2014 Ford Transit
By Paul A. Eisenstein
On Sale: Late 2013
Expected Pricing: $20,000 to $25,000
Ford has big global plans for its next-generation vans, both the compact Transit Connect that it has been selling in the U.S. for several years and the all-new Transit model, which is larger.
Ford's European line-up includes an array of vans in commercial and passenger configurations. In keeping with its OneFord strategy, the company decided it was time to consolidate its various global van offerings. So the bigger Transit will late next year replace the long-in-the-tooth E-Series van offered in the U.S. that is branded Econoline.
The Ford Transit will have some big tire tracks to fill considering the long-running popularity of the Ford Econoline, the segment's best-seller. One reason the Econoline has dominated the competition is that the big van can be reconfigured in any number of ways. The good news is that Ford won't switch to a one-size-fits-all arrangement when Transit jumps the Atlantic. You'll still be able to customize it extensively.
The version Americans will get will be the same as the all-new European Ford Transit the maker recently previewed at a special introduction in Amsterdam. It might take U.S. buyers a while to get used to the more European shape of the van which is decidedly different from that of the classic American E-Series.
The Ford Transit features a more sloping, aerodynamic face that sweeps into a tall roofline providing plenty of room inside, and easy access to that cargo. Ford plans to offer a variety of body styles including short- and long-wheelbase, as well as tall and standard roof heights. For now, only a rear-wheel-drive powertrain layout will be offered in the U.S. though it's possible the maker could eventually add the front-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations now available in Europe.
The new Transit van, which will be assembled in Kansas City, will be offered with two different powertrain options, starting with Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and an unspecified diesel option.
Ford promises the new van will deliver at least 25-percent better fuel economy than the outgoing E-Series. Of course, it helps that the new model will be significantly more aerodynamic and an estimated 300 pounds lighter than comparable Econoline configurations.
Ford says the new Transit will introduce a variety of safety features not found on the antediluvian Econoline, though such details, as well as whether the new van gets fuel-saving stop/start technology, won't be revealed until the official unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show in January.