Here we are searching for the best swivel seat for the Ford Transit, Sprinter van, or Ram ProMaster! In this real-world review, we compare the most popular swivel models available on the market today: Scopema, Amazing Auto, SwivelsRus and DiscountVanTruck. Our comparison criterias for selecting the best swivel to buy are: height, weight, installation, operation, wobble and squeaking.
After 4 years of full time Vanlife, it’s fair to say that swivel seats play an essential role in our tiny home on wheels. We use them constantly every day, pretty much every time we park the van! No doubt, adding swivel seats is a great way to create extra living space and boost the comfort of a camper van.
As we are writing these lines, we are getting reading to start our second van conversion in our new Ford Transit we just got. So it’s time to check out the latest and greatest swivels. Only two swivels can stay in the van with us, let’s find out which ones!
We spent several months with the swivels in this review, and the Scopema (which we spent years with) is our favorite of all! It performs better in every way, except for the price tag (you get what you pay for!). This is what we installed in our van, and it’s there to stay. Scopema is definitely the benchmark, and no one was able to copy it properly so far. Keep reading for more details and comparison!
Scopema Swivel Seat Adapter
(Ford Transit, Sprinter Van, Ram ProMaster)
Adding an aftermarket swivel seat increases the driver/passenger height, thus impacting the driving posture and ergonomics. Poor posture and ergonomics can lead to discomfort in the short term, but can also lead to developing postural distortions or compensatory body patterning in the long run. Height is the first item reviewed as we think it is the most decisive criteria that defines the best swivel. The swivel seat adapter is inserted between the factory seat and the factory seat base. Therefore, the thickness of the adapter equals the added height:
|Amazing Auto||1-1/4″ 2|
- ProMaster: the Scopema ships with two spacing bars. These must be installed to prevent interference with the seat belt buckle, but this bumps the added height up to 1.5″. ProMaster swivel users have found a workaround to bring the added height down to 1.0″: ProMaster Scopema Modification.
- Ford Transit with 10-Way power seats: Any aftermarket swivels can be added with the 10-way power seats, but you will have to trim the lower part of the outside trim piece that houses the seat controls (it doesn’t clear during the rotation). Amazing Auto offers 2 models made specifically for the Transit 10-way power seats: the height is 1-3/4″ (instead of 1-1/4″) and no trimming is required.
How much does it make a difference? We had the SwivelsRus on the driver side of our Transit for over two years and swapped it for the Scopema (1-1/4″ lower): we went from a kind-of-awkward-but-that’s-OK driving position (hard to reach the pedals without hitting our knees on the dash) back to a normal ergonomic driving position… it’s VERY noticeable and makes a huge difference!
Weight and weight distribution play a critical role in your vehicle handling. Indeed, getting closer to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) affects the vehicle dynamic performance and safety. While the contribution of the swivel seats to the final total weight can appear insignificant at first sight, weight adds up surprisingly fast in a van conversion (see our Van Conversion Weight Summary) and care should be taken at every steps to minimize the final weight. That being said, we weighted each swivel and they’re all quite similar; no big deal here:
|Amazing Auto||28 lbs|
First of all, we have a full write-up on how to install a swivel seat in a Ford Transit (passenger & driver):
(And Lowering the e-brake)
Installing a swivel seat in a Ford Transit, Sprinter van, or Ram ProMaster is pretty straightforward, but devil is in the details… below are some small quirks, specific to each model, that challenged us during the installation.
Discount Van Truck
3- With the dual AGM batteries option (Ford Transit), it is not possible to install the DiscountVanTruck swivel seat because the big bolt in the center interferes with the batteries. DiscountVanTruck advertises the swivel as “Passenger side”, so we don’t blame them for this.
Scopema & Amazing Auto
Low height comes at a price: because the Scopema & Amazing Auto sit low, the electrical harness (driver side only) has to be relocated. That being said, it’s super easy and takes just a few minutes (as described thoroughly in our Ford Transit Swivel Installation article):
Scopema, Amazing Auto & SwivelsRus
On the passenger side, the baby seat anchor interferes with the rotation and has to be trimmed (with a hack saw and then touch up with Rust-Oleum):
Here are our notes on how the swivels operate:
- Scopema: The rotation is very easily performed (very low friction); it feels like it’s on bearings! No squeaking sound. We like that the lever is slightly recessed and is pulled in the same direction as the rotation; it’s more intuitive that way.
- Amazing Auto:
- The rotation is VERY hard to perform, it takes a lot of force (high friction). We suspect that after some time the nylon shim (the white thingy) eventually wears out and it gets easier. But out of the box, that swivel don’t really want to swivel!
- Per design, the seat locks when it’s rotated 180° (facing back) and 135°. This is intentional, but we personally think it is not necessary and it gets really irritating having to pull the lever during the rotation.
- The offset design is what sets the Amazing Auto apart from the others contenders. Because the rotation is off-centered, the seat gets away from the door and the dash during the rotation. As a result there is no need to incline or move the seat during the rotation, and it does not leave marks on the door.
- SwivelsRUs: The rotation is easily performed (medium friction). No squeaking sound. The lever is compact.
- DiscountVanTruck: There is some resistance (friction) when rotating the seat; it takes more effort compared to other swivels. The lever is longer so more cumbersome than other swivels.
6. Wobble (Rattle)
If you grab the seat and shake it (without someone sitting on it), it’s quite surprising to see how it much wobbles there is after the addition of a swivel adapter (any of them). But don’t worry, that wobble is actually not noticeable when driving (or co-piloting); therefore, we don’t think it’s a decisive factor. That being said, here is how we would describe the wobble for each swivel seat:
Discount Van Truck
There are multiple sources of squeaking in a camper van (cabinets, paneling, etc.) and for some people, fighting this noise can easily turn into an obsession. A swivel can be a source of squeaking, but fortunately none of the swivels in this review developed it during our test. (we did have a squeaking swivel in the past, but this model is discontinued)
Cost is subject to change and might be different than the table below. Last cost update: January 2022.
9. Our Pick
The Scopema swivel is our favorite or all. We think it’s worth paying a little more and get a good ergonomic driving posture and a nice/smooth operation. It’s a high quality product, and you won’t look back in the long run!
- Amazing Auto
- Offset rotation and lower cost sets it apart, but there’s way too much friction during rotation and the 135° & 180° lock mechanism (see Section 5. Operation) is very annoying and unnecessary.
- SwivelsRus: The added height is just too much.
- DiscountVanTruck: The small center hole is a deal breaker.
10. Notes on The Ford Transit, Sprinter Van and Ram ProMaster
Below are some notes specific to van models. Please let us know (in the comments) if we forgot anything!
- Factory Swivel Seat: As mentioned in our Ford Transit Order Guide, the Transit can be order with swivel seats option from the factory. Note that this option will cost more than installing aftermarket swivels. Also, it was reported that a warning alarm is enabled when the key is in the ignition and the seat is not facing forward (this is a safety feature, but can be annoying if you simply want to listen to music when parked). Also, take note that the factory swivels are not offset (you can’t perform a rotation without moving/inclining the seat, similarly to most aftermarket options). At last, the engine won’t start if a seat is not locked in forward position.
- 10-Way Power Seats: Aftermarket swivels can be added with the 10-way power seats. Note that you will have trim the lower part of the outside trim piece that houses the seat controls.
- Height: As noted above in the height section, the Scopema ships with two spacing bars. These must be installed to prevent interference with the seat belt buckle, but this bumps the added height up to 1.5″. ProMaster swivel users have found a workaround to bring the added height down to 1.0″: ProMaster Scopema Modification.
- Nothing to report at the moment.
That’s it folks, see you on the road!
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