Forecasting the end of an era
By Ron Amadon
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Know that big white van that shows up in your driveway when the plumbing is backed up or the electrical system is coughing up electrons?
Well those beyond bare bones vans are going the way of huge station wagons with fake wood on the side. Taking their place are more nimble, more economical, more versatile car-like vans. The 2016 Ford Transit lineup is in many ways at the forefront of this transition. They should not be confused with the smaller Transit Connect vans.
The big brother vans are offered with three roof heights, 2 wheelbases and three lengths. Inside are a wide variety of options that make it easier for your plumber, electrician or carpenter to set up shop. Check the right box and he or she can stand up in the back with the 81.5” high roof. Your neck thanks you.
And if you like, the Transit can carry 8 to 15 passengers. Take it to an after-market outfitter, and the camper of your dreams can be created with a stove, microwave, TV, sofa, etc.
Nifty features include rear doors that won’t bang shut on your head on a windy day, an easier to operate sliding side door, and a rear view camera that makes back up moves much safer, especially if the customer didn’t hit the box for side window glass. That camera can also come with Trailer Hitch Assist that will allow even a novice to line up his hitch to a trailer as nicely as a veteran driving a big Peterbuilt.
Check further down the option list and find rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, rear air-conditioning, LED cargo lighting, (it’s very effective – you want this), and spray in liner and mat for the cargo area that helps reduce noise.
The seats are comfortable up front, entry is easier with the low riding Transit, and the 6.5 inch touchscreen on the dash can be outfitted with just about anything you can get on a Ford Fusion. All controls are angled toward the operator and there is even an upgraded Sync 3 system. They moved the UBS connection higher for easier cup holder access. In passenger models you can specify enough cup holders to start getting franchise information from Dunkin’ Donuts in your e-mail.
Transit offers a base 3.7 liter V6 rated at 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 3.5 liter V6 ups the horsepower to 310 with 400 lb-ft of torque and there is a 3.2-liter five cylinder diesel with 350 lb-ft of torque with 185 horsepower. Properly equipped the transit can carry up to 4,560 pounds of payload and tow 7,500 pounds. The low roof standard model offers 246.7 cubic feet of storage, on up to 487.3 cubic feet in the longest and tallest Transit.
A ride over some rough streets in downtown Washington revealed a quiet interior even in the base model and a more car like ride, especially compared to the older E-Series vans. Most striking it drives like a car, not a truck.
And that is what the Transit is all about – the transition from truck like van to a car based atmosphere that can fit the needs of the general contractor, become a shuttle bus for business clients, or a weekend getaway camper for a family.
Check Winnebago, Thor Motor Coach and Coachmen RV for examples of Transit campers you can live in. Camper conversions start at $60,000 on up to $130,000 according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
Prices for a bare bones model start at $30,960, add in $995 for transportation, and you are looking at $31,955.