Ford Targets Van Life Craze with Camper-Ready Transit Trail

The Ford Transit Trail offers an all-wheel-drive camper platform backed by factory engineering.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

November 3, 2022

10 Slides

Van life is getting official automaker endorsement, as Ford has launched an all-wheel-drive overlanding-capable version of its Transit commercial van that is optimized for drivers who want a camper to serve as their base at the trailhead, lake, or other outdoor destination.

Ford isn’t going to deliver turn-key campers as Volkswagen has historically done with its Westfalia camper vans. Instead, with the Transit Trail, they’re building camper-ready vans that customers can customize themselves or have finished by one of the multitudes of upfitters that specialize in camper conversions.

To make the Transit delivery van suitable for overlanding, Ford has lifted the Transit Trail 3.5 inches and bolted on wider-offset 16-inch wheels with 30.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse all-terrain tires. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system is unchanged, with its Normal, Eco, Mud/Ruts, Tow/Haul, and Slippery drive modes.

Transit Trail will be available in either the medium-roof or high-roof configurations and the high-roof model can be matched to the extended-length body for a total of 487 cubic feet of cargo space. The higher roof provides a 6.5-foot ceiling and the extended length stretches the cargo floor behind the front row of seats to more than 14 feet.

Related:The $310,000 Bowlus Volterra Camper Promises Off-the-Grid Luxury

While the cargo area is unfinished, Ford does provide some preparation to make the finishing work go easier, reported Ray Eyles, the Chief Engineer on the Transit 

The optional Upfitter Package includes auxiliary accessories such as an exterior light bar and high-capacity upfitter switches, a larger center console, an auxiliary fuse panel with a high-spec interface connector, dual absorbed gas mat 12-volt batteries, and a modified vehicle wiring system. “All of this content is engineered for Ford standards for durability and safety and is covered by the Ford warranty,” in contrast to add-on aftermarket parts, said Eyles.

An area where DIYers can get nervous is installing a roof vent for airflow while the van is parked, so Ford is offering this as a factory option.  “They want increased ventilation in the cargo space from a roof fan, but they are nervous about cutting a hole in the roof, so we will do that,” Eyles explained.

The base Transit Trail starts at $65,975, plus the required destination charge, which Ford hasn’t specified for this model. That’s for the mid-roof, standard-length model without the Upfitter Package or roof vent, and there is no pricing announced for these options that will probably appeal to most Transit Trail buyers.

Related:Airstream eStream Electric Camper Concept

The final price tag is likely to be stiff, but Eyles points out that converting a van to a camper is a costly and/or time-consuming endeavor and that it is better to base a camper on a reliable new van rather than spend all the conversion money on a vehicle that might then break down. Click through our photo gallery to see why the Transit Trail might be worth the price of admission.


About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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