A Moving Experience With Ford's Transit


Typically, truck lovers tend to have a strong appreciation for tools. Given how many pickups trucks are genuine "work trucks" used by the nation's corps of service tradesmen, it just makes sense. In fact, I suspect most owners would even put pickups in the "tool" category.

So where did this fascination with tools begin? Likely from being around men who were handy at fixing things, whether they were our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, older brothers or neighbors. Or it could have come out of spending time as a Boy Scout.

Wherever the passion for tools came from, you no doubt remember the amazement you felt the first time you saw a Swiss army knife in action. For me, my paternal grandfather was the embodiment of a Swiss army knife. Growing up as a young "buckaroo" shadowing my grandad on his Wisconsin dairy farm, I never ceased to be in awe at all the things he could do. A natural-born mechanic and tool lover, there wasn't anything he couldn't do. He was a genuine jack-of-all-trades.

The Right Tool for the Job

So what does all that have to do with the Ford Transit?

Well, if you're looking for the Swiss army knife of trucks that's the right tool for the job, the Transit just might be it.

Much has been written about the new expanded line of Transit trucks since production ramped up at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri a year ago. That means most of you probably know "work truck" version of the Transit is available in three body lengths, two wheelbases and three roof heights. With the Transit we're not talking about a daily driver that only shifts you into "work mode" when picking up a neighbor's new sofa or doing some landscaping where you're hauling only three to four bags of dirt and a few shrubs.

No, the Ford Transit is a heavy-duty hauler and just what we needed for a two-family, two-way, two-state five-day move.

We chose the biggest model and the most powerful of the three engines offered in the Ford Transit: the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic. It puts out 310 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of torque. We also chose the biggest version. Our Transit rode on a 148-inch wheelbase, was 22 feet long and almost 110 inches tall (it's the tallest roofline available, able to accommodate folks up to 6 feet 4 inches tall). This Transit also had the most cargo capacity — more than 487 cubic feet. Which model was it? The 2015 Ford Transit T-250 high-roof, long-wheelbase single-rear-wheel version.

This move involved getting my son and his fiancée moved to Tulsa, Okla., from Oklahoma City, and then moving my stuff to Austin, Texas, from Fort Worth. Frankly, I had no earthly idea how I'd arrange it — not to mention afford it — until the regional Ford office suggested I try out the full-size Ford Transit. Problem solved.

Being a veteran of at least 20-something moves, much of my evaluation contrasts the Transit's talents as a moving van compared to the typical rental truck.


First of all, the Transit is much more comfortable. The front bucket seats are nicely contoured and supportive. They also recline and have nicely padded armrests. You'll also find an abundance of cupholders and storage cubbies for accommodating your cellphone and the mobile meals necessitated by moving.

The Transit also provides a modern instrument cluster with electronic controls and a 6.5-inch touch-screen information center. For the 2016 model year, Ford will offer its updated, multimodal Sync 3 multimedia system with more features. For those unfamiliar with such systems, a few extra minutes reviewing the instructional guide is advised prior to hitting the road.

My only complaint about Sync 3 is how far away from the driver it's mounted. The swept-back design of the instrument panel places it closer to the window than the driver, making it difficult to see. The upside of the cabin is the panoramic glass and higher-than-usual seating position, which provides excellent visibility.

While the Transit lacks the built-in loading ramp found in many moving vans, that disadvantage is offset by the convenience of a side-loading sliding van door with a well-located grab handle to aid entry. Also, the rear cargo doors open up to 270 degrees, which also facilitates loading and unloading. And speaking of sliding van doors, for 2016 Ford has added a dual-sliding cargo door option, bringing the number of available configurations of the Transit up to 58 from 47 in the 2015 model.

The cargo area features several strategically placed hooks for securing cargo with ropes or bungee cords. About the only item missing is a standard three-prong electrical outlet at the rear of the cargo area. I think contractors would find that handy for doing service repairs that require power tools. And it's something you can find in many pickups now.

Ride and Handling

Those accustomed to the buckboard ride of a moving van will be pleasantly surprised by the ride comfort provided by the Transit. Ford expended considerable effort to design a suspension that provided above-average handling, steering and ride quality. The Transit comes with a power rack-and-pinion steering setup that makes driving a breeze, whether floating down the freeway or navigating narrow city streets and alleys.

The front suspension consists of subframe-mounted MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar for smoother, flatter cornering, combined with progressive rear leaf springs and heavy-duty gas-charged dampers that deliver a well-controlled ride quality — regardless of the load.

To me it seemed that the Transit felt stable and was much happier when operating fully loaded than it was when driven empty. And driven it was. During the five-day move, the Transit covered more than 1,300 miles with relative ease and comfort. The suspension and steering proved especially capable when confronted with challenging highway construction marked by narrow lanes and uneven pavement on stretches of Interstate 35 between Fort Worth and Austin. The only discomfort encountered was the pain in my aching muscles, caused more by the manual labor of taking heavy items in and out of the van than by driving.

What was perhaps the most surprising aspect of the entire odyssey was how fuel efficient the Transit's V-6 EcoBoost proved to be, given the variety of road and weather conditions. It's not often the words "truck" and "fuel efficient" are used together, but in this case we have no other choice. We managed a remarkable 17 mpg combined during our time behind the wheel. (The 2015 Ford Transit T-150 is EPA-rated at 14/19/16 mpg city/highway/combined.)

We were expecting much less since during the leg from Oklahoma City to Tulsa we drove into the teeth of a 20-30 mph wind. Because of the Transit's extra height, we did experience some buffeting, but the load helped to offset it well. We filled the tank prior to making the 110-mile trek to Tulsa and had to fill it again once again in Oklahoma City. I suppose the tail wind helped heading south, because we didn't fill up again until 390 miles later on the outskirts of Austin.

Final Thoughts

Although Ford might not have designed the Transit as a moving van, much like the versatile Swiss army knife it proved to be the right tool for the job.

If you're looking for a new career opportunity and have $38,425 to spend (that was the cost of our tester, including destination) on a commercial truck, you just might consider acquiring a Transit and go into business as the Mighty Mouse Moving Service … or some such. Given its compact size and solid economy, you would do well in major university or college towns, where students move in and out frequently, yet have a modest amount of furniture. photos by Peter Hubbard




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