The 2019 Ford Transit Passenger Van is a full-size van offering seating for up to 15 passengers, and forms part of the fifth Transit generation introduced for the 2013 model year. With three engine options ranging from a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 to a turbocharged 3.2-liter five-cylinder diesel, along with configurations in wheelbase length, roof height, and occupancy levels, there's a Transit Passenger Van variation for almost everyone. However, with very little provided in the way of creature comforts, the Transit Passenger Van may not quite suit the large modern-day American family but is perfectly suited to the avid shuttle business owner as a rudimentary utilitarian vehicle. The Transit's biggest challenge comes from Germany, with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter providing a viable rival with similar capabilities and greater specification.
There's not much new with the latest model of the Transit Passenger Van, with the only definite changes being the standardization of a rear recovery eye and new cargo bay door hinges on long-wheelbase models, which allow them to open wider. Other alterations are newly available options including new seating layouts for five, ten, 12, and 14 passengers. New high-strength laminated side window glass has been made available for some configurations, and D-pillar grab handles are now available for all roof heights, along with new heavy-duty tray-style floor mats. Fleet customers can option white steel wheels with exposed lug nuts for dual-rear-wheel vans as well.
Upfront, the Transit Passenger Van is discernible by its signature Ford grille featured in carbon black on the XL, and in chrome on the XLT. It's flanked by halogen headlights with black trim on the XL and automatic halogen headlights with chrome trim on the XLT, and is underscored by a rugged black front fascia that integrates with the van's lower black cladding strip. 16-inch steel wheels with black hub caps are standard on both models with the XLT's exclusively bearing full silver covers.
The Transit Passenger Van is available in a variety of configurations with regular and long wheelbases, and regular, long, and extended length bodies, as well as with low, medium, or high roof options. The RWB models can be optioned with the LR and MR, the LWB models with any of the roof heights, and the LWB-EL models with only the HR. The regular wheelbase (RWB) measures 129.9-inches, and in terms of total length and height, the LR model measures 219.9 inches and 82.2 inches, respectively. MR models have a length of 217.8 inches and a height of 98.7 inches. The long wheelbase (LWB) measures 147.6 inches, affording the LR models a total length of 237.6 inches and a height of 82.4 inches, with the MR models measuring 235.5 inches in length and 99.2 inches in height, and the HR models 235.5 inches in length and 108.6 inches in height. The LWB Extended Length (LWB-EL) also has a 147.6-inch wheelbase, but it avails the model a longer overall length of 263.9 inches and a height of 107.7 inches. All configurations share a width of 81.3 inches, except the LWB-EL model which is 83.7 inches wide.
There are three distinct engine options available for the Transit Passenger Van. A 3.7-liter gasoline V6 engine with outputs of 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque is standard across the lineup; it's properly capable, but only with the lighter, RWB or low occupancy configurations of the Van. The 310-hp, 400 lb-ft turbocharged 3.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine - optional on all models and configurations - is a better option for the heavier or higher occupancy configurations to competently deal with the weight of the van and the potential payloads. A 3.2-liter inline-five turbo-diesel engine is optional for the long-wheelbase models only, it produces 185 hp and 350 lb-ft and is considered one of the most capable and refined diesel engines in the class. Regardless of the engine choice, a six-speed automatic transmission drives outputs to the Transit's rear-wheel-drivetrain.
Despite its heft, size, and shape, the Transit Passenger Van still rides and handles surprisingly well. The Transit motors around with consistent vigor whether pulling off or cruising on the highway - at least with any of the upgraded engines. A full payload in any of the Transit configurations will weaken the potency of any of the available engines, though not to a frustrating degree. The suspension is tuned soft for a mostly comfortable and compliant ride, which does, however, mean that while minor road imperfections and typical everyday undulations are handled suitably, a lot of body roll is exhibited around corners. However, road feel and tire position are communicated surprisingly well through the steering wheel which, along with accurate steering responses, cedes some level of confidence to the driver. Maneuverability is the Transit's greatest weakness - as it is with any large van - but in the smaller wheelbase offerings, the Transit is surprisingly nimble, especially compared to dated rivals like the Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV.
The 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine is the least fuel-efficient engine of the three, returning EPA estimates of 14/18/15 mpg city/highway/combined. The turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine is only a little more fuel-efficient with EPA estimates of 15/19/16 mpg on those same cycles. There are no official gas mileage estimates given for the diesel engine though many private drivers claim combined estimates of 19 mpg. The Transit Passenger Van is equipped with a 25-gallon gas tank; with any of the gasoline-powered engines, the van is afforded a max range of around 400 miles, and around 475 miles with the diesel engine.
Depending on the configuration, the Transit Passenger Van can be equipped with seating for up to either five, eight, 12, 14, or 15 passengers in total. The seats throughout the van are reasonably comfortable, the cabin itself is nowhere near luxurious, but there's plenty of passenger head and legroom throughout. The driver and front passenger are positioned with a commanding view of the road ahead, rearward visibility is somewhat hindered by the high set seats in the rear, but the large side-view mirrors and the rearview camera mitigate the difficulty well.
Cargo room behind the rear-most seats is also dependent on the configuration of the Transit Passenger Van, trunk capacity with the RWB models ranges from 39.1 to 125 cubic feet maximum, LWB models offer from 85.8 to 107 cu.-ft. and the LWB-EL models 100.5 cu.-ft. behind its fifth-row seats. Maximum payload capacity ranges from 3,000 lbs in the 150 RWB models to 3,510 lbs in the EWB-EL model. The RWB model equipped with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 engine carries the greatest max tow capability of 5,000 lbs.
As for small-item storage, there's a large door side pocket on each front door, which also contain a small open compartment at the armrest, there's an angled open storage box on either side of the dash up front and a customizable storage tray located in the center dash above a few other small storage cubbies. The passenger-side glovebox is usefully large and there's a compartmentalized overhead storage drawer.
The XL models of the Transit Passenger Van come outfitted with only a handful of the bare necessities, including a polyurethane four-spoke steering wheel attached to a tilt and telescoping column; there's full power accessories, four-way manually-adjustable front seats, front and rear air conditioning, and a rearview camera that displays its visuals on the manual rearview mirror. There's not much more given to the XLT models, with only a few more features and necessities thrown into the mix, such as automatic rain-sensing wipers, cruise control with a full-trip computer and engine-hour meter message center, rear dome and map lights with theatre dimming, illuminated front sun visors, and reclining rear seats. There is an array of optional features available for both models including remote start, remote keyless entry, power heated long arm side-view mirrors, lane-keep assist with driver alert, reverse sensing system, and MyKey controls.
The infotainment setup is minimal in the XL models. With no standard-fit infotainment touchscreen included at this level, entertainment is left up to only an AM/FM stereo tethered to a stock four-speaker front audio system. Device connectivity is offered by only a single auxiliary audio input jack. The XLT models improve only slightly in this regard, with a four-inch multi-function display bedecking the center dash along with a single-CD player. There is an infotainment system upgrade available for both models, which installs a multi-function steering wheel and a 6.5-inch color multi-function display media hub with Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment software - this also adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, onboard navigation, and HD and SiriusXM radio connectivity.
There have been three major recalls sent out for the current year model of the Transit Passenger Van: one pertained to the van's roof hatch glass which may potentially shatter, another to a seatback that may not stay upright, and another to a U-joint that may fail - resulting in the detachment of the front driveshaft. There hasn't been a predicted reliability rating given to the latest model, but Ford covers the Transit with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The diesel engine is covered for five-years or 100,000-miles.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has evaluated the current generation of the Ford Transit Passenger Van for its overall crashworthiness. Standard safety features include a consignment of six standard airbags, including an industry-first full-length Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags. There's also a rearview camera with trailer hitch assist, side-wind stabilization, an SOS post-crash alert system, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Cruise control is standard in XLT models, and rear parking sensors and a lane departure warning system are available.
The Ford Transit Passenger Van is a more than favorable option within the scope of the full-size passenger-van segment. It is one of the most customizable vans out there with its versatile array of engine, wheelbase, roof height, and seating occupancy configurations. Any of the three available engines offered within the lineup are suitably capable and reasonably fuel-efficient for the class. It's a decently comfortable vehicle too, delivering a smooth and composed ride in most urban conditions, and even proving to be somewhat nimble. There's not much offered in the way of infotainment, safety, and passenger accommodations, however, with no infotainment screen and no smartphone connectivity offered at all at the base level - additionally, only a minor screen upgrade comes with the XLT. There are also hardly any safety and driver-assist features standard or available: the biggest fallback is in the lack of rear passenger niceties, though, with no USB ports provided for device charging, no storage solutions, only standard air conditioning, and no speakers from the infotainment. All that being said, however, most vehicles in the segment share the same bare-bones arrangement, but the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter does have many more options and may be a better alternative to consider.
The base 2019 Ford transit Passenger Van, the 150 XL kicks things off as the cheapest model with an MSRP of $35,840 in low-roof, RWB guise. The 150 XLT follows with an MSRP of $37,135. The 350 XL has a sticker price of $39,570 and the 350 XLT with a cost of $40,865. That's excluding Ford's destination charge of $1,495 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees. Each model's price will also be affected by the various engine options, wheelbase and body lengths, and roof-height configurations.
Deciding which model of the Ford Transit Passenger Van to purchase really comes down to one's personal requirements. Some things to keep in mind are that 150 XL and XLT models aren't available with the optional diesel-powered engine, which is the most fuel-efficient and torquey mill of the lot. Feature-wise, XLT models are only slightly better outfitted than the XL models and mostly only with more basic necessities. For improved safety, we recommend including the optional lane-keep assist system and rear parking sensors, these are included with the 6.5-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system upgrade which is also a major improvement to the entertainment side of things. If towing is part of the agenda, then the available heavy-duty trailer tow package will have to be included. Ultimately how you spec the Transit comes down to individual needs, though.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is all-new for 2019, with some of the most up-to-the-minute features and equipment offered within the segment. Like the Transit, the Sprinter also offers occupancy for up to 15 passengers; it carries a longer wheelbase, however, which means more passenger room and more cargo capacity in the rear. The interior of the Sprinter exudes far more of a premium impression compared to Transit's barren and tacky cabin, and while it might be as bare at the standard level, Mercedes offers an array of more contemporary tech and driver-assist features in the options and packages cache. The Sprinter is the better vehicle in that it's more of a premium offering at not much more cost, it boasts quality materials and features and a high-quality build that sets it ahead of the Transit. It may be a little more than the Transit in price depending on the model, but it's well worth the premium price if passengers are the priority.
The Nissan NV Passenger falls into the same price range as the Ford Transit, it's a great van too but comes equipped with seating for only 12 passengers max, and doesn't get nearly as many configurations as what is available to the Transit. Its passenger accommodations are, however, a little better than those of the Transit, with a higher quality infotainment system offered at the base level (although Ford's available SYNC 3 system is vastly better), a power-adjustable driver's seat, and more comfort, convenience, and safety features that aren't available for the Transit. Still, the Transit is a lot more comfortable on the road; it's softer and nimbler around town, and its engine options are more refined in capability and fuel-efficiency. The NV Passenger does offer a far greater max tow capacity though, thus it may prove to be the better hauler for long-distance travel. The Transit is the better vehicle overall though - it's more versatile and a little more value for money.
Check out some informative Ford Transit Passenger Van video reviews below.