For 2015 the Ford Econoline van gives way to the all-new for America 2015 Ford Transit. Built in Kansas City, its design comes from Europe where it has been an award winning best seller for decades.
Our drive this week was courtesy of Ford who held an event here in Arizona at the Phoenix International Raceway. We got the chance to sample a variety of sizes and styles both on the street and on the autocross course.
The first thing I noticed when I got behind the wheel is that the seating position and cockpit seemed actually designed for a human being. Econoline vans have always put you in an awkward and uncomfortable position, leading one to believe it was designed for primates.
The view out the large front window and low side windows is expansive and will be a welcome change for the many who will spend much of their lives driving this new van.
The dash actually looks lifted right out of one of Ford’s most recent sedans like the Focus or Fusion. It’s modern and has a lot of cubbies and cup holders for those who work behind the wheel. Best of all there is no engine dog house in the way like in the old E-Series.
Our tester was a turbo-diesel model which on the road I round to have a pretty quiet demeanor. While diesel thrum is there when you are accelerating, it is whisper quiet at speed.
The 3.2 liter five-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 185 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The engine is the third generation of a power-plant that has been well proven around the world and exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Power is more than adequate for acceleration in stop and go driving, and power comes on smooth through the six-speed automatic transmission. The dash mounted shift lever has a manual shift detent which should come in handing when towing.
Standard is a 3.7 liter gasoline V6 with 275 horsepower. Also available is the the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 which is the same you can order up in the F-150, an engine that has proven very popular in that truck. In the Transit it offers up 310 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.
Those worried that a V8 isn’t available in the new Transit should consider that the EcoBoost V6 has more horsepower and nearly as much torque as the outgoing 6.8 liter V10 of the old E-Series. And it has far better fuel economy.
Handling and driving on the road is remarkably car like. It feels much lighter than it is in steering and braking efforts. Maneuvering is easy to pick up as well, even coming from a car or smaller vehicle.
While the design and chassis is sourced from Europe, the 2015 Ford Transit was tested and proven for use here in the United States, with a number of specification changes to meet our market needs for durability.
Make no mistake however that when it comes to handling, nothing was lost in the translation as we found out on the track. An autocross course was made available to us, which I just could not resist.
In so doing I found the van to have a very European tune to its steering, which means slow off center. This is good with vehicles that can be sometimes top heavy, keeping you from making sudden shifts that can be eye opening.
Tall though it is, I found it to be well controlled for body roll. Brakes and steering are well tuned in their responses making this van feel not at all foreign out here mowing between the cones.
At our event we also spent some time checking out some of the other variations of the new 2015 Ford Transit. It comes in three wheelbase lengths and three roof heights, with a jumbo version larger than the Econoline has ever been available in.
In addition to the cargo versions, a passenger wagon is available which is likely to really turn some heads. With the higher roof options and longer lengths available than before, the 2015 Ford Transit passenger wagon offers more space and ease of use.
In addition to the passenger and cargo versions, the new Transit will be available in both a cut-away chassis for coach builders and for the first time a closed chassis-cab. The latter will offer the ability for flat-bed and closed box upfits.
And Ford made sure that upfitters were involved early for the new 2015 Transit to make sure that options and equipment packages were available to fleet buyers from day one. At our event several of them were on hand showing off their products which are available today, not sometime down the road.
With the new 2015 Ford Transit now arriving at dealerships, I give a solid thumbs up on my first impression. Ford seems to have not only replaced the aged Econoline with something better, but made sure that their core commercial buyers had all of their needs met.
We’ll bring you a more detailed review when we get behind the wheel of the new 2015 Ford Transit for an extended test drive.