Vans

2020 Ford Transit van gets new engines, AWD and even more features

Making life easier for delivery workers, shuttle drivers and others.

Ford

The Ford Transit is a jack-of-all-trades: It can be configured as a cargo van or a passenger model with up 15 seats, and is offered with three roof heights and two wheelbase options. For the 2020 model year, the Transit gets a thorough update to make it even more useful to more types of customers. The van was revealed publicly Tuesday at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis and goes on sale this fall.

It doesn't look too different from the outside, but there are a lot of changes beneath the surface.

Ford

This Transit was introduced to the US market in 2014 as a 2015 model, and at first glance it may not look all that different. But Ford says that 53 percent of its content is new this year. Moreover, when you add up all the various ways to equip a Transit (dimensions, engines, number of seats, etc.), there will be 92 possible configurations for 2020, up from 64 previously.

The changes start under the hood, where a 3.5-liter V6 engine replaces the previously standard 3.7-liter V6. Ford doesn't have power or torque numbers for any of the 2020 Transit's powertrains but says the 3.5-liter will offer increases over the 3.7-liter's 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. A 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder is, likewise, expected to be more powerful and also quieter than the 3.2-liter turbodiesel inline-five it replaces. Ford's well-known 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 remains an option. It, as well as the diesel, also feature engine stop-start tech to save fuel.

Also standard across the board is a 10-speed automatic transmission, replacing the old six-speed unit. Ford says the transmission's wider gear ratio range will improve both acceleration and fuel efficiency.

A new infotainment system is the most obvious update to the Transit's dashboard.

Ford

The 2020 Ford Transit will be offered with all-wheel drive as an option. Ford representatives at a preview event for the new van in January said that adding AWD was a key request from customers, especially in the recreational-vehicle market. The system will apparently be "affordable," though no prices have been set just yet, and will have multiple selectable drive modes. AWD will only be offered with the two gas engines, not the diesel.

One important note is that Transits with AWD have the same ride and floor height as regular rear-wheel-drive vans. That makes it easier for passengers entering or workers loading the van, Ford says.

Power-sliding doors are also newly available for 2020, a feature that should be a boon for the many Transit vans used as shuttles. "These doors are opened way more times on a shuttle van than they are on a minivan, sometimes 500 times a day." Tim Stoehr, Ford's general fleet marketing manager, said at the January preview in Detroit.

2020 Ford Transit

Adding available all-wheel drive will make the Transit more useful to buyers in the Snowbelt.

Ford

More electronic aids

Active safety tech is important on any vehicle, but for fleet vehicles, which are essentially losing money any time they're not in service, it's even more of a potential benefit.

"If you can avoid just one accident, some fleets value that to the hundreds of thousands [of dollars]," Stoehr said. "So any [accident] that we can prevent maximizes the uptime and keeps that company making money with that Transit."

To that end, every single 2020 Ford Transit will be equipped with precollision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep, auto high beams and a post-collision braking system. The passenger van XLT also adds Ford Co-Pilot360, meaning it gets blind-spot monitoring with trailer coverage and rear cross-traffic alert.

Options include active park assist, which can steer the Transit into a reverse or parallel parking space, as well as adaptive cruise control, front and rear cameras and an adjustable speed limiter.

Storage cubbies and spaces abound in the Transit's roomy interior.

Ford

More useful interior

Interior updates begin with some smart storage upgrades: new cupholders at either side of the dashboard, for instance, that to my eyes are big enough I could fit a whole burrito in there, never mind a soda bottle. Atop the dash there are more storage compartments, including one with a USB port and 12-volt outlet by the driver's-side A-pillar. Ford also says the vents are better designed to channel heating or cooling air into the cabin and that the grab handles have been redesigned.

Though the utilitarian dashboard is mostly unchanged this year, you will notice new climate-control knobs, as well as an optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that, as in other Ford products, sticks up from the dash, tablet-style. It features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 4-inch touchscreen remains standard, and there's a 4.2-inch color trip computer in the instrument cluster.

A 4G LTE modem provides a Wi-Fi hotspot that supports up to 10 devices at a time, and passenger van Transits have USB charging ports in every row of seats.

Seating for up to 15 is available.

Ford

Swiveling front seats are now available as an option, which Ford says was a big request from companies turning Transits into RVs. And there's even a new "Crew cab" variant for cargo van models: It features a second row of three-across seating behind the two front seats, for a total of five seats, while still leaving 6 feet of cargo storage in the rest of the van. It's intended for work crews who may, even if only occasionally, need to transport more than two workers to a job site.

The Transit also supports the Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services systems, which allow remote monitoring of Transits while they're out working. For instance, Ford says the software can help managers warn their drivers about speeding or inefficient driving, as well as offering time-to-delivery information and even warnings about upcoming maintenance needs.

In terms of styling, well, the 2020 Ford Transit still looks like a Transit, though there are now optional HID headlights with LED running lights and three new grille designs, including a high-airflow grille for the beefy 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.

The 2020 Ford Transit goes on sale this fall and, based on what we've seen so far, will continue to offer myriad ways to easily and effectively transport people, cargo or both.