Who doesn’t love a Transit van, eh? The nation’s workhorse. The perfect getaway vehicle. Built in Britain for fifty years, and a global success story to rank alongside any of Ford’s best-selling cars. But despite only being offered there since 2013, North America is apparently in the process of developing an affection for big T to rival our own. Spurred on by the endlessly instagrammable ‘van-life’ movement, Ford has introduced the Transit Trail for 2023, and frankly it’s another one to add to the why-don’t-we-get-that automotive wishlist.
Okay, granted, it isn’t as high up that list as say, a Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing or a Nissan Z - but when the spec includes a 310hp 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6 (!) and 30.5-inch Goodyear all-terrain tyres, it’s hard not to feel a mild pang of Eurocentric jealousy. Who wouldn’t want to spend a few days bouncing around the wilderness in a tricked-out Transit capable of towing a three-tonne boat?
Somewhat disappointingly - and despite the manufacturer press pics - Ford won’t actually do all the tricking out for you in the factory when it comes to camper-style awesomeness. Instead, it calls the Trail an ‘upfit-ready adventure van’, which essentially means it will go to the trouble of providing the ‘drillable areas’ for more interesting kit - and, via an optional Upfitter Package, offers desirable add-ons like an auxiliary fuse panel and dual AGM batteries - but you’ll have to do the actual drilling and fitting yourself. Or get Ford Pro to do it post-build via its own network of installers.
Of course, in the States there’s now a massive aftermarket for this sort of stuff, and in that regard it’s hard to think of a better foundation for your home-away-from-home than the Transit Trail. Bearing in mind a Transit of similar proportions in this country makes do with a 105 or 130hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, you do wonder why the Trail needs a petrol V6 with more grunt than the forthcoming Euro-spec Ranger Raptor - but who are we to argue with the concept of speed mattering? The Ecoboost is mated to a 10-speed automatic and a five-mode intelligent all-wheel drive system.
Needless to say, four-wheel drive and go-anywhere ability aren't exactly a novelty in vans, but Ford has gone the extra yard with a 3.5-inch increase in ride height and a 2.75-inch wider track. Those Wrangler Workhorse tyres are fitted to 16-inch black alloys, and you also get a unique skid plate-style front bumper, splash guards, wheel arch cladding and liners, not to mention a black grille with integrated marker lamps.
Moreover, if you go for the high-roof, extended-length variant, Ford reckons the Transit will provide full standing room for someone 6ft 5in tall. And with a 14ft cargo floor, there’s plenty of room to lie down, too. “No matter the task at hand – delivering packages or enjoying life off the grid – customers can rely on their Transit to get the job done,” said Ted Cannis, Ford Pro CEO. “Our decades of experience in the motorhome industry and insights from the van-life community helped us design a vehicle that makes it easier for adventure seekers to start their next journey.” Not to a bank job hopefully - but evidently some of that same maverick Transit spirit lives on.
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