Ford Is Going To Build A 4×4 Camper Van Specifically For Vanlifers And It’s Going To Be Called The Ford Transit Trail

Transittrailtop

Yesterday, Ford confirmed rumors that have been circulating around the internet for over a year. America is going to get the Ford Transit in a new flavor, and this one is the Transit Trail. It’s an off-road van that Ford says is designed around do-it-yourself vanlife camper builders as well as motorhome distributors. It’s just a tease for now, but let’s take a look.

Last year, Ford generated headlines by filing a design patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. That patent paperwork suggested that Ford was gearing up to make an off-road version of the Transit van for America. Now, over a year later, Ford confirms that it is indeed giving us an off-road version of the Transit called the 2023 Transit Trail, and it will be revealed next month. Yesterday. Ford Pro, the commercial division of Ford, dropped this teaser:

 

The company says this new van is going to offer more than just an appearance package and off-road tires. The interior is said to be enhanced for RV manufacturers and for folks who want to build their own camper. In case you get confused as to who this van is for, Ford calls out #Vanlife right in its headline. And the new van will be built here in America alongside electric Transit siblings.

Normally, that’s where a post like this would end. But there probably isn’t as much mystery associated with this new van that Ford teased as you might think. The Transit Trail originally launched in the United Kingdom for the 2020 model year and that van looks a whole lot like this one.

2021 Ford Transit Trail Euro Spec 1

My colleague Thomas helpfully brightened up the teaser image and sure enough, it looks similar.

The UK’s version of the Transit Trail sports a Raptor-inspired grille, fender flares, and body cladding meant to give it a tougher, rugged look. The cladding also probably helps a bit with rocks kicked up while you’re bombing down trails. It looks like the version that we’re getting isn’t exactly the same, but it’s pretty close.

Fordpro Transittrail Profile W Disc

As we can see in the teaser (and in spy shots), the American version doesn’t have the lower cladding, but the fender flares stick around and it looks like there’s something going on with the front bumper, too. The UK version gets unique 16-inch wheels and it looks like those are making it over here, too.

The grille shown here isn’t the same, going for an emblem over the Raptor-like script of the UK version. But hey, at least we get those cool clearance lights!

2023 Transit Trail

In terms of gear, the UK version gets a mechanical limited-slip differential that Ford developed with UK driveline company Quaife. That’s combined with an optional all-wheel-drive system and off-road driving modes. Otherwise, most of the changes to the UK version are purely cosmetic, as you can see in Ford’s press release.

The interior of the UK version features seats that can be moved around, removed, or reversed to fit the owner’s needs. And when removed, their mounts also work as anchor points for cargo.

It’s unclear how much different the U.S. version will be from its sibling in the UK, but I just love the fact that we’re getting an off-road version in the first place.

Ford Transit Trail Van 9

But it makes sense, as off-road-style camper vans are pretty big right now. It looks like Ford is getting in while things are still hot. RV manufacturers are already building campers based on Ford Transit vans, so it will be interesting to see what Ford will be offering here that you can’t already get.

(Photo Credits: Ford)

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46 Responses

  1. “But hey, at least we get those cool clearance lights!”

    I’ve seen those stupid things in the grills of so many vehicles that clearly aren’t wide enough to actually require them that I think I sprained my medial rectus muscle. I’ve been tempted to get a set and put it in the grill of the Miata, just for a laugh.

    1. They look cool. At least that’s my opinion. That’s not to say they always look cool or they need to be added to every vehicle, but when they are well done on the right vehicle… cool.

      These don’t look bad to me. The “FORD” in the grille though; it’s the worst bit. It looks like one of those aftermarket ones that people buy for their non-Raptor F150.

    2. It does seem those lights are becoming the equivalent of what spoilers were a couple of decades ago, when the majority of vehicles were still cars – something people added to attempt to fool people (whom, I don’t know, as enthusiasts know the difference and non-enthusiasts don’t care) that your vehicle is somehow this hard-core thing.

      1. Eh, I’m a guilty party that has them on a vehicle that doesn’t need them. I’m not trying to ‘fool’ anyone. I just think they look cool. That being said, they can look tacky if not done right and they are starting to be a bit overplayed. Good news for me is that they’re basically invisible when not on so I can just unplug them should I choose.

  2. Ford Australia haven’t bought the AWD Transit to us either but given their recent difficulties with getting any Transits at all out of the factory…I can’t be surprised.

    But if they’re listening then I’d like an AWD version of the Transit dual cab chassis please thankyou.

  3. I love how Ford will offer this relatively low-volume vehicle, but not the long-promised Fusion Active quasi-crossover-that-might-be-closer-to-a-sedan thing.

    I know vanlife people, sure, but I know way more people who who’d like a sedan with a hatchback and just little more ground clearance.

    I guess it’s the profit margin thing, I get it, but still.

        1. Yeah they have the Impreza in hatchback (non-turbo models) plus they have the higher ground clearance Crosstrek which is called a compact SUV but is really just a hatchback with high ground clearance.

      1. Outdated underpowered not fuel efficient engines, forced to have a CVT, haven’t checked in a while but probably not super competitive pricing, bad interiors. Subaru was the perfect choice 10 years ago but they’ve done nothing to raise their game. This is coming from a former fanboy and still a Baja turbo owner.

    1. The Transit Trail is a trim on an existing vehicle assembled and certified in the USA. That is a relatively straightforward product expansion. The Fusion Active would be a completely new model imported from outside the USA with low sales potential in the USA. It is very unlikely the numbers work for that. We were suppose to get the Focus Active imported from China until a new 25% import tariff killed that model (and others).

  4. Perhaps the Euro/UK version of the Trail just has black paint or decals below the black cladding, so it is likely the same cladding as shown on the white Trail shown in the US teaser? It appears that is the case in the final photo of the white Trail with German plates KTR9879.

    1. I don’t really even like it on the Raptor, but at least it fits in well with loud energy drink style graphics and gigantic tire mojo.

      The van lifers I know are like undercover cops – they like vehicles that blend in, in their case, so nobody hassles you or thinks there might be something worth breaking in for.

  5. They need to make this with a heavy tow capacity. I travel distance with my TJ wrangler in tow, total trailer weight is an awkward 7,500lbs. I’d be looking for a tow capacity of at least 12k to handle both the van weight and trailer weight with ease.

  6. The question is will they make an AWD e-Transit Van.

    I’ll buy one new if they make one. Rn with RWD as the only option I’m waiting to see what the electric Ram Promaster is like and then choose between the two.

    1. As much of a fan as I am of EVs, I think a Transit camper is the textbook case where ICE still makes sense. Doesn’t get used that often, then almost exclusively for longer trips. The e-Transit’s ~120mi range is perfect for local service folks (HVAC, plumbers, etc) and commercial customers, but that wouldn’t get anyone very far who’s using it for personal use

      1. I disagree. Unless you’re camping at campsites all the time you’re going to have trouble finding a place to camp, especially when it comes to more urban environments. With a BEV Camper van you just find a slow charger, plug in, and camp out for the night. In a regular van good luck finding somewhere to camp out at.

        Sure you have a ton more stops with a BEV camper van, but you’re literally driving around a house. Just plug in, put on a TV show, read a book, take a nap, etc. while it charges. Also you can run be plugged in and you can run the AC the whole time no problem.

        My plan is simple. Buy a low roof (likely longest range variant) BEV van, put in a shower and a toilet (and possibly a bath), get a nice cot setup, and have a really slick camping/cargo van.

        1. Do you really think cites are going to waive their anti-camping laws for EVs? That they will allow you to sleep in your EV camper while ticketing or towing the ICE van in the parking space next to the charger?

          1. Nope. However I think that it’ll be very hard to enforce while we still have slow chargers and slow charging vehicles. Once both are gone what excuse do you have to be spending many hours at a charging station when everything charges in less than an hour.

            With current L2 charging speeds and higher capacity BEVs the charging times can be over a day with higher capacity BEVs.

  7. I mean they do sell AWD transits currently with and without interior and with Rear AC, but no shore power. I will be more excited about this if they offer some sort of useful interior bits for fare prices directly from the ordering portal I suppose.

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