I am trying to find a large van to carry more than 8 people on icy/snow-packed roads. The Chevy Express (and GMC Savana) have an awd option but it only seats 8. I could have a back seat installed by someone, but would that be safe? The other option would be to buy a 12-passenger model and just use studded snow tires and put sand bags in the back.
Are you sure you can have a back seat installed? Usually the 12 passenger vans are longer than the 8-passenger, so it seems like in order to cram in an extra seat you’d have to scoot all of the seats forward.
Also, IMHO, full-size vans are death traps in ice and snow even with AWD. If you have to do a lot of highway driving under winter conditions I would strongly suggest you consider an extended length full-size SUV (Suburban or Expedition) instead. If you do insist on a van, I would say you defintely need studded tires, even if you get AWD.
I think all full size four wheel drive vans are conversions. Its just some you can purchase through a new car dealer with a factory warranty. I found this http://www.quadvan.com/ on the net
I think that you can just in the last few years get a 1/2 ton GM van with factory all-wheel drive. (Since I believe all the 12-passenger vans are 3/4 tons, this is probably why the OP can’t get one)
I suppose doing a 4x4 conversion on a 12-passenger van is a possibility, but these make them even MORE top heavy and prone to rolling, and plus the 4x4 doesn’t really help all that much on the highway.
Thanks. I will check out Suburbans/Expeditions. They seem more expensive. Do they come with an awd option? I have heard the awd is better for icy roads than fwd. But I guess that is debatable.
Think of being a passenger in a fully packed 12 person van on icy/snowy roads. Even if these vehicles are rated for 12 people road conditions can change the safe number of people you can carry.
All things being equal, AWD would be better than rear-wheel drive (all of these large vehicles are RWD based). But AWD doesn’t really do much to address the weight distribution and handling problems with the full-size vans, so they’re still pretty dangerous.
The full-size SUV’s are lower to the ground and are wider which makes them a lot more stable, both in general and especially on snow and ice. They’re probably avaliable with either an automatic part-time 4wd or full-time 4wd (which is sort of the same thing as AWD).
Another possibility would be a FWD or AWD minivan.