Ford Transit Trail truck in profile with campers in the woods

  • The 2023 Ford Transit Trail starts at $65,975, plus $1,795 in delivery fees.
  • It adds off-road capability to the standard transmission and facilitates customization thanks to pre-drillable areas for shared upgrades.

Vanlife lives full or part time in a truck, travels cross country, and enjoys locations. It’s a choice more Americans are making, and it’s centered around pickup trucks. But the companies that make the trucks haven’t done much to serve the Vanlife audience.

Ford is about to change that. For 2023, the automaker will produce an off-road-oriented version of the Transit cargo truck, with interior modifications to simplify the customization process. Learn about the Ford Transit Trail 2023.

Vanlifers is a growing market

According to a 2019 US Census Bureau report, about 140,000 Americans live full-time in trucks, RVs, or boats. The number rose 38% in just three years.

Vanlifers don’t tend to drive trucks with traditional seats. Instead, they buy merchandise trucks, modify the vehicles themselves, or pay aftermarket shops to do it for them. Common interior modifications include beds, kitchenettes, and storage booths in every nook and cranny. Common mechanical modifications include lift kits and all-terrain tires to help them get a truck that’s meant to drive urban delivery routes to conquer country roads and trails.

Ford Transit Trail 2023 front quarter corner

Off-road ready

Ford offers the 2023 Transit Trail in three configurations – mid-top, high-top and extended-length high-top.

They all use a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 with 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission, an engine already available in the 2023 Transit.

What changes with the transit route? Standard all-wheel drive (AWD) with five selectable drive modes, including normal, eco, mud/slick, towing/drag, and slippery. Transit Trail also rides on new rubber — 30.5-inch Goodyear Wrangler Workhorse all-terrain tires. It sits 3.5 inches higher than the standard Transit to dramatically improve ground clearance.

These modifications should make the Transit Trail more capable off-road than the non-improved Transit cargo truck. A 25-gallon fuel tank comes standard, but buyers can upgrade to the 31-gallon model for longer trips into the bush.

The black grille includes standard marker lights and a black plastic body livery around the wheel arches, which should hide dents from the brush. The Transit Trail doesn’t have skid plates to protect the undercarriage — those trails don’t go too reckless — but it does have a “skidplate front bumper,” Ford says.

Interior of the Ford Transit Trail 2023 with swivel seats

Ready to reconfigure

Inside, Ford limited the upgrades to the theory that pickups want flexibility.

The Transit Trail comes with overhead stowage and driver and passenger seats that can rotate to face the rear.

Otherwise, customizing the cabin to feel like home is up to you. To facilitate customization, Ford has put in drillable panels where cabinets, shelves, beds, and other modifications are likely to be placed.

An optional Upfitter package adds more additional power outlets and an external light strip. It also includes high-capacity switches, a larger center console, an auxiliary fuse panel with a high-spec interface connector, dual AGM batteries, and a modified vehicle wiring system.

An optional ceiling vent fan provides cooling in… the living room?

Ford offers an optional roof ventilation fan for the 2023 Transit Trail

Ford starts a network of customers

If you don’t plan on customizing your truck yourself, Ford has put together its own Ford Pro network of certified installers and installers to do the work. You can find a store near you at fordupfits.com.

The Transit Trail is something we don’t encounter very often – an entirely new type of vehicle from a major manufacturer. We’d like to tell you what it’s comparable to, but pickup trucks like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Ram ProMaster don’t offer pre-packaged Vanlife packages. Vanlifers routinely deal with them, anyway. But Ford might be up to something by giving them a platform to get creative.

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