Ford Econoline Wagon Review

Ford Econoline Wagon Review

Although it was last produced for the 2014 model year, the Ford Econoline (E-Series) Wagon, the passenger carrying version of this stalwart van, hadn't undergone a full redesign since George Bush was president. No, not George W, but the original "no new taxes" edition. But there was good reason for the Econoline's staying power other than Ford simply not messing with what had been the top-selling full-size van for more than three decades. For upfitters (those who turn vans into commercial vehicles such as airport shuttles), any change to the Econoline's basic structure and dimensions meant they also had to change the dimensions and tooling of their customizations.

However, in its unmodified form as a high-capacity passenger van, the Ford Econoline showed its old age. It received only minor changes over the years, the most significant of which occurred for 1997 (engine and interior updates) and for 2008 when it received a radical new grille along with steering, brake and suspension improvements. Yet the basic vehicle and its passenger comfort remained virtually unchanged. As such, other full-size vans outclassed the Econoline in terms of versatility and ride and handling dynamics. But considering the Ford's typically lower price and respectable reputation for reliability, it makes a solid choice for a used full-size passenger van.

The more modern Transit replaced the Econoline as Ford's full-size passenger van.

Most Recent Ford Econoline Passenger Van
Though not a new generation, the most recent version of the Econoline passenger van was produced from 2008 through 2014. There were three basic models: the eight-passenger E-150, the 12-passenger E-350 Super Duty and the 15-passenger E-350 Super Duty Extended. Each of these vans was offered in XL and XLT trim, with the E-150 also available in a high-end Chateau trim.

The base XL was just that, with vinyl upholstery, air-conditioning and an AM/FM radio as its notable standard features. The upper trim levels came better equipped and options were plentiful. Two passenger-side openings were available: a pair of barn-style swinging doors and a single, minivan-type sliding unit. Unlike on the Sprinter by Dodge or Mercedes-Benz, dual sliding doors were not available.

There were three engines available on these E-Series Wagons. A 4.6-liter V8 with 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque was standard on the E-150. A 5.4-liter V8 capable of 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque was optional on the E-150 and standard on the E-350 Super Duty models. Both of these engines came with a four-speed automatic. E-350 buyers could upgrade to a 6.8-liter V10 with 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic came with the V10.

The generation that encompassed these refreshed E-Series wagons dated back to 1992, when it was called the Club Wagon. The name change to E-Series Wagon took place for '98. Whatever it had been officially called, the Econoline was always available in E-150 and E-350 styles with two vehicle lengths. An E-250 was also offered for most of this model's run. Trim levels included base XL, midlevel XLT and, depending on the year, plush Chateau trim levels. There were numerous options and packages available, so be sure a potential used Econoline has the features you're looking for.

The original vans from this generation came standard with a 4.9-liter inline-6 engine or a choice of three gasoline V8s and a diesel V8. In 1997, these engines were replaced with a base V6, two Triton V8s and a Triton V10. The diesel V8 carried over unchanged. That year, the Econoline underwent other significant upgrades. The dashboard was redesigned to meet the latest Ford interior standards and the grille was updated to match Ford's ongoing oval theme.

Items like tilt steering wheel, antilock brakes and a passenger front airbag were added at the turn of the century. In 2003, the E-Series was given another grille design to match the latest F-Series Super Duty, featuring two vertical bars and an integrated Ford badge (rather than perched on the hood lip). Engine output continued to rise, and a 6.0-liter turbodiesel V8 debuted for '04.

Although the basic body design remained unchanged, Ford's big passenger van underwent another update for 2008. There was a new front fascia, along with significant changes to the steering system, brakes and suspension to improve driving dynamics. There were also new seats and seat-integrated three-point belts for rear center position passengers. The 6.0-liter turbodiesel V8 was replaced by the 6.8-liter gas V10 for '09, a year that also saw a welcome interior redesign and some new options. After that, changes were minimal.

Despite its segment-leading sales, the Ford Econoline passenger van suffered from its ancient design. Although the most recent version featured improved steering, braking and suspension systems, there was still no escaping the fact that the basic architecture was two decades old. That said, these Econolines still make for a decent option given their low pricing and strong dependability record.

The Ford Econoline name dates back to 1961, and the previous-generation Econoline was produced from 1975-'91.