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2010 Cargo Vans
Innovations bring cargo vans into the future
By Bill Roebuck
Not everyone can get away with a minivan for all their cargo-carrying needs. For those who need the higher capacity and capabilities, a review of what's new in full-size cargo vans for 2010 (and 2009 as well) follows. These models generally are based on each manufacturer's full-size pickup platforms.
Ford plans to bring a popular European light duty cargo van to Canada by fall 2009. The 2010 Ford Transit Connect van has handy split rear cargo doors that open up a full 180 degrees to reveal 135 cu. ft. of storage space.
It also offers commercial users a cargo payload of 1,600 lb. -- a larger payload than the full size Dodge Ram 1500 standard-cab short-box pickup truck.
The panel model of the van has no windows in rear cargo area, while dual sliding side doors are standard. Load floor to roof height is 52 in., not bad for an easily manoeuvrable van. The load width is 48.1 in. between the wheel arches, and load length is 72.6 in.
The Transit Connect powertrain include a 2.0-litre dual-overhead cam I-4 engine giving 10.7 L/100 km (22 mpg) city and 9.4 L/100 km (25 mpg) highway with a four-speed automatic overdrive transaxle. That's fairly impressive fuel economy for a cargo van.
The van can be further adapted with the inclusion of Ford Work Solutions. The system allows one to run a business from inside the van. An in-dash computer provides Internet access, productivity software and optional printing capabilities. It also includes Tool Link, which provides the ability to organize, scan and track tools, inventory and other cargo items.
Ford also continues with its E-Series vans in E-150, E-250, E-350 and E-450 configurations, with 2009 models getting improved cargo security and improved handling through redesigned suspension and steering systems. An E85 fuel option is available too.
Maximum payload capacity is as high as 4,900 lb., with the top tow rating reaching up to 10,000 lb. Regular or extended cab styles are offered on all but the E-150. Ford's Work Solutions system also is available on the E-Series.
General Motors as well has upgraded its cargo vans for 2009. Both the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana models (which include the 1500, 2500 and 3500 Series) now have StabiliTrak stability control system on all models. A tweak to models equipped with the big Duramax 6.6-litre diesel engine adds a fuel-operated interior heater, which is ideal for chilly mornings. Models with the 5.3-litre V8 are now flex-fuel capable and can use E85 ethanol.
Maximum payload on the GM vans is as high as 4,173 lb with a top tow rating of 10,000 lb., that with the 6.0-litre PowerStroke diesel engine. Rear wheel drive and all-wheel drive transmission are available.
Among the new features for 2009 on 1500 Series models are 17-in. wheels as standard and an increase in the GVWR to 3,311 kg (7,300 lb.).
Over at Chrysler, 2009 brings some new options to the cavernous Dodge Sprinter van (you can stand upright in the 7-ft. high cargo area in the Mega-Roof version). The 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine gets a boost to its torque rating for this year. Maximum payload is 6,460 lb and the tow rating is 5,000 lb. The rear doors open 270 degrees and the cargo sliding door offers a best-in-class loading width of 51 in.
Also new for 2009 also are an optional electric power-sliding side door and optional roof rails.
Although it's not a full-size model, the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, remains available in Cargo Van trim (which means the rear seats have been deleted). It has sliding doors on both sides. Payload is 1,500 lb. and towing capacity is 1,800 lb. The standard engine is a flex-fuel 3.3-litre V6.
And there will be a surprise newcomer in the cargo van market for 2010 from Nissan. It recently showed a concept model of its NV2500 that is based on its Titan full-size pickup truck. Access to the big cargo area (the truck is 8 ft. high and 6.6 ft. wide) is through 60/40 split barn doors in the rear. The cargo area is 6 ft. tall inside. With the front passenger seat folded, it can carry objects 10.5 ft. long.
The side door includes a panel that hinges upward to provide a canopy so you can stand outside the truck protected from inclement weather. Other innovative technologies in this concept include a solar roof to generate power for lights and accessories, a fold-out work desk, LED exterior lamps and retractable outside mirrors.
The NV2500 concept represents the first of three light-commercial vehicles that Nissan says it will build for the US and Canadian markets starting in 2010 at its Canton, MS, plant.
Other innovative features of the van include a built-in retractable power cord in the instrument panel, ceiling storage with shelves and a lighted storage closet with a grated floor behind the driver seat for wet work boots and other gear. There's also a built-in shop vacuum, three 115-V power plugs and storage slots in the doors for tools.
The flooring includes a custom version of the Titan's popular Utili-track cargo tie-down/sliding cleat system. There also are multi-position integrated tie-down hooks and functional task lighting throughout the cargo area.
Ford's Work Solutions system allows drivers to run an office from inside its cargo vans and pickups, almost anywhere you go.
An in-dash computer provides full high-speed Internet access and navigation by Garmin. It's the first broadband-capable in-dash computer in production and features available wireless accessories, including a mouse and printer. The system includes a printer and an Internet connection.
Another option is the Cable Lock security system developed in association with Master Lock to secure large tools or equipment in the cargo area.
All Ford Work Solutions technologies are available on the 2009 E-Series vans, F-150 trucks and F-Series Super Duty X pickups. Transit Connect vans joins the line-up in mid-2009.
Bill Roebuck is the editor of CarTest!. Posted July 2, 2009.