2020 Ford Transit Refresh: Rekindling the Van Craze

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2020 Ford Transit; Manufacturer images

By Aaron Bragman

  • Competes with: Ram ProMaster, Chevrolet Express, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Nissan NV
  • Looks like: A utility van with some new grilles
  • Powertrains: 3.5-liter gasoline V-6, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter gas V-6 or turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel inline-four-cylinder engines; 10-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Fall

Ford has been quietly enjoying success in the full-size van market with its Transit van, which replaced the E-Series vans five years ago in the U.S. — it's the bigger sibling to the Ford Transit Connect. Big vans are popular not only with business and commercial buyers, but they are increasingly finding a market with private buyers too, who enjoy the massive cargo space and ability to carry more than a dozen people. Ford just unveiled its first refresh of the van, the 2020 Ford Transit, at The Work Truck Show 2019 in Indianapolis with new gas and diesel engines, newly available all-wheel drive, and fresh cabin and safety technology. The trade show runs through Friday. 

Related: Ford Showcases the Transit's Versatility With Vandemonium

Exterior

The Transit is one of three European-style vans on the market — the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster are the other two. Ford says that the 2020 Transit offers more configurations than its competitors, including a cargo van, passenger van, chassis cab and cutaway. New for 2020 is a crew van setup, which combines a five-passenger cabin in two rows of seats with an open cargo area in the back, designed for getting work crews to job sites.

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A new power sliding door is optional on the cargo and passenger vans, and three new grilles adorn the front — one for chassis cab, van and cutaway configurations. They provide new styling and improved cooling for the new engines. High-intensity discharge headlights are optional with LED running lamps.

Under the Hood

There are two new powertrains for the van. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 featuring port fuel and direct injection, replacing the old 3.7-liter engine. A new diesel engine is available, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder model that replaces the old 3.2-liter inline-five-cylinder diesel. Ford says the smaller diesel produces more power and torque than the old one, is quieter and more efficient, and it's equipped with an automatic stop-start system. The returning 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 also gets auto stop-start. Ford hasn't provided any power, torque or fuel economy numbers to back up these claims, however. All engines are mated to a new standard 10-speed automatic transmission.

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The new turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder is optional.

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The new 10-speed transmission is standard across the lineup.

The other powertrain news is the availability of a new all-wheel-drive system only with gasoline engines. Previously, you had to go to aftermarket companies if you wanted an all-wheel-drive Transit. Now, you can get one fully integrated right from Ford, which should prove popular for job sites, off-road recreational vehicles and places where all-weather abilities are important. The all-wheel-drive system does not result in a higher ride height or floor height, and is always on with selectable drive modes for different terrains.

Interior

The Transit gets an all-new dashboard for 2020 with improved usability and several user-friendly features like easy-to-reach cupholders and multiple storage bins. New seating surfaces are said to be more durable, new vents have been designed for better cabin airflow, and everything has been updated and modernized to Ford's latest looks. Front swiveling seats are optional, a big seller for the RV market.

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Connectivity technology gets a boost with FordPass Connect now standard in the Transit. It uses a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot for connection of up to 10 mobile devices, useful for fleet or family use. USB ports have been installed in every row of the passenger van versions. Fleet managers can use the new Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services features that bring monitoring functions to the Transit including GPS tracking, geofencing with alerts, fuel waste reporting and a host of other features businesses use for their fleet vehicles.

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The multimedia system is updated with two potential displays: a 4-inch full-color multifunction display or an 8-inch slim-line touchscreen panel. Both feature the latest Sync 3 multimedia system with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. The Ford AppLink system allows users to control the vehicle's multimedia systems using a smartphone app, while a 4.2-inch display in the gauge cluster reports on vehicle information and phone call status.

Safety

Now standard across the Transit line are precollision assist with autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and automatic high beams. The Transit passenger van in XLT trim is equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot360 system, which adds blind spot warning with trailer coverage and cross-traffic alert to the list. An available automatic park assist feature steers and prompts a driver when pulling into or out of a parallel parking spot. Additional features include available adaptive cruise control, a front and rear split-view camera, and an adjustable speed limiter device.

The new 2020 Ford Transit goes on sale in the fall.

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Comments

Ford Transit in Australia has the 2 Litre Diesel as standard. Almost identical to the US version except no Petrol or AWD version. Should add the Transit is a poor seller here

These modern vans are very smart and well thought out vehicles for many tasks.

Presently GM is the only laggard/loser in this market with its only 2 offerings being a rebadged Renault and its organic, literally a geriatric dinosaur full size vans. Maybe in the next decade they can try catching up in this market too.

Going with the 10spd is smart. The more things they put it in the better. While offering AWD is nice its hard to imagine it being a big seller in this market.

Would love to know how the new engines hold up over time (especially the diesel) and if the diesel would be suitable in other vehicles.

The only way American buyers can grab a big van with a pushrod V8 is GM. I can't say I've seen any evidence of this story's them in my area, despite the fact that we are virtually covered-up by snow-birds and tourists from mid November till May every year. I see my share of Mercedes vans but the only transits I see are in work truck trims. A shame that Ford's new 7.3 engine isn't being mentioned as an option for the Transits.

I can't say I've seen any evidence of this story's THEME in my area

EDIT

Wow. Some nice upgrades for a van that's already crushing the competition!

LOVE
FORD!

And I failed to mention that the 2.0 diesel with the 10 speed makes a great package for the folks who want to hit the Interstates in this package. That would be the one to get.

I have seen a fair number of the Fords around. The problem spotting one is that all three major brands look alike and none are particularly eye catching.

All three are designed to be great at hauling large volumes of stuff but not really trailer towing.

The Chevy van is a geriatric dinosaur as Clint says but it is the body on frame with good trailer tow rating left unless you get a custom made E-series.

All wheel drive will be a big seller up here in the land of real winters. Even muddy job sites need AWD, and it's been a topic of discussion on work forums since the Transit was introduced. AWD and 10 speed transmission are both really nice upgrades this year.

Even muddy job sites need AWD...
Posted by: About Time | Mar 5, 2019

Curious perspective. It's been 45 years since I put in time on "muddy job sites" but in those days we did o.k. without AWD

Instead most trucks had a 2 speed axle. The low gears would allow you to idle the engine and crawl through most spots with lousy footing. AWD simply did not exist then, unless you want to count 4WD.

Two speed axles do not work well with automatic transmissions.
In the medium trucks the two speed axle and five speed transmission gave ten forward speeds. Now automatics are available with ten forward speeds. Working trucks have moved forward to have automatics and four wheel drive.

IF you for some reason insist on a body on frame V8 van the Nissan NV is VASTLY superior to the geriatric GM offerings in this market in every way and in numerous more configurations. But honestly the only advantage of body on frame in this class is for cab/chassis or towing and that's a very small market that trucks pretty much rule and nearly everyones half to 1 ton does better.

Clint, every user report I have heard on the Nissan van has been good but it is about the ugliest thing that I have ever seen. I generally don't care about looks but that one is over the top. That is just my opinion but that might explain why I see so few and they do stick out in a crowd. Sort of the same story as the Pontiac Aztec.

GM will keep making the full size Chevy van until either it stops selling or it is too expensive to update for safety standards. I could see GM eventually rebadging another manufacturer's van instead of developing an all new van. I just can't see GM wanting to put a ton of money into developing an all new van. GM is not in an expansion mode and if anything will shed some more products and divisions eventually. Daewoo might be the next company GM sheds since they are getting out of the small car market. Ford already had the Transit van and the same thing with FCA so it is not as big a deal for FCA to rebadge one of their current vans as a Ram.

Another incoherent remark from Jeff S---or someone pretending to be him.

Most likely the latter.

The real Jeff would have yapped about the Honda CRV his wife drives; and would take another spin about Buick and Cadillac and China---also no reference to GM's executive team. Full sized vans have become a smaller niche in the US market in the years since the emergence of models like the current-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee/Dodge Durango twins, and the Ford Expedition.

Why drive a dolled-up GM work van when you can just buy a Suburban or Tahoe? Of course for tradesmen and delivery shops there are always lighter and more economical cab-over vans today.

AWD is a good idea,,
But lack of V8 in full size van is dum..put a heavy load on and mpg will be sh*ts

Of course Id never buy this,,Chevy reliability tops everyone..

Now automatics are available with ten forward speeds
Posted by: Just the truth | Mar 5, 2019

Not the same. Nor does JTT address the fact that 10 speed autos in the HD space are either not there at all, or are just now becoming available.

We won't know for years if 10 speed autos in a 3/4 ton and 1 ton pickups have the durability to be practical long term. Killing off the manual trans option in larger trucks is a mistake. They will come to regret it.

@ Walt

The Ram ( Fiat Diablo ) Promaster are, IMO, quite a bit uglier than the Nissan Vans.

Killing off the manual trans option in larger trucks is a mistake. They will come to regret it.

Posted by: papajim | Mar 5, 2019 6:45:48 PM

There is no magic in a manual transmission. The medium duty trucks will follow the full-size trucks and soon the manual transmission will be obsolete in medium duty trucks.

Opps. Meant Fiat Doblo.

There is no magic in a manual transmission

@jtt

yes there is. It's called durability. Autos are full of little synthetic seals and rubbery bits. Heat and pressure kills 'em eventually. They also want fancy hydraulic fluids, preferably synthetic.

Manual trans are made of metal forgings and castings---iron and steel. very few rubber seals. Easily serviced. No unicorn blood needed to lube the trans. Plain old gear oil will do.

Manual transmissions for pickup trucks, like a 4.8L Silverado, are footnotes in history.

Modern technology has made them obsolete.

Plain old gear oil will do.

Posted by: papajim | Mar 5, 2019 9:42:27 PM

If by plain old gear oil you mean 90W then no it absolutely will not do. Put 90W in most modern manual transmissions and you can not even shift while moving. And yes some modern manual transmission require special fluids.

@JTT & XID

Joey Logano bested the field in Las Vegas on Sunday. How many automatic transmissions were in the Cup cars for that race?

None. Why? Heat and pressure. Even 500 miles is too much for an auto transmission to endure with that much heat

Same with heavy truck trannys. They cannot do it. It will be a long time before the manual trans is eliminated completely.

In NASCAR you use what the rules allow and that is a four speed manual transmission. Said transmission is based on a 1950's Ford transmission.
And yes heavy trucks now have automatic transmissions.
Farm tractors and bull dozers have powershift transmission.
Manual transmissions are going away.

autos cost more to build and maintain, and they are less reliable. Manuals will be around for a long time.

Same reason that Cup cars still have stick shifts after all these years--they operate too hot and they don't last.

F1, Le Man LMP1/2, GTLMS, Indy Car and wherever else rules permit, do not use the antiquated manual transmission.

@ papajim

FYI...

Le Mans 24hrs, Daytona 24hrs, Sebring 12hrs...run a distance much than the longest NASCAR race...The Coca Cola 600. You were saying something about heat???

Then theres the INDY 500...not using old tech manual transmissions.

"A shame that Ford's new 7.3 engine isn't being mentioned as an option for the Transits."

Would not fit, more for the F53 Motohome Chassis

GM doesn't see any big numbers in vans but doesn't want toz abandoned the market entirely. As for yapping about my wife's CRV it has been a good vehicle--very dependable and the mpgs are not bad. Many people who own full size pickups have Hondas as well. Not as glitzy as the German brands but you can drive them long after most of the BMWs and Mercedes have hit the junkyard. Was there not to like about a product that gives you good service and last for years unless maybe you are biased.

It is a well known fact that Daewoo has been a loser for GM for quite some time. As GM pairs their car lines down the only thing that Daewoo brings to the table for GM is the Chevy Trax and the Buick Encore. Buick will be left with 3 models in another year as the Buick Cascada and the Buick Regal will soon be discontinued (both made by Opel and PSA is discontinuing most of the former GM models to be replaced with their own). Cadillac will have one car model the CT6 left which GM has considered making in China but for now GM has extended production at the Hamtramck plant into January 2020 to produce the CT6 and Impala but has no plans beyond that date to continue the Impala and is considering making the CT6 in China. GM is also seriously considering making Cadillac all electric to compete with Tesla. For now Cadillac has added a few extra crossovers which help the bottom line but Cadillac is still a failing brand in the US. This is the type of information that is not in GM stock reports but is known in the industry. GM is not going to tell the stockholders this information in an annual report only the good. I use to own the old GM stock and I got those reports which never addressed any of the problems. They made nice high gloss annual reports with nice pictures and an earnings report but anything meaningful was left out--why would they address problems when it can affect GM stock price and drive investors away. I got out of GM stock just before it completely tanked. It would have been worse to own their bonds--the bond holders were left out to dry when the bailout came.

@papajim--There are still a lot of plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electricians, and other businesses that use vans as service vehicles. You cannot walk in the back of a Suburban and Tahoe and grab a part off the shelf but many trades will put shelves in these vans and they carry an inventory of parts. Try putting a central air conditioning unit in the back of an suv. Sure you can get it in the bed of a pickup but you have to have a vehicle that can be used for more than one purpose and many service companies carry spare parts when they make a service call. You cannot be that uninformed to know that. That is one reason GM is still making the out of date Chevy van. You go on and on how the dealers demand certain vehicles because of demand from businesses. Might not sell a lot of vans but they are used by businesses. If the Chevy van becomes too out of date and is not worth designing a new replacement then rebadge a competitors van. For someone who claims to be an expert in trucks and allegedly knows everything about dealers I am shocked you would know this. Maybe the tradesmen can drive cabovers but if they ask for a van and none is available then I am sure the manufacturers will hear from dealers.

Boy, you can't debate some of these characters without it sending them into orbit. Get some sleep guys

Same reason that Cup cars still have stick shifts after all these years--they operate too hot and they don't last.


Posted by: papajim | Mar 5, 2019 10:42:09 PM

Again NASCAR rules allow only a four speed 1950's Ford transmission. What is so hard to understand.
Full-size trucks no manual transmission.
Mid-size trucks GM just dropped manual transmission.

try reading for comprehension!

Don't confuse dual-clutch trans with auto's either. Not the same. Nobody is running hydramatics in F-1 or Indy

@papajim Indy car uses what is called a semi-automatic transmission.

You know papajim is beat.

He’s resorted to his little jabs and insults.

You're up awfully late! Don't they turn out the lights at the sheep station at midnight?

Please name all of the NASCAR teams that use a Ford automatic trans in their race cars---I'll even allow you to sort through the second and third tier racing series if that helps you. Or I can save you the trouble---answer is NONE

In all fairness, because unlike you and yours I'm always fair, Honda has an auto/dual clutch, so named because it has a torque converter.

But this topic regards heavy duty applications and standard gear boxes will be around in a three-pedal configuration for a long time to come.

Now BAFO, go to bed. It will be morning soon over there. Get some sleep. You and Jeff can resume messaging after you get up.

What’s your fixation with NASCAR? We’ve given you countless other racing series that do not use a 4/5 speed manual transmission.

Heck, keep basing your argument on NASCAR, a series that finally went to fuel injection a few years back as the pinochle of technology

Please name all of the NASCAR teams that use a Ford automatic trans in their race cars-

Please reread my post and concentrate. You will find I said NASCAR uses a four speed MANUAL transmission based on a 1950's Ford design.
Manual transmissions have to go away because you have lay your phone down to shift.

the pinochle of technology
Posted by: XID | Mar 6, 2019

PINOCHLE???

Go back to school you fool. Pinochle is the card game old men played at Legion posts and Baptist family reunions where poker would have been looked askance back in the old days. Your feverish thoughts probably had you thinking PINNACLE, not pinochle. Moron.

You just disqualified yourself for any future consideration from me. Seriously. Mackeral, Tuna. Brain food. Buy some.

Manual transmissions have to go away because you have lay your phone down to shift...Posted by: Just the truth | Mar 6, 2019

Spoken like a true Ford Fan Boy. Evidently using Sync is too big a hassle so you resort to the 1990s style of one handed driving that many communities have already banned. Another complete idiot. You should be forced to paint IDIOT on the side of your little sedan so people can see you coming.

the pinochle of technology
Posted by: XID | Mar 6, 2019

PINOCHLE???

Go back to school you fool. Pinochle is the card game old men played at Legion posts and Baptist family reunions where poker would have been looked askance back in the old days. Your feverish thoughts probably had you thinking PINNACLE, not pinochle. Moron.

You just disqualified yourself for any future consideration from me. Seriously. Mackeral, Tuna. Brain food. Buy some.


Posted by: papajim | Mar 6, 2019 12:27:45 PM

Resorting to personal attacks, jab and insults proves you lost the debate.

Debate 101

Spoken like a true Ford Fan Boy. Evidently using Sync is too big a hassle so you resort to the 1990s style of one handed driving that many communities have already banned. Another complete idiot. You should be forced to paint IDIOT on the side of your little sedan so people can see you coming.


Posted by: papajim | Mar 6, 2019 12:30:35 PM

This is what happens when someone has nothing intelligent to post but posts anyway.

at a proper debate you'd be laughed out of the building. Fool


Posted by: papajim | Mar 6, 2019 12:42:18 PM

Says the guy who argument is centred around NASCAR and 4spd manual transmissions.

I’ll take my chances thanks.

FYI. I look forward for when you fly off the handle at your GM cohort TNTGMC and his grammar errors.

@papajim--I agree with GM's decision on continuing the production of the older Chevy van. This gives the dealers a van to sell to business and the tooling has long since been paid for. Give businesses a decent discount on this that still gives GM and the dealer some profit otherwise what is the incentive. Eventually the van will become not worth producing because of the added regulations and the tooling might be so worn out that it is not worth it. I don't disagree with everything GM is doing but they have made a mess of Cadillac and Buick is dying from a thousand cuts. Agree with cutting some of the Buicks but there is nothing to replace them that will bring in additional sales. The Encore is Buick's top seller and brings home the bacon. Maybe GM needs to import this from China along with the Trax and get rid of its ties to Daewoo unless they can rid themselves of the South Korean plants and use the Thailand plants or maybe establish a plant in Vietnam. Not just the cost involved but the South Korean auto worker unions make the UAW look good.



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