It's still probably a little too early to suggest the 2017 Ford Transit is of the first names you think about when it comes to commercial vans or indeed the best commercial vans, but it won’t be too long until it is. The Transit comes in a wide variety of lengths, sizes and configurations, which is just as well as it has the job of replacing the long-established E-series/Econoline vans we've relied upon for so long now. The Transit name might have been almost unknown here just a few short years ago, but it's not unfair to say the Transit is at least as famous and iconic in the UK and across mainland Europe as the likes of the F-Series is here. The Transit first went on sale in Europe back in 1965 and has pretty much been the first name in cargo vans ever since.
Despite half a century of continuous production behind it, the latest Transit is still just the vehicle's fourth-generation. The 2017 model year sees the Transit benefitting from a number of enhancements designed to make these vehicles even more essential to the fleet and small business customers they're aimed at attracting.
There are a simply mind-blowing 64 different configurations of Transit to select from, which is an additional six on top of the 58 variations offered last year. The best-in-class levels of flexibility it offers have already made the Ford the best-selling commercial van in America. Low-profile center consoles and power running boards are just some of the new available options, which make the Transit even more flexible for tailoring to meet even the most unusual and unique needs of business users.
The new configurations for the Transit this year include the introduction of the 350 regular-wheelbase vans, chassis cabs and cutaways with single rear wheels and a 9,500-pound GVWR. The well-proven 3.7-liter engine is now the standard unit in dual-rear wheel vans, which has effectively lowered the base price of these models as well as making CNG or LPG capability an available option.
The 2017 Ford Transit lineup is available with three different engine choices, and all of them strike just the right balance between capability and fuel-economy to appeal to a wide range of business and fleet buyers. The engine lineup starts with that 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V-6, which develops a healthy 275 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The next engine is Ford's sensational 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which increases the power ratings for the Transit to 310 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
If your familiarity with diesel engines comes from pickup truck applications, you could be surprised to find the 3.2-liter Power Stroke inline-five turbo diesel offered here produces a relatively modest 185 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft., which is less torque than the EcoBoost offers. But while truck diesels are all about low-end grunt and maximum capability, a cargo van diesel is more about delivering maximum fuel-economy than ultimate capability. The EPA doesn't offer ratings for the Transit diesel engine as it's only available in long-wheelbase versions, but buyers can expect it to return somewhere in the region of 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, which is going to be an especially big deal for buyers who expect their vans to cover rocket ship miles during a working year.