Chongo solar camper van gives off condo vibes with its large kitchen
The new Ram Promaster-based Chongo conversion from Freedom Vans brings the feel of home to the inside of a van. It supports digital nomads with a solar-powered lithium electrical system and 4G boosting, packs a dual-block expandable kitchen that wraps the chef in food-prep space, and includes other amenities more common in residential living than van life. It's a warm, cozy motorhome that lets you call any parking space or patch of dirt home.
A custom build based on a 2018 Promaster, the Chongo initially caught our attention for its funny name but held it with its extensive use of thick, multi-tone wood surfaces contrasted by clean white furniture and trim. The walls and ceiling feature grooved white paneling and team with the smooth white furniture to bring loads of brightness into the space. The natural-oak laminate plank flooring and butcher block countertops temper that brightness to prevent it from becoming harsh and overwhelming.
Many camper van kitchens are tiny and claustrophobic, offering little more for dicing and mixing than a small square of countertop and a fold-down sink/stove lid. The Chongo expands its kitchen space out as much as we've ever seen, starting with a dual-block layout that splits the stove with flush cover and sink with long countertop onto separate van sides. Flip the passenger-side counter extension up, pivot the matching dining table over from the driver's side, and the chef is surrounded with loads of room to slice, dice, chop, mix and keep food close at hand. There's also an under-counter fridge on the driver's side and a fold-down outdoor counter/table on the outside of the stove block.
The rear load area under the fixed rear bed platform, a space usually reserved for cold cargo garages and hardware storage, is also much homier than average. Freedom Vans fills it out with a stack of drawers ready to serve as a handy dresser. There's also a small open space for cargo.
The Chongo doesn't have any type of bathroom compartment, but it does have an outdoor shower and a portable composting toilet tucked away in a cabinet below the front side of the bed platform. A water heater delivers hot water at the faucets.
A 300Ah lithium battery system supplies power with help from a 480W solar charging system, shore power hookup and 2,000W inverter. A WeBoost signal booster amplifies LTE coverage in the van. Other nice touches include rows of ceiling lights, gooseneck reading lights at the head of the bed, and a climbing training board hanging over the sliding door.
Given how much space Freedom dedicates to everyday amenities like the kitchen and storage drawer stack, the Chongo seems best-suited to full-time van life over recreational weekending. It'll make a homey abode whether out in the middle of the wilderness or parked in a bustling downtown.
The custom-built Chongo didn't roll out with a window sticker price when it was revealed last month, but Freedom says its typical conversion packages run US$45,000 to $90,000 for short-wheelbase vans and $65K to $125K for long-wheelbase variants. The company also offers a more basic structural package with bed platform, insulation, solar power system, lighting and paneling for $20K to $35K. No matter the package, the customer sources his or her own van, so those prices are for the conversion alone. Freedom works with Mercedes Sprinters and Ford Transits, as well as Promasters.
Source: Freedom Vans