NEW FOR 2009:

– Available integrated navigation system, new message centre with vehicle maintenance information (includes engine-hour meter on 6.0-litre diesel)
– Redesigned instrument panel with four new up-fitter switches, new door trim panels with more storage, new seats
– New door system opens rear doors to 95 or 172 degrees
– Full-size cargo vans with 4.6- or 5.4-litre engines now fuel flexible for E85
– Standard electronic stability control on all wagons and recreational vans; optional on commercial vans with gasoline engines
– Optional dash-mounted front-passenger airbag cutoff switch on vans and cutaways
– Available Ford Work Solutions (late availability)

Having received a mild exterior facelift for 2008, the Ford E-Series receives some interior refinements for 2009, including more comfortable seats, new instrument panel, more storage, and an optional audio auxiliary input jack.

The big news is Ford Work Solutions, which will arrive in Canada as late-availability options. This includes industry-exclusive items: an in-dash computer, powered by Microsoft Auto, that provides full high-speed Internet access and includes wireless accessories such as a mouse and printer, allowing customers to print invoices or access documents from their home or office computer networks; Tool Link, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system that provides real-time inventory of tools or equipment stored in the vehicle; and Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system which allows small fleet owners to dispatch workers to job sites and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records. The system will also be available on F-Series pickup trucks.

The E-Series van is available as a passenger wagon, and for commercial use as a cargo van, or as a cutaway or stripped chassis. Wagon models are the E-150, in regular length, and E-350 in regular and extended-length models, offering seating options for 7, 8, 12 or 15 passengers, plus a new 11-passenger optional seating configuration for the extended-length XL and XLT.

The E-150 wagon comes with a choice of 4.6-litre V8 or 5.4-litre V8, both with four-speed automatic transmission. The regular-length E-350 uses the 5.4-litre V8, or 6.0-litre V8 diesel with five-speed automatic transmission. The extended-length E-350 comes only with the 5.4-litre V8. Cargo and cutaway vans also offer a 6.8-litre V10 gasoline engine that is unavailable on passenger wagons.

Features on the E-150 XL include 16-inch steel wheels, front air conditioning, eight-passenger seating, front bucket seats, cloth upholstery, engine block heater, engine oil cooler, tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer, AM/FM stereo, black-painted bumpers, power windows and locks, tilt steering wheel and cloth visors.

The E-150 XLT adds front captain’s chairs, high-capacity front and rear air conditioning, CD stereo, chrome bumpers, cruise control, full-length carpet, floor mats, and power mirrors.

The E-350 XL and XLT models are similarly equipped, but regular-length models add 12-passenger seating, and extended-length models add 15-passenger seating.

While still meant more for commercial than consumer use, the E-Series passenger vans are a good choice for those who consistently have to move more people than will fit in a minivan, or for those who need towing capability with lots of interior space. Cross-shop it against the Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana and Dodge Sprinter.

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