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Van with more than one wheel drive

I’d like advice on a new or used minivan with more than one-wheel drive and a standard transmission. Does one of that description exist and if so can I know the brand and its location. Years ago, I owned a GMC Safari, that I admired except when it got dangerously stuck in loose gravel. Thank you.

I don’t think you can get a minivan with a manual transmission these days. and AWD Forester would be the closest thing I can think of.

One-wheel Drive? Are you serious??

He probably had a standard diff, and when he got stuck, all the power went to the wheel with no traction. Seeing just one wheel spinning, he assumed it was 1-wheel drive.

All newer vehicles should have traction control available which “fakes” an open differential into operating some what like a limited slip which does direct some power to the opposite wheel.

Safari can be ordered with a mechanical limited slip, Be aware though, that the mechanical rwd ones can be more tricky if both wheels loose traction during acceleration when locked and you don’t have a computer to free wheel one side to help regain lateral stability. Hence, the faze out of many mechanical ones except in true truck in HD use. You tend to eat up your brake pads otherwise with electronic trac contol.
The electronic ones vary in effectiveness. This system should be in all minivans by now at least optional in truck based 2wd systems, giving you true 2wd performance.

My daughter’s minivan has it and it works excellent.
If you carry much weight in a van, you are always better off with an automatic trans, both from a safety and durability point of view in my opinion, and why manuals are near impossible to find.

Thanks to all of you, Shadowfax is correct. The one wheel drive was my cynical comment on the experience. And thanks to dagosa for his thorough answer. I don’t plan to carry much wight other than myself. I plan is to travel the country and use the van as a simple camper. Not being an automotive expert, I didn’t get some of the terms so if you were to recommend what I should purchase, what would it be and what kind of drive should it be equipped with?


Mazda 5 comes with a stick shift on it’s low end model. Brand new for about 20 grand

With this newer technology of traction control available in all cars, just be sure to inquire that it has it. If you buy new, there should be little problem. If used, be really careful about an sales person or private seller that makes the claim. If you are technically inclined, you can easily tell as there is a manifold near the master brake cylinder with lots of lines from it. If not, a new car dealer that you can trust, selling used cars, might be a place to shop. The Mazda 5 is as good a car as any that should fit the bill. Any reliable brand recommended by CR would be a place to start. Try the vans out with the expectation of what your needs are.

Newer compact PUs with caps work well too and in 4 cyl 2wd and in extended cab are cheaper and ride and handle well. I recommend the Tacoma or Frontier. Other than the Dakota which is uneconomical, I don’t think there are any others from GM or Ford I would recommend in compact 4 cyl.

BTW, your one wheel drive reference is more correct than anyone who calls the same vehicle two wheel drive. 4 wheel drive vehicles w/o optional differentials and traction aids are really 2wd vehicles.

Thanks again for the help. Dagosa, I’ve been trying to translate PU’s with caps without success. Also,I spoke to my mechanic who’s concerned that adequate repair facilities for “foreign” vehicles, in small towns, may pose a problem.

One wheel drive?

Was there a minivan version of the Hudson Hornet?

"PU’s with caps"
Pick up trucks with fiberglass or aluminum rear bed enclosure. They are lockable, available with screens, can be outfit as a small sleeping camper, can be set up wit racks for carrying boats etc on top. A hitch on the back gives you additional luggage carrying capacity with a luggage rack or bike rack. I used one for years that way. Even rigged a tarp the unrolled off to the side and attached to poles as a sun porch and sheltered eating area. Still got close to mid twenties mpg while traveling.
BTW, Toyota/Honda and some other popular brands are no more a foreign car for routine parts and service any more than Ford, Chrysler or GM. Your mechanic is talking in generalities that often don’t apply. All foreign cars are not the same and many domestics sell foreign cars under their own name.

dagosa, thanks for the clarification and for more good info. PU’s are a nice idea but I’m partial to vans. Aside from just the style, I like the idea that I can access the interior without having to get out and go around and I like the idea of having windows around. I’m going to check out the Mazdas and anything else that might pop up and will report back.

One wheel drive? How is it possible dude

This is not true.

An open differential divides the input torque between the two wheels. If one wheel looses traction, the opposite wheel still has torque applied to it but is limited to the torque applied at the spinning wheel. If the combined tractive force generated by the spinning wheel and the stationary wheel is less than required to move the vehicle, it will just sit there, leaving the impression that the non-spinning wheel is doing nothing.