Although the Ford Transit is a relatively new nameplate in North America, it is about to celebrate 50 years of being the bestselling van in many markets around the world. In fact, over 7 million have been sold in that period of time.
It always amazes me how truly fun these stonking huge vans are to drive. Whenever I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Mercedes Sprinter, I’d jump on it. Nowadays, I’m happier than a kid in Toys ’R’ Us without adult supervision; Chrysler’s got the ProMaster, and Nissan the NV (although the 2500s not quite as “fun”) to go along with the Merc and the Ford.
The Transit replaces the tired and long-since-outclassed Econoline with a modern and versatile passenger or commercial van that is pleasant to drive and -- depending on the selected powertrain -- economical and powerful. I wonder if UPS is hiring?
What is a Ford Transit?
The Transit Connect first arrived here as a 2010 model year vehicle based on the Ford Focus. With limited powertrain and body configurations offered, the take rate was restrained. Now, with the introduction of the new generation of Transits for 2014 with both the compact Connect and full-size vans, many more will be sold. The proof can be found in many business’ parking lots and on the road.
The Transit can be spec’d out as a passenger wagon or a commercial van.
2015 Ford Transit Price and Specs
The smaller Transit Connect has a starting price of $25,199. The big Transit begins at $32,799 in van trim, whereas the wagon goes for $38,599 for starters.
One of 3 engines can be selected for duty in the 2015 Transit. The 1st is a 275-horsepower 3.7L V6 followed by a 310-horsepower EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5L V6 that also develops 400 lb-ft of torque.
My tester was equipped with the 185-horsepower turbocharged diesel 3.2L inline 5-cylinder. This mill also produces 350 torques. All engines are mated to a 6-Speed automatic transmission with SelectShift.
Said tester also featured alloy wheels, an interior up package (crazy stuff like illuminated sun visors, cruise control and a single CD player), reverse sensors and camera, and a limited slip differential for a grand total of $49,152.
Driving the Ford Transit
I’m not about to tell y’all that navigating city streets with a 6-metre-plus long van is easy, however, the hydraulic power steering does not require 57 turns from lock-to-lock meaning that it is fairly precise and does not necessarily feel bus-like.
The 5-cylinder diesel tops out power-wise at 3,000 rpm without every running out of breath below that mark. Loaded with over a thousand pounds of my junk (including washer/dryer, and my tool box), the Transit never faltered. The 6-speed autobox never strained, gliding from cog to cog.
The tall 2015 Ford Transit is impressively stable even at highway speeds. Once more, this large vehicle drives far smaller than one would think. Other than taking every corner slightly wider than with an average SUV, the Transit can be driven by just about anyone. Using the side-view mirrors does become quite important when changing lanes or while merging, but their 2-level design make the manoeuvres less of a chore than moving…
The van’s brakes are easy to modulate and the ride’s far from being what most of us would consider “commercial.” As well, a conversation at highway speeds is more than possible. This is not a crude vehicle.
Inside and Out of the Ford Transit
When it comes to conceiving this type of van, designers don’t exactly have much leeway. The Transit has a “digestible” style, much like the Sprinter. If you’re of the mindset that this van’s ugly, do take a glance in the RAM ProMaster’s direction…
Where the cavernous cabin is concerned, the Transit borrows a number of elements from the Focus, namely the gauge pod and steering wheel. In fact, the majority of the dashboard is lifted from the compact car with a few adjustments for width and height. This further has an impact on the driving impressions.
The sheer number of storage spots and cupholders makes it easy for owners and drivers to essentially move in. The Transit’s fit and finish is quite good.
The enclosed box has a number of tie-down hooks; however, Sprinters driven in the past had far more, including a number higher off the ground. The upper rings would have been instrumental in preventing my gorgeous and beloved Weber Genesis BBQ from landing on its face when I gently turned a corner…
Regardless of the dents on the BBQ’s doors, everything will fit in this van. If you’re good at Tetris, you’ll get even more in there.
Comparing the Ford Transit
I’ve already touched on the Transit’s main competition. Of the aforementioned lot, the Sprinter is the closest in driving dynamics, and interior accoutrements.
If you’re in the market for such a vehicle, the best indicator of what should be considered is what commercial fleets hold. The Transit is quickly making the rounds but at the moment, the Sprinter seems to be the pick of the litter.
Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better vans between than these two to fit everything you need to move.