2020 Ford Transit: Calling All Big Families

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Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman

By Aaron Bragman

Minivans long have been the favorite of families, but where's the love for the maxivan? Ford's redesigned 2020 Transit full-size van may just put a truck back in the driveways of some of America's bigger families, people for whom an SUV just isn't enough. We got an up-close look at the updated Ford Transit at The Work Truck Show 2019 in Indianapolis where it debuted. The industry-only trade show targets commercial and fleet businesses, and is increasingly used by automakers to reveal pickup truck and van news.

Related: More Work Truck Show Coverage

The last Ford Transit I drove was impressive in so many areas. It handles like a big SUV. It has plenty of power, impossibly precise steering and a compliant ride that you wouldn't expect from such a hulking behemoth of a van.

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And for 2020, there's another reason to love the Ford Transit — optional all-wheel drive. Instead of having to go to an up-fitter to have a lift and aftermarket system installed, you can now get your Transit with AWD direct from the factory, and with no change in ride height over the standard Transit. The only caveat is that you can't get one with diesel power; the AWD Transit is gasoline only. But that's OK, the top EcoBoost engine is one of the most powerful in the segment and should prove to be more than adequate.

Major improvements have come to the Transit's interior as well, with a modernization that sees a new dashboard with some interestingly placed cupholders. Storage cubbies abound, and the new multimedia system uses a tablet-style display screen and is a welcome addition. As with previous Transits, seating position is excellent, and the view forward is expansive. The tall windshield, medium-high seating position, and multi-adjustability for seating and steering wheel assure comfort. Nothing is too far away to reach, and if you need to get into the rear rows, simply stand up and walk into the back area. It is recommended that you stop and park the vehicle first, of course.

Is it perfect? No. You'll still have a hard time parking some of the longer versions, and in our experience the tall-roof versions act like sailing ships in a hurricane whenever a stiff crosswind kicks up on the highway, blowing you all over the road. But if you need to haul 14 people, this is the way to do it without spending a fortune. If you need to start your own construction business, flower delivery or just about any kind of commercial venture, Ford makes a Transit that will work for you. Ford even makes new conversion van versions that cost less than a luxury SUV and are infinitely more comfortable. Add the new powertrains into the equation, and Ford has made what is already the world's best-selling van even more compelling.

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Comments

Typical of Ford designers and execs these days, they're so far from the subject they don't realize that big families are no longer a status symbol here.

The young men and women who make up the most coveted part of the American demographic today aren't even married at all; they have no children until they're in their late 30s, and those that choose to birth a few kids will make do with a Ford Escape or an Edge. Big van? No thank you.

This fills a pretty good sized niche. Schools, churches, and the Amish communities use these large people movers. They're gonna buy this type van from someone, so it might as well be Ford.

There are still some larger families out there. With divorce and remarriage some family groupings get large.

Schools, churches, and the Amish communities use these large people movers. They're gonna buy this type van from someone, so it might as well be Ford...Posted by: Niche | Mar 7, 2019

Would that make them the nouveau-niche?

Would that make them the nouveau-niche?

Posted by: papajim | Mar 7, 2019 12:16:38 PM

I wouldn't say that. Those specialty markets have been there for many decades. Ford lost that market when they dropped their large passenger vans, but they are adding it back to the line now. It makes sense since they focused on the most bang for their buck markets first. After locking up majority market share, they are grabbing more smaller markets by adding AWD (since they have no 4WD) and better passenger options.

I'd find it interesting if they had an option that left the flooring of the 3rd, 4th, 5th row of seats as hard material (no carpet). Ie, for the weekend warrior to load up dirt bikes, mulch, misc. A total truck substitute with NO huge front end so it will fit in garage. That last 3 row seating area has to be at least 6' long. Of course that high ceiling might not fit in the garage. Time to get the measuring tape out.

Way to go designers, and execs, what can I say? They offer both the Transit and E-Series. Excellent choice, at the top of the pack in sales.

This is how you sell Vans, not some knock off copy cat and or asking another maker to build them for you.

Typical of Ford designers and execs these days, they're so far from the subject they don't realize that big families are no longer a status symbol here.

Posted by: papajim

I see a lot more Ford vans than anyone else's on the road. The only one even close is Ram. It looks to me like Ford is more in tune than anyone else.

Man that thing looks top heavy, Roll-over waiting to happen

I agree with Papajim. The days of people having more than 3 or 4 kids is long over. Just to expensive, young kids with overwhelming college debt, and people aren't getting married as early as they used to.

The truck and large suv's have this segment covered.

Hence: why GM doesn't bother with a new design bc their Large Suv's dominant and have dominated this for decades.

I see 20 times more GM suv's here in Midwest than anything else. Man those Suburbans and Tahoe's just run and run and run

I know a family that actually has TWO late model Suburbans.

The nice LTZ trimmed one is Mom's bomb and the dog and kids have to behave when they travel in the bomb. Dad's LT "truck" is the one with the cookie crumbs and dog puke ground into the carpet.

Soccer games, pizza night and Sunday mornings at church. Mom's bomb is the date-night ride and her drive-to-work car. It is really sweet.

Transit except for the 3.5 Ecoboost is almost indentical to the European version. Still sells very poorly in Australia

If a family really needs a van it is hard to beat the Dodge Grand Caravan. It is not the latest and greatest but for its price it is a real value. FCA is still making the Grand Caravan in its Windsor plant along with the Pacifica. Original plan was that the Grand Caravan was to be discontinued as soon as the Pacifica was introduced but the demand for it has been strong so strong it is the No. 1 selling minivan in the US. For the price of most midsize sedans you can get a new Grand Caravan.

I don't see this as something a family would buy.
But for churches buying them for transport or agency's like government to shuttle workers. Police department to transport officers to locations when needed like special events or search.
This is a shuttle van in full seating form replacing some of the older models.

If chebby would of came out with something like this FORD van then it would of been the best thing since sliced bread.You chebby guys always give me a good laugh cause GM always tries to follow the leader. They cant come up with something like this on their own so you losers have to pick this FORD apart. Come on GM and give your losers something to brag on. Its never gonna happen though. FORD wins again!!!!!!

I don't see this as something a family would buy.
Posted by: 2007 Ridgeline Owner | Mar 7, 2019

@Ridgeline

Correct-o-mundo!!! But it does mark a feeble attempt by Ford marketers to address the fact that their Ranger roll-out has really screwed-the-pooch and the F150's off-cycle timing could not be worse.

During the next 12 to 18 months F150 sales will be heavily biased toward fleet sales and novelty-oriented trim packaging---in other words, something that Ford will have to finance via Ford Credit.

Ford was supposed to have a small diesel F150 in showrooms by now but I'm sure not seeing it. RAM has a hybrid V8 and a standard V6 hybrid making a big impact on the street. Ford boys respond to the RAM 1500 sales by clucking about RAM catching Chevy. Right.

The next F150 is still a ways out and the only dog Ford has in this hunt right now is the completely fouled up Ranger rollout. Their stockholders must be jumping out of windows by now.

If a family really needs a van it is hard to beat the Dodge Grand Caravan

@Jeff S

I hate to bring up Consumer Reports but they've never had a good word to say for the Caravan---for at least 10 years. This is a really old platform that wasn't even competitive in its day.

The Fiat 3.6 engine was supposed to wake it up, but the quality issues really rain on Dodge's parade, especially with this model.

Families are much better off with a 2 year old Sienna or even a used Hyundai.

This thing is a beast in its segment and the new modern vans (available where vans are sold except by GM) deserve attention as they make a lot of sense for many applications.

AWD is a very cool option but I don't see many selecting it.

Love seeing such a long neglected and useful segment of vehicles finally brought up to speed.

For those of us who have learned to walk upright the available options, configurations, utility and smartness of these new vans cannot be beat. For those that haven't check out chevy's offerings in this segment.

Sounds like Clint is no longer able to contain his bitterness. Things are not THAT bleak, Clint!

Once Ford is broken-up and liquidated, one of its bondholders will no doubt establish a taller standing among the new shareholders and start building cars/trucks again. They might even look like Fords a little anyway.

Either way, with a growing US economy you can be sure that somebody will put those workers and factories back into production. In the meantime, if you need a decent pickup, there will always be a GMC or Chevy to choose from.

@clint


Papajim is doing doing what he does best, deflecting and bringing up something having to do with Ford's financials when product wise his favorite brand is a no-show.

Papajim talking about Ford being broken up and liquidated and there always being GMC's and Chebbies is so hilariously ironic given that if it woud not have been for the govt taking pitty and giving Gm charity this is exactly what would have become of too big to fail Gm....

Thanks for the laugh tho papa, keep them coming.

For those of us who have learned to walk upright ......

Posted by: Clint | Mar 8, 2019 6:17:16 AM

That's a disgusting comment considering all models of vans are often used to assist those of us who have not or can no longer walk upright, many of whom are veterans. That my friend was a calculated comment intended to marginalize those individuals. Shame on you.

@GMSRGREAT

Actually, Clint has fallen for the same class-conflict that elitists use to look down on anybody who owns a pickup, regardless of which brand.

The elites in their Audi's, BMWs, Mercedes and Volvos think all of us who own pickups are knuckle draggers, and Clint steps right into their little rhetorical trap with his low grade attempt at humor. Because he's an idiot he does not realize he's the butt of the joke.

Thanks for the laugh tho papa, keep them coming.
Posted by: FullSize_only | Mar 8, 2019

@fullsize

Ford stock fell 2 bucks in December. On December 11 all of the car mags like Car & Driver, Road and Track, etc, published their Ranger EPA figures straight from Ford's marketing release. They claimed to have the best EPAs in the segment---which they knew was false. If Ford had published the correct numbers for their EPAs in December their shares would have crashed---December was a hard month for auto stocks across the board.

News about this is going to break in the next few weeks. Don't be surprised if Ford execs face legal jeopardy over it. It's not illegal to brag about your products, but it is a violation to manipulate the markets for the sake of fooling investors. It's called fraud.

In the meantime the various sycophants at the online car mags are praying they don't get a letter from HR.

AWD is a very cool option but I don't see many selecting it.

@ Clint

Hate to break it to you, but if you live anywhere in the Midwest, (or upper Northeast) and with the amount of snow Midwest has had this winter........UGH will it ever end....

AWD is a necessity to have in order to get around. My wife's AWD Terrain goes anywhere in the snow, but my grandfathers FWD Equinox struggles going many places. All bc he wanted to save $995. Wrong decision he regrets.

So you and 13 of your closest friends or family can be embarrassed together being seen in this monstrosity in public.

I have said before here in Washington,DC area this also includes nearby suburbs of Maryland & Virginia. WMATA or Metro our bus and subway system uses this type of Van. They system has Paratransit service for disable people that can not use rail or bus service normally. So Door to Door service with these types of vans. My neighbor down the street is blind he calls them all the time for pickup. It a ride share service just like bus but they come to door and take you were you need to go. Metro has been replacing their aging fleet of older Vans with this type.
One of them picked up neighbor this mourning about 7AM.
He works downtown at one of the government buildings. But they get a lot of service going to hospitals for people going to doctor's appointment they run just like city bus.

Just to add MetroAccess has the Paratransit Vans and they added about 200 new vans in 2017 to aging fleet. Thhey service over 6,000 riders daily. The AWD versions should come in handy for navigating some of the side streets and roads in winter time.

@ papajim--Why is the Grand Caravan the Number 1 selling van in the United States and Canada? Please answer my question instead of going off on GM and Mary Barra. Most of the people I know that have had Dodge Caravans do not have any more issues than Honda or Toyota vans. No other van gives the consumer more for their money. I realize you only like GM products but for many families who cannot afford to spend 30k to 40k for a family hauler and don't want to buy used it is a very good choice. Consumer Reports only surveys owners with newer vehicles. A hard to set wi fi system is given the same rating as a bad transmission or engine. Consumer Reports rated the Tesla and Toyota Tacoma for years as Above Average Reliability even when rust issues with Toyota trucks and problems with Teslas were known. I would not use Consumer Reports as my only guidance in judging how good a vehicle is as I would not use stock price and earnings per share to determine which truck to buy.

@papajim--I also would not use the fact that Ford stock price dropped $2 dollars to determine if I wanted to buy a Ford product. I would like to know how many readers on this site use stock price and earnings per share to determine what brand of vehicle they buy. You are the only person I know that brings this up as a reason to buy a particular brand of vehicle.

So you and 13 of your closest friends or family can be embarrassed together being seen in this monstrosity in public.
Posted by: BD

We had two 15 passenger vans for a total of 22 years for hauling my 4 kids around. We did not find them to be embarrassing. Especially the white one, everyone just assumed that we were a church group. They were a little overkill for the family but if you take out the back seat you can put a cart full of groceries and a stroller in the back without folding the stroller. The vans would pull the camper or boat and literally haul a boatload of friends to the lake. They were very popular on church and Boyscout outings and on road trips you can't have too much space. I got them from Budget one year old for less than what a minivan or a pickup would have cost and while they did use some extra fuel they had very low maintenance. The last one I had 12 years and sold it for only $12,000 less than what I had purchased it for. It was one of the cheapest vehicles I have owned.

This is the best news I have heard in years regarding the truck market! We have seven kids and growing! Lots of families like us in northern mn that need the AWD,
Btw, we are on no government programs and pay plenty of taxes.
Work hard and be happy!

To all those who call this vehicle embarrassing, perhaps your self worth is misplaced...

"Papajim is doing doing what he does best, deflecting and bringing up something having to do with Ford's financials when product wise his favorite brand is a no-show.

Papajim talking about Ford being broken up and liquidated and there always being GMC's and Chebbies is so hilariously ironic given that if it would not have been for the govt taking pity and giving Gm charity this is exactly what would have become of too big to fail Gm."

Full Size only

Agree. Ford is not going to get broken up or liquidated. Papajim wants that to happen to Ford. Papajim refuses to acknowledge any problems with GM which there are still many. Buick has become an irrelevant brand in the US shrinking to 3 models and Cadillac has been mismanaged chasing BMW's market, opening up upscale coffee shops in NYC, and now using Chevy platforms with cosmetic changes only and passing them off as Cadillacs. Ford is actually designing new Lincolns and making them distinctive from Fords. GM might not go away but it is very possible it will become Chinese. Ford is far from being broken up.



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