By on October 15, 2020

While van sales have been trending downward for years, the likelihood of your average American being forced to live inside one feels like it should be higher than ever. But deciding which model is best for living out the rest of your days in relative isolation isn’t going to be easy. Realizing that there’s a growing demand for escape vehicles and regular old RVs, automakers and coachbuilders have been trying to make the market more accommodating.

On Tuesday, Ford Motor Co. threw its hat into the ring by announcing that the 2021 Transit would be adding new “recreational and business options” to help get customers the kind of vehicles they need to get through these difficult times.

“With many Americans working from home and practicing social distancing during the pandemic, the popularity of recreational vehicles has soared at the same time package delivery has seen incredible growth,” explained Tiffany Chang, Ford fleet brand strategy manager. “Our new 2021 Transit options help people design the recreational vehicles of their dreams and help enable our commercial customers to more efficiently deliver goods and services across the country.”

Even though my personal tastes tend to revolve around brutish oversized sedans and sprightly little hatchbacks, the van is the only vehicle type I’ll recognize as truly divine. It is all things to all people, catering to both rich and poor. For 2021, the Transit (arguably Ford’s best and most-practical product) gets three new packages designed for leisurely hiding out in the woods and two for work purposes.

All bundles utilize Ford’s 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 for propulsion. While normally used to confidently haul around several thousand pounds of cargo, the unit’s 310 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque can transform an unloaded vehicle into something that’s actually fun to fool around in. The Transit Motorhome Prep Package prioritizes the van’s practical nature, however, by adding adaptive cruise control and an (optional) economy-minded version of the 3.5-liter V6. Blue Oval says this is the ideal option for those planning on turning the interior of their van into a secondary home, tying it to the Ford Transit Cutaway.

The RV Prep Package also includes adaptive cruise control but adds a side-sensing system, upgraded heavy-duty towing capabilities, fog lights, swiveling front seats, and an upgraded sound system. This one is more for recreational purposes so it’s only available on the Transit Cargo.

Those hoping to get way out into the boonies may want to consider the Adventure Prep Package. Offered on both the cargo and crew versions, customers get all-wheel drive, 3.73:1 limited-slip rear differential, adaptive cruise control, reverse and side-sensing systems, privacy glass, blind-spot monitoring, an 8-inch touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC 3, extra USB ports, and more advanced batteries.

While the work-focused packages are substantially less interesting, we can see delivery companies taking advantage as local shops continue to wither like worms in the sun. The Parcel Delivery Package adds 50/50 hinged rear doors and ditches frontal armrests and manual handbrake (for an electronic one) to make trips into the back a little easier. Customers also receive full interior lighting to help them sort through packages after sundown. Optional extras include additional shelving and a center console with a right-side shifter that “further improves walkthrough and offers more than 7 inches of additional driver legroom.”

The Livery Package is our final equipment bundle and seems to cater to corporations needing to chauffeur around important customers. Available on the Transit Passenger XLT, the Livery Package includes 10-way power seats “finished in ebony leather seating surfaces for all passengers,” HID headlamps, power sliding side door, privacy glass, and 16-inch silver wheels.

Ford said production of the 2021 Transit would be commencing at its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, this fall. Deliveries should begin shortly, with all models sporting the van’s brand new honeycomb grille.


[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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20 Comments on “2021 Ford Transit Designed for Business AND Pleasure...”

  • avatar

    “recreational and business options”

    So….business up front, party in the back?

  • avatar

    Yes, I’m broke and about to get evicted. Let me buy a $40,000 van to live in.

  • avatar

    Is the idea that you buy the Van with one of these packages and then take it somewhere to be customized?

    • 0 avatar

      The RV prep package is more intended for the RV builders who purchase them in bulk and sell them to dealers. But sure you can order one yourself and take it to one of the people that do custom builds or for you to build it out yourself, like most of the vanlife people.

  • avatar

    It sure doesn’t FEEL like van sales have been trending downward. I see so many #vanlife type vehicles bouncing around it’s crazy. It’s interesting to see Ford jumping in now because it’s almost always 4wd sprinters for the richy-riches (they cost more than an actual purpose built rv) or ramvans to the diy’er because of the price and the low load floor.

    But based on their equipment most of the new #vanlife people aren’t broke- or at least they weren’t until they went #vanlifing. I regularly see these folks unload his and hers $7k+ mountain bikes.

    • 0 avatar

      Overall sales have been trending up and some are even up YTD. Vanlife people, or should I say rich people buying vans as a toy is a big part of that but so is Amazon. They bought a lot of vans in 2019. More than once I’ve seen them coming from the local rail yard heading to the local distribution center 14 at a time.

      • 0 avatar

        My area is getting a distribution center. Friggen huge building with 2 sides taken up by loading bays. I fear how many Amazon vans I’m going to start seeing in a few months. I didn’t even think about Amazon’s impact on van sales.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Try renting a cargo van. For decades you could just call up and get one.

          No longer. Couriers/free lance delivery/etc rent them.

          Most of our local car/truck rental agencies don’t have any, even if you try to book a month or two in advance.

  • avatar

    Imagine how much more useful the Transit would be if the load floor were at the height of an F-350 bed. (I’ll show myself out.)

    • 0 avatar

      The old reverse psychology, eh?

    • 0 avatar

      You mean, if it had a super practical, completely flat-inside-wall box, made of material thick enough to reliably fasten e-track, instead of the awkwardly shaped popcan walls forced on it by the van-body and limited GVWE? :)

      I like the new Euro vans as much as anybody, but unless you’re operating in environments benefiting from the tighter outside dimensions, it’s hard to beat a truck with a box with a railgate.

  • avatar

    I like the new grille. They need to get rid of the driveshaft flexible couplings (“guibos”) and switch to u-joints. I’ve seen lots of pictures of destroyed guibos in Transits, and the collateral damage they sometimes cause.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a recall on those, and Ford will replace them free every 36,000 miles for as long as the van is on the road.

      I just finished a 1300 mile road trip in a Transit van. It’s surprisingly comfortable to drive, and not bad on fuel when cruising on the highway. The downside is the high center of gravity when loaded, and it’s affected by crosswinds because of the height.

  • avatar

    I dont like em much but our fleet guy loves them. I guess the Transits are significantly less expensive and more reliable than the diesels we had before.

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