Ford Showcases the Transit's Versatility With Vandemonium

Outside Van 3 copy II

When Ford first decided to replace the long-running E-Series van with the European-style Transit van, we were skeptical. Would Americans — and more importantly, American fleet customers — accept such a vastly different vehicle? Would a more expensive tall-roof van without a V-8 option find as many buyers as the aging, inefficient, yet perennially popular Econoline?

Several years into it the answer seems to be an unqualified "yes." The Ford Transit is the best-selling commercial van in the world, according to Ford, and the company decided to show off the van's versatility by showcasing the company's upfitters at Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. Vandemonium, as Ford dubbed the event, brought together more than three dozen upfitters' vans ranging in scope from overlanding "adventure vans," the latest trend in personal recreational vehicles, to traditional cargo and utility trucks to luxuriously appointed family haulers that make an interesting alternative to a loaded Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade.

If you've never actually driven a new Transit, you're missing out. They're exceptionally well-balanced vehicles, easy to drive despite their size, and remarkably versatile inside and out. They're available in cargo or passenger wagon configurations, in multiple lengths, with three roof heights, a choice of three engines, six different axle configurations and three levels of beefiness that correspond to the degree of payload you're likely to need: 150, 250 or 350 models, just like an F-Series pickup truck. Suffice it to say, there's a Transit for pretty much any application most businesses have, short of towing super-heavy trailers, but Ford makes other trucks to handle those tasks.

We had a look around Vandemonium and picked out six of our favorites from the assembled offerings. Have a look at the possibilities available through a local Ford Commercial Vehicles dealer and their chosen upfitters to see what might fit your needs.

Outside Van 2 copy II

Outside Van

Started by a guy who customized his Transit and got tired of people offering to buy it, Outside Van is a custom coach builder that works with clients to build an adventure van exactly how they want it. The adventure van category is the latest thing, part of the new overlanding craze that is becoming increasingly popular with younger buyers eager to get off the grid and escape into the wilderness. The Cascade model seen here has a four-wheel-drive system, an exterior shower, a bed platform that can be raised or lowered and enough water onboard to stay off the grid for up to 30 days (provided you don't use the water for showering), according to the manufacturer. Solar panels on the roof provide power, and there's room onboard for four. A conversion like the Cascade costs about $85,000 to $95,000, not including the cost of the van itself, which will run about $50,000.

 

Thor Motor Coach 1 copy II

Thor Motor Coach

Class B motorhomes are increasing in popularity as well — these are RVs that use the same body as a van, with minimal size increase, and can be parked just about anywhere you'd put a large passenger van. This Gemini model from Thor Motor Coach sleeps four and even comes with a slide-out area for increased width, which is what Thor calls a Class B Plus size.

 

Explorer Conversion Vans Transit copy II

Explorer Van

Got a big family? Looking at a seven-passenger, truck-based SUV? Ready to shell out $80,000 for a loaded Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition Max? Hold up — there's an alternative that might work even better. Check out the Explorer Van Transit, which has seating for seven to nine passengers in luxurious, leather-lined comfort, a tall "vista cruiser sport roof" for added sunlight and 36 percent more interior room than a full-size SUV. And the best part? The model on display stickered in the mid-$60,000 range, fully loaded, from a company that's been doing conversion vans for the better part of three decades.

 

Havis Prisoner Transport 1 copy II

Havis Prisoner Transport Vehicle

Here's the one vehicle from the event that you don't want a ride in. The Havis Prisoner Transport vehicle is what in olden times you'd call a paddy wagon — designed to transport incarcerated individuals in three separate compartments in safety, if not luxury. The entire prisoner transport module is an insert that slides into the cargo van; it's made out of white powder-coated aluminum, so it doesn't weigh all that much at a little more than 1,200 pounds. And because the system is a module, law enforcement agencies can remove it and use it in a new van, if need be, saving some money on an upgraded vehicle.

 

Midway Specialty Vehicles 1 copy II

Midway Specialty Vehicles Golf Showroom

Vans can be used for all kinds of creative ventures. We found trucks that were being used as utility cargo vans, a mobile shoe shine stand and this, a mobile golf equipment showroom built for Footjoy brand shoes by Midway Specialty Vehicles. The van allows a regional sales representative to travel from pro shop to pro shop with samples of merchandise or items for sale, hawking their wares much more effectively than trying to guide prospective customers to a showroom, store or online catalog.

 

XL Hybrid Transit

Last but not least, one of our favorite models on display was an offering from XL Hybrid Vehicles. Using the common driveshaft-mounted motor tied to the onboard battery and control systems, the XL Hybrid Transit reportedly gets 25 percent better fuel economy than the standard Transit with either the 3.7-liter V-6 or the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. We sampled an XL Hybrid F-250 last year and found its advertised fuel economy benefits to be readily achievable. The system costs a tick less than $10,000, which makes it an interesting sell in California, where under some conditions, a $9,000 rebate can be had from the state for electrified commercial vehicles, making it a fairly inexpensive 25 percent boost to fuel economy for fleet buyers.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman; manufacturers

 

Outside Van 1 copy II

Thor Motor Coach 2 copy II

Havis Prisoner Transport 2 copy II

Midway Specialty Vehicles 2 copy


 

Comments

This is what Ford was doing while GM was designing the Colorado/Canyon.

This is what Ford was doing while GM was designing the Colorado/Canyon.

@ just the truth

That's why they made the new Ranger look like a Taurus then?

Very interesting makes for these vans. Some of them are very luxuries indeed. I wonder how many of these vans are sold that are NOT for commercial/construction work. Would be very interesting because it looks like some serious coin was dropped on these vans!

So they do cab forwardness in these vans all day long, but don't migrate it to a pickup bed platform. It must be the politics that stall out such a seemingly simple design effort.

While all but 2 ( out of 14 ) of the Chevy Express in our fleet have been put out to pasture, we have over a dozen E Series still running strong. Those Express’ were down right P.O.S and were in the shop 3 fold vs the E Series.

Our replacement du jour is Transit and Transit Connect. ( installation department runs the TC, service needs more room for equipment and run the Transit.

Both are great vehicles. Head and shoulders better than the Chevy Express. We’ll see how they compare to the bulletproof E Series over the long run

While all but 2 ( out of 14 ) of the Chevy Express in our fleet have been put out to pasture, we have over a dozen E Series still running strong. Those Express’ were down right P.O.S and were in the shop 3 fold vs the E Series.

Our replacement du jour is Transit and Transit Connect. ( installation department runs the TC, service needs more room for equipment and run the Transit.

Both are great vehicles. Head and shoulders better than the Chevy Express. We’ll see how they compare to the bulletproof E Series over the long run


Posted by: Brick | Oct 1, 2018 1:04:00 PM

You do realize that because you post under so many different user names you have no credibility.

Get on topic you moron GMS.

Aren't these the trucks that Ford builds somewhere in BF Egypt and ships to the US---and disassembles them---puts them back together, and then proudly says they're MADE IN THE USA?

No Ford Transit is made in Egypt you fool.

@Brick

Do you REALLY think that BF Egypt is actually in ... Egypt???

Same place as BF PapaJoke

Transits for sale in North and South America are built in Kansas City.

news flash:

Ford is investing fifty million dollars to upgrade its manufacturing facilities in Turkey to increase the output of Transit, Transit Custom vehicles.

So, I guess the correct answer (Brick) was BF Turkey all along.

Make America G-r-e-a-t again!

The Transit's one of Fords best players in the commercial market. Expanding the platform to include front/AWD would push this van over the top.

Transits are built in Kansas City, along with the F150.

Hey BF PapaJoke...

The assembly plant in Turkey builds for the Euro and Asia market

North American and South American production is from Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Missouri on the lines used for the previous generation Ford Escape.

Versatility is nice, Ford.
But QUALITY should be job one.
The camper version is good for resting alongside the road when the Ford breaks down.

Evidently Brick looked it up.

Ford began Transit production at Claycomo Mo plant in 2014. Prior to that they were built in the UK and in Turkey.

Yes BF PapaJoke. Much unlike you when spouting off from your Fhole, I look before posting.

Buy American. Just check the VIN number and google it.

@Brick
Correct the Transit van built for outside North American markets is built-in Turkey, NA van is being built in a new plant in the US
VW would certainly disagree with Ford about the most popular Van in the world. Toyota would disagree with Ford as regards the most popular pickup globally , all semantics

GUTS

GLORY

CLASS LEADING

RAM SPRINTER

Definitely seeing them in Class B and Class C service and apparently doing fairly well.

"There is no such thing as a Ram Sprinter.
https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/diesel-cargo-vans-compared-ford-transit-vs-mercedes-benz-sprinter-ram-promaster-comparison-test" ---- Posted by: Brick


Not true. Granted, you can't buy them new but when Daimler was partnered with Chrysler there were quite a few Ram Sprinters sold.

They were called Dodge Sprinter, not Ram Sprinter.

And they stopped making them almost a decade ago

Daimler owned Chrysler now Fiat owns Chysler. FCA has headquarters in I believe England.

Expanding the platform to include front/AWD would push this van over the top.


Posted by: redbloodedxy | Oct 1, 2018 2:35:03 PM


These vans look ready to topple over now.

Daimler owned Chrysler now Fiat owns Chysler. FCA has headquarters in I believe England.


Posted by: just the truth | Oct 1, 2018 8:31:40 PM
———————-

And in 2009, The Ram brand was created following Chrysler's acquisition by Italian automaker Fiat S.p.A. - long after the last Mercedes-Benz rebadged as a Dodge Sprinter was assembled for ChryCo.

Brick get on topic.

I like the transit. Does anyone know if they offer a factory 4x4 option for overlanding, or does one need to get that through the custom shop?

or does one need to get that through the custom shop?
Posted by: MLS956 | Oct 2, 2018

@MLS956

Currently the diplomatic situation with Turkey and the US has deteriorated sufficiently that "there's a bit of a wait" on Transit custom shop deliveries. Please be patient.

Things are going very smoothly in Wentzville Mo. these days however. You can probably get a custom van from GM delivered before Christmas. Call your local Chevy dealer for details.

Thanks PapaJim. But I just discovered Quigly. They're a company that does 4x4 on vans. They convert GM, Ford and Nissan. At a less than reasonable price I'm sure. That said, anyone else think the transit looks like Mothra in larvae form?

call me old school, but if I were ordering a custom van I'd look at a more traditional style van. Durable as hell, time tested.

HEMI RAMPAGE:

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! "RAM Sprinter"! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just discovered Quigly. They're a company that does 4x4 on vans. They convert GM, Ford and Nissan...Posted by: MLS956 | Oct 2, 2018

@MLS956

Please understand that a traditional GM or Ford van would be a nightmare to maintain if it had a standard 4x4 package under the engine compartment. Replace a radiator hose??? Like brain surgery. Oil change? Yikes. Replace a water pump? Call a specialist.

None of these tasks are very easy with a 4x4 pickup, but with a van it would be WAY worse. Just sayin'

We were going to buy one. We looked and looked. Sherrod Ok but price and really just a living room on wheels. The transit is very basic use. But for a family of 3, what I see needed is the driver and passenger need the same frills we find in our options on a Lariet 150 or my Limited Flex... the Aerostar from the past one we drove happily. No huge tV needs. 4 captain seats and a good bench that folds down. A floor mount for table choice of 4 sears and bench 3rows. Not 12 not 15.

They just look so top-heavy though. It's like if you were to take a corner a little too fast, they'd tip right over.



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