Fords full-size E-Series cargo-hauling Van and passenger-carrying Wagon received several revisions for the 2003 model year. The changes include a new grille with an integral Ford emblem. A drivers grab handle is now standard, and the Wagon models gain LATCH child-safety seat tethers and anchors. New optional power mirrors on the midseries models come with puddle lamps.
Formerly called the Econoline, the E-Series models ride a 138-inch wheelbase and come in E-150 (half-ton), E-250 (three-quarter-ton) and E-350 Super Duty (one-ton) load ratings. The E-Series is marketed in cutaway form and as a stripped chassis. E-150 and E-350 Super Duty Wagons are sold in XL and XLT trim levels.
All E-Series Vans have rear-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. Engine choices range from a modest V-6 to a pair of V-8s.
Available only in regular length, the E-150 Van and Wagon have a 138-inch wheelbase and stretch to 211.9 inches long overall. Swing-out 60/40-split doors are installed on the right side, but a sliding cargo door is available as a no-cost option. Swing-out doors are the only choice at the rear. A Chateau Appearance Package that features two-tone paint, CD/cassette audio and privacy glass is available for the Wagon models.
The regular-length E-250 and E-350 Super Duty Vans have 138-inch wheelbases and stretch to 211.9 inches long overall. Extended models actually ride the same wheelbase, but their bodies are 20 inches longer and reach well beyond the back wheels.
Swing-out 60/40-split doors are installed on the right side, but a sliding cargo door is available as a no-cost option. Swing-out doors are the only choice at the rear.
Aimed at commercial applications, cargo-hauling Vans are fitted only with two bucket seats up front. Passenger models have seating for eight occupants on two front buckets and a pair of three-passenger bench seats. Captains chairs can replace the center bench to provide seating for seven people. Cargo volume in the E-150 is 256.5 cubic feet. An optional cargo organizer may be installed behind the rear bench seat.
Cargo volume in the E-250 and E-350 Super Duty is 256.5 cubic feet in the regular-length version and 309.4 cubic feet in extended-length models. In the E-350 Super Duty, a cargo organizer is available for installation behind the rear bench seat.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available for each E-Series model, each driving a four-speed-automatic transmission.
The base engine for the E-150 is a 191-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-6. Stepping up a notch are a pair of V-8s: a 225-hp 4.6-liter and a 255-hp 5.4-liter.
When properly equipped, the E-150 Van can tow as much as 6,800 pounds, which is 300 pounds more towing power than the equivalent E-150 passenger Wagon. Maximum payload ratings for the Van range from 1,700 to 2,045 pounds.
The base engine for the E-250 is a 191-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-6. Stepping up a notch are three V-8s: a 225-hp 4.6-liter, a 255-hp 5.4-liter and a 225-hp version of the 5.4-liter that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). All models are equipped with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
When properly equipped, the E-250 Van with the 5.4-liter V-8 gasoline engine can tow as much as 7,500 pounds. Maximum payload ratings range from 1,965 to 3,430 pounds depending on the configuration.
The base engine for the E-350 Super Duty is a 255-horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8; a 225-hp version of this engine runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). The strongest gasoline engine offered is a 6.8-liter V-10 that cranks out 305 hp. For true brute force, the heaviest-duty models may be equipped with a Power Stroke 7.3-liter turbo-diesel V-8 that gen erates 215 hp.
When properly equipped, the E-350 Super Duty Van with one of the larger engines can tow up to 10,000 pounds. Maximum payload ratings for the Van range from 3,080 to 4,010 pounds depending on the configuration.
All E-Series models have dual front airbags. Four-wheel antilock brakes and front seat belt pretensioners are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.
After a few minutes behind the wheel, its almost possible to forget the E-150s truck origin. Engine drone is less noticeable than in Ford vans of the distant past. With relatively light steering, it maneuvers almost as easily as a smaller van. On the other hand, more effort is necessary in order to judge your position on the highway and while parking.
The 5.4-liter V-8 engine is strong enough to deliver satisfying and safe response to pressure on the gas pedal. The ride quality is decent enough, but its not as well cushioned as most minivans. The E-150 needs more correction on straightaways than do many smaller vans, but its reasonably stable. Drivers enjoy a commanding view and, despite the high stance, getting in and out isnt too difficult.