For most drivers, a commercial van such as the 2023 Ford Transit isn’t on their radar. But for millions of small business owners and fleet managers, it’s extremely relevant and particularly desirable. It can be ordered in a variety of body styles, including a cavernous high-roof extended version that has room to haul a plethora of tools, packages, or cargo. Starting this year, Ford will also sell a specially-equipped model that’s a perfect base for a camper-van conversion—how’s that for versatility, overlanders? Two gasoline-powered engines are on offer—a naturally aspirated V-6 and a turbocharged Ecoboost V-6—and buyers can choose from rear- or all-wheel drive. The Transit’s main rivals include the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Ram ProMaster, but the Ford feels more maneuverable than either of them. Technology plays a role here too: all Transit models come standard with basic driver-assistance features, and Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment system is available with a large 12.0-inch display screen. Ford’s fleet management-and- telematics system is the tech that’s likely more interesting to fleet buyers, as it allows for better tracking and data analysis of their armada of vans.
What’s New for 2023?
The Transit Trail joins the lineup for 2023 and targets van-life enthusiasts with a ready-made camper base that’s designed to be upfitted with a living space behind the front seats. All Transit Trail models come with a lifted suspension, all-terrain tires, and more rugged exterior styling. The track has been widened and the ground clearance has been raised to make getting to remote campsites easier. All-wheel drive is standard, and the Transit Trail comes with the turbocharged V-6 engine. If you’re not the DIY type, Ford also provides can hook you up with a growing number of customization companies that will build out your dream camper on your behalf—for a price, or course. Elsewhere in the lineup, last year’s optional 8.0-inch infotainment display has been replaced with a larger 12.0-inch unit and now uses Ford’s Sync 4 interface, which supports over-the-air updates.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The base-model Ford Transit cargo van T-150 that comes with a generous selection of standard features is our pick of the range. This van rides on 16-inch steel wheels, and it comes with exterior features such as power-adjustable sideview mirrors and a split swing-out rear door for easy cargo access. A four-way adjustable driver’s seat and a manually adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering column are on hand to help you get comfy behind the wheel. The list of standard equipment includes amenities such as Bluetooth connectivity, dual USB ports, and air conditioning. Additionally, all Ford Transit vans come with driver-assistance features such as lane-keeping assistance and lane-departure warning. We’d include the optional blind-spot monitoring for safer lane changes.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Ford’s Transit is offered with two powertrains. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 that provides 275 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 available that generates 310 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and buyers can choose between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The Transit can tow up to 7500 pounds. The Mercedes Sprinter offers more robust payload capabilities. A Transit with the turbocharged V-6 that we tested made it to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. The Transit’s suspension is tuned to deliver a forgiving ride quality that you’ll appreciate during daily commutes.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Full-size vans such as the Transit are exempt from federal fuel-economy standards. As a result, this van hasn’t been tested by the EPA. As is the case with many full-size vans, the Transit isn’t exactly a leader in fuel efficiency. On our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, the Transit with the turbocharged V-6 logged 17 mpg. For more information about the Transit’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Ford offers the Transit with a variety of roof heights and wheelbase lengths, which allows you to tailor the cabin size to fit your needs. The Transit passenger wagon seats up to 15. The van’s cabin design is slick and contemporary, taking cues from the Ford Explorer, and it’s quiet inside at highway speeds. For 2023, a camper-prepped version called the Transit Trail is also offered and comes with more rugged styling and interior features that befit an adventure van, such as swiveling front seats, an onboard AC inverter, and a built-in fuse panel. What you won’t find in the Transit Trail is an Instagram-worthy living space; Ford leaves that sort of customization up to you or the upfitter of your choice.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
The base Transit is equipped with features such as a four-speaker sound system, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, and a 4.0-inch multi-function display. All models come with a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows your passengers to enjoy easy connectivity. The options list includes a larger 12.0-inch display screen that runs Ford’s latest Sync 4 software. The upgraded system comes with integrated navigation, Sirius XM satellite radio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Ford has equipped this van with plenty of standard driver-assistance features that can help to prevent accidents. For more information about the Transit’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
Standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking Standard lane-keeping assistance and lane-departure warning Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Transit provides adequate warranty protection that’s aligned with all of its rivals. Most vans in this segment offer no complimentary scheduled maintenance plan, but the Chevrolet Express and the GMC Savana both come with one free service visit when purchased new.
Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles No complimentary scheduled maintenance
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door van
PRICE AS TESTED: $45,670 (base price: $38,900)
ENGINE TYPE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled 24-valve DOHC V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 213 cu in, 3497 cc
Power: 310 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 400 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 147.6 in
Length: 235.5 in
Width: 81.3 in Height: 100.7 in
Passenger volume: 84 cu ft
Cargo volume: 357 cu ft
Curb weight: 5423 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 6.8 sec
Zero to 90 mph: 15.3 sec
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 7.1 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.8 sec
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 4.8 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.3 @ 90 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 97 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 171 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.60 g
C/D observed: 14 mpg
C/D observed 75-mph highway driving: 17 mpg
C/D observed highway range: 420 mi
More Features and Specs