Massive cargo-hauling ability, wide range of configurations.
Offers very few convenience features, engines can't match power of GM's offerings.
Buying a commercial van for business use is easy. Pick from Dodge, Ford or General Motors. The E-Series is now a decade old in terms of design and engineering, but it remains competitive. If Ford can outfit one they way you want, there's no reason to look elsewhere.
Introduction: Tough, roomy, rugged and reliable, Ford's Econoline Van has a favorable, well-earned reputation. Since the van's introduction in 1960, Ford says it has sold more than 6 million Econolines.
The current Econoline lineup is extensive. There are the base-model E-150, the E-250, the E-250 Extended, the tougher E-350 Super Duty and the E-350 Super Duty Extended. Ford equips each of these vehicles in either recreational-use (Econoline Wagon) or commercial-use (Econoline Van) trim. Recreational trim is for large families or people who want customized conversion vans or RVs, while the Econoline Van commercial models are used by tradespeople to cart equipment from job to job. It is upon the latter that we will concentrate here.
If you want to purchase a new full-size van for business use, you're going to end up with the Econoline, the Chevrolet Express, the GMC Savana or the Dodge Ram Wagon. Each are similar in price and size. The GM vans have the advantage in horsepower, but otherwise your buying decision should come down to pricing and getting a van configured the way you want.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: Ford's commercial-use Econoline Van is available to the general public in half-ton, three-quarter-ton and one-ton sizes. For those whose hauling needs aren't too intensive, there is the base E-150 model. If you have a bit more on your plate, select the E-250, which comes in two lengths -- regular (211.9 inches) and EXT (231.9). Finally, for contractors with the heaviest payloads (up to 4,000 pounds), there is the E-350 van, also available in regular and extended lengths.
In base form, the vans are equipped rather sparsely -- two vinyl bucket seats, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel adjustment, power mirrors, a two-speaker stereo and 16-inch tires with steel rims. Among the available options are functional items like a second-row bench (so that you can carry the whole crew), a towing package and shorter axle ratios for enhanced towing ability (most with a limited-slip differential), as well as "luxuries" like cloth upholstery, captain's chairs, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo with a cassette deck and a power group with keyless entry and power windows and locks. Powertrains and Performance: The Econoline is available with five different engines (or six, if you count the special-order 5.4-liter natural gas V8). E-150s, E-250s and E-250 Extended models come with a standard 191-horsepower 4.2-liter V6. Optional on the E-150 and E-250 is either a 4.6-liter V8 or a 5.4-liter V8. The 4.6-liter produces 225 hp and 286 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.4-liter makes 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. E-350 Super Duty and Super Duty Extended models have the 5.4-liter V8 as standard. To upgrade, you can go with a 305-hp 6.8-liter V10 or Ford's 7.3-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8. This monster cranks out 215 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque.
Four-speed automatic transmissions are standard across the model line. Trailer ratings range from 6,600 lbs for an E-150 with the V6 to 10,000 lbs for an E-350 Super Duty with the 4.10 axle ratio. In terms of the payloads you can carry, the range goes from 6,700 lbs GVWR for the E-150 to 9,500 lbs GVWR for the regular-length E-350. And then there's the matter of cargo space -- up 309 cubic feet of it.
Safety: All Econolines come standard with four-wheel ABS, second-generation front airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners for the driver and passenger. E-150s come with rear drum brakes, while E-250s and 350s have four-wheel discs. Interior Design and Special Features: Besides adding an optional second-row bench to accommodate your staff, you can increase your van's day-to-day livability (for people, anyway) by equipping it with swing-out side glass and fixed rear glass and/or a sliding side cargo door (in place of the standard hinged doors).
Driving Impressions: Despite their old-fashioned suspension designs, Econolines feel relatively stable and confident when driven on the highway. Given their size, of course, they can be rather cumbersome to park or maneuver through heavy traffic. However, the virtues of sitting tall with a panoramic view of the road ahead can outweigh many a minor inconvenience.
For 2003, all vans get power exterior mirrors, and you can get a deluxe set of mirrors with puddle lamps as an option. Additionally, you can select an optional sliding side cargo door in lieu of the standard hinged side doors. Other changes include new cloth headliners, a few new interior and exterior color choices and a new grille with an integrated blue oval emblem.
Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Ford Econoline Cargo.
After one month of ownership I am very
happy with my new van. Very well built,
extremely quiet, even more quiet then
my 1997 Chevy Cavilier was. Handles
like a dream with excellent visiblity
and a solid braking when needed. I
bought this van remembering how much
fun I had owning a 78 Ford van years
ago. It's big, it's comfortable and I
feel very safe in it.
4.25 out of 5 stars
350,000 miles going strong
E-250 3dr Ext Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A)
I bought this van over a year ago with 330,000 miles on it, its the ext. 3/4 ton version with a 4.6l. I was skeptical at first but for $1500 I figured it was worth a shot. We drive it everywhere, its been on several 6-8 hours trips. I use it to haul Mx bikes to the races. The 4.6l gets around 16-17 mpg on the highway fully loaded which is 4 bikes, 4 guys and all of our gear for a weekend of racing and riding. If you need something to haul stuff, this is it. Find one that was well maintained and you can't go wrong.
5 out of 5 stars
E-250 3dr Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A)
Never had to return to dealer. Changed oil every 3000 miles. Had transmission serviced regularly. Changed brakes at 95,000 miles. 18 mpg hwy.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Maybe the most gas thirsty vehicle
E-150 3dr Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A)
I love my new (used) van. However it is misnamed Econoline. I got the 6 cylinder to save at least a gallon or two mpg but see little difference with the more powerful V8 so consider a very thirsty 8 as the 6 is fairly underpowered up hills. Also, need winter tires if in snow or ice, worst traction of any vehicle. Typical van! I knew that going into this, so I am very happy otherwise. It's a great tool shed on wheels, and visibility and safety seems above others. Drive slow and coast (in gear) down hills and maybe gain a mile per gallon. Yet to get above 16 and half mpg even with a v6. Otherwise awesome.
The Used 2003 Ford Econoline Cargo is offered in the following submodels: Econoline Cargo Van. Available styles include E-250 3dr Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A), E-150 3dr Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A), E-250 3dr Ext Van (4.2L 6cyl 4A), E-350 SD 3dr Ext Van (5.4L 8cyl 4A), and E-350 SD 3dr Van (5.4L 8cyl 4A).
Pre-owned Ford Econoline Cargo models are available with a 4.2 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 191 hp, depending on engine type.
The Used 2003 Ford Econoline Cargo comes with rear wheel drive.
Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.
The Used 2003 Ford Econoline Cargo comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Ford Econoline Cargo?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you
that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make
higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand,
can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a
new car every three years or so.