The 2023 Ford Transit Trail reaches out to modern #Vanlife nomads

Ford is betting that at upcoming holiday dinners, tweens of the 2060s will stare at outdated JPEGs with a laugh.

“Hey, Joey, Grandma and Grandpa lived in a van!”

“Not just a van, Chloe. A Ford Transit Trail.

An all-wheel-drive mid-duty van the size of an airport shuttle or UPS van, the new 2023 Transit Trail aims to turn Ford’s workhorse into a vacation getaway/rolling residence for everything, from weekends to residency years.

“People often ask us what our favorite place is and our answer is constantly changing as we always discover new places,” write Joe and Kait Russo, who have traveled across North America living in a variety of vehicles since 2015. .

They currently have a Storyteller Overland pickup built on a Ford F-350 chassis, after several years with a Ford F-350 crew cab pickup with a camper. The Russos write RV travel guides and tips.

They also have a brick-and-mortar house, but the US Census Bureau estimates that about 140,000 people live in cars, boats, or RVs. Some do it by choice, others by necessity, as shown in the Oscar-winning film “Nomadland”.

A blank canvas

The basic idea: Ford does what it does best, which is to build a vehicle with the latest safety and convenience features.

Do-it-yourselfers and aftermarket parts shops take it from there, turning Ford’s blank canvas into a custom living space.

The 2023 Ford Transit Trail will soon enter production. Ford dealerships are taking orders now. The first Transit Trails are expected to be on dealer lots in the spring of 2023.

Transit Trail prices start at $65,975, excluding destination fees. Prices can skyrocket from this starting point, depending on interior features and materials.

There are no announced plans for an electric version, but the battery-powered versions of the Transit delivery van have been an unexpected hit this year, racking up 5,157 sales since its debut earlier this year. An E-Transit Trail is doable.

Find a fit with DIYers

Ford developed the Transit Trail for do-it-yourselfers to create interior designs, lowering the threshold cost of #Vanlife in exchange for elbow grease and ingenuity.

One example, according to Ford Pro general manager Tim Baughman: Many DIYers are understandably hesitant to drill a hole for a roof vent in their $65,000 investment. Ford does this stuff hundreds of times a day. “Do-it-yourselfers are the growth segment” of RV sales, said Julie Ellen, chief marketing officer of Transit Trail. “They want to do their own interior.”

Especially welcome for DIY owners on a budget: the Transit Trail comes with Ford’s standard warranty: three years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper and 5/50 powertrain.

Additionally, any Ford dealership can service the vehicle, Baughman said. This can mean significant savings in time and money compared to finding someone to work on third-party modifications.

Standard interior features include:

  • Swivel front seats
  • Storage shelf above the front seats
  • 12 inch touch screen
  • 4G Wi-Fi hotspot
  • HD Radio
  • 110 volt, 12 volt and USB outlets
  • Two 12 volt batteries

Driving assistance functions on the Ford Transit Trail

  • Keyboard entry
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic high beams
  • Blind-spot and cross-traffic assist with trailer coverage
  • Lane Keeping Aid
  • Forward Collision Assist
  • Braking after collision
  • Reverse and sideways detection
  • Split-vision front and rear camera
  • Selectable drive modes: normal, eco, mud/ruts, tow/haul, slippery

Factory-tall ride, cool wheels, proven drivetrains

“The Transit Trail is the missing piece of our RV pie,” Baughman said. “We do the things that are difficult for the customer and leave the interior customization to them.”

The Transit van is Ford’s minivan, a utility vehicle used by all kinds of businesses and a hit around the world. After sales plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford is adding a third shift at its Kansas City plant in anticipation of higher U.S. sales thanks to recovering demand and new models like the electric E-Transit and the gas-powered Transit Trail.

In addition to standard all-wheel drive, a twin-turbocharged V6 gas engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, the Transit Trail is available in two wheelbases – 235.5 inches and 263.9 inches long – and three heights of roof. All Transit Trails are tall enough for most people to stand on while traversing them and to accommodate features such as loft-style raised beds with storage underneath.

The Transit Trail’s body is raised 3.5 inches over standard Transit delivery vans to make driving to campsites easier. Goodyear Wrangler 30.5-inch all-terrain tires are standard. Bumpers are modified to improve approach and departure angles.

Other visible differences:

  • Side marker lights
  • 2¾ inch wider rail fog lights
  • Grille, moldings and black rims

Ford Transit and Super Duty chassis are already commonly used for larger recreational vehicles – called Class A and C. The category of small pickup trucks like the Transit Trail is Class B. No one really knows why; it’s just.

When Henry Ford was glamping

Custom pickups aren’t new to Ford. Company founder Henry Ford and his friends — unnamed, but former president Warren G. Harding, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone; that’s life when you’re the richest person in the world – they called themselves the Wanderers and glamped across the country in 1915.

In the 1960s, the wonderfully named Ford Econoline minivan took over, serving as the chassis for RVs up to the 27-foot twin-axle Holiday Rambler.

The 1968 Econoline-based Condor coach was the first van installer Ford worked with.

By 1970, over 1,000 Econoline variants could be built for commercial and personal use. They include vans with plastic portholes, shag carpets, built-in waterbeds, and airbrushed portraits of everything from rainbows to skulls.

Ford Transit Trail 2023 at a glance

Base price: $65,975 (all prices exclude destination charges)

Four-wheel drive van

In concession: spring 2023

Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6

Power: 310 hp at 5,000 rpm; 400 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm

Gearbox: 10-speed automatic

EPA Fuel Economy Rating: Not Available

Wheelbase: 147.6 inches

Length: 235.5 or 263.9 inches

Width: 97 inches (including mirrors)

Height: 105, 133.3 or 114 inches

Cargo volume: 357.1, 404.3, 487.3 or cubic feet behind front seats

Loading height: 31.9 inches

Ground clearance: 6.7 inches

Base Curb Weight: 5,767 to 6,094 lbs.

Payload: 3,406 to 3,703 lbs.

Towing capacity: 6,500 pounds

Assembled in Claycomo, Missouri

Contact Mark Phelan: mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan. Learn more about automobiles and sign up for our automobiles newsletter. Become a subscriber.

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