When Ford debuted debut its Transit van five years ago, it rocketed to the top of the best-selling commercial van list.
Tuesday night, at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, the Detroit automaker debuted several new tech and performance features in hopes of keeping it there.
Ford’s smaller Transit Connect kicked off the company’s commercial refresh last year with added driver assist and connected technologies. Upgrades for the 2020 model year for Transit – Transit Connect’s heavier cousin – include an available all-wheel-drive system, an all-new 2.0-liter EcoBlue bi-turbo I4 diesel, all-new 3.5-liter PFDi V6 gasoline engine with port fuel and direct injection and new 10-speed automatic transmission, plus new interior and seating options.
Available on gasoline powertrains, Transit’s new intelligent all-wheel-drive system provides enhanced traction on icy, snowy or muddy roads. In normal mode, Ford’s General Fleet Marketing Manager Tim Stoehr says the always-on all-wheel-drive system continuously monitors and optimizes torque output and has the capability of sending up to 100 percent of available torque to the front wheels in low-traction conditions.
Using the vehicle’s selectable drive modes – which are available at all speeds – the driver can engage mud and ruts or slippery modes at any speed to help increase the all-wheel-drive system’s capability. Additionally, Stoehr says the AWD configuration doesn’t raise the load floor or seat height, making loading and unloading cargo just as safe and easy as rear-wheel-drive models.
An all-new 3.5-liter PFDi V6 will be the new standard gasoline engine for the new Transit. With port fuel and direct injection, Stoehr says the new gasser offers improved efficiency over the outgoing 3.7-liter engine. Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost gas engine, which now includes Auto Start-Stop Technology, is also available. Both gas engines can be ordered with dual 250-amp alternators to provide a robust power supply for upfit equipment.
Also equipped with Auto Start-Stop, an available all-new 2.0-liter EcoBlue bi-turbo I4 diesel engine is more fuel-efficient and offers more power and torque than the outgoing 3.2-liter diesel engine. Stoehr says it is also quieter than its predecessor.
All engines are matched to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission, which offers a wide gear ratio span for off-the-line performance and low engine speeds at highway cruise.
Safety and tech updates
New driver-assist features standard on all 2020 Transit cargo van, crew van, passenger van, cutaway and chassis cab include Pre-Collision Assist with automatic emergency braking and Pedestrian Detection, forward collision warning, post-collision braking, Lane-Keeping System and auto high-beam headlamps.
“The modern fleet manages all operating costs, not just their fuel,” Stoehr says. “Anything we can prevent, maximizes the uptime.”
Transit passenger van in XLT trim is equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360, which includes all the features listed above plus Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage and cross-traffic alert. A new side sensing system joins the existing reverse sensing system as standard on XLT.
Available enhanced push-button active park assist can simplify maneuvering into parallel or reverse perpendicular parking spots. The system provides prompts to the driver to manage gear selection, accelerator and braking, while Transit automatically steers itself into place. Enhanced active park assist includes park-out assist, which automatically steers the van out of a space while the driver controls the gear shifter, accelerator and brakes, making for less stress.
Other new available driver-assist features include adaptive cruise control, front and rear split- view camera and adjustable speed limiting device.
An embedded FordPass Connect modem with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and connectivity for up to 10 devices coms standard for 2020 along with USB outlets in every row of the passenger van configuration.
Fleets can further enhance efficiency by choosing available new Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services, which provide features like detailed live map GPS tracking with order-to-delivery status, geofencing with alerts and key performance indicators. Fuel waste reporting helps identify ways to save costs, while Ford Telematics suggests coaching opportunities to increase efficiency, reduce waste and reveal concerns like seatbelt use or speed compliance. Managers can receive proactive maintenance notifications and vehicle health alerts, enabling them to schedule service, plan ahead and maximize uptime.
Other technology updates include a center stack that can be optioned two ways – with a standard 4-inch full-color multifunction display or 8-inch slim-line touch screen display. Each feature the latest in SYNC 3 with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility. A 4.2-inch productivity screen in the cluster provides vehicle information and phone call status. AppLink for SYNC allows customers to control select apps on the touch screen without plugging in their Android or iOS device.
Exterior, interior refresh
Not to be left out, Transit’s exterior get a subtle update for next model year.
A new power sliding door is available for cargo van and passenger vans. Premium high-intensity discharge headlamps with signature LED surround are available. Three grilles will adorn different models in van, chassis cab and cutaway configurations – a three-bar design with black or chrome bars and an open mesh design for maximum cooling. Vans equipped with the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine get a larger grille for better cooling.
New to the 2020 Transit line is a crew seating spec with the capability to carry five people in two rows of seating – including a three-across front seat option – with side curtain airbags.
Transit has a new interior with a modern dashboard and features designed to improve comfort and practicality, such as more durable fabrics on the seating surfaces, plus myriad cupholders and compartments for storing gear and gadgets. Grab handles are improved, vents are updated to better direct heated and cooled air, and overall ergonomics are enhanced to make using everything a bit easier. Optional swivel front seats are available for the first time.
Transit chassis cab and cutaway models will get a bump in GVWR for 2020 as the maximum GVWR jumps from 10,360 pounds to 11,000 pounds.
The upgraded 2020 Ford Transit will ship this fall to Ford’s nationwide network of 3,000 dealers, including more than 675 dedicated Commercial Vehicle Center locations.