Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2003 Ford Econoline Overview
When an SUV Just Isn't Big Enough
Ford's E-Series Econoline vans have been the cornerstone of the mass people moving industry for over two decades. Without even realizing it, you've probably ridden in an Econoline on more than one occasion; that's because Econoline vans are used as everything from airport taxis to company shuttles. Ford's E-Series vansthe Econoline E150 and E350are more than just monster hauling machines; they are the everyday workhorses that businesses and individuals alike have relied on generation after generation.
The E-Series' show a tremendous range of flexibility. They can be ordered in standard or stretched body, with a diverse range of engines and a seating configuration for 8 or 12 persons. The Econolines can also be ordered as panel vans, with a host of optional interior racks and storage bins to help keep tools and materials in place. You'll find that both the E150 and E350 make excellent conversion vans, helping you to create a miniature home on wheels and Ford even provides a list of van conversion companies on their Website. Even in their more utilitarian forms, the E-Series still provide a comfortable and room environment for both passengers and driver.
Model ranges for both the E150 and E350 include a full-size and extended-body chassis; trim levels are limited to XL and XLT. On passenger vans, the XL trim includes air conditioning, vinyl front bucket seats with two rows of three person seating to the rear anti-lock brakes, a 3.55 rear axle, AM/FM stereo, dual power mirrors, power steering and a tilt wheel. The more upscale XLT trim adds high-back cloth bucket seats, a high-capacity front and rear air conditioner, cruise control, full carpeting, an engine console cover, power windows, power door locks, a cassette player and illuminated entry. You can opt for all sorts of options including a flip-down entertainment system, bigger chrome-plated wheels and a special Chateau package that includes leather-wrapped steering wheel, two-tone paint, running boards, bright alloy wheels and an AM/FM/CD with cassette. The XLT also features captain's chair seating with individual folding armrest and a set of 4 huge cup holders with slotted sides designed to allow for coffee mug handles.
The E150 represents the entry-level Econoline model and is equipped with a 4.2-liter V6 engine. Now we know the first thing that popped into your head was the question, "how can a V6 pull an 8-passenger van?" The answer may surprise you because Ford's V6 is a torque-heavy pack mule that develops a healthy 244 lb-ft. of torque at a relatively low 2700 rpm; this torque rating translates into strong pulling power that enables the E150 to accelerate with assurance, even when fully loaded. If you feel you need more power, Ford offers a choice of a 4.6 or 5.7-liter V8. The E350 comes standard with the bigger V8 and offers as optional a 6.8-liter V10 or power happy 7.3-liter Powerstroke diesel. We can tell you right now that though the V10 makes 300 horsepower and 425 lb-ft. of torque, the diesel is the best engine for towing and hauling heavy loads and it certainly is less thirsty than the V10 on the highway. All Econoline vans employ a heavy-duty 4-speed automatic transmission and offer a variety of rear axle ratios.
Now that you know all about your choices for the E-Series, we're going to tell you what its like to drive. First off, the E-Series is BIG and there is no getting around that fact; you'll know it when you're backing up, when you're parking and when you're changing lanes. On the flip side, Ford has done a good job making sure that certain aspects of the E-Series are not as gargantuan as the rest of the vehicle. The door handles, for example, are placed down low so you don't have to reach up to operate them; likewise, the lower edge of the side glass drops way down, giving both the driver and passengers a good view in all directions.
Trying to put the ride and handling into some context that makes sense is difficult because what else can you compare an Econoline van to except another Econoline van? The steering is moderately dampened as to give the driver some sense of the road and the ride is fairly smooth when fully loaded. If you're behind the wheel, you'll find you have a pretty good view of the road and that most of the controls are within arms reach (depending greatly of course on how long your arms are).
In all, if you have a need for space and power, the Econoline E150 and E350 deserve a good hard look.