2018 Ford Transit Review: A Driver's Perspective
One of my main issues with online automotive reviews is the lack of intimacy between that writer and the vehicle in question. The experience that one receives from driving a crisp, brand-new car is very different than the one you can expect after spending hundreds of hours behind the steering wheel. Many various aspects are lost by approaching every auto on the market as an analyst of a consumer product. Luckily for you, dear reader, I have spent more time inside the cabin of a Ford Transit than I wish to admit and my review of this vehicle comes from personal experience, not technical analysis.
Before you read any further, allow me to assure you that the 2018 Ford Transit is a wonderful vehicle and one of the best full-sized vans on the market. I can promise that you will not be disappointed with your purchase. That being said, the Transit has its fair share of flaws. Keep reading to find out how I came to this conclusion and what you can expect from the 2018 Ford Transit.
The 2018 Ford Transit
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Lack of rear visibility
High roof versions can be unstable at high speeds
Many advanced safety features come standard
Limited passenger leg room
Handles well on uneven terrain
Plethora of optional features and customizations
The Ford Transit has been in production since 1965, with the passenger version (sold initially as Turneo) first debuting in 1995. As one of Ford's flagship commercial vehicles, the Transit is one of the most best-selling full-sized vans of all time. Easily recognized by its slim and tall design, the Transit is a common sight on a busy city street and is a popular solution for when your mom's Odyssey can no longer accommodate your extended family on a weekend getaway.
The base version of the 2018 Ford Transit is equipped with the 3.7L V6 engine, capable of cranking out 275 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque. Alternatively, the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 and the 3.2L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel options are made available on both the XL and XLT trims.
Despite its enormous size, the Transit is nimble even when filled to the brim with passengers and can go 0-60 in less than 8 seconds; useful for quickly merging onto a highway or showing off at a red light. From personal experience, I have never felt that the vans gargantuan proportions were cumbersome or restricting in some way, but these favorable performance characteristics come at a hefty price: Transit's 25-gallon tank will last you less than 300 miles.
As I've mentioned previously, the Ford Transit is surprisingly easy to drive. The steering is responsive, and even the shyest driver will quickly get used to the vans elephantine size. The Transit might be big, but it doesn't feel big. Since most of my job involves dodging customers on a crowded parking lot and weaving my way through rows of taxis and buses for eight hours a day, I have come to genuinely appreciate the Transit's handling capabilities. Unlike most other large vans, the Transit is surprisingly quiet inside, and the suspension can handle almost anything that I can throw at it, carrying my passengers and me smoothly over speedbumps and uneven terrain.
My only serious gripe with the Transit is its lack of rear visibility. The back window is obscured by the top portions of the seats and the heads of passengers, making the rearview mirror about as useful as a bucket full of holes. While this somewhat complicates parking and reversing, this downside is mostly negated by the rearview camera.
That being said, driving the Transit can become quite problematic at high speeds. The High Roof versions have been known to grow unstable when devoid of passengers or cargo, so I would take extra care during sharp turns or under heavy winds.
Make no mistake: the Transit is primarily a commercial vehicle; it's not supposed to be pretty. The smooth, flowing lines of the front of the vehicle are starkly contrasted with the square and rigid container-like rear body. Nevertheless, the Transit has a much more modern design that most other full-sized vans on the market and, if nothing else, is at least easy on the eyes.
The interior of the 2018 Ford Transit is spacious and comfortable but still limiting. Cloth seats for the 12/15 passengers are adequate for long journeys, but anyone over six feet tall will have their knees pressed up against the seat in front of them. Cup holders and 12V charging ports are sparingly available for the convenience of passengers, but not nearly enough to accommodate 12 people. Furthermore, the Low Roof versions can be a hassle to get in and out off, and the limited cargo area doesn't allow for large suitcases. At the end of the day, the Transit is a tool for efficient transportation, not a party bus. If you're looking for something more luxurious, a more high-end alternative, like the Mercedes Sprinter, would be a better investment.
It is evident that Ford invested most of its design initiative in making the driving experience as pleasant as possible. The dash is simplistic but in a tasteful and convenient way. All of the readings and controls are located exactly where you would expect them to be. Similarly to the Dodge Grand Caravan, the Transit has a dash-mounted gear shifter, which is actually surprisingly practical. The driver has access to two charging ports, three cupholders, the radio, and front and rear AC controls, as well as a plethora of cubbies and other available storage spaces. One serious downside to the base models of the Transit is its abhorrent infotainment system and its archaic layout. The buttons and knobs take up almost the entire front part of the dashboard and are difficult to reach from the driver's seat, while the minuscule screen is the same one used in the Fiesta and the Fusion. For an additional price, Ford can install a modern infotainment system with a large touchscreen for your convenience.
Ford prides itself on its extensive vehicle customization options, and the 2018 Transit is no different. Optional features include leather seats and 6-direction seat adjusters, heated side mirrors, SatNav, upgraded infotainment system, various van layouts, engine types, remote ignition, and cruise control. Keep in mind that these optional features will quickly raise the price of your Transit, easily exceeding $50,000. The list goes on and on, however, none of these features really benefit the passengers and are geared almost entirely towards the driver. Regardless of your chosen configuration and trim, the passengers will generally receive the same experience.
The 2018 Ford Transit is a solid choice for anyone seeking an affordable and practical passenger van. What the Transit lacks concerning passenger-oriented features, it makes up with its capable engine and superior handling characteristics. I have spent countless hours behind the steering wheel of many different full-sized vans, and I can earnestly say that I enjoy driving the Transit. It's not as spartan and rigid as the Chevrolet Express and offers sufficient room and comfort for passengers on long journeys. The Transit is not a luxury vehicle, and it's not trying to be, but considering the price, performance, and design, I believe that it is one of the best commercial passenger vans available on the market.