As I mentioned in my previous post, the 2015 Ford Transit 350 is a major step forward in van looks, technology, fuel efficiency, and overall concept. For the past few decades all large vans have been gas-guzzling bricks on wheels with the steering characteristics of a blimp and it is exciting to see a product totally interrupt the market. Old vs. new
I have yet to drive one of the 2015 vans but the reviews so far are great. I have driven various older Ford, Dodge, and GM vans and literally anything they have done would be an improvement on the old status quo.
Starting on the inside, the new Ford Transit has redesigned the seating layout to allow for better passenger flow while still fitting the same number of people in a more compact body. Instead of passengers cramming in to the traditional bench seats, bucket seats cleverly aligned to create an aisle to the back give each passenger their own space.
Because these vans are used so frequently they clock some serious miles. A newer 'old-style' van would average 13 miles per gallon in good driving conditions. Older ones would significantly drop off with models ten years or older typically getting under ten mpg. The stated average mpg of the new Transit 350 is 16. That does not sound all that high but it is an almost 25% increase on previous models. Ford accomplishes this by installing a V6 engine instead of the typical V8 or V10 you would find in the older E-Series vans. Their ability to squeeze more power out of the smaller engine is one of the reasons why Ford continues to dominate van and truck sales in the U.S. Of course, that number may be inflated a bit but it is still a massive improvement. At my small camp alone that would translate into a savings of about 100 gallons of gas per summer; multiply that by the thousands of summer camps and schools that utilize these vans and there are hundreds of thousands to millions of saved gallons of gas.
The sleek design of the cockpit, which includes all of the modern technology you would find in your car, will keep drivers more attuned to the road and their passengers' safety. That attention to design is the first noticeable feature on the outside of the van as well. They have finally made these vans aerodynamic and somewhat better to look at than the old ones.
Ford has maintained the core concept behind these vehicles - the transport of large groups of people - while also balancing the needs of the 21st century businesses, schools, and families that will buy them. Hopefully their massive steps forward will cause other manufacturers to follow suit and keep improving these essential modes of transportation.