We recently had the chance to drive a 2017 Ford Transit 350 high-roof full-size one-ton van around Los Angeles and even found a way to put it good use. One of our daughters was moving from a rental to a townhouse, and the Transit 350 was the perfect choice to help her move her stuff.
The Race Red cargo van came equipped with the Preferred Equipment 101A Package and a charcoal interior, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost ($1,865) and 3.73:1 axle gears ($325). The van also had the Interior Upgrade Package ($1,495), Sync 3 and navigation ($1,270), a power running board ($940) and several other options. The total was just more than $45,000, which included almost $9,000 in options and a $1,195 destination fee.
Among the van's most impressive features: a 9,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating and a calculated payload capacity of just more than 4,000 pounds. That means that a vehicle that weighs about the same as a mid-size crew-cab pickup can carry as much as a one-ton dually pickup weighing thousands of pounds less.
We never got close to the van's maximum weight capacity during our two fully loaded trips from the old to the new residence. Our first trip included two living room couches, several dining room chairs, patio furniture and a surprisingly heavy queen-size box spring and bed frame, not to mention all the rugs and kitchen appliances we could squeeze in between the bigger furniture pieces.
It was nice to have the six-speed SelectShift on the dashboard; while navigating some steep hills with the van fully loaded, we put it in Tow-Haul mode to keep the powerband higher and grade-braking more aggressive. Our second fully loaded trip — how does a single 20-something accumulate so much stuff? — was an assortment of shoes, clothes, bookshelves, kitchen utensils, upright light stands and fans, bathroom stuff, and boxes and boxes of knickknacks.
Although we didn't keep meticulous notes on our fuel economy, we achieved 16.1 mpg when averaging the fully loaded runs with our empty round trip of just more than 320 miles. Additionally, with the EcoBoost engine, there is some definite snap to the throttle response so be prepared, especially when driving around empty.
Along the way, we found there were six things that we really liked about using the van for long-trip transport and hauling.
6 Things We Like
1. The foundation of the Transit van is like a heavy-duty unibody chassis, using some strong leaf springs. The result is tons of carrying capacity with a lower center of gravity. Combine that with 400 pounds-feet of torque and 310 horsepower from the V-6, and you have a strong, efficient work vehicle.
2. We love that the Transit 350 comes standard with a full-size 4-ton bottle jack under the passenger seat and a set of tools in a hidden compartment in the footwell. We know it's a just-in-case thing, but we like that it's strong enough to hoist the vehicle when fully loaded. Why don't all pickup trucks have this?
3. We found nine separate tie-down points, with plenty more to be had on the seats and in the wall and roof. The D-rings are strong enough to hold pallets of bricks or bags of concrete with strong ratcheting straps. We even strapped a larger TV to the floor.
4. Although this is not likely to be ordered by a typical commercial fleet buyer, we found the power running board to be a huge asset when loading and unloading cargo. It creates an additional platform step, but it will save your back and other muscles by not having to lift and reach into the van so much.
5. Our test van came with the Trailer Tow Package ($485), which gave us a factory Class III hitch and all the proper wiring. We also had the extra integrated brake controller ($230), the bigger power and heated side-view mirrors ($220), and the backup alarm ($125).
6. The rear doors have a separate latch to allow them to swing all the way open (270 degrees) to accommodate large items or tough angles. The detachable door-hinge mechanism is simple and convenient to use, and it saved our bacon a few times when we had to wedge the van into tight parking spaces and then get some big couches and mattresses into the rear cargo area.
Cars.com photos by Mark Williams