In The U.S. the venerable Ford Transit has always been known for its starring role in the commercial segment, and you would be forgiven if you assumed the Transit is a very good one trick pony. In Europe however, the Transit nameplate is highly adored by European buyers, and there have been occasions where Ford Europe has had some fun with its venerable cargo hauler over the years. As such, Ford Europe has decided to unveil an all new flavor of Transit, revealing the all new “Trail” variant.
Available on both the Transit and its sibling the Transit Custom, Transit Trail models are designed to focus on off-roading, and arrive with extra amounts of body cladding and several trail busting mechanical upgrades. Ford claims that the Transit Trail will be “rough road capable” and it also appears that some Raptor DNA has trickled down to the Transit, with the stock front grille being replaced with a matte black unit that features over-sized Ford lettering in the middle.. As mentioned prior, Trail trim brings more cladding to the van, with the front and rear bumpers (as well as the side panels) being adorned with the protective material. A set of trim exclusive 16-inch alloy wheels and Trail logos on the front doors help round out the bulk of the changes, though smaller Custom models do add optional running boards and a roof rack to further enhance their utility.
The interior features all new “wipe clean” leather upholstery while a heated windshield and air conditioning are standard equipment. Power folding mirrors are also part of the package, and the Trail takes a nod to safety by adding standard automatic headlights too. A key highlight though is the “intelligent” all-wheel drive system which can be paired with the all new limited slip differential, as well as a reworked traction control system. The all-wheel drive system typically sends power to all rear wheels, but if needed, it can split 50 percent of the power to the front wheels to help improve traction especially on moderate trails. Customers can choose from a wide range of diesel engines as well as the choice of either a standard panel van, or a passenger focused double cab in van style. Hybrid power is also available, but buyers that want the 48-volt mild hybrid system will be limited to the smaller Transit Custom, with the bigger Transit not getting it.
In addition to the Trail model, Ford is also trying to expand to their “lifestyle vehicle” offerings in Europe with new Active trims for the Transit, as well as the smaller Tourneo Custom. Like the fore-mentioned Trail model, Active versions get beefier body cladding, but there is no limited slip differential, and four-wheel drive is not offered either. They also get distinctly different interior touches to help set them apart from their standard issue cousins.
“The Active and Trail models demonstrate just how versatile and capable the Transit range can be” revealed Hans Schep general manager for commercial vehicles at Ford Europe. “From businesses that operate off the beaten track to families who want a vehicle as adventurous as they are there is a Transit to suit every need.”
While it is highly unlikely that both the Active and the Trail models will make their way into the U.S. lineup, there is a case for the Trail model to perhaps find a way to our shores if the demand is strong enough. The idea of an off-road focused van is nothing new, with the folks at Quigley proving that the idea is viable, with their popular conversions for models like the Chevrolet Express, Nissan NV, and yes, even the Ford Transit. Furthermore, the all-wheel drive system is already offered on Transits sold here, so that would remove a hurdle in the development process. Only time will tell of course, but in the meantime, we have added a few videos of the Transit Trail and the Custom in action which can be seen below.