If you’re looking for information on a newer Ford Transit, we’ve published an updated review: 2018 Ford Transit Review
The 2017 Ford Transit full-size van is a civilized contender among commercial vehicles. The versatile Transit is a common sight on European roads, because it was developed by Ford’s divisions across the Atlantic. It has therefore been shaped by countless miles of service in practically every imaginable scenario where a van has to earn its keep. That shape involves sleek styling, unibody construction (as opposed to body-on-frame) and decent fuel economy.
As ever with this class, customizability is king, so there are three body lengths to choose from, along with two wheelbases and three roof heights. The version on sale in the United States (made in Kansas City, Missouri) offers great engines, including Ford’s robust EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 and a hard-working 5-cylinder turbodiesel that’s easy on fuel. Don’t buy a new van without checking out the Transit.
What’s New for 2017?
The heavy-duty 350 version is now available with a short wheelbase. The previously optional LED cargo-area lighting system has become standard. Power-retractable running boards and heated front seats are now among the options. See the 2017 Ford Transit models for sale near you
What We Like
Civilized driving experience; highly customizable; capable engines with fuel-efficient turbodiesel option; modern look and feel
What We Don’t
Price can escalate quickly
The standard engine is a 3.7-liter V6 generating 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. In regular-wheelbase versions with low or medium roofs, fuel consumption is estimated at 14 miles per gallon in the city, 18 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg combined. A flex-fuel variant is adapted to run E85 ethanol, and there are options for liquid propane gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG).
A more muscular 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 makes 310 hp and 400 lb-ft, thanks to a turbocharger. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts consumption at 15 mpg city/19 hwy/16 mpg combined.
A 5-cylinder, 3.2-liter Power Stroke turbocharged diesel engine develops 185 hp and a hefty 350 lb-ft of torque. There are no EPA mileage ratings on this unit (not required for Transit variants with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 8,600 pounds), but it should keep the company accountant happy.
Each engine is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. All Transits sold in the United States employ rear-wheel drive; we don’t get the front-drive version that’s offered across the pond. If that’s an issue, perhaps the smaller front-drive Transit Connect could be worth a look.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Ford Transit is available as a regular panel van, or in wagon forms with seating for 8 to 15 occupants.
It comes with a 129.9-inch or 147.6-in wheelbase. The latter can also offer an extended body length Then there’s the choice of a low roof (83.6 inches) or medium-height roof (100.8 inches); the two longer versions offer medium or high (110.1 inches) roofs. With the high roof, a 6-footer can easily stand up inside. In the largest version, total cargo volume is 487.3 cu ft. Maximum payload is 4,650 pounds and maximum towing capacity is 7,500 pounds.
Those numbers on the back doors –150, 250, 350 and 350 HD — signify gross vehicle weights of 8,600; 9,000; 9,500 and 9,950 respectively. For the heaviest loads (350 HD), a dual rear-wheel setup is used.
The Transit 150 ($32,805) starts with 16-in steel wheels, power mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, tilt/telescope steering wheel, power windows and locks, front air conditioning, vinyl upholstery, rearview camera, lashing hooks and LED lighting in the cargo area and a 2-speaker AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input.
Sliding passenger-side doors are standard on medium- and high-roofed versions; dual sliding doors are optional. The Transit can be ordered as a cutaway or chassis cab.
There are also numerous options such as extended side mirrors, power-retractable running boards, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power/heated front seats, leather upholstery, rear parking sensors, keyless entry pad, lane departure warning, remote start, Bluetooth, rear air conditioning, and Crew Chief commercial telematics.
The cargo area can come with a spray-in liner. A choice of rear axle ratios is also on the options list, along with Sync voice controls, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with navigation, USB port, HD and satellite radio, plus a 6.5-in touchscreen and steering wheel-mounted controls.
Equipping the van for specific tasks (known as upfitting) often requires upgrading the electrical system. With this in mind, Ford offers a single absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery and auxiliary fuse panels as options.
The Ford Transit comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and stability control with rollover prevention technology, plus driver and front passenger airbags, side curtain airbags and thorax airbags. Side-wind stabilization is also standard.
Rear parking sensors and lane-departure warning are optional.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Transit four stars out of five for front impact protection and five stars for side impact protection.
Behind the Wheel
The Transit is easy to drive, with a precise feel to the steering (the steering wheel looks like it ought to be in an upscale sedan) and brakes, plus a ride quality that will keep worker fatigue at bay. The cabin is remarkably quiet, even in larger versions where more noise is expected. The diesel engine is similarly subdued and clatter-free.
The dual rear-wheel setup is only 4 inches wider than the front, so drivers won’t have that much trouble gauging the van’s width during tight maneuvers, making use of the relatively compact 39.2-ft turning circle. They’ll also like the large (folding) side mirrors, whose concave lower sections bring a useful view of the Transit’s tail as well as vehicles in other lanes.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Chevrolet Express Cargo — Smaller and older than the Transit.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — Despite that 3-pointed star, the Sprinter is not crazy expensive. The Automotive Lease Guild (ALG) also says the Sprinter has the highest resale value in its class.
There are so many permutations and opportunities to personalize that recommendations aren’t necessary. But it’s worth considering the diesel engine for long hauls carrying heavy goods. Find a Ford Transit for sale