Used 2016 Ford Transit Van Review

Edmunds expert review

With a wide variety of configurations, a choice of powerful and fuel-efficient engines and easygoing driving manners, the feature-rich 2016 Ford Transit Van offers exceptional refinement and flexibility for a full-size cargo van.




What's new for 2016

The 2016 Ford Transit Van gets a rearview camera with tow-hitch assist as standard equipment, while an optional Sync 3 infotainment system replaces the much-maligned MyFord Touch system. Dual sliding side doors are newly available for the full model year. Also, Ford now offers auxiliary fuse panels and a single absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery as options to meet the additional power requirements of van upfitters.

Vehicle overview

The large cargo van market has been evolving for some years now as a new generation of maneuverable, fuel-efficient models replaces the trucklike old guard. Perhaps the most prominent example is the 2016 Ford Transit Van, an impressive vehicle that enters its second year of production as the all-around champ in this segment.

The modest improvements to the 2016 Transit Van are aimed at optimizing an already winning formula. On the technology front, the big news is that Ford has ditched its touchy MyFord Touch infotainment system in favor of Sync 3, which boasts a streamlined touchscreen interface that's more user-friendly. Upfitters should be pleased by the newly optional AGM battery (gasoline engines only) and auxiliary fuse panels, as these additions make it easier to meet the extra power requirements of modified vans. Everyone, moreover, will enjoy the newly standard rearview camera, a tacit acknowledgement by Ford that any vehicle this large ought to have an extra set of eyes out back.

The driving experience, a big plus with the 2015 model, is unchanged for 2016. The Transit Van's cockpit is bright and open, sight lines are superb and the seats are comfortable and supportive. Unlike the relatively primitive American vans of yesteryear, the 2016 Transit Van boasts responsive steering, a refined ride and a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. But make no mistake: This van can still roll up its sleeves and get to work; it's just a whole lot more pleasant to pilot than its predecessors.

There are several comparably modern cargo vans on the market, led by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the one that started the shift away from boxy, truck-based beasts. It offers loads of flexibility and an agreeable driving character, but it's also expensive and lacks the engine choices of the Ford. The 2016 Ram ProMaster Cargo Van features similarly European styling, but it offers only one roof height and is the only direct rival with front-wheel drive. Nissan's NV Cargo Van sticks with a truck frame and offers a V8 engine option, but has fewer body styles and less versatility overall. In sum, there's actually a wide field of candidates if you're in the market for a full-size cargo van, but the 2016 Ford Transit Van should be at the top of any shopper's list.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Ford Transit Van is offered in a single trim level. There are standard- and long-wheelbase models as well as low-, medium- and high-roof body styles. An extended-length body can be had on the long-wheelbase chassis. Depending on the configuration, the Transit also can be selected to handle increasing gross vehicle weight ratings: Transit 150, Transit 250 and Transit 350.

Standard equipment for the Transit Van includes 16-inch steel wheels, a rearview camera, a hinged passenger-side door (sliding on medium- and high-roof), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, front air-conditioning, vinyl front seats, cargo-area tie-down loops and a two-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input jack.

Options can be ordered alone or come as part of packages. Highlights include long-arm exterior mirrors, various window choices, different axle ratios, dual sliding rear cargo doors, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a lane-departure warning system, remote engine start, rear air-conditioning, LED cargo area lighting, a spray-in liner for the cargo area, Ford Telematics, Ford's Sync voice controls with a 4-inch multifunction display and USB connectivity or the Sync 3 infotainment interface with navigation, HD and satellite radio and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. A heavy-duty trailering package is also offered.



Performance & mpg

The base engine in the 2016 Ford Transit Van is a 3.7-liter V6 delivering 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. All Transit Vans are rear-wheel drive and come equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission with Ford's SelectShift manual mode.

Upgrades include a turbocharged 3.2-liter five-cylinder diesel rated at 185 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, and a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 capable of 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5-liter V6 engine is standard on all dual-rear-wheel vans. A CNG/propane engine prep package option is available for the 3.7-liter V6.

Payloads and towing capacities vary with each model, ranging from 2,740 pounds to 4,560 pounds for payload and from 4,200 pounds to 7,500 pounds for towing when properly equipped.

Because of the rules governing commercial vehicles, there's only limited fuel economy data on the Transit available from the EPA. The regular-wheelbase Transit Wagon passenger van with the 3.7-liter V6 is EPA-rated at 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway). The same model powered by the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 is good for the same numbers.

Safety

All Transit Vans get stability control, antilock brakes and frontal, side curtain and front side-impact airbags and a rearview camera as standard equipment. Rear parking sensors and a lane-departure warning system are options; note that the latter is included with the Sync 3 infotainment upgrade.

The Transit Van has not been given an overall crash-test safety or rollover protection rating, but in government testing, the Transit Wagon passenger van was awarded four out of five stars for front crash protection and five stars for side crash protection.

Driving

The first thing drivers will notice is that the 2016 Ford Transit Van handles the road in a way no truck-based van could hope to match. 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 Transit. Well-managed road and wind noise make the Transit's cabin quieter than the norm for full-size vans, although pelting rain hammers the roof and can generate noise in the wheelwells and cavernous cargo bay.

The Transit's standard 3.7-liter V6 has respectable power but may be a bit lacking for those planning to transport a lot of heavy cargo on a regular basis. The turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 is a different animal, as it effortlessly propels even a fully loaded Transit. The 3.2-liter diesel is quiet and gutsy, though it ultimately lacks the oomph of the 3.5-liter V6. Like the other two engines, it cooperates almost invisibly with the standard six-speed automatic transmission.

Interior

A big advantage of the 2016 Ford Transit Van compared to the old E-Series van is the generously low step-in height. No more climbing and clambering over wide sills to enter the cabin, and there's no need to use the rear bumper as a stair when stepping inside the cargo area either, thanks to a low floor. The tall center console, close-to-hand gear selector and easy-to-access audio and climate controls work in harmony to make the drive go more smoothly. If you care about the latest infotainment technology, the simplified Sync 3 interface offers myriad improvements over last year's MyFord Touch system; what's more, the available USB port has been moved for 2016 from low on the center console to a more accessible position above the cupholders.

The extended-length version of the 2016 Transit on the 148-inch wheelbase can carry 14-foot lengths of pipe or lumber with the doors shut. The shortest version of the van, on the standard 130-inch wheelbase, can carry items up to 10 feet in length with the doors closed. Workers up to 6 feet, 5 inches tall can stand upright in the high-roof Transit Van. Full 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood can lay flat inside all but the models equipped with the optional dual rear wheels.

Cargo area volume runs from 246.7 cubic feet in the low-roof, standard-wheelbase model to a whopping 487.3 cubic feet for the long-wheelbase, extended-length van.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.