Behind the Wheel

Your Amazon delivery driver has a secret - she's actually quite comfortable

The Ford Transit offers more comfort than it looks like it should.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Amazon delivery drivers are all over the map. Chances are if you're out and about you'll pass at least one during the day if you live in a major metropolitan area or its suburbs - their fleet was made up of at least 30,000 in December 2019 and has expanded since then. Most of that driving is done behind the wheel of three different vans: Ram ProMaster, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and Ford Transit.

The vast majority of Americans has never driven any of those. When they think of the word van, their minds inevitably go to the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica, and Toyota Sienna before it gets anywhere close to those models. In the U.S., the ProMaster, Sprinter, and Transit are primarily designated for hauling tools and equipment to and from jobs, moving students to and from after school activities, and making deliveries.

2021 Ford Transit The Transit has gotten some new package options for the 2021 model year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

2021 Ford Transit

In an economy that has gone increasingly toward online shopping, Amazon vans are the ants of the roadway. They start in storage lots each day (nowadays that's often unused off-site airport parking lots or at empty office buildings) then spend their days making their way across a small subsection of your town.

That to-and-from is done in surprising comfort if they're in a Ford Transit. Ford recently lent a Transit for review and the there was one major takeaway - it's not a bad place to spend your day (unless there's a driving rain storm - more on that later).

The steel unibody of the Transit stretches to a maximum 148-inch wheelbase. That's about the same as your average Ford Super Duty. What is essentially a large box on wheels with a pinched front end is powered by either a 3.5-liter V6 or a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. The tester had the turbo, which delivered 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, which was brilliant off the line when the cargo area wasn't brimming with packages. It got up to speed better than some of the small SUVs regularly making their way through the test drive fleet.

The rear portion of the Transit is printed for aftermarket rack installation - something that Amazon's fleet is equipped with.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Driving the Transit is surprisingly easy. There are pickups that are harder to park. Navigating a crowded parking lot and busy city street in the Transit was easy thanks to its connected and accurate steering, which makes it move more like a Fusion than an F-150, and plenty of forward visibility and large mirrors. The Transit just barely fits into modern parking lot spaces, not unlike it's heavy-duty truck counterparts.

It's not particularly high-tech, but it doesn't need to be. The infotainment screen is straight out of the modern Ford passenger car lineup, meaning it has plenty of connectivity options, and all its climate controls are straightforward in operation. Abundant small item storage makes up the bulk of the lower center console space.

The Transit is big on space. The rear three-quarters of an empty one is large enough to hold a socially distance dance party for a group of three-year olds, or a shift's worth of Amazon packages. When empty, the body of the van is more like a tin can than a typical family hauler. A light rainfall is as pleasing as a drip, drop on a steel roof. A downpour becomes loud enough to require sound-deadening headphones - something not permitted in most states - to allow oneself to think.

The interior of the Transit is plenty spacious for one or two people.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For the 2021 model year, Ford has updated the Transit offerings to include recreational vehicle and parcel delivery option packages. For 2022, there are big changes ahead. That's when the E-Transit is introduced, giving a new all-electric commercial option to companies. It will start under $45,000 and have a 126-mile range.

Ford instructed the E-Transit earlier this year and showed off similar styling to the current model, but with a fresh interior that brings high-tech components of its traditional passenger cars forward. Whether or not it will be as comfortable or easy to drive as the 2020 Transit has yet to be seen.

The E-Transit will likely be added to Amazon's lineup in the coming years, along with Rivian's customized electric van, which is currently being tested.

Trending News

 
 

The Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group offers factory-backed half-door comfort, style, and safety.
Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep Wrangler owners who want an open-air experience but don't want the complete doors-off look have a new from-the-factory option. Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar have worked together to create new half-doors for the iconic SUV.

The new Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group features two factory engineered, tested, and backed half-door options that offer owners the option to have production-level styling, security, and occupancy protection in addition to improved visibility.

Available for both two- and four-door Jeep Wrangler models through the Mopar Custom Shop, as part of an original new-vehicle purchase in the U.S. and Canada, the new Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group includes both full and half doors. Full-steel production doors are installed on the vehicle while matching body-color half doors are packaged within the vehicle.

    Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group

    Photo courtesy of Stellantis

    1 / 6

    With production-level materials and build quality, new half doors are designed to work when equipped with any of the following features: power mirrors, blind-spot detection, passive and non-passive entry handles, and power locks. A quick and easy swap from full doors to half doors can be accomplished within minutes using the existing hinge locations and the exact same wiring connections.

    The newly developed upper-window assemblies are designed to have a weather-tight sealant feature zippered plastic windows. Two materials are offered for the assemblies: base-model vinyl that matches the production soft-top roof or premium acrylic that matches the premium soft-top roof.

    Each upper-door frame section uses an easy, tool-free, dual-guide post feature for easy installation and removal.

    The Dual-Door Group is now available on two- and four-door Jeep Wrangler Sport, Rubicon; Sahara, Rubicon 392, and 4xe models. Factory-option pricing for the U.S.s tarts at $2,350 for the two-door's Dual-Door Group with base-model upper-window assembles while the four-door costs $3,995. Checking the box for the more premium version of the upper-window assemblies moves the price tag up to $2,550 for the two-door and $4,395 for the four-door.

    Warranty coverage for each Dual-Door Group option is included as part of the new-vehicle warranty of three years/36,000 miles.

    Trending News

     
     

    Toyota is mobilizing, putting its money where its mouth is to help Texas affected by severe winter weather.

    Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

    Winter Storm Uri impacted nearly every single one of Texas's 254 counties. North Texas-based Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) has pledged $1 million in relief for those affected by the storm. The aid is slated to serve both Toyota and Lexus customers and a variety of Texas-based non-profit organizations.

    Over 60 Texas counties were part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recent Texas Severe Winter Storms (DR-4586-TX). It is currently categorized as an active disaster.

    "We take our role as community leaders seriously, so when winter storms affected millions right in our back yard, our top priority became helping Texas get back on its feet after this ordeal," said Sean Suggs, group vice president of Social Innovation, TMNA. "Texans have supported our company in myriad ways, and we want to help our neighbors emerge from this storm stronger than ever."

    The $1 million relief effort includes:

    North Texas/DFW Metroplex

    • United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, in support of North Texas Cares and West Dallas nonprofits to quickly distribute funds to grassroots organizations: $450,000
    • North Texas Food Bank: $100,000
    • The Family Place and Genesis Women's Shelter to fund hotel rooms, food, and transportation for their clients: $30,000
    • Toyota employees will be able to support the needs of four North Texas community partners significantly impacted by the storms by purchasing items from their Amazon Wish Lists.

    San Antonio

    • SAWS Community Pipe Repair Fund, through the San Antonio Area Foundation to assist individuals and families stay in their homes safely with funds for plumbing repairs: $100,000
    • Let's Help SA Fund to provide food, water and shelter: $200,000

    Houston

    • United Way of Greater Houston to support the Greater Houston 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund that supports local home repairs: $50,000
    • Houston Food Bank: $50,000
    • CrowdSource Rescue to provide food, water and fuel: $20,000

    Additionally, Toyota will match up to $10,000 in individual employee contributions to nonprofit organizations recovering from the storm.

    Toyota and Lexus Financial Services customers who are looking for loan and lease payment relief, and were impacted by the storm, may be able to receive assistance under a new Toyota program that has a variety of options for clients.

    Trending News