15 PASSENGER HI-TOP VAN
Our Ford Transit XLT 350 15 passenger Hi-top vans have plenty of headroom to move around the cabin without ever needing to bend down. It’s spacious interior and 15 passenger capacity means you can bring the whole family and travel in comfort and style.
Not to be confused with Ford’s smaller Transit Connect, the new Transit supplants Ford’s long-running E-Series full-size van. In just about every area that commercial van buyers find important, the Transit is an upgrade. Ford offers it in two wheelbases, three roof heights and with three different body lengths. There are three engine choices as well, all of which promise to greatly improve fuel efficiency.
The new Transit Wagon’s undercarriage disposes of the heavy and space-robbing ladder frame of traditional commercial vans in favor of a carlike unibody design. This more space-efficient design also results in a reduction in weight (which helps to boost fuel economy as well as towing and gross vehicle weight ratings). With the high-roof body, those more than 6 feet tall can stand upright.
Also improved is the driving experience. The driver and passengers can enjoy an airy, open cockpit with excellent sight lines, supportive seats and even some of the latest technology options. The latter include Ford’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, a rearview camera and lane-keeping alert. The Transit Wagon’s driver will benefit from more refined mechanicals in the form of vastly more responsive steering and a smooth six-speed automatic transmission (which includes a manual-shift functionality).
Many competitors also offer new vans and, depending on your intended use, each is worth consideration. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been available for some time and essentially ushered in the new, more space-efficient, tall roof commercial van template. It’s a fine-driving van, too, and brings Mercedes’ earned reputation for durability. But the Sprinter is expensive and doesn’t offer the range of body configurations of the 2015 Transit. Nissan’s NV Passenger Van stays with a pickup-truck frame and offers an optional V8 engine, which some might find preferable. The Ram Promaster Window Van is perhaps the most radical, as it is front-wheel drive and only comes with front seats, as it’s up to the buyer to outfit it as they see fit.
Every Transit Wagon comes with stability control, frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags and antilock brakes as standard. Rear seats have integral three-point seatbelts, and side curtain airbags cover the entire length of the passenger area. A rearview camera, rear parking sensors and lane-keeping warning are optional.
In government crash testing, the Transit Wagon was not given an overall rating, but it did score four out of five stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side crash safety
Compared with the old E-Series commercial vans, the 2015 Transit Wagon’s interior is almost as much a step into the contemporary as ditching a flip cell phone for an iPhone.
Forget that massive step up and in: The first step into the Transit still is up, but you no longer have to pick your feet over a wide and inconvenient sill covering the frame. And the old-school van seating position now is friendlier and much more like a conventional vehicle. With the tall center console, close-at-hand gear selector and likewise easily accessed climate and radio controls, the interior design is more family crossover than commercial vehicle. Those who’ve driven an E-Series or other old-school American full-size van will be astonished by just how much more welcoming the Transit’s interior is, even with its unapologetically utilitarian trimmings.
Springing for the Transit Wagon’s XLT trim is worth the cost merely for the cloth upholstery and cruise control, we’d reckon, particularly if you plan to use the Transit on long highway hauls. Passenger-seat layouts run the gamut, depending on the length of the Transit Wagon. The standard setup is for eight, with the option for 10 on the regular-wheelbase models. Move to the long wheelbase and there is the option for 15-passenger seating, which is standard if you select the long-wheelbase/extended-length Transit Wagon. It’s easy to maneuver to the back rows of seating in the 10, 12 and 15 passenger Transit Wagon thanks to spaces between the seats, but final row of seating has four very narrow seats, so don’t plan on putting full-size adults back there.
The new Transit brings several welcome new features for rear passengers. First, there’s an aisle between the rows rather than forcing passengers to shuffle rearward between the seats and the body of the van, making it much easier to access seats farther to the rear. All seatbelts now are a three-point design anchored to the seat frame, eliminating belts dangling from the roof. And there are standard side curtain airbags running the length of the passenger area, improving side impact and rollover safety.
The first thing drivers will notice is that the 2015 Ford Transit Wagon responds to its steering wheel in a way no truck-based van has before. The steering responds easily and gives feedback more like a family car than a full-size truck. A relatively tight turning circle is another welcome attribute of the new Transit.
The Transit’s standard 3.7-liter V6 has respectable power but probably wouldn’t do for those planning to frequently transport a lot of passengers. The turbocharged V6 is a different animal, able to effortlessly propel a fully loaded Transit. The new 3.2-liter diesel — Ford’s first use of this engine in the United States — is quiet, gutsy and, like the other two engines, cooperates almost invisibly with the standard six-speed automatic transmission.
Agreeable, smooth engines and well-managed wind noise make the Transit’s cabin noticeably quiet, although pelting rain hammers the roof and can make noise in the wheel wells. And for those ultra-long versions of the Transit, the optional rearview camera is a boon.