The never-ending trickle of information surrounding the U.S.-spec 2014 Ford Transit has now morphed into something of a deluge. Ford’s showing off its latest range of commercial vehicles in Detroit, and detailing the new 2014 Transit in the process. It’s an important vehicle for the Blue Oval: the company currently holds 37.2 percent of the U.S. commercial-vehicle market, and hopes to continue that dominance as the segment is expected to grow overall by 28 percent over the next five years. Here’s the latest download of information surrounding Ford’s first all-new full-size van in — well, ages.
Traditionally, full-size cargo vans sold in North America have utilized body-on-frame construction. That was the case with the outgoing E-Series, and remains in use on both the Nissan NV2500/3500 and the Chevrolet Express/ GMC Savana twins.
The 2014 Transit, however, follows in the footsteps of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and utilizes a unibody structure. That saves around 300 pounds of weight, in part because much of the structure now uses high-strength boron steel — which is reportedly four times tougher than regular high-strength steel. Ford hasn’t released payload figures, but does suggest the van will be able to carry 300 pounds more than an E-Series. For the record, the maximum payload on a E-Series cargo van rang in at 4050 pounds, and only on the standard-length E350 equipped with the 5.4-liter V-8. There will be four gross vehicle weight versions, categorized as 150, 250, 350, and 350HD models.
Ford also says the Transit is much larger than the E-Series in every way: the largest version can carry 496 cubic feet of cargo, compared to just 278 cubic feet in the biggest E-Series.
The Transit’s front suspension makes use of MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar, while leaf springs – and a traditional solid axle – lurk out back. This isn’t earth-shattering tech, but is a departure from the E-Series, which utilized a twin-I-beam arrangement that dated back to 1965.
Ford already announced two engine options for the 2014 Transit, but until now, wouldn’t say which engine would serve as a base offering.
Ford’s familiar 3.7-liter DOHC V-6 – which also serves as the entry-level engine in the F-150 pickup – serves as standard equipment in the 2014 Transit. Finalized output specifications are not yet available, but in F-150 guise, the engine produces 302 hp and 278 lb-ft. The optional 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 is another carry-over from the F-150 range. Again, specifications have not been finalized, but in its F-Series guise, the engine is rated at 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.
Customers demanding a diesel option can also opt for a 3.2-liter turbo-diesel five-cylinder. While sold in Europe under the DuraTorq name, the engine will be labeled as a Power Stroke in North America. Ford has not provided finalized figures for this engine, but promises the engine will produce “close” to 197 hp and 347 lb-ft in European tune. If the U.S.-spec version holds close to these figures, there’s a good chance it can best the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s I-5, which yields but 188 hp and 325 lb-ft. While the two V-6 engines are made in the U.S., Ford imports the Power Stroke from South Africa. It’s already used globally in the Ranger and European version of the Transit; Ford tells us it builds 75,000 copies of this engine annually.
Regardless of the engine choice, all U.S.-spec Transit models will utilize a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s the same unit used in the F-150 and Expedition, so it features a tow-haul mode and a SelectShift manual gear-change option. Fuel economy figures are a ways away from public release, but Ford promises Transits will “achieve an average of 25 percent better fuel economy” than the old E-series. According to the EPA, the best rating earned by a 2013 E-Series model is the 13/17 mpg (city/highway) rating affixed to an E150 equipped with a 4.6-liter V-8.
Until now, we’d only been blessed with images showing the Transit’s exterior form, complete with tapered nose, trapezoidal grille, and so on. Now, we have a look at the full-size van’s dashboard, which seems to follow European Ford fashion instead of abiding by cues used in the F-150, Super Duty, and the outgoing E-Series. The IP is curvaceous instead of blocky, and almost resembles a super-sized version of the dashboard used in the Fiesta and Focus. Ford plans on offering the Transit in both XL and XLT trims; we’d be unsurprised if some of the flashy trim shown here was reserved for the latter.
Like the F-Series, the Transit’s gauge cluster also appears to make use of a LCD screen to display additional information and settings. Ford’s Sync connectivity suite will be available, and if so desired, owners can upgrade to the MyFord Touch touchscreen interface. All of the plastics and fabrics used on the van’s interior are said to be heavier-duty, more durable than on Ford passenger cars. That means they look less inviting and are less pleasing to the touch, but at least they’ll survive years of heavy-duty use.
Ford also notes a Transit passenger “wagon” will be offered, but we’ve yet to see interior photos of such a vehicle. It will have configurations to seat eight or 15 passengers, but it won’t begin production until a little while after regular cargo models hit the market.
Along with the wagon, the 2014 Transit will also be sold in chassis cab and cutaway chassis-cab configurations, but at this point in time, we know the most information about the Transit cargo van.
2014 Transit cargo vans are available in three different lengths, but only two wheelbases. With a 129.9” wheelbase and a 219.9” overall length, the so-called “medium” wheelbase model is the shortest Transit available in North America. These models are available with either a “low” 83.2” roof or a medium-height option that measures 100.8” tall. A six-foot-tall owner can reportedly stand up without a problem in the medium-roof model. The short roof remains because Ford knows many commercial van buyers park in garages.
A high-roof option — which bumps the vehicle height to 110.2” while providing 81.5” of vertical space in the cargo hold – is only available on the long-wheelbase Transit. Long-wheelbase models boast a 147.6” wheelbase, and are available in either a standard-length (237.6”) or extended-length (266.1”) form. Extended-length models are available only with the high roof, and are the only Transit cargo van models available with dual rear wheels. If you’re looking for cargo space, these extended-length, long-wheelbase Transits have it in spades – in fact, Ford says there’s nearly 496 cubic feet of cargo space within.
How does that stack against the competition? The Sprinter comes closest, as it’s available in both 144- and 170-inch wheelbases. The short-wheelbase version has an overall length of 232.5”, while the long wheelbase version is available in 273.2- and 289.2-inch lengths. Roof options consist only of a 96.3-inch and a 110-inch height. Conversely, Nissan’s NV comes in only one length – 146.1” wheelbase, 240.6” overall length – but both 83.9- and 105-inch roofs are available.
As part of the One Ford scheme, the company also plans to sell the Transit in 116 countries on six continents. Much of the van’s engineering was done in the U.K., which has traditionally been Ford’s Transit base, but anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the work was also farmed out to Ford engineers in the U.S. and Germany. Expect more 2014 Ford Transit details to emerge over the next several months. Production starts in late 2013, and Ford aims to have these vans in dealers by the fall of 2013.