All right, I'll bite. Instead of waiting for a new vehicle, I ordered the largest KargoMaster with a mounting kit (which they promise me will work on a GX470, though I have my doubts) from Truckaddons.com. I should have it in a week or so, and will try it out. If it works, and if I can figure out how to post a picture of the world's most expensive tripod, I'll do it.
Without a dedicated ladder mounted to the truck, I was thinking I'd have to continue to use my fold-up step ladder, and was thinking, oh sh*t, it takes up so much space in the back...and then I thought, well, duh, you're gonna have a cargo basket...
The Sprinter would eat up the road to Deadhorse, as long as you took it slow through the mountains. That gravel was a little slidey on the curves. Of course, we were up there equipped for anything, and found a guy commuting back and forth in what must have been a 20-year-old Chevy Nova, though with good tires...probably helps not to care what happens to the car. I agree with everything you're saying about vans, and when I do trade, they're still in the running. In addition to taking photo equipment along, I go on a few musky-fishing trips every year, and the rods -- 7 and 7 1/2 feet long, in one piece) barely fit in the GX in rod cases. With a van, you can just drop them on the floor, no problem. I do like the looks of some of the stuff they have on that van site...http://www.sportsmobile.com/1_dyo.html