Shopping for a new Ford Econoline Wagon?
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PERFORMANCE | 4 out of 10
6.8-liter Triton V-10 offers the potent torque of a diesel
Kelley Blue Book
an E-150 maneuvers almost as easily as a smaller van
wouldn't be our first choice as a daily driver--unless we started to routinely haul around an entire soccer team.
Unsurprisingly, nimble handling and sharp acceleration are not found in descriptions of the 2008 Ford Econoline's performance.
As Car and Driver tactfully points out, the 2008 Econolines are easier to drive than their predecessors, but "agility is not part of this equation." The folks at Edmunds.com are a little more blunt: "the Econoline van is still a massive full-size vehicle with a huge turning circle that can make it awkward to maneuver in city traffic."
Cars.com, however, does give the smallest of the series, the E-150, marks for having "relatively light steering" and decent maneuverability, though it reports that compared to smaller vans, the 2008 Econoline requires "more effort... when parking the van and when judging your position on the highway." They also criticize the van for requiring "more steering correction on straightaways," though they do offer the faint praise that "it's reasonably stable." On the other hand, Edmunds.com relents a bit on the criticism of the Econoline's handling when out of the city, saying it "improves dramatically during highway travel, where driver and passengers alike can relax and enjoy the E-Series' improved road manners and smoother ride."
Comparing the experience of driving a Ford Econoline to "piloting a big SUV... [with] a bit more rear overhang," Kelley Blue Book reports that steering is "moderately dampened to give the driver some sense of the road"; when the van is fully loaded, the ride is described as "fairly smooth."
Given the number of models in the series and the fact that the van is marketed both to families and to commercial users, when it comes to the Econoline, Ford offers a variety of engine sizes. The base engine, a 225-hp, 4.6-liter V-8, gets moderate reviews by most sources consulted by TheCarConnection.com. Kelley Blue Book's judgment is typical of the reviews, saying it offers "good power and torque for the standard-wheelbase models."
The 255-hp, 5.4-liter V-8, all agree, is generally a better choice for most drivers, especially when talking about the longer and/or heavier versions of the 2008 Econoline. Cars.com says it is "strong enough to deliver satisfying and safe response," and Edmunds.com recommends it, considering that it "takes a lot of grunt to get more than 2.5 tons rolling."
For serious towing or heavy loads, reviewers recommend either the 305-hp, 6.8-liter 20-valve V-10 that puts out 420 pound-feet of torque or the 235-hp, 6.0-liter diesel 32-valve V8 that produces "an impressive" 440 pound-feet of torque. NewCars.com likes the 6.8-liter model for its "abundance of torque for more passing and pulling power," while Edmunds.com prefers the diesel V-8 for "its superior torque and added cruising range." Kelley Blue Book disagrees with the latter assessment, saying the extra $7,000 to upgrade to the diesel V-8 is "difficult to justify"--especially given the V-10's higher horsepower and comparable torque, even if at a higher rpm.
Both the 4.6- and 5.4-liter engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. The two larger engines, along with the 5.4-liter in selected models, have a five-speed automatic transmission. According to Kelley Blue Book, most models of the 2008 Econoline are available with an engine-only traction control system; in the E-350 with the 5.4-liter V-8, the AdvanceTrac traction control is standard.
Note: The 2008 Ford Econoline Wagon does receive kudos from Edmunds.com for "modernizing the handling dynamics with a revised front and rear suspension, refining the steering and adding an all-new braking system," changes that "elevate the drivability and ride" to be on a par with its main competitors, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.
If getting quickly into and out of tight parking spaces is a must, the 2008 Ford Econoline is not for you; but for hauling or towing heavy loads, the E-series can do the job well.