Vehicle Overview from Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com 2009 Ford Econoline Wagon Overview
Ford's venerable Econoline (a.k.a. E-Series) has long been the best-selling passenger van in the U.S. However, it last received a complete redesign in 1992. Time does move relatively slowly in the passenger-van segment, but the Econoline's age nonetheless leaves the door open for younger upstarts -- notably the Dodge Sprinter, a rebadged Mercedes that was redesigned for 2007 -- to steal some of the spotlight. Accordingly, Ford has taken numerous steps over the last couple years to spruce up its venerable box on wheels. Last year saw the introduction of an aggressive new front fascia and an updated suspension, and the 2009 Ford Econoline ups the ante with a redesigned instrument panel, standard stability control, added options and the return of a V10 engine option. As usual, the Econoline boasts scads of space for people, cargo or both. So does the Sprinter, of course, yet its fuel-efficient but comparatively puny engines can't come close to matching the Econoline's towing capacities, which range from 6,100 to 10,000 pounds. Indeed, there's plenty of grunt on tap in all Econolines save for those saddled with the base 4.6-liter V8, which was barely adequate in the 1998 Mustang GT. The Dodge does offer superior handling and refinement, despite Ford's suspension tweaks last year. However, the E-Series matches up well with the Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana twins, which are its chief rivals in terms of sales. Like GM's offerings, the Econoline can't compete with the Sprinter's high-roof option, which enables adults to stand up and move around the cabin. On the bright side, newly optional accoutrements like a navigation system, satellite radio and a rearview camera complement the fresh dash layout, which thankfully no longer looks like an artifact from the Clinton era. The 2009 Ford Econoline may be a child of the 20th century, but numerous updates through the years have kept it competitive in this utilitarian segment. As such, it earns our recommendation, though we'd advise sampling the competition as well to determine which passenger van best meets your needs.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The full-size 2009 Ford Econoline Wagon is offered in three basic configurations: the eight-passenger E-150, the 12-passenger E-350 Super Duty and the 15-passenger E-350 Super Duty Extended. Each model is offered in basic XL or better-equipped XLT trim. Standard equipment on the base XL includes 16-inch steel wheels, vinyl upholstery, front air-conditioning and an AM/FM radio. The uplevel XLT adds chrome bumpers, cloth upholstery, rear air-conditioning, cruise control, power accessories and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The E-150 is available with a Premium Package, which includes leather-trimmed quad captain's chairs, keyless entry, privacy glass, running boards, two-tone paint and upgraded aluminum wheels. Other available options include a sliding passenger-side door (as opposed to the standard barn doors), upgraded towing packages, telescoping side towing mirrors, user-defined Upfitter switches, different seating configurations, a power driver seat, an in-dash six-CD changer, a navigation system, satellite radio, a rearview camera and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance:
The 2009 Econoline Wagon offers three engine choices. The base 4.6-liter V8, standard on the E-150, generates 225 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the E-150 and standard on all E-350 models is a 5.4-liter V8 rated at 255 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. E-350 buyers can also upgrade to a 6.8-liter V10 that churns out 305 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is mandatory with the V10.
All Econoline passenger vans come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control, tire pressure monitoring and a manual deactivation switch for the front passenger airbag. Side airbags are not available.
Interior Design and Special Features:
Thanks to its redesigned dash layout, the 2009 Ford Econoline no longer time-warps you straight back to 1992. We wouldn't call the new layout "contemporary," exactly, but at least it doesn't call attention to its age like the previous one. Controls are sensibly located and storage space is plentiful. The optional captain's chairs enhance the Econoline's comfort, although legroom can be tight for second-row passengers in any configuration. Cargo capacity is one of the shoebox-shaped Econoline's strengths, with 237 to 275 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume on hand, depending on the model.
The 4.6-liter V8 is sufficient only for those who don't plan on hauling a lot of stuff -- or who don't mind lethargic acceleration while doing so. Either of the uplevel engines should suit most buyers just fine, though we lament the passing of the torquey and relatively fuel-efficient diesel V8. Behind the wheel, the Econoline feels about how you'd expect. The turning circle is enormous, and body roll in turns is akin to that of a commercial fishing boat riding out a squall. The ride is better than it used to be, though, and most shoppers in this segment will gladly accept the Econoline's forgettable handling characteristics in return for its impressive utility.