2020 Ford Transit AWD van

Van Life Wars Heat Up: Ford Finally Launches AWD Transit Van

Is Ford finally bringing us a 4×4 van that can compete against the ever-popular 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter? Later this year, we’re going to finally get in an AWD Ford Transit, but we’re not so sure it’s going to hurt 4×4 Sprinter sales much.

Ford’s latest press release starts with: “A mom, a hiker, and a deliveryman walk into a showroom; each drives out in a new 2020 Ford Transit.” The message is clear — Ford will finally offer a van configuration to suit everyone.

The 2020 Ford Transit will hit dealer lots this fall; the brand will release pricing closer to that time. While the Transit hit the U.S. market 5 years ago, it finally receives a facelift and upgrades in 2020.

Most notably, the Transit will boast a much-anticipated AWD system.

Ford Transit AWD Van

Yep, you read that right. Ford will finally bring consumers an AWD system — from the factory — in its latest van offering. With Mercedes unable to make the 4×4 Sprinter fast enough to meet demand, this is a very smart move by Ford.

Ford Transit AWD van with side door open

The 2020 Ford Transit will sport a full-time AWD system with selectable driving modes. In normal mode, the system can send up to 100 percent of available torque to the front wheels when needed. For more challenging low-traction surfaces, drivers can engage mud and ruts or slippery modes at any speed.

It’s worth noting the AWD system will only be available on gasoline-powered Transit vans. This leaves out a large segment of the market that prefers the improved torque and fuel efficiency of a diesel powerplant.

The AWD Transit will also have the same ride height as 2WD Transit vans. While this makes loading gear easier and keeps the center of gravity low for safety, it doesn’t offer the ground clearance you might want for off-road travel.

By contrast, the 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter offers a more conventional 4×4 system, with a selectable low range. These 4×4 Sprinter models also offer improved ground clearance and are available with diesel powerplants.

Ford AWD Transit Van: Weekend Warrior Setup Standard

Ford Transit AWD van driving in snow

Up until now, Ford has offered the Transit in four configurations: cargo van, passenger van, chassis cab, and cutaway. For 2020, Ford will add a crew van to the Transit lineup.

This new configuration will carry up to five people in two rows of seating, with side curtain airbags for all passengers. In short, the crew configuration should prove a perfect start to adventure van builds. You can carry a bunch of gear, install a bed in the back, and still take friends and family on your adventures.

Ford AWD Transit: Factory Swivel Seats!

For the first time, Ford will offer optional swivel front seats from the factory in the 2020 Ford Transit vans. Swivel front seats in an adventure van offer up a ton more usable living space inside. According to Ford, this is a “response to recreational vehicle customer requests.”

New Powertrains Prioritize Efficiency

Fuel economy is king for fleet, family, and road trip vans. Ford understands this importance and now offers the Transit with a proven 10-speed transmission and auto start-stop technology on both its gas and diesel engine options.

A 3.5L PFDi V6 EcoBoost gasoline engine now comes standard on the Transit. It can now also be ordered with dual 250-amp alternators that are perfect for keeping camper and accessory batteries charged up while on the go.

The diesel engine option will also see an upgrade on the Transit. The all-new 2L EcoBlue bi-turbo I4 diesel engine is said to be “more fuel-efficient and offers more power and torque than the outgoing 3.2L diesel engine.” But Ford hasn’t released any specific performance figures just yet.

2020 Ford Transit AWD: A Safer Van

Ford Transit AWD van interior

Safety is crucial in modern vehicles. As such, Ford will outfit the new Transit with the latest safety tech. The new vans will come standard with Pre-Collision Assist with automatic emergency braking and Pedestrian Detection, forward collision warning, post-collision braking, Lane-Keeping System, and auto high-beam headlamps. The Transit passenger van XLT is also equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360, which adds a Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage and cross-traffic alert.

In addition, the 2020 Ford Transit will also have other new driver-assist features. These include adaptive cruise control, a front and rear split-view camera system, and an adjustable speed-limiting device.

Stay Connected

Get those van life Instagram stories posted even faster and farther off the beaten path! All the new Transit vans will also have the FordPass Connect system, which offers a modem with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and connectivity for up to 10 devices.

2020 Ford Transit AWD van with 4G LTE Wi-Fi

Ford AWD Transit vs. Mercedes 4×4 Sprinter

Only time will tell if the 2020 AWD Ford Transit will be able to compete with the almighty 4WD Mercedes Sprinter. Right off the bat, it has three drawbacks: less ground clearance, no selectable low-range 4WD, and no diesel option.

Ground clearance can be relatively easily fixed on the aftermarket, but adding low range to the AWD system will be nearly impossible. Not offering the AWD system with the torque and fuel efficiency of a diesel will be Ford’s biggest hurdle in stealing some 4×4 Sprinter market share.

By

Bryon Dorr caught the outdoor adventure addiction through whitewater kayaking, and worldwide adventures to remote places ensued. He crafted his own professional path as a photographer, journalist and marketing consultant in the automotive and outdoor industries, while full time overland traveling for nearly 8 years. You’ll usually find him out exploring by adventure motorcycle or 4x4, while seeking out opportunities to ski, mountain bike and kayak.

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