The Transit joins Ford's commercial vehicle lineup with a broad range of choices: three body lengths, two wheelbases and three roof heights, in addition to a van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway body style.
On top of the different cab variants, the Transit also has three available engines. Starting with the base 3.7-liter V6, this gasoline engine can also be fitted to run on natural gas or propane.
Next up, our personal favorite. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost has plenty of power with torque rating in the 400 lb-ft range. Finally, we have the 3.2-liter Power Stroke five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine for those looking for an oil burner. Each engine is coupled with a six-speed automatic.
With the capability of hauling 15 passengers when so equipped, Ford created an industry-first five-row side-curtain airbag that deploys a 15-foot-long, 3-foot-tall twin-bed-sized inflatable mattress lookalike downward. This added feature claims to provide greater head- and neck protection during a side impact or rollover event. On top of that, the Transit features roll stability control, standard front-passenger and driver airbags, antilock brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
From the outside, the Ford Transit looks like a Transit Connectmixed with a smart bus. It's bigger than it appears. It feels like an E-series could nearly fit in the back. For a commercial work van, it has a decent amount style to it.
On the inside, the center stack appears to be a blend of the base level Focus and the Fiesta. Granted, the shifter location is a bit odd, being on the dash and not on the column -- it takes some getting used to. Storage is a breeze with cubbies and pockets strewn around the cab. One seemingly odd nuance is the steering wheel-to-vehicle size ratio. It feels odd that such a large exterior would feature a small steering wheel. Perhaps it's the addition of the wheel-mounted controls that threw off our visual measurements.
The interior of the Transit feels rugged, and rightly so. The interior of the Transit is comprised of hard plastics. But it just feels durable. And in the back of the cargo area -- a blank canvas awaits.
In an effort to keep production rolling, Ford has partnered with multiple outfits near its Kansas City, Mo., assembly plant to customize the Transit for nearly any business outfit, from electrician to plumber and everything in between. Because of the logistics, the vendors are able to work with Ford's ordering and the vehicle is sent from the factory to be outfitted and then back to Ford to be shipped to the customer. Vendors include Masterack, Knaack, and Adrian Steel, who offer an extensive line of storage options, racking, shelves, even down to bulkhead options.
The 2015 Ford Transit offers tons of storage compartments for beverages and much more.
What's it like to drive?
So, if it has an engine and some sort of control mechanism, we'll drive it. It might not be the fastest thing on the street, but it is a vehicle to take note of if your day job requires something of this size. The commercial vehicle segment is a large part of the overall industry.
The Transit is a beast, but it is rather nimble for a commercial van. Ford tossed out the traditional body on frame for a lightweight integrated sub-frame. This coupled with a MacPherson strut and stabilizer bar in the front offers for a more controllable flat feel in and out of corners. The rear is a traditional solid and a set of leaf packs with gas charged dampers allowing for an extremely rigid rear end capable of towing 7,500 pounds when properly equipped.
We had the opportunity to test multiple variants of all different heights, lengths and wheelbases on top of the three engine options. Each vehicle was loaded down with 50-60 percent of its capacity, giving a real-world feel on the road. Cruising around the test course set up at Ford's Dearborn Development Center and the surrounding surface streets showed off the Transit's capabilities.
The Transit is equipped with a hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering setup allowing for a tight turning radius and easier maneuvering. Navigating hard turns at speed was a breeze; the vehicles never felt top-heavy when aggressively rounding a turn.
For a van with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,360 pounds -- when equipped -- the Transit can stop impressively. Nothing is scarier than the lack of brakes when hauling a considerable amount of weight behind the driver's seat. But with four-wheel discs, the Transit can stop in a safe distance. Acceleration is a different story.
The base 3.7-liter was a bit weak when getting up to speed, but not really a big deal for those just looking to get from point A to point B. We do appreciate the fact that it cranks out a respectable amount of power. Still, it's not our first choice. With the “Power Stroke” badge screaming for attention, we were giddy to get in and stomp on the pedal. The diesel gets up and goes, but it isn't as peppy as some would assume. However, the torque feels outstanding. And let's be honest, the sound of the whirling turbo under the hood is music to our ears.
Jumping into the EcoBoost-equipped Transit was a treat. The 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 is a beast. Cranking out 310 hp with 400 lb-ft of torque, it takes the cake in the acceleration department. The powerband was linear even with the Transit half loaded down. We would really like to see what the EcoBoost Transit could do operating at max capacity.
With the available extended wheel base and roof height the 2015 Ford Transit is big enough to haul just about anything inside.
2015 Ford Transit
Do I want it?
After 53 years of service, the E-series goes to the Ford graveyard. Luckily, the Transit/Transit Connect twins will span the gap of commercial vehicles. Ford already has had a foothold with many municipalities for commercial vehicles. That includes fire, EMS, police, and the list goes on. The flexibility and the expansion available on the Transit platform will inevitably aid in future sales revenue. And it's not just the factory additions that make the Transit so inviting, it is the options outside of the factory that are being provided in partnership with Ford.
It's tough to predict the future of commercial vehicles, but if the Transit Connect is any indication, with May's numbers touching 4,573 -- up 29 percent over 2013 -- the Transit should follow in its footsteps.
There's only one thing we're wondering about: How long it will take Ford to add all-wheel drive to this do-everything van?
On Sale: Now
Base Price: Starting at $30,560
Drivetrain: 3.7-liter, 275 hp, 265 lb-ft V6; RWD, six-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 5,050 lb
Fuel Economy: 14 city/19 Hwy/16 Combined (EPA estimated)
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