Sunday, February 26, 2017

2016 Ford Transit Review.

I've been driving big, white, American-style vans over 2 decades and for the most part, they handle well, are more than powerful enough and are adequate for the job. This is to move tools and parts from one place to another. I've liked the 1992 to 2014 Ford vans because of their excellent headroom, good ergonomics and excellent reliability. GM vans, although archaic by today's standards also do the job equally well, but with flimsier interior parts. They ride nice, even on Michigan's moribund moonscape of mottled motorways. They respond well to basic maintenance, because they haven't changed much since the 1970's, most of the bugs are gone.

Today, my work van needed a lot of work done, including tires, fixing an oil leak and other miscellaneous things. Add to that a good cleaning and rearranging and it will be back in action. In the meantime, I'm driving a European style white van. This a low roof model, long wheelbase with the 3.7 liter gasoline V-6. It's equipped with A/C, ABS, traction control, backup camera, delay wipers, and some of the most awesome seats ever put into a work vehicle.

The Ford Transit for the United States market is actually a rear wheel drive version of the one sold overseas that are front wheel drive. This makes for a higher loading floor that's similar to the Chevy van I usually drive and higher than what's in the Ram Promaster (admittedly a product I've not driven as of this writing).

The business end of any van is the loading area, and this one is convenient enough to get things into and out of. Again, the floor is higher and this means taking some effort to climb into. The specimen this writer got had a bare floor with no covering which means the cargo slid all over the place. A finish floor, such as rubber, linoleum or even finished plywood should be standard.. Even a spray in bedliner would be an upgrade over this floor that dents pretty easily and has no grip on cargo. With shelving and the floor lined, the cargo area would be much more usable and since the sides are straight up and down, there is more room. The doors open and stay where you put them, which helps on windy days or in cramped parking lots. The remote controls for the door locks also helps carrying tools and parts when it's hard to get a free hand to unlock the door.

Ingress and egress into the driver's seat are two different animals. While getting into the seat is easy, getting out is a bit of a challenge due to the narrow doorways on this van. I kept hitting my knee on the map pocket inside the door every time I got out of the van. Once in the seat and settled, the driving position, as in any Ford product, is superb. Forward visibility is excellent, the sides are more than acceptable, while the rear is obstructed someone due to the truncated design of the windows at the top. This is mitigated somewhat when backing up due to the backup camera displayed in the mirror that does a great job of covering blind spots.

The seats are comfortable and boast excellent back and thigh support, and the steering wheel is easily adjusted. Power windows and mirrors are included and should be mandatory. Heated mirrors are an extra cost option and should be considered if you live where there is ice, fog or snow. The instruments in the binnacle are colored blue and easy to read as are the rest of the functional controls. The radio, with its organically placed buttons and center knob is confusing and requires too much attention to operate. I would rather have the option of installing an aftermarket radio in this beast and skip the Ford radio altogether as is still possible in the GM products as of this writing.

There ARE plenty of cupholders, but only two power ports and no inverter standard. I would order or install a center console in this or any van to keep the cabin organized. Other than that little detail, there are plenty of storage areas in the dash and doors.

The ride is good for an otherwise heavy looking and ungainly vehicle. Passing power is more than adequate and noise level is about normal and it handles well for a van.  Fuel mileage was about 13 to 14 miles to the gallon, which is about what my 4.3 v-6 work van gets. This is not a gas sipper and from practical experience, it takes a certain amount of energy to do a certain amount of work. If you take a 5.7 liter and a 3.7 liter and ask them to do the same job, both will use a similar amount of fuel.
A work van needs a certain amount of grunt to get it going, especially when loaded with nearly a ton of tools, shelves and parts. If you're buying the Ford Transit for fuel economy, you will be disappointed.  If you're buying it for efficiency, space and functionality, you will be pleased at these and overall driver comfort. Maranatha!

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