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Ford's E-Series (or Econoline) full-size vans have been the best-selling full-size vans in the U.S. for 35 years, and they've served an incredibly wide range of tasks. It's long been a staple of business owners, delivery fleets, hotel shuttles, and even RV conversions. But in design, it's ancient; and that's where the 2015 Ford Transit picks up—offering vastly better fuel efficiency, better cargo flexibility, and much-improved ride and handling attributes, plus a modern interior.
On the outside, the Transit at last takes the more aerodynamic look of Ford's other global passenger-vehicle models and extends them upward into a van shape. Although it's boxy where it needs to be, the Transit has a bold new look in front, clearly influenced more by Ford's crossovers—and the smaller Transit Connect, which is unrelated—than by the brand's hulking F-Series pickups. Inside, the same holds; with a visually interesting, almost sporty look to the interior, the Transit breaks from the boredom of previous van interiors. Seats are large and supportive, with armrests included in most, and low side windows afford a good view out.
The 2015 Transit lineup will include three different engines in the U.S. There's a base 3.7-liter V-6, making 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Then the step-up engine is a version of Ford's EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6, making 310 hp and 400 lb-ft (at just 2,500 rpm). Separately, as a very efficient and towing-friendly option, there's a 3.2-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel five-cylinder engine, making 185 hp and 350 lb-ft (at just 1,500 rpm).
With the low or medium roof, the 2015 Ford Transit will return 14 mpg city, 19 highway (16 Combined) with either of the gasoline V-6 engines. Diesel numbers, not yet released, are expected to be several mpg better.
The Transit has a uni-body construction, unlike its body-on-frame predecessor, and while the front MacPherson strut setup might be a lot closer to modern passenger vehicles than the old E-Series, the leaf springs and live axle in back aren't. Payload capacity for the Transit lineup ranges up to 4,650 pounds, while payloads have risen at least 600 pounds compared to the Econoline predecessors. Towing capability is up to 7,500 pounds, and the six-speed automatic transmission includes a separate towing/hauling mode.
As with its predecessor, the Transit will come in several different sizes. With three lengths, two wheelbases, and three roof heights, it can serve serious cargo-delivery needs, or manage to fit into a smaller garage. With the highest-roof model, those up to 6'-4” tall can stand upright inside the vehicle when loading and unloading, and rear cargo doors swing out 270 degrees for fuss-free access.
Among these sizes, you can choose from XL and XLT trims, with van (commercial or cargo), wagon (passenger-oriented), and cutaway (conversion-oriented) body styles. Ford says that the Transit has a best-in-class gasoline-engine maximum cargo capability, of more than 487 cubic feet, while its rear door opening height is also best-in-class, at 74.3 inches. Extended-length versions will offer seating for up to 15, including another 100.5 cubic feet behind the last row.
These vans offer a far more passenger-oriented set of in-cabin features than the Econolines ever had; and in addition to Crew Chief fleet telematics, you can get a version of Ford's Sync connectivity system with MyFord Touch, plus a MyKey system that could together help you keep tabs on your drivers.
The Transit will be built in Kansas City, and Ford is offering various 'upfit' conversion options for setups like cargo dividers and roof racks, all available through the dealership.