2015 Ford Transit Wagon Quick Take
The combination of road trips and extended family means that I've become a connoisseur of full-size passenger vans. After having sampled the Nissan NV (not a fan) and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (huge fan), it was time to give the 2015 Ford Transit Wagon, the latest oddly styled European van, the test as 10 of us drove north for Thanksgiving.
The Ford Transit Wagon is the passenger version of the newest full-size van from Ford, destined to replace the ubiquitous E-Series models that you're probably still calling "Econoline," even though that hasn't been the official name for years. It brings European van sensibility to a mainstream American manufacturer, with a high roof, plenty of upfitter potential, and assertively goofy styling that's standard equipment on vehicles of this ilk.
Easy to drive despite size
Our Transit Wagon was easy to drive, for the most part. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is the most powerful available, and its 310 horsepower had no problem moving this big beast with authority even with the cargo piled high and all 10 of its seats filled. It did well on the "Eco" part as well, returning 15.8 mpg over the course of a week that involved a lot of highway driving, but no small measure of coping with holiday traffic as well. First and second-row passengers enjoyed a good highway ride, but third and fourth row passengers situated over the solid rear axle bounced around considerably on anything other than the smoothest of surfaces; speed bumps had heads launching toward the high ceiling. Most surprising, especially in a vehicle designed with hours-long shifts in mind, was the poorly placed brake and gas pedals. I had to sit too far from the steering wheel just to operate them, and while I got used to it, I was never truly comfortable. At least the van was quiet on the road.
Other issues cropped up, but were mostly nitpicky, and common to most large vans. For example, the yards of hard plastics inside are surely durable, and have lots of storage cutouts, but drivers would appreciate a pad for the driver's left elbow. The sliding passenger door was finicky about how it was closed, as a too-hard slam would bounce the back of the big slab out of place. Then there were the cost-effective 16-inch wheels, which look comically undersized under the Transit's big body.
Compromises like those crop up when any industry service vehicle is pressed into civilian duty, and nothing in the 2015 Ford Transit Wagon was a deal killer. The plumbers, electricians, airport shuttle drivers, mobile dog groomers, overly procreative families, and others who rely on big vans are going to love it.
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