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2014 Transit Van: Ford Builds a Better Box

March 10, 2013

Introduced on Tuesday: 2014 Ford Transit commercial vehicle

What Is It? The end of the line for the Econoline, a Ford nameplate since 1961. The new Transit is the big brother of an emerging family of commercial vans; not to be confused with the Transit Connect Wagon and Transit Connect Van, which are smaller, lighter-duty people- and cargo-movers (recently updated).

Is It Real? Ford is currently re-tooling its Kansas City plant to be able to crank out hundreds of thousands of Transits by year’s end.

What They Said: “The Transit is the new standard in full-size vans and customer choice,” Len Deluca, director of Ford’s commercial vehicle operations, said in a statement. “We’re going from an exclusively gasoline engine lineup of two V-8s and a V-10 in the E-Series to offering customers a standard 3.7-liter V-6, the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine proven in the Ford F-150 and an all new 3.2-liter Power Stroke Diesel option.”

What They Didn’t Say: Thanks, Europe, for showing America what a maneuverable size, user-friendly shape, environmentally more friendly and cargo-optimized configuration for these types of vehicles should look like. In Europe, vans have to do big jobs in much tighter quarters. These Euro-inspired styles are superior in almost every specification to the Eisenhower Era configuration that limited the Econolines so severely as to cargo capacity, maneuverability, weight and fuel economy.

What Makes It Go? Much smaller, more fuel-efficient gas and diesel engines – good for at least a 25-cent bump in fuel economy. A CNG connect kit is also available.

How Much? How Soon? Prices will vary according to configuration, lengths, cab size and roof height. In dealerships by fall.

How’s It Look? Like a big box on wheels – which it most certainly is. That’s the whole idea of the Transit line design – maximum box, minimum weight. No wasted space. The edges are a bit softer than the original Transit Connect series of vehicles. The Ford car family (Aston Martin-inspired) grille looks a bit jarring in this application, and may take some getting used to.

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