Ford Transit Trail Is the Commercial Van to Upfit, Then Take off the Grid

Ford Transit Trail Is the Commercial Van to Upfit, Then Take off the Grid

Ford is zhuzhing up the staid Transit van lineup for 2023 with the Transit Trail, a purpose-built base that is ready to be upfitted for camper duty.The Transit Trail comes with several camper-specific features such as an onboard inverter and a fuse panel which allows DIY vanning enthusiasts to get right to work on the fun parts of building a home on wheels. A growing number of upfitting companies will also be able to customize the Transit Trail to your desired specifications, but Ford’s engineering of the mechanical bits means those items are covered under the factory warranty and serviced at any Ford service center.

Ford’s commercial vans have always been a bit of a blank slate, even back when they were called Econoline, which over the years spawned countless variants and provided customizers a canvas on which to craft whatever vehicle suited their needs. The modern-day Transit is no different, and Ford is making it easier for buyers wandering down the path of nomadic van life with the 2023 Transit Trail.

Essentially a factory-built camper van base, the Transit Trail comes with key elements that vanning aficionados want, such as swiveling front seats, an onboard AC inverter, an over-cab storage compartment, dual alternators, and a fuse panel, all backed by Ford’s warranty.

Ford says these are the mechanical bits that DIY van-lifers may not want to deal with, and offering these items right from the factory can serve to accelerate their build, allowing them to focus on the fun stuff, such as outfitting the interior with their Instagram-worthy touches.

Of course, not everyone is up for an interior buildout, either, which is why Ford is also allocating some of the Transit Trail’s production run to businesses in the growing cottage industry of van upfitting and customization. The one shown here has been outfitted by Van-Do-It of Kansas City and features a cozy-looking bed, overhead storage cabinets, and a kitchenette with a sink.

To provide adventure seekers with additional capability, the Transit Trail features a lifted suspension and 30.5-inch all-terrain tires which together raise the van’s ride height by 3.5 inches. That additional ground clearance should come in handy for getting to more out-of-the-way campsites, and all Transit Trail models will come standard with all-wheel drive as well.

For 2023, the Transit van lineup can be ordered with an optional 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen instead of the 8.0-inch display that was the upgraded display on last year’s model. Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment software joins the party too. While the larger 12.0-inch screen is optional on base Transit models, the Transit Trail gets it as standard. The camper-prepped van also comes with driver-assistance features integrated into the design, including blind-spot monitoring, parking sensors, and adaptive cruise control.

While the regular Transit van is also offered with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6, the Trail will come only with the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which makes 310 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque; a 10-speed automatic serves as the Transit Trail’s transmission. Ford says the Transit Trail can tow up to 6500 pounds and carries a 9000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).

Extras Sold Separately

Ford isn’t the only company aiming to capitalize on the popular #VanLife movement. RV maker Airstream recently unveiled its new Rangeline camper van, which is based on the Ram Promaster van. Unlike the Ford, the Airstream van comes direct from Airstream’s factory with a fully outfitted interior, and it also costs a pretty penny with a starting price of $150,270.

That context makes the Transit Trail look like the deal of the century, but once you include the cost of the interior buildout, the picture looks less rosy. Transit Trail buyers looking to get into vanning on the cheap will likely find themselves going the DIY route, which also comes with endless options for customization—something a turnkey solution like the Airstream or a premade van from an upfitter lack—but even so there are significant costs associated with either method.

Buyers can choose from either the Long or Extended body lengths, and the Transit Trail can be had in either mid- or high-roof styles, the latter of which is only available on the Extended body model. The entry price for the Transit Trail is a lofty $67,770, and the total build price goes up from there when you consider the cost of decking out the living space of your nomadic dreams—it would be easy to get into six figures with even basic upfitting. For comparison, the plain 2023 Transit commercial van starts at $45,250.

Order books open today for the Transit Trail, and if your vision board calls for a vagabond lifestyle, call your Ford dealer soon. Ford says supplies will be limited for the 2023 Transit Trail and dealers will be fighting for allocation alongside countless RV customizers.

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