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CarGurus Expert ReviewThe Good
Plenty of cargo room, durable construction, customization options galore, and four V8 engines keep the 2010 Ford E-Series Vans keepin’ on.The Bad
A massive turning radius, ancient platform, lackluster interior materials, noisy cabin, low roof, and comfort-defying ride conspire to leave the 2010 E-Series Van staid and somewhat less than driver-friendly.
The CarGurus View
Like all such vehicles, the 2010 Ford E-Series Van is, essentially, a glorified work tool. This particular tool, however, has much to recommend it, including a history of solid performance, impressive hauling capacities, and a plethora of job-enhancing and convenience options. All of that makes this venerable workhorse worth its weight in two-by-fours, electrical equipment, and plumbing supplies.
At a Glance
Those who recall the Age of Aquarius will have no trouble recognizing the 2010 Ford E-Series Van. Back then, of course, it was called the Ford Econoline, but it had the same purpose as it does today: to tote a lot of stuff from point A to point B with few frills and little fanfare. Though its platform is admittedly dated, its image remains solid due to timely, if a bit stolid, upgrades in performance, economy, and comfort. In short, the Dodge Sprinter offers a bit more in versatility and handling, and the Chevy Express/GMC Savana lineups have an edge in ride comfort, while also offering all-wheel-drive (AWD) trims, but Ford has upgraded enough of its E-Series components over the years, including a significant vehicle re-design in 2008, to keep this venerable van less expensive and more powerful than the Sprinter, as well as a tad more economical and a bit sturdier than the Chevy/Jimmy vans.
Available in three trim levels, the half-ton E-150, the three-quarter-ton E-250, and the one-ton E-350 Super Duty, E-Series vans are rear-wheel-drive only; minimally equipped with standard appearance, comfort, and convenience features; and available in super-size extended (Ext) versions. Standard-length trims are some 18 feet long, with the extended length vans laying out to nearly 20 feet. Each trim is a two-passenger, two-door van, with passenger-side sliding or split-opening and rear split-opening cargo doors. Cargo area ranges from some 237 cubic feet in the standard-length trims to 275 cubic feet in the stretched versions. Obviously, maneuvering in city congestion and parking in any spot smaller than a football field are not this vehicle’s strong suits.
Though essentially unchanged from 2009, the 2010 E-Series is slated to receive the 5.4-liter V8 and 6.4-liter V10 powerplants that are convertible to burn compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) later in the model year. Additionally, Ford’s available Work Solutions Package, with radio-locator tool tagging and fleet diagnostics telemetry, nearly unlimited customization configurations, and a plethora of optional amenities are some of the advantages the E-Series Van offers consumers.
Four V8 engines and a pair of automatic transmissions provide the 2010 E-Series lineup with plenty of power options for some jaw-dropping towing and toting capabilities, especially with the turbodiesel-equipped E-350 Super Duty. Indeed, its selection of potent powertrains is one of the reasons this van remains competitive in a small but cutthroat market.
The base engine, standard in both E-150 and E-250 trims, is a 4.6-liter V8 that, under the management of its standard four-speed automatic transmission, puts out 225 hp at 4,800 rpm and 286 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. This matchup is good to tow 6,500 pounds with the proper equipment. Next up on the list is a 5.4-liter V8, again with a standard four-speed automatic transmission. This drivetrain, standard in the E-350 Super Duty trim and optional for the others, is good for 255 hp at 4,500 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm and provides 7,400 pounds of towing capacity.
Optional for the E-350 Super Duty only is an economical and powerful 6.0-liter turbodiesel V8, which, under the auspices of its standard five-speed automatic transmission, pounds down 235 hp at 3,150 rpm and an inspiring 440 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm. These ponies can tow a maximum of 10,000 pounds of trailer with the available 4.10 axle ratio. Also optional solely for the E-350 Super Duty is a massive 6.8-liter V10 with its partnered five-speed automatic that shouts out 305 hp at 4,250 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. Maximum trailer capacity for this huge powerplant is 10,000 pounds, again with the optional 4.10 axle ratio.
Mileage figures are unavailable for any of the E-Series powerplants, though both the 4.6-liter and the 5.4-liter V8s are ethanol-capable Flex Fuel (FFV) engines. It can safely be said than none of these V8s is especially fuel efficient, with the Flex Fuel engines even less so when burning ethanol-based E85 fuel. Virtually all reviewers find the base 4.6-liter V8 woefully underpowered for most van-type applications, and, obviously, the larger engines more what owners have in mind performance-wise. Most professional reviewers recommend the 5.4-liter V8 as the engine of choice for the medium-duty E-150 and E-250 trims.
Ride & Handling
Let’s face it, folks, a van is not a lean, mean, track-ready machine, and, of course, the 2010 Ford E-Series Van is no exception. Long and top-heavy, with 16-inch wheels, an independent, twin I-beam front suspension, front stabilizer bar, and solid live axle rear suspension, this is not a vehicle for a leisurely drive in the country. According to nearly all reviewers, cornering in E-Series Vans is not to be undertaken at speed, nor is this big cargo van especially forgiving of bumps and dips in the road. Turning radius? Forget about it. However, the consensus among reviewers is that the E-Series is no worse in this regard than any other van on the market.
Reviewers also note that the E-Series, again like all vans, is prone to drifting in windy conditions and requires some hefty weight in the rear to claim decent traction on wet roads. Braking is, however, much improved over the old Econoline versions with standard four-wheel disc brakes, though they require a bit more stopping distance than, for instance, a sedan or even a minivan.
Cabin & Comfort
Reviewers agree that the 2010 E-Series Van is best described as minimalist. Standard appearance, comfort, and convenience features for all trims include two-passenger seating on vinyl front bucket seats, tilt-wheel steering, a front storage console, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with two speakers, and phone pre-wiring.
Options are plentiful and, for the most part, in keeping with the work-vehicle image. Among the most popular option packages is the Ford Work Solutions Package, featuring tool-tagging via radio-frequency tags and vehicle telematics and diagnostic capabilities. The Navigation Package with satellite radio is another popular option, as are the several Interior Upgrade Packages that may include carpeting, power windows, door locks, and trailer-towing mirrors, remote keyless entry, power side and rear-door trim panels, and cloth captain’s chairs. Other options include a number of Premium Van Group Packages with upgraded audio systems and forged aluminum wheels, as well as an in-dash, internet-ready computer with wireless mouse and available printer, cruise control, a rearview camera, rear bench seating, and, for dedicated business use, myriad storage racks, bins, and shelves that can be configured for optimum utility.
Professional reviewers find the E-Series cabin to be workmanlike and unadorned, with lots of less-than-premium-grade plastic surfaces and little sound-deadening insulation. Gauges are described as easy to read and controls as logically placed and clearly marked. Passenger space is noted by most reviewers to be adequate, though seats are found by a few reviewers to be less than agreeable.
Size and weight are the major factors keeping passengers protected in the 2010 E-Series Van, with standard four-wheel disc ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution doing their part as well. Stability control, a remote anti-theft alarm, daytime running lights, and a dash-mounted passenger airbag deactivation control are all optional safety items available for all trims.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested the E-Series only for rollover protection and gives this hefty van three stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has no testing data at all for the E-Series Van.
What Owners Think
With many E-Series Vans used as company vehicles, owner comments are relatively few and far between. Those that are available refer mainly to the 2009 E-Series, which is basically comparable to the 2010 van trims. In any case, E-Series owners are a bit put out with its lackluster cabin materials and poor fuel economy figures, as well as the lack of decent acceleration from the base 4.6-liter V8. Handling characteristics are a bone of contention among owners, with some claiming better-than-expected road manners, and others finding that driving the E-Series in less-than-perfect weather is a chore on par with sailing a garbage scow through a typhoon.
On the plus side, seemingly endless customization options, the Ford Work Solutions Package, GPS-based DVD navigation availability, the in-dash PC, better-than-decent towing and payload capabilities, turbodiesel oomph, and cavernous cargo space all combine to keep owners more than merely tolerant of this venerable yet utilitarian workhorse.
by Eric Tallberg
Talk about the 2010 Ford E-Series Van
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