First off, we are a Ford family, almost. The BIL is a plant manager at an assembly plant in SE Michigan so we do 'A' plan. That didn't stop me from buying a pre-obama Chevy though. Post-obama chevy's are a no-no however. It's not really a Chevy, it's a Tracker so it's a Suzuki with a Chevy emblem. That's as close as I'll ever get. I'll never get within smelling room of a Chrysler, especially a Fiat Chrysler. I know what's under the sheet metal on a Chrysler and while I can't divulge how I know or what I know, just be assured that underneath they don't compare to a Ford or a Chevy.
I had to clear that up right off.
Besides my Tracker I have a '97 F350 Crew Cab Long Bed 4x4 (the Transit will fit in the bed quite easily). I drive the Transit rarely. It's my wife's vehicle, she bought it (after I pointed one out to her that was sitting on a dealer's lot as we drove by). It's so ugly, it's cute. My wife had a Ranger Edge 4.0 V6 so the Transit was a large step down in power but a large step up in fuel mileage. You can't have power and mileage unless you have a diesel. If the Transit ever comes to the States as a diesel, I'll buy one too.....
Here's my take on the Transit from a passenger/occasional driver's point of view and 14.000 miles or so of relationship.
My wife's is an XLT with all options except the Blue tooth. We aren't yak on the cell phone people anyway. We are old farts.
The wipers suck. First thing I did was change out the front wipers for triple edge silicone ones and shortened the passenger side wiper blade a full 2". I also added external wiper arm springs for added windshield contact. The rear wipers are fine.
Interior controls and appointments are, well, not high end but not low end either. This isn't a Bugatti, it's a Ford. Don't expect walnut burl on the dash or lambskin seat covers, that's not gonna happen. It's not cheap painted tin like an old VW either. Its tasteful and utilitarian. My wifes AC didn't work. She took it back for that as well. The AC was only half charged with refrigerant from the factory. I realize Turkey is a long way but that's no excuse. It's fine now. The AC is actually quite efficient and cools down the rather large interior quickly. Just be assured that it takes some power to run the compressor and youe mileage will suffer. My wife's mileage drops about 4mpg with the AC on. Thankfully, we live in the north so AC is an ocassional summertime thing.
I'm not crazy about the power window controls in the console but my wife don't seem to mind. She (and I) don't like the non-illuminated cruise control switches in the steering wheel. Even my 350 is illuminated. Night time control is a PITA if you aren't sure which switch is which.
She took delivery of the Transit and found the headlights were aimed so high that the low beams were high beams and the high beams were in the treetops. It went right back to the dealer to get the lights lowered. No biggie but was irritating.
I've read some crabbing about the TPS sensors in the wheels. They are sensitive to pressure. Keep an eye on the inflation. The rear tires have to be 49 PSI and the front's 35. A 5 pound loss will illuminate the TPS light on the dash and airing the tires wont turn off the light, the TPS sensors must be 'reprogrammed'. The procedure is in the owners manual. Not hard to do, but it must be done in the proper order. In as much as it's my responsibility to keep the tires at correct pressure, I think the TPS sensors are a PITA. My wife could care less....
She and I like the standard Continental Radials that came on the Transit. They run quiet and at 14K, show no wear. I might buy a set for my Tracker. I like to get at least 90K from a set of tires.
Power wise it's not a drag racer nor is it a Ranger 4.0 or for that matter a 7.3 Turbo Diesel. It's adequate. No more, no less. Most of my wife's driving is Michigan Interstates. The closet on wheels keeps up just fine. She's happy, so am I. Her Transit has the ride stability control and the rear back up alarm. The ride stability control does it's job, I guess. I've ridden in the jump seat on the e-way in heavy crosswinds and the vehicle feels stable. It moves a bit sideways in gusts but so does my F350. High profile is high profile. I like the back up sensor and so does she. The view out the back windows isn't all that great with the middle pillar door split so the alarm comes in handy. The engine works a bit to get it to merge speed but it's a 4 banger not a big V8 so that's expected. It winds up willingly and the trans axle shifts well and the shift points are well spaced. I don't see the need for more gear sets like some people want.
I believe the Transit will give a Harley Davisdon a run for it's money. The Harley will surely make more noise (all Harley's make noise) but power wise, the Transit is on par with an HD.
Mileage wise, my wife averages 27 MPG freeway and 25 around town. The best her Ranger ever got was 21, same as my 350 but then, it's a diesel, different animal. My Tracker gets 23 with full time 4WD and a twin cam V6, but my Tracker is more aerodynamic and has much less cargo or seating room. I toosed the standard paper filter in the Transit right away and installed a K&N. I rep K&N so I'm partial. Could be part of her good mileage, I suspect so.
We are both amazed at the cargo capacity, versatility of the Transit. She got the full open rear doors, another nice option. You can stuff the little hauler and still ride comfortably. I put 16 bundles of shingles in the back the other day and it didn't even squat. I was impressed. I've hauled my Troy Bilt in the back, my gas driven welder, she hauls groceries and the dogs.
All in all, the ride quality isn't a caddy, but it sure rides better than my one ton pickup. It's built solid (like any Ford we've ever owned) and the fit and finish is excellent though a bit European, but then, that's the 'new' thing....
Both of us especially like the headroom. We are both over 6 foot tall and most cars have such low roof's, we have to either hunker down or lat the seats back so our heads to touch the ceilings. Not so with the Transit. Boo-Coo headroom. The overhead storage shelf is nice too. My wife already has 'her' stuff up there. Kleenex box, knick-knacks, stinky air freshener ans who knows what else. I don't look. I don't care. It's not my payment book.
I do look under the hood. I'm a gear head by trade so its important to me the way a vehicle is put together in the mechanical aspect. Location of serviceable items like fuel and oil filters, wiper fluid container, master cylinder and general ease of service. The Transit shines in all aspects except one. The alternator. In typical Ford transverse engine fashion, the alternator is located below and rearward on the passenger side of the engine bay. That will necessitate removal of the right side half shaft on the trans axle to remove/replace the alternator. Alternators fail. I've replaced a few on my vehicles, hundreds on customer vehicles. That's a typical 4-6 hour job. Other than that item, all appears well thought out.
The rear end of the Transit is a simple solid axle with semi elliptical leaf springs and shock absorbers, nothing exciting and nothing hard to replace or repair. Wheels are pilot mount. Pilot mount refers to the way the rim locates on the hub and nothing more. Pilot mount rims must have never seize applied to the mounting flange when changing/rotating rims, that's all. The brakes are drum with internal expanding shoes in the rear and vented rotors with calipers in the front, pretty SOP for today.
My wife lost a hubcap the other day (right after she took it in for a service). Seems the hubcaps are indexed to the rim in a specific location (it's marked on the inside of each hubcap) and the tire flunky at the dealer obviously can't read or don't care. She retrieved the hubcap but not the retainer ring. I had to make a ring from 12.5 gage HT wire in the shop and butt weld it and then fit it into the hubcap and reinstall the hubcap in the proper position. They are cheap plastic but I bet they are a hundred bucks each at the dealer. Lesson learned, watch your hubcaps if you have your tires rotated somewhere. If you do it yourself, no problem. I know we all can read.....
All in all, as a passenger and occasional driver, I feel that the Transit scores high marks across the board. It's an eye catcher, has more room than any mini-van out there, gets good mileage and rides decently.
If they import a turbo-diesel, I'll have one a swell.
There you have it. My opinions as a passanger, ocassional driver, spouse and extended maintenance technician.
I understand the need for size. I have a '97 7.3 Crew Cab 4x4 long bed as well. It's about economy of scale and what suits your needs. The Transit suits my wife perfectly, much like my little Tracker suits my back and forth to work driving.
I'm seeing more of tham as well. I believe Fords has a winner.
Thanks a lot for the review, Sidecar. I'm surprised at the little QC oversights like low refrigerant and bad headlight aim, but it otherwise sounds like a very useful and tough little box. Although we use vans for personal use (toting bicycles, musical gear, furniture, etc) I don't mind a stark, commercial type interior. Just like a truck should be and the total opposite of a "Lincoln pickup truck" which confuses the hell out of me.
I've had big vans for 24 years running and when my E150 goes (hopefully not for a while), the TC looks like the best option; I'd like it about a foot longer. Gas mileage sounds better than I might have expected. 27 mpg freeway sounds GREAT--is your wife a 65-70 mph driver, or (like my wife), a 70-80 mph driver?
She's a typical 5-7 over Michigan Driver and the closet on wheels does just fine.
I forgot to add in the review that the cruise control up and down button makes an audible and felt click. A nice feature that allows you to count up and down (in your mind of course) the speed you want to be at. The cruise must be digitally encoded because it holds the set speed excatly where you set it.
Neither the Ranger she had nor my 350 does that. We both like that.
I'll attribute the better than window sticker mileage to a K&N in the airbox.... Certainly not her right foot.
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