solid family hauler, and for dirt cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The original Voyager minivan was 175 inches long, shorter than a 2020 Corolla (182.3″). The 1978 short wheelbase Dodge Tradesman delivery van I drove for work was 178 inches, also shorter than a ’21 Corolla. They haven’t been “mini” for a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        eng_alvarado90

        Agreed. When I was in HS I worked part time on an office supplies warehouse. There were a couple Ram Vans and a Windstar from the same MY (2000). I can confirm the Windstar’s length was actually midway between the SWB and LWB Ram Van. Of course the Ford was much less capable than the BOF vans.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I’m with Lou on this burn any Stellantis, FCA, or Chrysler whatever name it goes by they are endless money pits. Take the Ford but I would spend extra and get the Toyota Sienna.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      Specifically, what Chrysler product have you personally owned that was a “money pit”? I’ve found that most people who make comments like that usually can’t back it up with personal stories. We’ve had at least one Jeep in the fleet since ‘99.

      2000 GC
      2005 GC
      2007 Commander
      2008 Wrangler JKU
      2012 Wrangler JKU
      2016 Wrangler JKU
      2019 Cherokee

      The ‘08 ate the rear brakes early, the battery failed in the ‘12. Both were fixed under warranty. That’s it. Nothing has ever been a “money pit”. I would go so far as to say my costs were well under vehicles that truly do deserve the “money pit” label.

      But hey, maybe you had a malaise era Cordoba built on a Friday. It probably was a money pit. Good that you still use that as your benchmark 40 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      My daughter has a Chrysler T&C with 125,000 miles which has had no failures of any consequence. Although the message boards seem to indicate there’s a needle thrust bearing in the torque converter that comes apart and trashes the trans at about this mileage.

  • avatar
    gasser

    WTF is the $645 “acquisition fee” tacked on to the Ford Transit Connect??

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Yeah… acquisition fees are for leases, not purchases. If I was going to buy this Ford or any other, the “acquisition” fee would have to come off the top before we even began talking. Acquisition fees sound a lot like mandatory “options.”

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Because for what ever reason Ford defaults to showing the Cap Cost for a lease instead of the cost to purchase. If you build and price and once to the end when it shows that fee click on calculate payment at the bottom. Then you click on finance instead of purchase and that line item goes away.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    That Chrysler is a damn good-looking vehicle, too bad they don’t sell any of them anymore.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Glad you had good experiences with Chryslers I have owned a couple so I speak from my own experience.

  • avatar

    The Voyager is the only minivan here, the other two are tradesman’s trucks in Europe. Drive Voyager, and fix the electrical/plumbing, paint and drywall with the other two.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    No wonder I haven’t heard of this. Just to add to the confusion, both the old and new vans are called Grand Caravan in Canada. The ’20 is a Dodge and the ’21 is a Chrysler. Pacifica is only a hybrid.
    So I seem to be the same opinion as everyone else here. Although I did spend time with a previous generation of the Ford as a work van and thought it was great when there were no more than two people. Make me wish the Mazda 5 was still around.
    So does the chicken tax come in to play on any of these? I believe the previous-gen Fords were all imported as passenger vans and then converted back to cargo vans to avoid the tax?

  • avatar
    Mackey

    It seems peculiar that the cheapest one was the one that ostensibly would have had the most fit and finish effort put into it, in more soft touch materials, better assembly/more complex parts and fits, and simply more materials overall, since it was a purpose built minivan versus a cargo van with added seats.

    Is there simply value in volume due to the Pacifica sister, that much more engineering and hardware in the hard bits on the other two, or more margin padding the Ford and Ram due to Van Lifers?

  • avatar
    902Chris

    Ram ProMaster City – You can add such luxury items such as a rear window defroster, or spare tire. BURN IT!

    Ford Transit Connect Wagon – A commoditized cargo van that’s been softened up – Still, if you need to haul gear 1 day, and the family every other day, i’d BUY IT

    Chrysler Voyager – Drive it. Buying this will let you skydive on the plummeting resale value.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    This is an easy one:
    Buy –> Voyager: easily the most comfortable and easiest one to live with in the long term. You got reliable power when needed, lots of room for your family, friends or trips to the HW store. Yes, it looks rental grade, but she got good bones from the Pacifica and you can easily fancy it up with the help of your nearest LKQ.

    Drive –> Transit Connect: I personally like these, I’ve ridden in a couple of them on my last trip to Vegas. Focus platform means they may be quite fun to drive but not much else.

    Burn –> Promaster: Bad looking, the least amount of cargo and passenger space, the least aftermarket support. It just looks like a loosing proposition no matter what

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Buy the Chrysler and burn the rest.

    Also, nuke the Ram Promaster from orbit. Then find its melted hulk, crush it into powder, distribute it across the globe, send one-third of the dust to the moon and the other third to the sun.

    Tigershark 2.4 with the 9 speed?

    DIE! DIE! DIE!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Burn all of these they are all overpriced heaps.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Buy:
    – Buy Tim Healey a calendar.
    – Buy Corey Lewis a hobby so he has something to do other than hover over the comments like a rabid helicopter parent.
    – Buy an IS500 because Michael Harley, Automotive Journalist says it’s a good idea… says it on every flipping page until you close the video.

    Drive:
    – Drive far far away from this rusting hulk of a website [unless and until they start to respond positively to constructive feedback, which has been offered repeatedly by numerous posters].
    – Drive home from your OEM job, settle into your reclining sectional, fire up the smart TV and hook your peepers onto Vice Grip Garage.
    – Drive out of your way to avoid the car dealer and their questionable inventory assembled during 2020-2021.

    Burn:
    – Burn it into your head that the vehicle you are currently driving is probably the ideal vehicle for you to keep driving for the foreseeable future. [Stop burning cash on frequent trades.]
    – Burn bridges at your current employer (OEM, dealer) if you feel like it, for they are Very Likely Doomed. [Burn your mortgage first – you *did* pay that off, right?]
    – Burn gasoline, burn diesel, burn rubber (and burn oil, because let’s face it, you have no grasp of the concept of preventive maintenance). [When you learn better, burn ER70S-6, burn R45, burn 6011 and burn coal.]

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