One of the perks with my employer is that they occasionally upgrade their delivery fleet with new models. We just received our first 2014 Ford E150 commercial van, and it’s clear that with the rave reviews the F150 pickup is getting, Ford is definitely not following the same direction with their vans. There are few good points to talk about and a variety of things wrong with this vehicle.
Overall, the E150 is a clean-looking, businesslike truck that at first glance looks ideal for commercial use. Our model came with the 4.6 liter V8 and four speed automatic transmission. This sounds like a relatively perfect match, but the powertrain struggles noisily through the gears, with changes happening at between 3,000 and 4,000 RPMs most of the time. This seems to be a bit high when compared to the Chevy van, where most gear changes occur at around 2,000 RPMs. There is also a loud complaining from the engine, which sounds like your wife or mother-in-law nagging you constantly. You can almost make out the words “What’s wrong with you? Where are we going? Why are you doing this?” when you try to accelerate. It’s initially slow out of the gate, but if you disregard the engine’s anti-social response, once you pass thirty miles an hour, it speeds up fairly well.
The instruments are laid out nicely, with the tach, speedometer, coolant and battery gauges highly visible for the average driver. The radio included an MP3 jack so you’re not restricted to the inferior grade AM/FM choice from the factory unit and sub-par speakers. That said, the sound system controls are simple to use, as were the climate controls. Our vehicle also includes cruise control, power mirrors, windows, and door locks with a remote control key fob that should lock and unlock the doors, except that ours only locks them and the “unlock” button doesn’t work. This is especially troubling if you’ve got an armload of stuff and you have to put them down to use the key in order to access the truck’s somewhat small cargo doors.
About getting in—Ford claims a 7.4 inch ground clearance, but it’s a bit misleading when it comes to getting into the driver’s seat. I have long legs and had to make an incredibly large step up after opening the door. That step is made on a rather narrow sill plate made worse by the overly wide seats which interfere with your legs as you attempt to get in. There is an assist handle on both sides, but unless you’re Shaq, it’s not easy to reach. I found myself having to reach across the seat and pull myself in using the seat cushion. Very awkward. The high back buckets are uncomfortable and hard, so you may want to upgrade to an optional seat and not the plain vinyl ones.
The ride is equally uncomfortable, and you feel every bump, hole, and painted line on the road. In spite of being about two weeks out of the factory, there is a slight pull to the right when you apply the brakes, which themselves leave you wondering if you’re going to stop in time. Maybe they’re better on the E250 or 350, but the standard brakes on the E150 do not inspire confidence.
It would appear that Ford is concentrating too much on the F150 and not enough on their vans. We had a 2009 E150 that was much better than this one. Pay attention, Ford. If you continue to make vans like this, you’re going to lose market share to General Motors and Chrysler in this segment.