1,000 mile test drive - MR 3.7 Cargo - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 08:59:PM Thread Starter
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1,000 mile test drive - MR 3.7 Cargo

To help determine if a Transit is the right van for me or not, I strolled into the local Enterprise Rental Car (truck) and plunked my credit card on the counter, and drove away in a Medium Roof 250 with a 3.7L engine.

I loaded it up that night, and left for a 1000 mile work trip the next morning. I do this same trip monthly and it takes me from Denver to Vail to Four Corners then back up through Moab and Eastern Utah and back home over 2-3 days. I used to fly on this trip, but my work is variable, and it's sometimes hard to predict how long I'll need to be at customer sites. Driving gives a lot more flexibility. Sleeping in the van gives even more flexibility, so I hope to build a work/play van with seating for 5, a bed, and sink and storage for work/play items. I normally bring a mountain bike since there are so many incredible trails through this part of the US.

Here's my view. Short version? Impressive road handling and nice amount of power from the base engine.



POWER

I've been shopping for a 3.2L diesel or 3.5L EcoBoost, but the only available rental was with a 3.7L. I was prepared to be bored with the engine. To my surprise, the engine was quite enough power for the van. I was loaded with about 600 lbs of gear. My drive included 5 significant mountain passes, including Wolf Creek Pass that crests at 10,800' elevation. Unless towing or very heavily loaded, it's hard to imagine needing more power than this. I easily maintained (well above) the posted speed limit. The transmission hunts a bit for gears when it got steep, so using manual is handy to prevent that.

Some engines beg to be pushed (BMW 330i/335i, Honda 3.5L), some tolerate being pushed, and some fight it. This one does a little bit better than tolerate it, but not quite beg for it.

ERGONOMICS

My recent daily drivers have all been german sport sedans. I have a low threshold for the cheap rental-car interiors of so many domestic vehicles. Plastic chrome bits, hard plastics, cheap cloth, etc.

I think Ford engineers really excelled at a few things - the steering wheel is superb. The right size with very good materials. the turn signal stalk is a joy wit that little ramp at the end, and the feel of the clicks. The shifter and manual button is great.

Where they fall down, and where corner-cutting is obvious are:
- seat cushion feels cheap and squishy and like it's not going to last more than 20k miles
- arm rest fabric and cushioning is horrible. Below rental car quality.

I also wonder what's going on with that brake pedal - why is it 4" higher than the gas pedal? You have to lift your foot off the floor to reach it. Seems dangerous to me.

The lights seem fine right up until you try the brights. Then you realize how dim the regular lights are. During a night rain, all I could do was watch the white line to know where I was. Also - the bright blue dash indicator for the brights was too bright - it's distracting.

The side view mirrors are great. I like the adjustable convex mirror.

The tilt/telescopic wheel should come out another inch or so. For good hand position, I had to slide the seat too far forward.

HANDLING AND BRAKING

What impressed me the most is the handling of this behemoth of a van. I'd like to meet the engineering team that has somehow found the magical blend of firm cornering, yet huge ability to soak up bumps, ruts, and potholes, with hardly any notice. It certainly surprised the Volvo V70R driver as I passed him along a very twisty section of road. I could see his face in the rear view mirror as I followed him in a spirited pace. Ditto the Miata that couldn't believe that I was on him up the twisty on-ramp. Turn-in is super crisp, and that billboard of a van can hold a corner.

Brakes were great - grippy, good feel, and confidence inspiring. Ford has really done a great job with this and in the various rental Ford cars I've had. The more you push them, the more you realize how planted they are.

If Ford can engineer this type of suspension in all their cars, I will become a longtime loyal customer (and hopefully, they'll sell more cars, and my stock will become more valuable).

MISCELLANEOUS

- The slider door is a bit wonky - I still never figured out how much effort was the right amount to get it to close
- The rear door was dented due to someone closing the wrong door first. I'd bet all of them will have this dent after a few years.
- I like all the storage areas for drinks, etc.
- there's a lot of wind noise with windows open - the annoying noise comes from the seatbelts flapping, I noticed.
- sleeping in a metal shell of a van can get cold - evenings were 37 degrees.
- backup lights could be brighter - it's a bit tough to see backing into a campsite at night

OVERALL

There's a lot to like about this van. For biking, it's so nice to stand up to change into biking clothes in privacy. For work, it's great to have ample room inside. For sleeping (in bear country), it's good to sleep without worrying about being dinner for a large bear. Hanging a solar shower from the side door and washing off the day's dirt and sweat, makes a 400 mile drive so much more refreshing.

I'd love to see Ford step up the quality of the seats and a few materials, and hit a grand slam with their product lines. That being said, I'm very impressed with the Transit, and am moving closer to choosing my options and ordering one.



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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 09:16:PM
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I like your honest and usefull review. I have ordered the 130. I know the drive from Moab and Fruita (mountain biking heaven) to Denver, there are some looong hard climbs. I ordered the 130' to keep things short and sweet, and the 3.5 for the fun of it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

MY TROUBLED TRANSIT - 2016 T150, MR, RWB, 3.5EB. Delivered 11/15 with major steering, tire, & alignment defects. Had 6+ front-end and Sub-Frame alignments. 6 defective tires replaced. Also Steering Rack, 2 Axle Seals, Diff Gasket, Rear Brakes and Rotors, PS Pump, Wet Air Filter, Hi stop-light. Crankcase P Sensor failed at 23,500 kms. To Date, 39 days at Ford Service. See "New Van Didn't Get Far"
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 09:29:PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jonsobi View Post
I know the drive from Moab and Fruita (mountain biking heaven) to Denver, there are some looong hard climbs.
My day started at 7 am in Cortez and SE Utah for work, then drove to Moab, rode slick rock, drove to Fruita to pickup a Hot Tomato pizza, then drove East. Huge thunderstorm in Rifle all the way to Gypsum, then camped at the base of Vail pass at 11:30 pm. Woke up early, coffee in Frisco (sat in the van with the heater blowing, and working emails), then the quick drive home.

There are SOOOOOO many roads to explore in that part of the state(s), aren't there? There's only so much time in the day. I always bring fishing gear, too, but biking always seems to win over fishing. Time is certainly a luxury.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 09:47:PM
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You got me all worked up to do that trip again! I am retired and mountain bike around Mesa/Sedona over winter. Might talk my spouse into a return through Moab next Spring and spend some time in Utah.
I really liked that solar shower on your pic, will have to look for one as the 130 won't allow too many extra indulgences!
Lots of MTB riders speak highly of the Hurricane area, have never been there....yet. My Transit should arive around Xmas and i will be driving it to Mesa late December to spend the Winter.

MY TROUBLED TRANSIT - 2016 T150, MR, RWB, 3.5EB. Delivered 11/15 with major steering, tire, & alignment defects. Had 6+ front-end and Sub-Frame alignments. 6 defective tires replaced. Also Steering Rack, 2 Axle Seals, Diff Gasket, Rear Brakes and Rotors, PS Pump, Wet Air Filter, Hi stop-light. Crankcase P Sensor failed at 23,500 kms. To Date, 39 days at Ford Service. See "New Van Didn't Get Far"
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 12:37:AM
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Too Short

987R, after you get that brand new 130 home and start loading up the family and gear I think you will begin to regret not getting the 148. This is not a Boeing Jet that can be lengthened by bolting in a section of fuselage, you need to think and decide before you place the order. You have already decided to go big with the medium roof, the extra 18" will give it a nice balanced look.

I have a F150 regular cab 6-1/2' bed.....many times I wished that it was 8'. I have a T@B teardrop trailer that while it may appear to look small.....on the inside it's actually even smaller. And, I have a Toyota Sienna travel/camper that's 8' inside and I wished a thousand times it was just one foot longer.

So this time I went to the Ford dealer to order a 130.....and sat there and said to myself....."hey dummy, you've been down this road 3 times already"......so I ordered the 148.

I'm not trying to tell you what to do, only put in my two cents.

2016 T250 148" low roof with 40/60 side doors. Privacy windows all around, and lots of options. Will build a "stealthy" Touring/Camper. I feel more like I do now than I did a while ago.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 08:35:AM
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987R

Thanks for the review. Your reactions are very similar to mine. I now have 7000+ miles on a EB 148" high roof and am about 1/3 done with the conversion. The most unexpected surprise was the great handling. Ford needs to reward the engineers that did the design work with huge bonuses.

Reading what you want to do inside buying the 130" would be a mistake. Buy 148"

Roof height depends on your height and if you want to insulate the floor. At 5'-10" and wanting a 1 1/2" insulated floor I had to buy the high roof. Can you sleep across the van? 74" bed length is about maximum length with minimum wall insulation at ends of bed platform. If you are not too tall a bed platform high enough to fit bikes under it should be considered.

Be sure to get the tow package so you get the tow/haul button. The reduces the gear hunting and is great to use going downhill. It automatically downshifts trying to maintain the speed you were at at the top of the hill.

Have not noticed any problem with the brake pedal. Seats are comfortable enough and seat material should last.

Should be an ideal vehicle for your proposed use.

And yes my 2002 330ci that I bought new will be kept until I die. Brings a smile to my face every time I drive it. Sports suspension is a bit like a buckboard but well appreciated.

2015 high roof 148" WB 3.5 Ecoboost 3.31 LS rear cargo.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 09:14:AM
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Thanks for the thorough review 987R.

2015 XLT 150 Wagon, 3.5EB/3.31LS, 130" WB, low roof, 8-passenger, full trailer tow incl. brake controller, ordered 12/14, delivered 4/20.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 09:53:AM Thread Starter
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Yes - I could have rented the high roof, but for this trip, I figured the MR would be fine. I can *just* stand up in the MR without insulation, etc., so I'd order a HR. I would also go with the 148" for sure. I've got to sketch out how things would be laid out in the 148, but I don't think the 130 would work as it was a bit crammed even on this short trip.

By the way, my first tank got 18.9 mpg on the 3.7. That included lots of hilly driving and twisty 60 mph roads. I didn't check it on the way back because I didn't fill completely up on my 2nd tank. That part of the trip is a lot of 80+ mph driving, so I'd think it'd drop off quite a bit.

Thanks for all the replies!
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 10:36:AM
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Agree that the 148 is the optimum wheelbase for a conversion. I will face some challenges fitting what I want to do in the 130, but am quit proud of my initial design! The 148 was not doable as I live in a condo with restricted parking, and my spouse is not comfortable with the 148 as a daily driver. Did not want to get the 148 and have to drive her to all those quilting shops!! Ahhhh.... Trade-offs!
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 10:53:AM
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987R,

Great review and I appreciate you taking the time to do the write up. Very helpful and informative. You've got me thinking.
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