Back in the ‘60s the vehicle of choice during the early “hippie” movement was the Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus, which afforded those seeking escape from the mainstream a vehicle that was their wings to freedom and independence.
But the VW bus wasn’t the only van being used for weekend getaways and cross-country travel. Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet and GMC vans were also popular, offering flat-nose, high-roof camper van conversions as wheeled alternatives for pitching tents and towing travel trailers.
Consumer demand for camper vans continued well in the ‘80s. But the buzz slowly faded as the larger Class C motorhomes, and a wider variety of travel trailers, cruise ships and airline travel offered those who liked to get out and enjoy travelling loads of options from which to choose. Then COVID hit. RV travel appeared to be the safest getaway alternative, and, voila!, camper vans are back in vogue. Sales are on a record-breaking pace for 2022.
“RV manufacturers and suppliers have accomplished something never before seen with the incredible number of RV produced in 2021 and forecasted to be built in 2022,” said RV Industry Association President & CEO Craig Kirby. “More RVs will be headed to dealer lots in 2022 than ever before, allowing even more consumers to experience the freedom and control of traveling the country in their ideal RV.”
There are dozens of camper vans available built by independent conversion companies, RV manufacturers, and those built on or backed by vehicle manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volkswagen and RAM.
One of the fastest sellers, according to sales staff I talked to at Bish’s RV dealership in Meridian, Idaho, is the new 2022 Jayco Swift 20T model that’s built on the long-wheelbase, high-roof model RAM ProMaster 3500 Window Van.
What makes the Jayco 20T Swift Class B so attractive is its layout, features, drivability, attention to detail and overall build quality.
Those traits are catching the attention of the singles and couples, especially in the under-55 audience who want to get out an explore, says Brittany Ware of the Jayco Motorized division.
“There are certainly customers in a 55+ demographic who will utilize this van depending on lifestyle, but we see a much younger demographic in the Swift than we see in other motorhome lines.”
A lot of that has to do with the Swift’s smaller size and how it’s equipped. For example, the new 20T model places the wet bath in the rear, separated by a pocket door for privacy, that frees up the rest of the interior to maximize the living space.
The bathroom features a flush toilet, 13-gallon black tank, vanity, and an abundance of storage in the cabinet wardrobe opposite the shower/toilet. (Jayco uses the Truma Combi Eco Plus, which runs off LP and/or electricity, to supply the hot water needs, and all the fresh water is filtered.)
The shower also incorporates the Aqua View Showermiser water system that gives you a colorful visual indicator when the hot water arrives at the shower head while returning the cold water to the 27-gallon freshwater tank instead of letting it go down the drain into the 14.5 gallon gray water tank. This wonderful feature that can extend fresh and gray water capacities by up to 40-percent according to the manufacturer. A great feature for those planning on dry camping for several days at a time.
The rear bath of the 20T floorplan really opens up the RAM ProMaster living area, which has a soft touch ceiling and residential vinyl floor. The layout consists of a 30×74 convertible sofa bed on the street-side, and a 30×80-inch on the door-side. The cushions are thick and comfortable, too. The seating areas are separated by a narrow center path between the wet bath and the galley area.
LED lighting, controlled from the JAYCOMMAN panel by the sliding side-entry door (or from anywhere with your smartphone or tablet!), bathes the entire area in excellent lighting. There are also individual LED flexible reading lights for those quiet moments.
Of note, the Swift’s electrical power comes from dual Group 31 6-volt AGM batteries, a 190-watt solar panel on the roof, a 2800-watt Onan generator mounted under the rear of the van, or from 110V shorepower. Whether at a full-hookup RV park or camping off-grid, you’ll never run short of juice.
At the end of a long day on the road or out hiking or enjoying the freedom RVing brings, there’s nothing like returning “home” to rest and relax. The Swift’s interior makes that easy to do. The headrests of each sofa bed can be easily adjusted upward to a comfortable reclining position, and the twin-bed-size sofas can be quickly converted into a King bed by using the tabletop stored underneath the door-side couch.
When it’s time to dine, play games, get caught up on social media, or just enjoy socializing around coffee, the tabletop mounts on top of the stainless support legs that are also stored in the under-couch storage compartment.
You can also flip out a small work table that’s located right behind the passenger’s swivel seat for additional space. Want TV? No worries, the Swift 20T model is satellite-prepped and has a 24” TV mounted on a swivel bracket located at the end of the cabinetry adjacent to the van’s sliding door opening. The Swift also comes equipped with a BOSS dual-zone (interior/exterior) Bluetooth sound system, DVD and remote.
Overhead, Technoform European-built cabinets run the length of the Swift’s ceiling from the bathroom wall to just behind the driver’s seat and the length of the couch on the curbside. The cabinets are high-gloss, spacious, and fitted with very strong latches and hinges.
The kitchen in the 2022 Jayco 20T Swift camper van is as nicely designed as the rest of this Class B. The countertop is solid-surface with a large, deep stainless sink and integrated two-burner Dometic cooktop. Both the sink and stove have flush glass covers to facilitate a larger prep area. In the forward outside corner of the countertop is a really cool hidden pop-up 110V/USB power station. It’s a really clever design idea and very useful.
Underneath the counter is a large pull-out countertop extension that expands this camper’s food prep area, and beneath that is a convection microwave. adjacent to that is a small 3.1 cu.ft. A/DC fridge that’s specific to the 20T models. The microwave and fridge are small, but suitable for a single or couple road-tripping adventurers.
If you like to relax sitting outside, one item included in the “Customer Value Package” ($11,250), which is the only option available for the Swift, is the armless Thule patio awning with LED light strip. The package also includes Thule roof racks, rear bike rack and roof ladder, along with Ultraleather driver and passenger seats along with the addition of a Winegard Connect 2.0 4G WiFi extender/Digital TV antenna.
Another nifty exterior feature on the Jayco Swift is the sliding screen door at the entrance. It’s very thin, but extremely efficient in its design at keeping pesky bugs at bay.
Outside the Jayco Swift you’ll find the typical array of RV-related amenities. It has a remote shower, city water connection, fresh water fill, a pair of 110V outlets positioned one on each side, a 30-amp service connector with a detachable power cord, LED-lit valves and dump plumbing for the heated holding tanks, and LED-illuminated running boards.
Underneath the RAM ProMaster 3500 you’ll see JRIDE Hellwig overload springs and larger anti-sway bar to help provide more stability for the heavily loaded camper van. Those items are also included as part of the Customer Value Package.
The Jayco Swift is built on the RAM ProMaster, which made its automotive industry debut back in 2015. Since then this heavy duty van has established a stellar reputation for being a utilitarian work van with a city-friendly compact footprint.
Ware says the high-roof, long-wheelbase 3500 window van has also been a great platform for camper conversions, as Jayco has proven with the Swift. RAM ships the stripped version to Jayco’s facility in Middlebury, Indiana where the conversion teams add the JRIDE package and build up the interior of the van.
The 2022 RAM ProMaster 3500 EXT is only available as a gas-powered, front-wheel-drive with a 280hp 3.6L V-6 now backed by a nine-speed automatic, which is new in the ProMaster vans for 2022. That’s a comfortable combination for a camper van: You have the power and fuel economy to handle any road trip with ease, along with a van that can double do daily-driver duties at home.
According to the 2022 RAM specifications, the Window van has a GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, of 8,900 pounds, a payload capacity of 4,290 pounds, and a Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating (GCVWR) of 12,000 pounds. GCVWR is the combined weight of the vehicle, passengers, cargo and trailer.
However, the numbers listed on the Jayco window sticker varies slightly from RAM. It shows a higher GVWR (9,350 lbs.) and 500-pound lower GCVWR. The Jayco sales sheet also lists the Swift as having a six-speed automatic, not the nine-speed. The ZF 9HP TorqueFlite nine-speed automatic, which has replaced the earlier six-speed, was one of several new features on the 2022 ProMasters.
Using Jayco’s numbers, the 2022 Swift Class B, which is equipped with a 3500-pound-capacity receiver hitch, can tow up to 2,000 pounds without exceeding the RAM 3500 ProMaster’s maximum combined weight rating. My suggestion is to weigh your Swift at a CAT scale if you plan on towing a trailer to make sure the weight of the trailer and the van doesn’t exceed the GCWR/GCVWR.
One of the upgrades Jayco has done to the 3500 RAM platform the Swift rides on is to beef up the suspension to carry the extra weight of the van conversion components. They added the JRIDE system, which includes upfitting the factory leaf springs with Hellwig Helper Springs, and replaced the factory rear anti-sway bar with a Big Wig heavy-duty version also from Hellwig. These two additions help stabilize the Swift’s ride and improve its handling.
During my walk-around I noticed the 2800-watt Onan generator is mounted behind the Swift’s rear axle, its added weight one of the reasons more rear suspension muscle was needed. But a concern of mine is the bottom of the generator sits below the rear differential and tires, making it the lowest point under the van. This places the generator in a very vulnerable position and there’s no skid plate to protect it from a driver miscalculation in ground clearance. Just be aware of this when traveling.
The 2022 Jayco Swift is a well-designed, nicely equipped camper van that’d be a good fit for single individuals or couples who want to have a comfortable, spacious, self-contained RV that’s easy to drive, can be used as a daily driver or commuter vehicle, and provides the freedom to get-up-and-go on a moment’s notice.
The Swift’s small ecological footprint allows it to be driven and parked just like a normal car, pickup or SUV. The V6 provides decent performance with good fuel economy for a Class B RV. Years down the road, the RAM ProMaster-based Jayco Swift should maintain its resale/trade-in value better than other types of RVs be they a Class A motorhome, travel trailer, 5th wheel or Class C coach.
Those are all good reasons to take one for a test drive—or better yet, load up your own Jayco Swift 20T and take it on a long road trip!
Vehicle Make: 2022 Ram 3500 High-Roof Window Van
Model: 2022 Jayco Swift 20T
Engine: 280hp 3.6L V6
Transmission: ZF 9-speed automatic
Width: 6′ 9″
GVWR: 9,350 lbs.
GCWR: 11,500 lbs.
Exterior Height: 9’ 3”
Interior Height: 6’2”
Water Capacity (Fresh): 27 gals.
Water Capacity (Black): 13 gals.
Water Capacity (Gay): 14.5 gals.
Air Conditioner: 13, 500 BTU
Heating: 14,300 BTU Truma Combi Eco Plus
Electrical: 12V/30-amp 110V/190-watt solar panel
As Reviewed: $139,050