The 2015 Ford Transit is new to the United States, but the Transit van has been around since 1965 in other parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, the name has almost become as generic as saying Kleenex instead of tissue or Coke instead of soda pop. Built in Kansas City, Mo., and following in the footsteps of the new Focus and the Fiesta, this new generation of commercial vehicle replaces the aging E-series. And chances are that delivery people nationwide will be all the happier for it.
By the Numbers
The Transit comes with a 129.9-inch or 147.6-in wheelbase, with the longer wheelbase version also available in an extended body length. Next, depending on wheelbase, there's a choice of low roof (83.6 in), medium-height roof (100.8 in) or high roof (110.1 in). With the high roof, someone 6 feet tall can easily stand up inside. In the largest version, total cargo volume is 487.3 cu ft. It's got a 4,650-lb maximum payload, and 7,500-lb maximum towing capacity.
Those numbers on the Transit's back doors -- namely 150, 250, 350 and 350 HD -- signify gross vehicle weights of 8,600, 9,000, 9,500 and 9,950 pounds, respectively. For the heaviest loads (350 HD), this van runs with a dual rear-wheel setup. This is only a total of 4 inches wider than the front, so drivers won't have much trouble gauging the van's width during tight maneuvers, making use of the relatively compact 39.2-foot turning circle. They'll also like the large, folding side mirrors, whose concave lower sections provide a useful view of the Transit's tail as well as vehicles in other lanes.
The base engine is a 3.7-liter V6 making 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and consuming gasoline (in regular-wheelbase versions with low or medium roofs) at a rate of 14 miles per gallon in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg combined. A flex-fuel variant is adapted to burn E85 ethanol, as well as options of liquid propane gas and compressed natural gas. Also available is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, good for 310 hp and 400 lb-ft, thanks to two turbochargers. Each engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
If there are many miles to be covered with plenty of cargo on board, the 5-cylinder 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel engine's hefty 350 lb-ft of torque will be much appreciated. There are no Environmental Protection Agency mileage ratings on this 185-hp turbocharged unit, as that's not required for Transit variants with an over-8,600-lb gross vehicle weight, but it should keep the company accountant in good spirits.
Drivers should also be cheerful. That's because the cabin is remarkably quiet -- even in larger versions where noise would be expected to reverberate, the diesel engine is similarly subdued and clatter-free. This attribute, along with a comfortable driver's seat, goes a long way in keeping fatigue levels low. So, too, does the Transit's suspension (leaf springs at the rear) and its confidence-inspiring brakes. It's actually a pleasure to drive this van.
The steering wheel, which adjusts for height and reach, looks like it ought to be in a luxury sedan. Buttons for the stereo and trip computer are nestled among chrome highlights. The shift lever is positioned high in the dash, easily within reach. Electronic safety systems include a roll-stability feature and trailer sway control.
Having a pair of 12-volt sockets up front is useful, as are the many, varied stowage spaces. Options include Bluetooth, a power-adjustable driver's seat, navigation, another 12-volt outlet in the rear, cargo protection kits and LED lighting. On larger versions, the rear doors can open up to 270 degrees with magnets to hold them in place.
Managers should check out the Crew Chief program, which sends information on the fleet like heavy braking, hard acceleration, long engine idling times, oil life, tire pressures and location. It provides an overview that can help reduce fuel consumption and handle logistics more efficiently. Another advantage is that a Crew Chief-equipped Transit can come directly from the factory and be part of the manufacturer's warranty.
The 2015 Ford Transit starts at $30,560 including destination. Opt for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine and that's another $1,865. The Power Stroke diesel, available in larger variants, is $5,995 extra. The Transit comes as a regular panel van, wagon with seating for eight to 15 occupants, or chassis cab and cutaway body. And there are plenty of upfitters that can be tailored according to specific needs.