What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Ford Econoline Wagon sees no notable changes.
We can't think of a vehicle that's less of a fashion statement than the 2010 Ford Econoline Wagon. Unlike passenger cars or SUVs (or even pickups nowadays), Ford's venerable, old-school people mover sees functional changes as needed to keep it viable, while cosmetic changes happen about as often as Halley's Comet comes around. Though the last complete redesign happened in 1992, the Econoline has received some recent updates that should keep this dozen-plus-people mover popular.
Whether you need to transport up to 15 people or an apartment's worth of furniture, the Econoline is up to the task. Engine choices range from a small V8 to a burly V10, allowing a towing capacity of up to 10,000 pounds. But there are other vehicles vying for your attention. In recent years, the Mercedes-Benz-built Sprinter (marketed under the Dodge brand in the U.S. until this year) has been a very viable alternative to domestic vans like the Econoline. Notably, it's more space efficient (by virtue of its NBA-spec headroom architecture) and fuel efficient. On the downside, though, it's 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 some garages.
Compared to its main rivals, the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana twins, the Ford matches up reasonably well. Furthermore, the Econoline offers a few key features -- such as a navigation system, satellite radio and a rearview camera -- that its rivals don't. The 2010 Ford Econoline 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 passenger van best meets your needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The full-size 2010 Ford Econoline Wagon is offered in three basic configurations: the eight-passenger E-150, the 12-passenger E-350 Super Duty and the 15-passenger E-350 Super Duty Extended. Each model is offered in basic XL or better-equipped XLT trim. Standard equipment on the base XL includes 16-inch steel wheels, vinyl upholstery, front air-conditioning and an AM/FM radio. The uplevel XLT adds chrome bumpers, cloth upholstery, rear air-conditioning, cruise control, power accessories and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack.
The E-150 is available with the Premium package, which includes leather-trimmed quad captain's chairs, keyless entry, privacy glass, running boards, two-tone paint and upgraded aluminum wheels. Other available options include a sliding passenger-side door (as opposed to the standard swing-open dual doors), Ford's Sync system, upgraded towing packages, telescoping side towing mirrors, Ford Work Solutions options for commercial use, different seating configurations, a power driver seat, an in-dash six-CD changer, a navigation system, satellite radio and a rearview camera.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Econoline Wagon offers three engine choices. The base 4.6-liter V8, standard on the E-150, generates 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 rated at 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. E-350 buyers can also 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.
All Econoline passenger vans come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control. Side airbags are not available.
Interior Design and Special Features
Thanks to its recently revamped dash layout, the 2010 Ford Econoline Wagon no longer time-warps you straight back to 1992. We wouldn't call this layout "contemporary," exactly, but at least it doesn't call attention to its age like the previous one. Controls are sensibly located and storage space is plentiful. The optional captain's chairs enhance the Econoline's comfort, although legroom can be tight for second-row passengers in any configuration. Cargo capacity is one of the shoebox-shaped Econoline's strengths, with 237 to 275 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume on hand, depending on the model.
The 4.6-liter V8 is sufficient only for those who don't plan on hauling a lot of people or stuff -- or who don't mind lethargic acceleration while doing so. Either of the uplevel engines should suit most buyers just fine, though we lament the passing of the torquey and relatively fuel-efficient diesel V8. Behind the wheel, the Econoline 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's forgettable handling characteristics in return for its impressive utility.