What's New for 2013
The Ford E-Series Van returns essentially unchanged for 2013.
The 2013 Ford E-Series Van makes a case for automotive natural selection. As new vehicles emerge, this dinosaur of a van balances on the edge of extinction. This year marks the last time you'll be able to choose from the full traditional Econoline lineup, as a new full-size Ford Transit van is poised to replace it. There is a distinct possibility, however, that a variant of the E-Series will remain in production for pure commercial use.
Compared to pretty much any vehicle on sale today, the E-Series, or Econoline, vans are lumbering throwbacks that have fallen woefully behind the times. The E-Series Van represents a model that is geared more toward cargo hauling, as opposed to the E-Series Wagon, which is intended more for passengers. As such, the interior of the base E-Series may remind you of the inside of a tin shack rather than any other modern vehicle.
Under the abbreviated hood, the outdated theme continues. The base 4.6-liter V8 engine seems barely capable of moving this behemoth and the ride quality is notably crude by SUV standards. Not much can be done to improve ride comfort, but there are at least more powerful engines available.
In the 2013 Ford E-Series Van's defense, the Chevrolet Express Cargo and its GMC Savana twin are just as behind the times. In light of this, we suggest checking out the 2013 Nissan NV, which can be specified with a tall roof option. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter also offers roof options, as well as a driver-side sliding door and diesel engine.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Classified as a full-size van, the 2013 Ford E-Series Van is offered in three variants. 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.
Intended as a commercial workhorse, the E-Series Van is short on creature comforts. Standard features are limited to 16-inch steel wheels, a limited-slip differential, vinyl front bucket seats, vinyl front floor coverings, air-conditioning, a tilt-only steering wheel, manual telescoping mirrors and a two-speaker AM/FM radio with an auxiliary audio jack.
Available options include alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, power-adjustable and manually telescoping mirrors, running boards, a sliding side door, rear parking sensors, upgraded towing packages with optimized axle ratios, a household power outlet, a second-row bench seat, interior insulation, cloth upholstery, captain's chairs, cruise control, keyless entry, a navigation system, Ford's Sync voice activation system, user-defined upfitter switches, a rearview camera, satellite radio and a six-speaker CD stereo.
For the business on wheels that demands additional customization, there are several special packages that equip the E-Series with a variety of racks, bins and drawers, as well as the optional Crew Chief and Ford Work Solutions. Crew Chief keeps tabs on vans in its fleet, tracking location, speed, idle time and maintenance, while Work Solutions turns the E-Series into an office on wheels, with a built-in computer, mobile Internet, remote file access and even on-site tool inventory.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 E-Series Van has three engines from which to choose. Standard on the E-150 is a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the E-150 and standard on all E-350 models is a 5.4-liter V8 that makes 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. E-350 buyers can upgrade to a 6.8-liter V10 that churns out 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic comes with the V10. Properly equipped, an E-350 can tow up to 10,000 pounds.
Fuel estimates vary depending on axle ratios. The 4.6-liter V8 turns in an EPA-estimated 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 15 mpg in combined driving. The 5.4-liter engine is rated at 12/16/14 mpg for the E-150 and 12/16/13 mpg for the E-350. The 6.8-liter V10 is estimated at 10/14/12 mpg.
All 2013 Ford E-Series Vans come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control. Side or side curtain airbags are not available, but a rearview camera and rear parking sensors are available as options.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 2013 Ford E-Series vans, function definitely takes priority over form. The cabin is decidedly spartan with its vinyl flooring and upholstery but 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.
Pleasing shapes and creature comforts are nearly absent, too, with blocky, industrial shapes dominating the cabin and padded surfaces also at a premium. Fortunately, controls are well placed and storage is plentiful. Unlike in the Sprinter, there is no optional driver-side sliding door, nor are there different roof heights as with the Sprinter and Nissan NV. Standard-length vans have a maximum cargo capacity of 237 cubic feet, while extended-length vans check in with a voluminous 275 cubic feet of space.
The base 4.6-liter V8 seems ill-suited for such a utilitarian and brawny hauler as the 2013 Ford E-Series Van. It is just barely sufficient for motivating light loads, and acceleration is lethargic at best. Either of the more powerful engines will likely satisfy most drivers, but we still wish Ford offered a diesel option. The big van drives just about how you'd expect. The turning circle is enormous and any change in direction is accompanied by a sizable amount of body roll. Those used to a carlike ride will probably find the E-Series a bit crude but forgivable, given its considerable utility.