Ford Transit Trail van born as rugged raw material for adventure RVs
Following a quick teaser last month, the American-spec Ford Transit Trail made its official debut today. The new Transit Trail is more than a mere ruggedized van, designed as a supple mound of clay specced to the wants and whims of camper van and motorhome enthusiasts looking to build the ultimate adventure rig. The Trail comes complete with intelligent all-wheel drive, electrical upgrades, all-terrain tires, a suspension lift, and a loaded options list that lets RV builders skip the painstaking dirty work so they can focus on bringing to life the interior of their dreams.
When the European Transit Trail vans debuted two years ago, they were pictured against a drab construction site backdrop, tough vans meant to do tough work. There were glamor shots of mountain-ensconced parking lots and evergreen-lined dirt roads deeper in the press kit, and an official Ford camper version would later follow, but the Trail models were designed at least as much for hauling processed natural resources to the job site as they were for living amongst those resources in their natural state.
With the American Transit Trail van, Ford focuses entirely on camping and outdoor recreation. Before even diving into the Transit Trail's nuts and bolts, it touches upon its illustrious motorhome history, dating all the way back to Henry Ford and fellow "vagabonds" like Thomas Edison and John Burroughs. Ford also takes care to note that it holds comfortable 60+ percent market shares in chassis supply for Class A and Class C motorhomes, adding the Trail trim as the missing piece that could bring similar success in the fast-growing Class B (camper van) segment.
Despite having a similar Trail van overseas, Ford Pro didn't merely bring it over to the US, instead rethinking and reworking the design for the market. It put time into hosting focus groups of actual DIY camper van builders to identify the no-compromise needs and wants that would be typed directly into the all-American Transit Trail's spec sheet and options list.
Ford's enhancement work starts down at chassis and running gear level. The Blue Oval already introduced a Transit AWD a couple years ago, itself a popular option for camper van and small motorhome builds, and the Trail takes off-road-readiness a couple steps further. Ford complements the Transit Trail's five-mode intelligent AWD system with a 3.5-in (8.9-cm) lift and near-3-in (7.6-cm) widened track capped by burly 30.5-in Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse all-terrain tires beaded to 16-in black alloy wheels.
Thanks to those modifications, the Trail van enjoys improved grip, a more confident stance on all types of terrain, and raised ground clearance, all contributing to better off-road performance for tasks like hunting down the perfect backcountry clearing for temporary homesteading or climbing up and rambling down rocky roads as a mountain bike shuttle.
Other exterior additions include black HID headlamps flanking a black Trail grille with integrated marker lamps, a skid plate-style front bumper, wheel arch cladding and front arch liners, mud flaps and slider-style steps on both sides. The heavy-duty 6,500-lb tow package with hitch receiver comes as part of the standard spec, too.
The Transit Trail interior remains a cavernous blank canvas for creative builders, but Ford does its best to preempt common headaches. It includes as standard dual 70-Ah AGM batteries, a 400-W inverter, and swivel cab seats below an integrated above-cab shelf. Buyers can further upgrade the electrical system with dual alternators for faster battery charging. An optional preinstalled roof fan eliminates the fear factor that comes along with DIY-hacking through the steel roof of a brand new vehicle.
The Transit Trail comes powered by the 310-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 and 10-speed automatic transmission combo already on offer in the Transit lineup. Buyers looking to extend the van's capability to explore wide-open spaces with nary a gas station can upgrade from the 25-gal (95-L) fuel tank to a 31-gal (117-L) tank.
The Trail's standard and available assistive tech suite includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision assist with emergency auto-braking, blind spot assist 1.0, reverse- and side-sensing systems, keyless entry and push-button start. The 12-in touchscreen runs Ford SYNC 4, and buyers can also enjoy 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices, perfect for digital nomads who blend work and play while on the road.
The 2023 Transit Trail can be ordered in medium-roof, high-roof and extended-length high-roof sizes, helping to meet the diverse needs of camper builders. Pricing starts at US$65,975 before destination and delivery fee, and the van will be put together at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant. The van comes backed by a full three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and drivers on the endless open road will rest more easily knowing Ford's network of 3,000 maintenance and service centers and 800 mobile service vans is ready to assist should something go wrong.