Van life is booming and Ford wants to make it even easier for hopeful adventurers.
- Ford’s Transit Van has become a ubiquitous model for commercial fleet operations, but Ford’s new Transit Trail goes off the range.
- With upgraded suspension, improved ground clearance, and room to create a living space in the back, the new off-road-focused model is set to start at $65,975.
- Made for van life adventures, Ford will offer three sizes of the van (medium, high-roof, and high-roof extended-length) with cabinetry and a bed-ready interior.
Van life isn’t the bohemian ideal it used to be, but the so-called digital nomad movement and its accompanying vans come pretty close. Remote work and remote locations can be had in tandem, thanks to the 21st-century WiFi hotspots and van-back desks, and now Ford wants to take you even farther off the beaten path. Launching a rugged, off-road-ready version of its already popular Transit Van, the 2023 Ford Transit Trail is set to be its premiere #van-life model. Upper Peninsula here we come.
Both passenger and driver-sides will include steps for easy in-and-out access.
Before you pick your sink and start building out cabinets, you’ll have to shell out $65,975 for a base model Transit Trail. That’s over $20,000 more than the base model Transit Cargo Van that the Trail chassis is based on, though detailed pricing across the three Trail versions (medium, high-roof, and high-roof extended-length) isn’t available just yet. Built on the original Transit platform, the Trail achieves the same Built Ford Tough durability standards, granting it a 3-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
The Transit Trail’s tires are 2.5 inches larger than the standard Transit, and the 16-inch alloy-wheels are specifically fit for the model.
Beyond the basic Transit chassis, much of the Trail version is reworked or all-new, starting with its suspension. Ford has increased ride height by 3.5 inches, added a 2.75-inch wider track, and mounted 30.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse all-terrain tires on 16-inch black alloy wheels in the name of ground clearance and traction. It also gets Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, featuring five different drive modes (Normal, Eco, Mud/Ruts, Tow/Haul, and Slippery), with a towing capacity of 6500 pounds if the Heavy-Duty Trailer Package is optioned. Power figures from the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 should be ample for hauling pit bikes, dinghies, or your adventure toy of choice, with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque fed through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Customizing the inside of a van to the task at hand is the name of the game for van-life builds. Ford has decided to make that laborious job a little easier by including drillable areas fit for cabinetry, shelving, and a bed. Privacy glass will be available for those who plan to reside in their Trail edition full-time, complemented by a breezy roof vent fan. Electrifying the kind of gadgets that come with living in a van can be a challenge, but Ford says its Upfitter Package will provide the high-capacity switches, auxiliary fuse panels, and dual AGM batteries needed to make it a proper home. Choosing the high-roof, extended-length configuration will similarly aid in this mission by adding standing headroom as well as 487 cubic feet of cargo space.
The pictured shelves and bedding is not included from Ford, though it does look cozy.
While this van may end up being a home-away-from-home, it’s still a driving vehicle and Ford hasn’t forgotten that. Driver amenities are in abundance, with SYNC 4 infotainment, Ford Power-Up software updates, a 12-inch touchscreen, a high-resolution digital camera, and 110-volt, 12-volt, and USB outlets. Adaptive cruise control and Blind Spot Assist 1.0 are available as well. Because this van is intended to go the distance, an optional 31-gallon fuel tank is available for purchase as well.
Ultimately, this model represents an introduction to van life for the more practical, offering an easier stepping stone to hotel-less adventure. Transit Trail owners will have access to FordPro, the company’s commercial-focused branch, and its network of retrofitters to aid in the interior buildout process. Pricing may be a prohibitive factor for some van life hopefuls, but the Kansas City-assembled Trail is an OEM-equipped off-road, live-in special that’s 90% of the way there. And that’s a hard value to beat.
Emmet White A New York transplant hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Emmet White has a passion for anything that goes: cars, bicycles, planes, and motorcycles.