Van Basics

LWB vs SWB What’s the difference?

SWB vs LWB Vans

If you’re new to the van world then some of the terminology thrown around can be a little confusing. The first thing you’ll notice is that people always talk about LWB vs SWB.

These are abbreviations of Long Wheel Base and Short Wheel Base. Sure enough it’s explaining the length of something but what exactly?

The Wheel Base is the distance between the centre point of the front wheels and the centre point of the rear wheels. This is completely different to the length of the vehicle. The length of a vehicle is the distance between the front and rear points of the vehicle as a whole.

So why do Wheel Bases matter?

It all comes down to how you intend on using the van. Both Wheel Bases have their pros and cons depending on what the intention is. So to help iron out the differences between the two, here’s our guide to LWB v SWB.



Illustration showing the difference between LWB vs SWB Vans

Illustration showing the difference between Long Wheel Base Vans vs Short Wheel Base Vans

Benefits of LWB (Long Wheel Base Vans)

  • Smoother ride due to greater time between front and rear wheels hitting bumps
  • More space for the storage of sports wear, bikes or climbing equipment
  • Less likely to feel claustrophobic or closed in
  • Less sporty feel in the drive means you tend to use a lighter foot and often leads to better fuel consumption
  • The option of a longer bed

Benefits of SWB (Small Wheel Base Vans)

  • Less likely to get stuck in a sticky situation off roading or on rocky terrain
  • More suited to city traffic and narrow streets
  • Much better turning circle for doing three-point turns
  • Often cited as being more fun to drive and having a sporty feel
  • Tighter handling

So there you have it. We hope this has helped you understand some of the jargon a little better. And also help you decide which Wheel Base suits you best.

In a nutshell, you can’t go wrong. Each Wheel Base has it’s advantages as well as it disadvantages. It all comes down to personal preference.



Sean Beardsworth
My two favourite things are vehicles and travelling, so the VanLife was a natural choice for me! I also love a good German weissbier, but only when I'm pitched...
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