It’s a segment that’s been void of substance for quite some time now. At one point, the commercial van segment had the Ford E-Series, Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana, and the Dodge Sprinter populating it. Today, the Express and Savana live on but haven’t seen a refresh in nearly a decade, and the Sprinter has gone on as an upscale commercial vehicle substitute from Mercedes-Benz. Chrysler has gone without a full-size van for a while as it waits for the 2014 Ram ProMaster late next year. Today, Ford introduced its redesigned replacement for the Econoline commercial van, which first went on sale back in 1961, and it comes in the form of the Transit.
Like the E-Series, the Transit has been on sale for over four decades, but it’s only been available in Europe. The eighth generation, as it’s known across the pond is dubbed the T-Series in North America. Ford makes no secret that it’s coming for the number one spot in the commercial van segment as it claims the Transit will be 30-percent cheaper to maintain than an Express or Savana van and 25-percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing E-Series. The Transit will be offered in three different body lengths, two wheelbases, three different roof heights, and come in the form of a van, wagon, chassis cab, and cutaway bodystyle. Two different trim levels, an XL and XLT, will be offered as well.
For motivation, the 2014 Ford Transit will offer a 3.7-liter V-6 as the standard followed by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and, most notably, an all-new 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel engine. The latter two mills are optional, but all three choices are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which will send power to the rear wheels. The 3.7-liter V-6 will run on both gasoline and a prep kit is offered to burn compressed natural gas (CNG) too. Besides the normal 87-grade octane, the 2014 Ford Transit can also burn E85 ethanol when equipped with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine and the CNG prep kit. The 3.2-liter five-cylinder Power Stroke diesel engine is based on Ford’s Duratorq global diesel engine architecture. This new diesel mill features all-new fuel, turbo, and emissions technologies that meet the strict clean-diesel standards here in the United States. However, if you plan on towing anything with the Transit van, Ford recommends opting for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost as it “promises to be a trusted workhorse.” For towing purposes, Ford offers a Class IV hitch from the factory as an available option.
With all the different combinations of wheelbases, body lengths, roof heights, and bodystyles, the 2014 Ford Transit promises tons of space to carry whatever the job requires. If you opt for the high roof Transit, you get 81.5 inches of interior cargo height or enough real estate for a person who is 6-foot-5 inches tall to stand up straight. As for the other two roof heights, the medium roof variant offers 72 inches of cargo height while the low roof model provides 56 inches of height for cargo. Depending on the configuration, the 2014 Ford Transit can swallow up anywhere from 250 to 500 cubic feet of cargo, or more space than some apartments found in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That’s almost 80-percent more space than the biggest E-Series could handle. The interior has been designed to add racks, bins, shelving, and other various cargo and hauling configurations. The rear cargo doors open up to 270 degrees, allowing for easy loading and unloading of cargo.
Besides the improved fuel economy, the 2014 Ford Transit also avowals that its handling, steering, and ride quality is improved. A power rack-and-pinion steering system sharpens up the Transit’s handling while subframe-mounted MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar offer up a smoother ride. Rear leaf springs and heavy-duty gas-charged dampers also offer more control no matter how much cargo is being hauled. Ford also promises that the upcoming Transit will cost less to maintain and comes with a service life of 10 years and 150,000 miles. A unibody construction built from high strength boron steel, among other materials, makes up the 2014 Ford Transit. Ford ran the Transit through its durability program, the same one that the E-Series was exposed to during development, and included 148 prototypes with 215 different tests. During development of the T-Series, Ford engineers drove more than 4.6 million miles, or enough to circle the earth a total of 185 times.
To top it off, Ford is offering a 6.5-inch touch screen display that includes navigation and Sync with MyFord Touch as an available option. The 2014 Ford Transit will be built at the Blue Oval’s recently revamped Kansas City assembly facility as it braces for global commercial sales to supposedly swell to 21 million units annually by 2017. Expect the 2014 Ford Transit to arrive on dealership lots in the fall of 2013.