KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 1/22/2013
When it comes to hauling substantial amounts of people and cargo, it's difficult to think of a more capable choice than the 2013 Ford E-Series van. With a resume that stretches back over 50 years, the E-Series continues to build upon its reputation as the workhorse of the American commercial industry. On the technology front, the optional Crew Chief telematics system provides operators with the real-time data they need to manage their fleets and reduce fuel costs. In wagon form, the 15-passenger E-350 extended version delivers an impressive measure of people moving power for fleet shuttle services or the Partridge family of the 21st century. While rivals like the GMC Savana, Chevrolet Express, and new Ford Transit Connect each offer high-levels of utilitarian might, the evergreen E-Series remains the benchmark of the full-size van segment.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you need to move a great deal of people or cargo, the 2013 Ford E-Series deserves a spot on your short list. Available in 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton and 1-ton configurations along with three engines to choose from, the Ford E-Series can be custom tailored to accommodate a variety of transportation needs.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Car shoppers with lighter-capacity needs should take a look at the more modern and fuel-efficient 2013 Ford Transit Connect. If you prefer the traditional shape of the E-Series, but desire the multi-season versatility of all-wheel drive (AWD), the GMC Savana AWD might be a better fit.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 model year marks the end of the line for the iconic Ford E-Series. Instead of updating the age-old E-Series platform, the Blue Oval has opted to replace its best-selling van with the all-new Ford Transit (arriving early 2014).
You don't hear much about the dynamic handling abilities of a full-size van but, if you're curious, the 2013 E-Series van is actually quite easy to live with. Although not as well-heeled as a full-size SUV like the Ford Expedition, the Ford E-Series is a far cry from vans of yesteryear. It's true that the rudimentary suspension, long rear overhang and average-size tires don't inspire sporty maneuvering, but the standard AdvanceTrac traction and stability control system goes a long way toward making sure bad situations don't get worse. From the driver's seat, the E-Series delivers a modicum of feedback through its oversized steering wheel, but sudden lane changes and corners rounded too quickly require a bit more attention be paid to the task at hand. The E-Series' ride remains relatively controlled even when the vehicle is fully loaded, although it can get rather bouncy.
CREW CHIEF TELEMATICS
This optional embedded communication system allows fleet owners to manage their vehicles, dispatch drivers, keep tabs on usage patterns, and track scheduled maintenance.
REAR BACKUP CAMERA
Reversing a near 20-foot-long van into a tight space on your lonesome can be about as nerve-racking as taking the SATs. To help eliminate the need for a spotter, the 2013 Ford E-Series offers a wide-angle rear backup camera with guidelines for a comprehensive view of the area behind the vehicle.
It's hard to make a dashboard as vast as that of the 2013 E-Series van simple and easy to operate, but Ford has done a commendable job. Most of the vital switch gear is clustered as close to the driver as possible, but the radio and auxiliary input jack remain a bit of a reach. Wisely, Ford has made its SYNC communications system available for its entire 2013 E-Series lineup, which allows some functions to be controlled via voice commands. The E-Series' front captain's-chair seating is firm and supportive, but the bench-style rear seats are a throwback to a time when comfort and head restraints were not a primary concern. And, with no head-curtain airbags to protect rear passengers, we have some concerns about their well-being in a side-impact collision.
Outside of redesigning the front end and taillights, there's not much Ford can do to change five decades of its rolling box design. Flush-mounted side glass helps reduce drag and, on the 2013 Ford E-Series van, that side glass is particularly wide, providing excellent all-around visibility. Large side mirrors help the driver see what might be cruising alongside, and can be ordered with a power-telescoping feature to aid parking. If you have a conversion project in mind, the E-Series is the perfect platform from which to start, with a number of factory-installed pre-wiring packages to assist your installer.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2013 E-Series offers perhaps the shortest list of standard equipment among modern automobiles. Base versions of both the E-Series van and wagon include air conditioning, front-row vinyl flooring, a tilt steering wheel, intermittent windshield wipers, and a 2-speaker audio system with a basic auxiliary jack for portable music players. XLT wagon models add a high-capacity front and rear air conditioning system, cruise control, and an electronic message center. Standard safety features include driver and front passenger airbags and stability control with rollover mitigation. For comparison, the GMC Savana includes two additional airbags (side curtain) and standard OnStar emergency services, making it the more appealing choice for safety-minded buyers.
Notable Optional Equipment
Basic creature comforts available for the 2013 E-Series include a power driver's seat, remote keyless entry, privacy glass, and a 6-speaker audio prep package. Also on the list are a number of seating configurations for wagon models, fabric-trimmed seating surfaces, chrome-finished bumpers, and alloy wheels. In-vehicle electronics come in the form of Ford's voice-activated SYNC software, a navigation system, a rear backup camera, and Crew Chief telematics. In a nod to greener energy, the E-Series can be ordered as a CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicle.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Ford E-Series offers a well-rounded line of engine choices, with the base V8 delivering adequate power and torque in E-150 trim. Extended-length E-250 and E-350 models offer a choice of two powerplants, including the Triton V10 and CNG-compatible 5.4 V8 and 6.8-liter V10 engines. The 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter V8 engines are also E85-compatible. Both V8 mills send power to the rear wheels through an antiquated 4-speed automatic transmission, while the top-of-the-line Triton V10 is mated to a 5-speed automatic.
225 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
286 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg (gasoline), 9/12 mpg (E85)
255 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/16 mpg (gasoline), 9/12 mpg (E85)
305 horsepower @ 4,250 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 10/13 mpg
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2013 Ford E-Series cargo van and passenger wagon begins right around $28,000 and $30,000, respectively. E-350 Super Duty models start in the neighborhood of $32,000 and can top $45,000 when fully equipped. Opting for the potent 6.8-liter V10 tacks on an additional $800 to the bottom line. The GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express 1500 share a similar pricing structure with the E-Series, while the smaller Ford Transit Connect starts in the $23,000 range. To get a better idea of what people in your area are paying for the 2013 E-Series, take a peek at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price listed at the bottom of this page. Down the road, the Ford E-Series is expected to retain slightly below average residual values, on par with its GMC and Chevrolet rivals, but far below the values set by new Transit Connect.