Last week at the NTEA Work Truck Show, Ford introduced enhancements across its van lineup for the 2017 model year designed to make the vehicles more flexible.
Now offering a choice of 64 configurations vs. 58 for 2016 models, Ford says flexibility has helped the Transit become America's best-selling commercial van. New optional features — including low-profile center consoles to power running boards — help customers tailor the van closer to their business needs, according to the company.
Some of the newly available configurations include the Transit 350 regular-wheelbase van, chassis cab and cutaway with single rear wheel and 9,500-lb. GVWR. The 3.7-L V6 engine will be standard on dual-rear wheel van and wagon models, lowering the base price and providing the option of CNG or LPG capability.
Enhanced interior ergonomics, utility
The 2017 Ford Transit gets a number of interior changes the company says were driven by fleet customer feedback. A low-profile center console option is available on all Transit variants — it's designed to provide easier access to move from the cab to the back of the vehicle for delivery drivers and others. The feature also makes it easier for fleets to install computer equipment in the center console area, Ford says.
Heated driver and front passenger leather and cloth seats are available, and 10-way power-adjustable seats can be ordered in cloth on all Transit variants.
High-capacity upfitter switches are available across the Transit lineup. The switches are enhanced with two increased amperage outputs, two battery hot outputs and two un-switched outputs. The output connector has been moved to an easy-access location behind the glove box in response to up-fitter requests, according to Ford.
The available high-capacity upfitter switch upgrade includes a heavy-duty alternator, auxiliary fuse box, modified vehicle wiring system, dual heavy-duty batteries and a new interface connector that provides read-only CAN access in addition to a variety of signals useful to upfitters, Ford says, including power supply, engine start, engine run, stop lamp, door ajar, turn indicators, vehicle speed and hand brake engagement.
Also for 2017, Transit's base audio system gets speaker enhancements and a rearview mirror is avail-able for Transit cutaway models.
In addition, Transit vans get standard LED lighting for better cargo area visibility while loading and unloading. A 12-volt power point in the D-pillar is standard on vans for powering equipment such as cordless tool batteries.
Power running boards, other exterior changes
A passenger-side power running board is available for Transit wagons and vans without dual sliding side doors, and the running board has been widened.
A separate LED-enabled stop turn tail lamp is available on Transit cutaway and chassis cabs — upfitters can use it in applications such as prepping ambulances and school buses, Ford says. "White Gold Metallic" paint replaces the "Lunar Sky Metallic" finish for 2017.
Aluminum-alloy wheels with locking lug nuts are now available for all Transit variants with GVWRs under 9,500 lbs. Molded wheel well liners are optional for the front wheels as well.
Online ordering for the 2017 Transit begins April 4, and the vans will be available in Ford dealerships in September.
Smart tech for Transit Connect
The Transit Connect also gets some enhancements for 2017. SYNC 3 with 6.5-in. touch screen and navigation is standard for the 2017 Transit Connect Wagon Titanium; the system features faster performance, more conversational voice recognition, a smartphone-like touch screen and easier-to-understand graphical interface, according to Ford. SYNC 3 is optional for the Transit Connect XLT car-go van and Transit Connect Wagon XLT.
The Transit Connect Wagon will be available in two new premium packages for Titanium and XLT trim levels, while short-wheelbase vehicles can be ordered in Titanium trim for the first time. Reverse sensing, automatic headlamps, roof rails and a six-way power driver's seat are now standard equipment for Titanium and XLT trim levels.
"Guard Metallic" paint will replace the "Tectonic Silver Metallic" finish for Transit Connect Wagon late in the model year.
Online ordering for the 2017 Transit Connect cargo van and Transit Connect Wagon starts March 14, with vehicles to be available at Ford dealerships in September.
New engine for E-Series
The Ford E-Series stripped chassis and cutaway models — which the company notes "are frequently modified into ambulances, delivery vans and motor homes" — get a new engine for 2017.
The 6.2L V8 engine from the F-Series Super Duty truck line will be available mid-year for the 2017 E-Series cutaway. Customers can choose the 6.2L V8 or the standard 6.8L V10.
The 6.2L's single-overhead-camshaft design and dual-equal variable timing are designed to optimize power through the entire power range, according to Ford. The engine is E85 flex fuel-capable and can run on unleaded gasoline or E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline).
An engine prep package is available for conversion to compressed natural gas or propane autogas. An E-Series cutaway with the CNG/propane package can be upgraded with aftermarket upfits to bi-fuel capability, allowing it to run on either unleaded gasoline or natural gas.