Full 2010 Ford E-Series Van Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Ford Econoline Cargo van sees no changes of note.
When it comes to four-wheeled beasts of burden, it's hard to find a more capable choice than the 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo van. Though changes to this strictly utilitarian segment happen about as often as Donald Trump changes hairstyles, the Ford Econoline has nonetheless received some notable updates over the last few years that give it an edge over its age-old rivals from Chevy and GMC.
The recently introduced Mercedes-Benz-built Sprinter van (marketed under the Dodge brand in the U.S. until this year) is also competition, given its space-efficient tall-roof option and fuel-efficient diesel engine. However, the Sprinter is considerably more expensive, doesn't offer nearly as much towing capacity, and, at over a foot taller than the American vans, might not fit in all garages.
The Econoline is also notable for its optional Ford Work Solutions. This brilliant piece of technology allows commercial buyers to keep track (via radio-frequency tags) of their power tools and manage their fleet via a telematics and diagnostics system. There is even an available Microsoft-powered in-dash computer that provides high-speed Internet access as well as mobile printing via an available wireless printer. The Econoline Cargo van may date back to when stonewashed jeans were still kind of cool, but Ford has done an admirable job of keeping the van's technological side up-to-date.
Behind the wheel, Ford's van drives adequately, though the Sprinter still offers superior handling and refinement. Interestingly, Ford has also introduced its new Transit Connect this year, a small and nimble van ideally suited for urban tasks. But the Econoline Cargo otherwise offers extensive customizability -- and as for the handling, we doubt commercial van shoppers really care how quickly these behemoths can go around corners. The 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo may be a child of the 20th century, but numerous updates through the years have kept it competitive in this utilitarian segment. As such, it earns our recommendation, though we'd advise sampling the competition as well to determine which van best meets your needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo commercial van is offered to the public in half-ton, 3/4-ton and 1-ton sizes. Shoppers with lighter-capacity needs can start with the E-150 model, while those with more demanding requirements should focus on the E-250 and E-350 Super Duty models. These heavier-duty vehicles come in two different lengths -- 212 inches for the regular version and 232 inches for the Extended model -- and can haul more than 2 tons of gear in the case of the E-350 Super Duty van.
Standard Ford cargo vans are pretty basic, with 16-inch steel wheels, front vinyl bucket seats, air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, manual mirrors and an AM/FM radio. Functional extras include halogen headlights, a second-row bench seat, upgraded towing packages, a limited-slip differential and performance axle ratios for increased towing capacity. Those desiring more creature comforts and style can spring for forged-aluminum wheels, interior insulation, cloth upholstery, captain's chairs, cruise control, keyless entry, power accessories, a navigation system, user-defined upfitter switches, a rearview camera, satellite radio, a six-speaker CD stereo and an auxiliary audio jack. For businesspeople who demand additional customization, Ford offers several special packages that equip the E-Series with a variety of racks, bins and drawers, as well as the above mentioned lineup of Ford Work Solutions.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo offers four different engines, all sending power to the rear wheels. The standard 4.6-liter V8 on E-150 and E-250 models is rated at 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque. A larger 5.4-liter V8 putting out 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque is optional (and recommended) on these models and standard on the E-350 Super Duty. Both engines are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission and can run on E85 as well as gasoline.
Engine upgrades on E-350 Super Dutys include a 6.8-liter V10 good for 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, or a durable and more economical 6.0-liter PowerStroke turbodiesel V8 that produces 235 horses and 440 lb-ft of torque. These larger optional engines are coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission. Maximum tow ratings range from 6,000 pounds for a base E-150 to 10,000 pounds for a properly equipped E-350 Super Duty.
All 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo vans come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes. A dash-mounted manual deactivation switch for the front passenger airbag is optional, as is stability control on non-diesel models. Side airbags are not available.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 E-Series Cargo vans practically define the term "stripped" in base form, but they can be made a bit more civilized with the addition of an optional second-row bench, front captain's chairs, an insulation package, side or rear window glass and/or a sliding side cargo door. Unlike in the Sprinter, there is no optional driver-side sliding door, nor are there different roof heights. Standard-length vans have a maximum cargo capacity of 230 cubic feet, while extended-length vans check in with a voluminous 271 cubic feet of space.
The 4.6-liter V8 is sufficient only for those who don't plan on hauling a lot of stuff -- or who don't mind lethargic acceleration while doing so. Any of the uplevel engines should suit most buyers just fine, particularly the torquey and relatively fuel-efficient diesel V8. Behind the wheel, the 2010 Ford Econoline Cargo feels about how you'd expect. The turning circle is enormous, and body roll in turns is akin to that of a commercial fishing boat riding out a squall. The ride is better than it used to be, though, and most shoppers in this segment will gladly accept the Econoline Cargo's forgettable handling characteristics in return for its impressive utility.