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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Ford Transit

What is it: The now-global replacement to Ford’s E-Series van, a commercial mainstay.

What’s new and notable? The E-Series van is tremendously popular—but it was last fully redesigned in the early 1990s. Ford’s strategy means the van sold here will now be a global product.

Similar in concept and layout to the pricey Mercedes/Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter, the Transit has a variety of wheelbases and roof heights. A higher roof height and lower floor means that medium-height people can stand up easily inside the Transit, a huge improvement over the E-Series.

Three engine options, including a diesel and the familiar EcoBoost twin-turbo V6, aim to boost fuel economy over the current V8 vans. Indeed no V8 will be offered.  Ford is still coy about towing capacities, but with a Class IV hitch and the EcoBoost, we expect it to tow a rather large trailer. The longer wheelbase will only help trailer stability as well as handling with a full load of passengers, a problem with previous 15-passenger vans prior to stability control.

While the cargo area is a gigantic box, the front driver’s space is surprisingly snug; the Sprinter has more space there. 

CR’s take: Ford is strongly promoting the Transit’s reduced operating costs, but we think the Transit will likely cost more to purchase up front than the old E-Series. It will likely drive better too, for the handful of buyers who care. The new van will have a giant impact on the RV industry, perhaps making motorhomes built on the new chassis more efficient.

When will it be available: By the end of 2013.

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