It's never easy replacing a legend. Just ask Steve Young or Conan O'Brien. Some are able to fill in just fine while others struggle. Enter the 2015 Ford Transit, which will be stepping in to fill the void in the Blue Oval's North American lineup left by the E-Series van, which sees its 53-year production run come to an end in 2014. However, unlike most new guys, the Transit already has an advantage in that it has acted as the E-Series in other markets outside of North America. Now, under the Blue Oval's "One Ford" initiative, the Transit supplants the E-Series globally. Ford invited us to get behind the wheel of the 2015 Transit to prove that it won't have any trouble picking up where renowned E-Series left off.
All Shapes and Sizes
There are three different roof heights (low -83.6-inches, medium - 100.8-inches, and high -110.1-inches), two wheelbases (regular - 129.9-inches, long - 147.6-inches), and three body lengths (regular, long, and extended length). The high roof Transit allows people who are 6 feet 4 inches to stand up straight when walking around inside. The medium roof variant will also allow tall people to stand up inside but you'll have to crane your neck a little bit. When properly equipped, the 2015 Ford Transit can swallow up a maximum cargo capacity of 487.3 cubic feet, or an entire studio apartment in Manhattan. You can also configure a Transit to haul 8-, 10-, 12-, or 15-passengers. We had no trouble navigating through the Transit high roof to find a seat and even had head-room to spare in the passenger van configuration. When loaded up with passengers, the Transit felt composed and was more than capable of handling all of the weight courtesy of a 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel engine, but more on that later.
The 2015 Ford Transit is available in van, wagon, chassis cab, and cutaway body configurations making it easy for the aftermarket to work on it. Speaking of upfitters, Ford has partnered with 11 different companies - eight of which are 20 miles or less from where the Transit is assembled in Kansas City - to offer a wide variety of options. (Fun fact: 80 percent of all Ford Transits built are painted white to allow customers the ability to customize their van with their company's colors and/or logo.) During our time spent with the Transit, we saw models outfitted with custom storage and shelving systems, all of which looked like they came straight off the assembly line. A center aisle available on most configurations pairs nicely with cargo doors that open wide. The standard rear opens up to 180 degrees but 270-degree swing-out cargo doors are also available.
Brains and Brawn
A 3.7-liter V6 gasoline engine is the standard form of motivation found under the hood of the 2015 Ford Transit. This engine is rated at 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. While it pulled the Transit along just fine, we found it to be a little coarser than the available 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. If you won't be towing often, we recommend checking off the EcoBoost option box as it was quiet and responsive thanks to its 310 horsepower and 400 lb ft of torque. If you do plan on logging a lot of miles or will be towing, the 185-horserpower 3.2-liter Power Stroke inline-5 cylinder engine is a no-brainer. Ford says that 90 percent of the diesel engine's 350 lb ft of peak torque will be available from 1,500 to 2,750 rpm and will still start in temperatures as low as -10 degrees. Like in its other applications, Ford expects the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost to be the engine one of choice for Transit owners. When properly equipped, the Transit possesses a max payload of 4,650 pounds and a 7,500 pound max tow rating.
All three engines are paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift which features a selectable tow/haul mode. This helps to compensate for grade and loads while cutting down on gear changes when hauling or towing heavy cargo. The Transit also promises to be up to 46 percent more fuel efficient than the E-Series when a low- or medium-roof regular-wheelbase wagon is equipped with the EcoBoost V6 engine, while the 3.7-liter V6 promises to get 19 percent better highway fuel economy than the outgoing E-Series. The EPA has rated both the 3.5-liter EcoBoost and 3.7-liter V6 engines at 14 city, 19 highway, and 16 mpg combined. The 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel engine is not rated by the EPA.
Inside, the Transit reflects a modern interior seen in other Ford vehicles making it more hospitable than other work vans that came before it. Available features like SYNC with MyFord Touch allow the Transit's driver to pair their phone and stream music. Probably the smallest detail, but the one that had us most impressed, was the cell phone holder positioned right above the shifter. It kept the phone in place even during some spirited driving.
The work van segment has seen a resurgence as of late with the likes of the Ram ProMaster, Nissan NV, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and now, the Ford Transit all jockeying for position. We really like Ford's interpretation of its work van, from the abundant storage space both up front and in the cargo bay in back, to the comfortable, supportive seats. Pair that with three different engine choices and the 2015 Ford Transit proves it can handle whatever the job site throws at you.
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