2023 Ford Transit Trail
(Photo/Ford)

2023 Ford Transit Trail Hits the Road With Options for Both DIYers and Upfitters

More and more Americans are living a mobile life. Ford offers a new way to hit the road with the 2023 Transit Trail van, available for both DIYers and van conversion upfitters.

They called themselves “the vagabonds,” spending the 20th century roughing it on the back roads and trails crisscrossing America. They were, in reality, an exclusive bunch, led by automotive pioneer Henry Ford, as well as Thomas Alva Edison and an assortment of entrepreneurs — even a former U.S. president or two.

Ever since, “van life has been in Ford’s DNA,” suggests Ted Ryan, the automaker’s archivist. And it’s certainly made for good business. Today, the Detroit automaker is the dominant provider of the chassis used for Class A and Class C motorhomes. It’s also been a major source of the vans used by upfitters in the Class B segment, starting with the 1961 Econoline.

Now, however, Ford wants to make it even easier to get the motorhome of your dreams, whether you’re planning to buy it from a conversion company or want to do it yourself.

2023 Ford Transit Trail Extensive Revisions

2023 Ford Transit Trail tires
(Photo/Ford)

The 2023 Ford Transit Trail starts out with the automaker’s familiar Transit van. But it undergoes a number of revisions specifically designed for Class B motorhome applications. These include the following:

  • 30.5-inch Goodyear all-terrain tires, 2.5 inches larger than on other versions of the Transit
  • A 2.75-inch wider track and 3.5-inch body lift
  • A unique grille, fascia, and headlights
  • A variety of high-tech features, including Ford’s Sync4 infotainment system and a 12-inch touchscreen
  • Numerous USB outlets and an inverter to provide 400 watts of AC power
  • Swivel front seats and other features
2023 Ford Transit roof vent
(Photo/Ford)

There are an assortment of upgrades available, including a roof vent with a fan so buyers won’t have to cut into the roof on their own. For those looking to take the van on extended trips, the standard 24-gallon gas tank can be swapped out for a 31-gallon tank.

2023 Ford Transit Trail
(Photo/Ford)

The Transit Trail will be available with standard or tall roof heights and two different body lengths, with the largest package offering 473 cubic feet of interior space.

Plenty of Power

All versions of the Transit Trail will be powered by Ford’s 3.5L Ecoboost V-6 making a solid 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a 10-speed automatic and sends power to all four wheels with a limited-slip differential to help enhance traction off-road.

Ford has traditionally been the dominant source for professional Class-B motorhome upfitters. But the automaker expects to see a “substantial” share of demand for the Transit Trail come from DIYers, according to Tim Baughman, the general manager of Ford Pro.

“The Transit Trail has really been the missing piece,” he explained during a background briefing this week.

Designed With the DIYer in Mind

2023 Ford Transit Trail
(Photo/Ford)

The new model provides “all the things that would be difficult for customers to do themselves,” added Ray Eyles, the program’s chief engineer — meaning DIYers can concentrate on outfitting the van for comfort, storage, and adventure.

The Transit Trail’s launch could prove fortuitous for Ford. Demand for recreational vehicles, in general, has soared since COVID. Several factors have been at play, analysts say.

During pandemic lockdowns, there was a desire to get outdoors that hasn’t faded away. The shift toward working remotely is something that allows millions of Americans the flexibility to do so while mobile.

And there’s the high cost of traditional travel. Airfares, in particular, have skyrocketed, as have hotel stays.

2023 Ford Transit Trail
(Photo/Ford)

So, while Baughman said he is concerned about the potential impact of high fuel prices, even the record $5-per-gallon numbers seen earlier this year had no apparent impact on the RV world.

2023 Ford Transit Trail Pricing & Availability

The retail version of the 2023 Ford Transit Trail starts at $65,975. The automaker has not yet announced delivery fees. That is, of course, for what marketing manager Julie Ellenberger called “a blank canvas.”

Depending upon whether a buyer wants to do the work on their own or turn to an upfitter, the final cost could add “a few thousand dollars or up to a few hundred thousand.”

For those who prefer to let the pros do the work, Ford has launched a new website that will help sort through a network of upfitters and interior installers.

The automaker also noted that it operates a network of 3,000 maintenance and service centers of its own, and operates 800 mobile service vans. That’s in case a Transit Trail owner experiences problems in “unexpected locations.”

Orders for the 2023 Ford Transit Trail begin Thursday, November 3. Deliveries start later this year.

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Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."