June 20, 2014
2015 Ford Transit. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Jacob Black
It’s a good time to be buying commercial vans here in North America. The industry is going through something of a boom phase with an influx of new models – mostly derived from European vehicles. In fact, Ford says that the industry will grow from 4 nameplates to 11 by the end of 2015.
With competition increasing, and world markets becoming more homogenized, it’s hardly surprising that the North America–only editions are being phased out in favour of global platforms. So, with a large amount of sadness we bid farewell to the E-Series vans that have been a North American staple for four decades. In its stead, we welcome the Transit. New to North America, yes, but despite being five years younger, Transit has been dominating European commercial van markets longer than the E-Series has been on top in America.
The E-Series was North America’s best-selling van for 35 years – Transit has been Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle for 47 years. So Transit comes to North America with a lot of heritage behind it.
Unlike the E-Series, the Transit comes factory-direct with three roof heights: 2,800, 2,600 and 2,100 mm. That extra space means Ford now has a genuine competitor to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Ram ProMaster.
Like them, it comes in multiple base configurations – but here Ford claims a class-leading 58. Those include two wheelbases: 3,300 mm and 3,750, and three body lengths. There are van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway body styles and two trim levels: XL and XLT.
Available door options include dual-side sliding doors, passenger-side sliding door, 60/40 split opening side doors and either 180- or 270-degree opening rear clamshell doors.
The largest body length and highest roof height (tagged “Jumbo” by Ford) combine for 13,790 L of cargo volume – that’s close to twice the cargo volume of the largest E-Series at 7,881 L. Even the smallest Transit comes close to the largest E-Series’s benchmark with 6,966 L – bottom line – the E-Series has been replaced by something far larger.
Overall payload weight ranges have also grown. Payload is up from between 1,350 kg and 1,860 kg for the E-Series to between 1,630 kg and 2,265 kg for the Transit – that’s a 22 percent increase in payload. Gross vehicle weight ranges from 3,878-4,700 kg.
2015 Ford Transit seating, dashboard, cargo area. Click image to enlarge
The three roof heights give three different maximum cargo heights – 1.4m for low roof, 1.8m for medium and 2m for height. In passenger wagon configuration there are seats for 8, 10, 12 or 15 passengers (plus the driver and one additional passenger).
The 2015 Ford Transit will be available as a full cab chassis – another thing missing from the E-Series line up. The cab chassis and cut away option will improve options for RV and small cargo truck body builders. It will be available in three lengths and series but with only one roof height (low).
The first-drive event was held at one of the workshops of Ford’s (and North America’s) largest up-fitting companies. There we learned that the Transit is a welcome site for up-fitters – especially those who put together ambulances. The higher roof in particular means less work and less body reinforcing – turns out E-Series vans needed a bit of cut and shut to get the higher ambulance roof added on.
Ford has added some E-Series benefits to the Transit for North America – things like the available barn door side openings. We get the six-speed automatic transmission on all three engines – the Europeans don’t get it at all, and we get up to 3,400 kg of towing (with a class-four hitch and the EcoBoost engine).
2015 Ford Transit converted cargo area. Click image to enlarge
There are three engines available, the 3.2L five-cylinder PowerStroke diesel with 197 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque, a 3.7L V6 with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft and a 3.6L EcoBoost V6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.7L V6 will be offered with a CNG/LPG prep kit for fleet operators who run propane-based fuels and it will also run happily on E85 flex-fuel.
The diesel is new for North America, but is the third generation of Ford’s Puma series of diesel engines, it comes B25 bio-fuel compatible.
Ford expects the top-spec EcoBoost engine to be the most popular, basing that belief on the unexpected success of the engine in the F-150.