2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Review: Good Enough For Another 40 Years?

As one of the best-selling full-size cargo vans ever made, the Ford Transit has fended off competition from the likes of the Ram ProMaster for some time now, with a more recent upstart in the form of the more luxurious Mercedes Sprinter joining the opposing forces. Thus, 2020 saw the trusty old steed undergoing a comprehensive refresh. Two engines, a 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V6 and a twin-turbocharged 3.5 V6, provide the Transit with 275 horsepower and 310 hp, respectively. Three roof heights and three body lengths offer versatility for the commercial business owner, with either rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive as an option. All models are equipped with a ten-speed automatic gearbox.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Ford Transit Cargo Van?

Last year's comprehensive mid-cycle refresh brought a new naturally aspirated 3.5-liter gas V6 and a ten-speed automatic transmission replaced the old six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive became available too, as well as a host of driver-assistance features. For 2021, little changes, but an increase in GVWR to 11,000 pounds for the top models means that the RWD and AWD cargo vans can carry bigger payloads. Additionally, three new colors join the palette and an electronic parking brake becomes standard equipment on all models with single rear wheels.

Pros and Cons

  • Multiple configurations
  • Smooth gearbox
  • Powerful engine options
  • Available all-wheel-drive
  • Impressive safety equipment
  • Base infotainment system is tiny
  • Towing abilities are not class-leading

Best Deals on Transit Cargo Van

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
150
3.5L V6 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,270
250
3.5L V6 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,220
350
3.5L V6 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,470
350 HD
3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
3.5L V6 Gas
10-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$43,860

Transit Cargo Van Exterior

The Transit's mild exterior changes will be difficult to spot if you don't know the van well, but they are there. The front grille has been updated, with the headlights also getting a mild revision. The proportions of the vehicle look the same as before with plastic bumpers and 16-inch steel wheels as standard. As an option, you can get covers for the steel wheels or swap them out for 16-inch aluminum wheels. Short- or long-arm wing mirrors are available, and the rear doors can be fitted with glass for more light and rearward visibility. Foglights and an LED upgrade for the headlamps are also available as an option, as is a chrome exterior trim package.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Front Angle View Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Rear Angle View Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Side View Ford
See All 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The 2021 Transit Cargo Van is available in a number of configurations, with a low, medium, and high roof and a regular, long, and extended body length. Two engines and two drivetrain options are available too, meaning that dimensions vary considerably across the spectrum. Two wheelbase options are available, with the smaller being 129.9 inches and the longer one measuring 147.6 inches. Length ranges from 217.8 to 263.9 inches, while height is between 82.2 and 110.4 inches. Width has less of a gap across the range, measuring 81.3 inches on all but the DRW equipped Long-EL configuration, which measures 83.7 inches wide, excluding mirrors. Curb weights are affected by configuration choices too, but the Transit is no lightweight, tipping the scales at more than 5,000 lbs. Interior cargo area height can be as much as 81.5 inches, which is handy when one needs to climb in the back to look for an item.

  • Length 219.9 in
  • Wheelbase 130.0 in
  • Height 83.9 in
  • Max Width 81.3 in

Exterior Colors

The Transit is available in just two no-cost paint options: Race Red and Oxford White, although most will stick with the latter. Other options include Ingot Silver, Agate Black, Avalanche Gray, Abyss Gray, and Carbonized Gray, the latter three new shades for 2021. Diffused Silver and Magnetic have been removed from the 2021 palette. Several more vibrant shades used to be available, including the oddly named Blue Jeans, Kapoor Red, and Green Gem but of these three, only Blue Jeans remains for this year. All these optional choices add $200 to the build price, and although that's not much, a cargo van is a workhorse, not a fashion statement, so we'd save some cash and stick with Oxford White unless one's corporate identity lines up with one of the other hues.

  • Ingot Silver Metallic
  • Carbonized Gray Metallic
  • Blue Jeans Metallic
  • Avalanche Gray Metallic
  • Abyss Gray Metallic
  • Agate Black Metallic
  • Kapoor Red Metallic, Build Out: 12/01/2020
  • Oxford White
  • Race Red
  • School Bus Yellow

Transit Cargo Van Performance

The Transit is truly versatile, with numerous sizes and shapes designed to make it the ideal business partner regardless of profession. The two engine options are both 3.5-liter V6s but are very different. One is a 275-hp naturally-aspirated gas motor with 262 lb-ft of torque, while the more powerful option is a 310-hp twin-turbo engine with 400 lb-ft of twist. Both variants are equipped with a ten-speed automatic gearbox and you can have a choice between rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive - the latter was added in 2020 and puts the Transit on an even keel with the Mercedes Sprinter in offering AWD.

While both engines are impressive power plants, they only allow the Transit to tow between 5,000 and 6,900 lbs, which trails considerably behind the capabilities of some rivals, with vans like the Mercedes Sprinter managing 7,500 lbs and the NV Cargo van hauling up to 9,400 lbs. Payload is similarly average, even though it's been improved for 2021, with a minimum rating of 3,060 lbs and a maximum of 5,110. The competitive Sprinter predictably bests it here too, with 6,768 lbs of maximum cargo-carrying capacity. However, the Transit sells well for a reason: it's reliable and gets the job done for almost every type of workman. With the addition of all-wheel-drive, the Transit is now more competitive and even more versatile, meaning that it'll probably appeal to even more buyers now.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Front View Driving Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Rear View Driving Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Grill Ford

Engine and Transmission

The standard engine is now a 3.5-liter V6 that replaces the old 3.7-liter unit. This new power plant is a repurposed version of the F-150 truck's 3.3-liter motor that has been bored out for more capacity and, therefore, more power. It produces 275 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, which will be more than enough for most applications. For those that need to package or pull more lardy payloads, a 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 is carried over from last year's model. It develops an impressive 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. It has a stop/start function for greater fuel economy, which business owners will certainly find valuable. Either variant is fitted with the same ten-speed SelectShift automatic gearbox, proving to be a smooth-shifting and capable transmission adept at choosing the correct gear for the moment.

  • Engines
    3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas, 3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    10-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Despite its size, the Transit isn't a difficult vehicle to maneuver and place on the road. The electrically-assisted power steering is smooth, light, and direct, with sufficient resistance. On smooth roads and around town, the Transit is adequately composed and comfortable enough for long stints behind the wheel, although the lack of insulation inherent to cargo vans means that rougher road surfaces can be quite noisy. The suspension also does become agitated, but sticking to the speed limits won't be excessively annoying, even on pockmarked tarmac. Although not as good at mimicking a car's levels of comfort like the Sprinter does, the Transit does behave decently, with minimal noise from the engines. Braking is similarly decent and won't scare the driver away from higher freeway speeds, but, as with most vans, that is also dependent on the level of load the Transit is carrying. The addition of all-wheel-drive to the options list is also a welcome upgrade, which allows for an even greater breadth of capability than before. With this option ticked, you can tackle muddy roads and slippery surfaces with a lot more confidence and grace. The system is intelligent, too, and can send up to 100% of the power to the front axle if the conditions demand it. No more delaying of deliveries when it's snowing.

Transit Cargo Van Gas Mileage

Real-world reports for 2019 models with the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine showed between 14 and 17 mpg in with mixed driving styles, which would have improved for city driving in the meantime, since the start-stop function has become available. A 25-gallon gas tank is standard, with a 31-gallon tank available for extended range. Official figures are available for the naturally aspirated V6 wagon and these are about 16 MPG for both the 2WD and 4WD models on the combined cycle - unladen.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    25.1 Gallons
* 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van T-150 130" Low Rf 8670 GVWR RWD

Transit Cargo Van Interior

The Transit features a very sparse and basic interior, but it's not outright ugly either. Yes, there's a lot of hard plastic and vinyl, which are meant to be durable, but the design is decent and ergonomic. The steering wheel is chunky and well-shaped, with the gear-lever in easy reach. Visibility is great too, with a commanding driving position. Infotainment consists of a small AM/FM radio on a four-inch display, but the available eight-inch touchscreen of the Sync 3 system with navigation elevates the capability of the infotainment system. The seats only feature two manual adjustments, but they're comfortable and aren't a chore to get into - it can seat two occupants as standard, driver included.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Central Console Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Gauge Cluster Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Cup Holder Ford
See All 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

This Transit is a cargo van with no seats in the back, maximizing available cargo space, catering for the driver and a front passenger. However, a new addition to the offering is a third seat for more passenger space. If you want even more available cargo area, the front passenger seat can be removed too, reducing seating to one. The front seats are two-way manually adjustable, with ten-way power-adjustable seats available. Vinyl upholstery is standard, which is the most durable and is relatively comfortable, although cloth or leather are available for a better feel. Getting in and out is a simple affair, with grab handles and a low door sill making the process easier. Once seated, you'll find a wealth of space above your head, even if you're on the taller side, with legroom also proving more than sufficient. In the cargo area, it's easy to move about too, with the High Roof model allowing one to stand up straight.

  • Seating capacity
    2-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.3 in
  • Front Head Room 40.8 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The interior of the Transit is characterized by a number of grey and black hard plastics, with the seats upholstered in a choice of four different finishes. Dark Palazzo Grey vinyl is standard and cloth in the same color earns you a $160 discount on the base price. Ebony cloth is available too, but that costs $115 more than the vinyl, while Ebony leather costs a lot more than the vinyl at $1,160, as you can only have it with the power-adjustable seats.

Transit Cargo Van Trunk and Cargo Space

With so many configurations available, the Transit's cargo space depends on what body style is selected. The shorter of the two wheelbase options with the regular body can hold up to 246.7 cubes while the maximum volume with the longest body and wheelbase manages 487.3 cubic feet of storage. Between these two there are a further four configurations depending on your combination of body length and roof height. Removing the passenger seat increases those figures to 280.9 and 536.4 cubic feet, respectively. In its smallest configuration, the Ram ProMaster holds more, at 259 cubes, but the Transit's biggest variant is larger than that of the ProMaster, which only manages 463 cubic feet. Regardless of configuration, the width between the internal wheelhouses is 54.8 in the Transit, with a floor-length of between 126 and 172.2 inches. Depending on the roof, the distance from the floor to the ceiling will measure anywhere from 56.9 to 81.5 inches.

In the cabin, there are three fairly small cupholders grouped together with a pair of extra pockets on each end of the lower dash where one could store a water bottle or sundry items like wallets and phones. A large cupholder is fitted to each end of the top of the dash as well, while the top of the console has a tray for keys and the like. The door cards also contain recesses for additional storage, and there's a decent glovebox too.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Trunk Space Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Total Cargo Capacity Ford
2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Open Cargo Ford

Transit Cargo Van Infotainment and Features

Features

As standard, the Ford Transit features all the usual basic amenities expected to make a workhorse such as this as comfortable as possible. Air conditioning, automatic rain-sensing wipers, hill-start assist, and a rearview camera with trailer hitch assist are all standard. You also get tie-down hooks in the back to prevent your cargo from flying around and keyless entry. Safety equipment, courtesy of standard For Co-Pilot360 tech, includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, post-collision braking, and crosswind assist. Options include rear parking sensors, a 12-volt socket, a passenger-side power running board, heated mirrors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, cruise control, a 110-volt power outlet, and trailer braking.

Infotainment

The standard infotainment system comprises a four-inch display with four speakers and AM/FM radio. It also features a pair of USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. You can add an auxiliary input with an audio jack, as well as SiriusXM, but the better option is Ford's excellent Sync 3 eight-inch touchscreen system. It's much easier to use and view and also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. You can further upgrade this system too, adding navigation to the setup, which will set you back $1,095 in total.

Transit Cargo Van Problems and Reliability

The 2021 Transit has not yet been rated by J.D. Power for quality and reliability but it has been free of recalls so far. The 2020 model was recalled for four issues, these being an inoperative or distorted rear-view camera, side airbags that don't inflate properly, and two recalls for safety belts that fail to restrain occupants.

Ford offers three warranties with the sale of each new Transit: a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, five years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage, and a five-year corrosion warranty. Roadside assistance is also included for the first five years or 60,000 miles of ownership, whichever comes first.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Transit Cargo Van Safety

The Transit is a commercial vehicle and is therefore not subjected to crash testing by the IIHS or the NHTSA. However, the structurally similar passenger wagon has scored between three and four stars overall with the NHTSA, depending on the model. Its score in the frontal crash was a middling three stars.

Key Safety Features

A slew of standard and available safety features on the Transit make the van an impressive vehicle that offers some aids normally only seen on regular cars. Included with the cargo van are driver aids like a forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, a rearview camera with trailer-hitch assist, crosswind assist, hill-start assist, and post-collision braking. You also get a pair of frontal airbags and curtain airbags too. Optional features include trailer braking, rear park sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree camera.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van a good Van?

The full-size cargo van segment is a competitive one, with numerous options available from various automakers, and numerous different powertrains and body styles on offer. At one end of the spectrum, you get simple offerings like the Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV Cargo that offer a no-frills approach to getting the job done. On the other end, you have vans like the Mercedes Sprinter, which is all but untouchable when it comes to comfort, convenience, style, and general appeal. The Transit fits in somewhere around the middle. It's not as car-like as the Merc, nor as simple as the Ram, and manages to remain both cost-effective and comfortable for everyday use. With a huge variety of configurations offering varying levels of ability and convenience, and the availability of all-wheel-drive, the Transit is a van that is capable of satisfying every need with ease, enabling it to remain competitive even after 40 years of dominance.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van?

The Transit starts at $35,020 excluding the $1,695 destination charge. This gets you a low roof and a regular length body. Upgrading to a medium roof adds $1,150 to the price and can only be had with regular or long bodies. The long body adds another $1,275 to the price. The high roof is only available with a long or extended body. With the long body, it adds $4,250 to the base price, while the extended body is an extra $1,220 on top of that. These prices are all with the base 3.5-liter engine and rear-wheel-drive. Speccing the turbocharged EcoBoost powerplant adds $1,775 to any configuration, while opting for the all-wheel-drive system, adds $4,695 to the price. Fully loaded with options and packages, the Transit can be made to cost more than $58,000, but most buyers will be conservative and only tick the options that they're likely to use every day.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Models

The Ford Transit is essentially available as a singular model that the buyer then configures according to his or her specific needs. Standard features include 16-inch steel wheels, vinyl upholstery, a rearview camera, and a few safety and convenience features including forward-collision warning, air conditioning, cargo area tie-downs, keyless entry, and a full-size spare tire. You also get a basic infotainment system with four speakers and rain-sensing wipers.

Each different body style and roof height configuration, as well as engine choice and different GVWRs to match your Transit to your cargo-hauling needs, splitting the Transit into three sub-models: 150, 250, 350, and 350 HD. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive. Options include a more powerful turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and all-wheel-drive. You can also get a more modern infotainment system that can be equipped with navigation, and a number of packages can be added to suit specific needs, including an ambulance preparation package that equips the Transit with dual AGM batteries and alternators, a modified wiring system, glass rear windows, a dual-note horn, and an auxiliary fuse panel.

See All 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

One of the most useful packages available for a vehicle of this type that increases its utilitarian workhorse ability is a heavy-duty trailering package for $485. Included in the package is a trailer sway control system, making the laborious chore of lugging an unpowered vehicle behind the van less stressful. A worthwhile option, particularly for those who don't need to add glass windows to the sides of the van, is the blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and trailer coverage. This costs $795 and is well worth the cash. $1,095 buys you the best available Sync 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch touch display, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and navigation.

🚗What Ford Transit Cargo Van Model Should I Buy?

The choice of roof height, body length, and drivetrain will come down to what the vehicle is most often going to be used for. For example, there's no need to spend extra on all-wheel-drive if the vehicle will spend most of its time on sunny city roads. However, we would recommend the outstanding 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine for its additional power and torque. We'd also spend a little extra on upgrading the infotainment system so that smartphone connectivity and navigation are fitted. The Sync 3's bigger eight-inch touch display also has more area, which is helpful for backing up such a large vehicle and particularly useful when hitching a trailer up. Upgrading the steel wheels seems like a waste of money, so we'd leave those alone and rather spend around 800 bucks on adding blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert to the already impressive standard driver aids, making the van safer and easier to maneuver in traffic.

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van Comparisons

Ram ProMaster Cargo Van Ram
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van Mercedes-Benz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Ford Transit Cargo Van275 hpTBC$35,020
Ram ProMaster Cargo Van 280 hpTBC$32,385
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van 188 hpTBC$34,495

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van vs Ram ProMaster Cargo Van

The Ram ProMaster is a cheaper alternative to the Ford Transit, with its smallest configuration starting around $31,800 compared to the Ford's 35 grand. It too is powered by a V6 engine, albeit with 100ccs more capacity, and develops similar power (280 hp/260 lb-ft compared to the Transit's 275 hp/262 lb-ft). However, it only has a six-speed gearbox and a gas tank that is over a gallon smaller, so fuel range is likely to be worse in the Ram. Available infotainment systems are similar, but the big difference is in the vehicles' abilities as haulers, which is what matters most. The ProMaster can manage up to 6,910 lbs, while the Transit will do up to 6,900 lbs. The Ford is more comfortable and has more standard safety equipment, justifying its price premium.

See Ram ProMaster Cargo Van Review

2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van vs Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van

The Sprinter starts at a higher base price than the Transit of $36,355 - $1,335 more than the Ford. Unlike its American counterparts, the Sprinter is powered by a relatively tiny 2.0-liter turbo engine and only produces 188 hp as standard. Torque is close to that of the Transit though with only four lb-ft deficit, but you can pay more for a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with the same power but 325 lb-ft of torque, increasing its towing ability considerably to more than 7,500 lbs - better than that of the Transit. The Sprinter is an impressive machine with class-leading comfort and fantastic maneuverability. It also boasts Mercedes' outstanding new MBUX infotainment system that will feature on all new Mercs going forward. Where the Transit focuses more on outright ability, the Sprinter is more concerned with comfort. It's also a capable vehicle, but if aesthetics and ergonomics aren't as important as getting the job done as simply and as efficiently as possible, the Ford is a much better choice.

See Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Cargo Van Review

Ford Transit Cargo Van Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Ford Transit Cargo Van:

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