2020 Ford Transit: Real-World Gas Mileage

I have to admit, I’m a fan of the Ford Transit. It took a couple of years to sway me, but after a few years of experiencing first-hand the benefits of the European-style commercial vans, I’m sold.

I’ve spent some serious quality time with the Transit passenger vans, and what the Transit gives up in creature comforts and smoother ride, it returns in its ability to cram as many as 15 people into it in relative comfort. But how is its fuel economy? I took a 2020 Ford Transit-150  on a 200-mile loop to find out firsthand the fuel efficiency it returns, and how it stacks up to other larger people-hauling competitors. 

Related: 5 Ways a 2020 Ford Transit Is Better Than an SUV (and 3 Ways It’s Not)

What We’re Driving

I tested a 2020 Ford Transit-150 XL AWD, a short-wheelbase, medium-roof, 10-passenger model. 

The Transit passenger van can be had in three lengths, three roof heights, rear- or all-wheel drive, and two trims: XL or XLT. Three degrees of “heavy duty” are available: the Transit-150, 250 or 350, depending on how much you want to be able to carry and tow. Two powertrains are also available: The base engine (which my truck featured) is a 3.5-liter V-6 making 275 horsepower and 262 pounds-feet of torque, while the upgrade is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 making 310 hp and 400 pounds-feet of torque. (The diesel option in previous Transits is no longer offered.) Both engines are mated to a standard 10-speed automatic transmission, with a variety of available final drive ratios depending on whether you plan on doing any towing or not.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy rating for the Transit is only available for the basic short-length Transit-150 with the standard 3.5-liter engine (the turbocharged 3.5-liter is not rated). It has a fuel-economy rating of 15/19/17 mpg city/highway/combined for the rear-wheel-drive model, and 14/19/16 mpg for the all-wheel-drive version. It’s a flex-fuel engine too, so you can put E85 ethanol in the tank, but I wouldn’t recommend it as E85 fuel drops fuel economy to 11/15/12 mpg for RWD and 11/14/12 mpg for AWD. Yikes. 

By comparison, a Ford Expedition Max comes only with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 (the same one that’s optional in the Transit) and is rated at 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined for RWD and 16/21/18 mpg for AWD, only about 2 mpg better across the board than a Transit with the base engine. A Chevrolet Suburban isn’t much better: It’s rated at 15/22/18 mpg for a 5.3-liter RWD model down to 14/21/16 mpg for a 6.2-liter AWD model. 

EPA fuel economy numbers aren’t available for the Transit-250 and 350 models.

Does It Match Its EPA Rating?

The total distance covered in my driving loop was 206.8 miles, for which the Transit’s computer said I earned an 18.1-mpg combined fuel economy rating. After the driving loop, I refilled the Transit-150 with 11.734 gallons of gasoline, which calculates out to 17.6 mpg combined over that distance. That’s actually better than the 16 mpg that the AWD Transit is rated to get in combined fuel economy. 

My fuel economy route is a little more than 200 miles of combined urban stop-and-go traffic, suburban lower-speed side roads and highway-speed distance cruising. For Cars.com’s fuel economy testing, we put the windows up, air conditioning on and ensure the tires are properly inflated to manufacturer’s specs. 

The driving style is what I call “normal” — no crazy sudden acceleration (unless safety requires it), no hard stops, no hypermiling efforts and keeping to within 5 mph of the posted speed limits. The weather was sunny but a little breezy, with winds of about 5-10 mph (this balances out in my testing as the loop goes in several directions — sometimes it’s a headwind, sometimes it’s a tailwind).

More From Cars.com:

  • Do You Really Need a Full-Size Luxury SUV? How About a Conversion Van Instead?
  • 2020 Ford Transit Refresh: Rekindling the Van Craze
  • 2020 Ford Expedition Platinum: What You Get When You Go Big
  • 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe: Big Is Back
  • Research the 2020 Ford Transit 150

It should be noted that the Transit achieved this result without any passengers — and being a 10-passenger van, this is likely a rare condition for such a beast. It’s meant to be loaded up with people and stuff, with a payload rating of 2,440 pounds; if you filled it to that limit, the fuel economy would understandably decrease. 

Alas, your mileage may vary, but for a 10-passenger people hauler, the starting point of 17 mpg combined is impressive.

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