If you're a business owner and frequently find yourself needing to move large amounts of equipment or product, it's hard to beat the versatility and capability of a full-size cargo van. And as cargo vans go, the 2017 Ford Transit Van is close to being a no-brainer pick. With the Transit, you get your choice of two wheelbases, three body lengths and three roof heights. Go all out and the most spacious combination will give you a massive cargo area with 487.3 cubic feet of storage. This absolutely eclipses the Chevrolet Express Cargo's paltry capacity of 284.4 cubic feet and is just ahead of the Ram ProMaster's 463 cubic feet.
Each new model year brings the all-purpose Transit further away from its forebear, the iconic Econoline. The list of improvements for 2017 is short compared to last year's additions of the Sync 3 infotainment system, dual sliding side doors and standard rearview camera. Still, the new standard wheelbase version of the Transit 350 is sure to entice buyers who carry moderate amounts of heavy materials. There's also new standard equipment (last year's optional LED Compartment Lighting package) and available features (power-retractable running boards to aid cabin ingress and egress).
The 2017 Ford Transit Van is one of the best in its segment, but there are a few others that may be more suitable for your needs. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a little more expensive but offers even more cargo space than the Ford: a class-leading 586 cubic feet. If you need to tow, the Nissan NV is available with a 5.6-liter V8 that tows up to 9,500 pounds, much more than the Transit. The front-drive Ram ProMaster is much less expensive than these options and its smaller size makes it easier to park in congested cities. There's also the Chevrolet Express, but it's quite dated, and its cargo capacity is much lower than rival vans. Overall, though, we highly recommend the 2017 Ford Transit considering its well-rounded nature.
All Transit Vans get stability control, antilock brakes, and frontal, side curtain and front side-impact airbags and a rearview camera as standard equipment. A new standard system called Side Wind Stabilization helps keep the Transit tracking straight if it is hit by wind gusts. Rear parking sensors and a lane departure warning system are options; note that the latter is included with the Sync 3 infotainment upgrade.
In government crash testing, the Transit Van was awarded four out of five stars for front crash protection
trim levels & features
The 2017 Ford Transit Van is a full-size cargo van 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 models), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, remote locking/unlocking, front air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery, a two-speaker stereo with an auxiliary input jack and tie-down loops and LED lighting in the cargo area.
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, power-retractable running boards, cruise control, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, automatic headlights and wipers, a lane departure warning system, remote engine start, rear air-conditioning, a spray-in liner for the cargo area, Ford Telematics, Ford's Sync voice controls with a 4-inch multifunction display or the Sync 3 infotainment interface with navigation, HD and satellite radio, a USB port and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. A heavy-duty trailering package is also offered.
The base engine in the 2017 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 a 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. A CNG/propane engine prep package option is available for the 3.7-liter V6.
Although payloads and towing capacities were not available at time of publication, they shouldn't change much from last year's model. Capacities vary with each model, ranging from 2,740 pounds to 4,560 pounds for payload and from 2,900 pounds to 7,500 pounds for towing when properly equipped.
Fuel economy for 2017 wasn't available at the time of publishing, but we don't expect the Transit's fuel economy to change much (if at all) from last year. Last year's regular-wheelbase Transit Wagon passenger van with the 3.7-liter V6 was EPA-rated at 16 mpg combined (14 mpg city/18 mpg highway). The same model powered by the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 was marginally different, earning 16 mpg combined (15 city/19 highway). Because of the rules governing commercial vehicles, there's no other fuel economy data available for the Transit's other models.
The first thing drivers will notice is that the 2017 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 considerable noise in the 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.
A big advantage of the 2017 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, using the new-for-last-year Sync 3 interface feels like operating your smartphone. Large virtual buttons are easy to push even if you aren't paying strict attention to the screen, and the navigation system incorporates familiar functions like pinch-to-zoom and swiping gestures.
The extended-length version of the 2017 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 lie 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.