We recently had the chance to spend some time behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Ford Transit 150 XLT Passenger, which has finally replaced the brand’s outdated, 1980s-era Econoline (or E-Series) vans. We gave a few of our staffers a turn behind the wheel and asked for input. Here’s what they think of the new Ford van.
First, most of our staffers found the van’s cab-forward setup to be seriously difficult to get used to. You’re basically sitting over the engine, right at the front of the van. That’s a big departure from where you used to sit in the E-Series, which had a more traditional seating position.
But once you’re used to it, you realize that the Transit’s cab-forward seating makes a lot of sense. Specifically, it allows you to see everything, including the van’s corners, which can sometimes be a challenge in the world of full-size cargo vans. The big advantage is that this seating position makes the Transit easier to turn, easier to move through tight corners and easier to park. We ended up coming away impressed with the setup.
Unfortunately, rear visibility isn’t as good. While the Transit has big windows, they’re surprisingly hard to see out of, largely due to the vehicle’s sheer size. You have to get pretty good at using the side mirrors to effectively drive the Transit in traffic or park it in tight spaces.
On the road, we were highly impressed with the Transit’s engine power. Our Transit 150 test van used the base-level 275-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, and we felt it had just enough power for any situation. But we’re not convinced that the engine will be as capable as the old V8 when it comes to handling heavy loads. Fortunately, the Transit offers a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and a turbodiesel 3.2-liter V6 for drivers who have heavy-duty needs.
Although the 2015 Ford Transit was intended first and foremost as a cargo van, with seats added later for school groups, tour companies and the like, we think that you could use it as a minivan if you have a big family. However, there are a few drawbacks that you won’t get with a traditional minivan. For example, owing to its cargo van heritage, the Transit 150 only has a rear door on the passenger side, which makes difficult work of climbing in and out of the back seats.
We also noticed that the Transit’s climate control system has some odd blind spots, where air doesn’t seem to reach. This is a little disappointing, though we understand that it can be hard to heat or cool a vehicle this size. Fortunately, the climate control offers enough warm air (or cool air) to eventually reach the entire cabin, but it seems to take longer than we’d expect.
In the end, we do recommend the 2015 Ford Transit 150, because we’re impressed with its maneuverability, performance and outward visibility. But given the flaws we found with daily living, this van is probably best for passenger-carrying groups and organizations rather than for day-to-day personal use. No matter how you use it, however, one thing’s for sure: It’s leagues better than the old E-Series, which we’re glad to see has finally been retired.