The 2014 Ford Transit is a highly anticipated vehicle among many van enthusiasts and fleet managers. Its more-efficient powertrains and more practical packaging give it a decisive edge over the E-Series. Although the last major mechanical change took place in 2003 with the introduction of the 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel engine as an option, Ford has tried to keep the old solider fresh with a Super Duty-inspired nose job in 2008 and a new dashboard in 2009 integrating Ford's Sync multimedia interface. But the basic design on the fourth-generation Econoline dates back to 1992.
We've already covered the differences in interior and cargo volume in our By the Numbers feature. So what we're going to look at here are the styling differences. About the only thing the E-Series and Transit have in common is that they're vans.
The E-Series has a longish nose for a van, resulting in a smaller "doghouse" in the interior. The long nose was partially necessitated by the availability of the 6.8-liter V-10, which replaced the 7.5-liter V-8 in 1997. The Transit, on the other hand, has a short, sloping hood, and while it also has a doghouse, it's cleverly concealed by a cupholder and cubby area. The largest engine offered on the Transit is a V-6, giving it a major packaging advantage over the E-Series. The smaller engine bay of the Transit contributes to a decidedly more "cab-forward" appearance than the E-Series, with the front edge of the front door wrapping around the front wheelwell, whereas the E-Series' front doors are completely behind the wheelwells.
Visually, the Transit is also much taller than the E-Series, and your eyes don't deceive you, but the difference is not as dramatic as it may seem. The low-roof Transit is 83.5 inches tall, with the E-Series having a height of 82.4 inches. But if you need more height, the Transit is offered in medium and high-roof models, towering 100.8 and 110.2 inches tall, respectively.
Although the E-Series and Transit both have 16-inch wheels, the wheels appear much smaller on the Transit, especially the high-roof version, because of its proportional height. We see a potentially brisk aftermarket wheel business for customized Transits. Commercial-spec Transits with dual rear wheels get 17-inch wheels.
Relative to the interior, we can only talk about the dashboard and front passenger compartment, as Ford has not yet released U.S. spec photos of the Transit passenger-van model. The Transit's dash manages to be more functional as well as more attractive than the E-Series, with a TFT display in the gauge cluster between the tachometer and speedometer, and a centrally located touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard for the available MyFord Touch system. The Transit's four-spoke, multifunction steering wheel shares a design similar to many of Ford's newer passenger car models, with auxiliary controls for the audio, Bluetooth, and gauge displays. A feature we especially like on the Transit is the cupholder mounted on the outer edge of the dashboard, at window height, to help cool down that hot cup of coffee on the way to the job.
Some of us may miss the familiar, all-American looks of the E-Series, but in terms of functionality, the Transit appears to be a quantum leap forward. We want to know, what look do you like better, the E-Series' stocky, all-American lines, or the Transit's tall-roof functional European style?